WASHINGTON-United States astronomers are preparing to ask the National Science Foundation to build two telescopes for the price of one. Their request, to be submitted next month, is part of a larger effort to reduce the cost of new projects in ground-based astronomy by increasing international collaboration.

A plan for two 8-meter telescopes, one on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and one at Cerro Tololo in Chile, has been drawn up by the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO). The organization, which is funded by NSF, operates 4-meter optical telescopes on Kiu Peak in Arizona and Cerro Tololo, along with smaller telescopes at those sites and in New Mexico.

The total cost of the two new telescopes would be $125 million, according to Sidney Wolfe, NOAO director. That hefty price tag has led to a search for partners in the project, which NOAO hopes can begin in 1992 and be completed by...

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