The laboratory in the underbelly of the University of Arizona’s football stadium was the site of an unusual kickoff this summer as researchers got started on what could be a half-billion-dollar project. The goal was not a mere touchdown but an enormous skywatcher — the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) — that is scheduled for service in 2016.The players included researchers from the eight institutions collaborating on the project. They gathered to observe the casting of the first of seven 27-ft-diameter mirrors that will be arranged to comprise a collecting surface 4.5 times larger than any current telescope. The team filled an outsized mold with 40,000 pounds of borosilicate glass and heated it to around 2150 °F. As its specially designed 30-ft furnace slowly rotated, the molten glass seeped dow to fill 1681 hexagonal cores in the mold, forming a honeycomb mirror blank with a parabolic surface. The honeycomb structure was designed to lower the weight to about a fifth of that of a solid mirror of the same dimensions. Next the researchers will tackle polishing and testing the mirror to prove that it works and — they hope — to secure the funding to continue work on the giant device. The GMT may never make the Super Bowl, but it could become a most valuable player in the search for alien planets and the investigation of dark energy.