Update : Apparently the decision to reduce funding to UKIRT from 2010 was made back in May 2006, and the fact that this email came out today is a complete coincidence.
Warning : If you don’t care about the funding of astronomy in the UK, I’d take the next couple of days off.
Obviously we still don’t know what the terms of the review are going to be, but a clue as to how things are going to end up arrived in my inbox this morning. The e-newsletter of the American Astronomical Society includes an advert appealing for funds for UKIRT. UKIRT may be one of the older telescopes the UK runs, but with the new UKIDSS survey it’s more effective now than ever before, and yet having spent money on new instruments to make this possible we’re giving away our access. Here’s the note in full:
The United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) is the largest
telescope in the world operating exclusively in the infrared region
of the spectrum. It occupies a prime location on the world’s best
mountain site and is equipped with a comprehensive and versatile
suite of instrumentation, including the Wide-Field Camera (WFCAM),
the world’s best infrared panoramic imager. A fact sheet describing
the facility and its capabilities may be found here:
The primary science programme currently underway at UKIRT, taking
advantage of WFCAM’s unique capabilities, is the UKIRT Infrared Deep
Sky Survey (UKIDSS). UKIDSS is now 25% complete and is already the
largest existing near-infrared survey in terms of both volume and
photons collected. A media event will take place at the AAS meeting
in Austin to mark the first world release of UKIDSS data, containing
over 300 square degrees to K=18.2, as well as 4 sq deg to K=21.
UKIRT is unusual amongst world-class observatories in that it is
funded entirely by one agency. Due to evolving scientific priorities
in the UK, the Science and Technology Facilities Council has decided
to move some of the UKIRT operating funds into new projects by 2010
at the latest. There is, therefore, a unique opportunity for a new
partner (or partners) to gain quick access to UKIRT and to share in
the continued operation and future development of a well-established,
world-class infrared observing facility.
Interested parties should contact the UKIRT Director, Professor Gary
Davis, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I dread to think what else is going to go today.