I spent yesterday trying to travel from California to Washington, where we’re visiting NASA HQ and the Goddard Space Flight Centre, so I’ve only just heard about some really shocking news. The STFC, which funds UK astronomy, has announced it’s planning to pull the UK out of the international Gemini observatory. As theseimportant people say, this is seriously worrying. Gemini North provides UK astronomers with their only state of the art visible light telescope in the Northern hemisphere; it is literally irreplaceable. The RAS have more details about why STFC’s plan is a bad one, but it essentially boils down to this. We’ve already spent £23 million to get the telescopes working well. They are now working well, as the flood of press releases from Gemini shows, and now we’re writing off all that investment in an attempt to save £4 million a year. We know that money is tight, but as the RAS point out the worrying thing is that this decision has been made without any attempt to consult astronomers, who will now be left without any access to half the sky.
The sad thing is I’d much rather be writing about results like this.