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The inception of the European Southern Observatory is generally traced to Walter Baade's discussions with Jan Oort during his visit to Leiden in the spring of 1953. However, these discussions had certainly been underway between them previously, during Oort's visit to Pasadena in early 1952. Furthermore, Baade's great interest in southern-hemisphere astronomy and his strong desire to observe there can be traced far back in his career.
In 1927, after his return to Germany from a year in the U.S. under a Rockefeller fellowship, Baade reported that his country had no chance to catch up with American astronomy in the northern hemisphere. He advocated moving the Hamburg 1-meter reflector to the southern hemisphere to get in ahead of the U.S. with an effective telescope there. Baade emphasized the research that could be done on high-luminosity and variable stars in the Magellanic Clouds. Later, after he had joined the Mount Wilson staff, his early attempts to locate the center of our Galaxy and globular clusters near it (in 1937) and his observational study (with Edwin Hubble) of the Sculptor and Fornax dwarf galaxies (in 1939) re-emphasized to him the need for a southern observatory.
During and soon after World War II he made many suggestions on a search for ``cluster-type variables'' in the Magellanic Clouds to Enrique Gaviola, director of the new 1.5-meter Bosque Alegre reflector in Argentina. Baade wanted to go there to observe with it himself, but his German citizenship prevented him from leaving the U.S.. Finally, in the last year of his life, he was able to observe NGC~6522 (the globular cluster in ``his'' window), with the Mount Stromlo 1.9-meter reflector.
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