Published: Thursday 31 December 1998

Stars on the Net The biggest cosmic event of the year, the meteor showers was not as impressive as most experts had us believe. A few meteors here, a few there and then it was over. But star gazers with a Net connection can still freak out, provided you hit the right sites. And here's a list of a few exciting astronomy-related Websites you can take a peck at. For 50 years, the five-metre Halt Telescope on Mount Palomar in California reigned supreme as the biggest astronomical "eye" in the world. You too can take a look at what it sees at http;//astro.caltech.edulobscrvatoriesipalomaripubliclindex.litnil. then came a revolution. In the last 10 years, new technologies have made possible the construction of a clutch of giant telescopes. By 2005, there could be as many as to telescopes with mirrors more than eight metres across.

What the Keck? The biggest "light buckets", as astronomers call them, am the twin 10-m Keck telescopes on top of Mauna Kea, a volcano in Hawaii. Keck I and 11 have "segmented mirinars", each made of 36 hexagonal pieces. Discover more about the Kecks at http://www2. kcck.hawaii. edu:36361. used in conjunction, and with their smaller "brothers", they could mimic a telescope almost 100 metres in diameter.

ET phone home Looking for aliens? Extra-terrestrial intelligence? Well, then SETI's the place to be. The SETI League, an international band of radio astronomers based in New Jersey have stuff that can interest you. Visit http:/1wwwsctiIeapc.or#. Their aim is to have some 5,000 amateurs across the world continually scanning the skies with satellite dishes in their backyards.

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