A Two-Faced Period (1970–1989)
The 1970s and 1980s are a somewhat ambiguous period for the IAU, characterised by consolidation while waiting for the next great step. Astronomy kept expanding, mainly driven by instrument development. The succession of discoveries of the 1960s, based on the opening of the electromagnetic spectrum, was followed by more detailed and systematic observations in all wavelength ranges. Space-borne instruments became standard parts of the astronomical toolkit. Planetary missions brought the solar system into close view. A range of 4-metre class optical telescopes was opened, which became the workhorses for astronomy in the next decades. At the same time, planning and preparations for a new generation of 8–10-metre size telescopes were started, spearheaded by the experimental 4.5-m Multiple Mirror Telescope.
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