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If you missed Halley's Comet the last time around, in 1910, hang on for 1986. Today's question is whether the United States will use its space technology to make the kind of close-in observation of the spectacular event that was not possible before. Professional stargazers are already concerned that the government may shortsightedly let the opportunity go by. The public might think about it, too. Of course, everybody could wait until the next time, in 2062. But by then, with all those onlookers in their space stations, there ma y be nothing left to do but sell hot dogs.

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