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Decision time for UK ground-based astronomy June 3, 2009

Posted by Sarah in politics, science.
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By the end of this year, UK astronomers are likely to know what ground-based observational facilities they will have access to in the next decade. Today, the Science and Technology Facilities Council or STFC, the body that administrates funds for UK astronomy and particle physics, has published a (long-rumoured) consultation document inviting the community to discuss priorities in ground-based astronomy in the next 10 years. The document was prepared by STFC’s recently formed Ground-based Facilities Review Panel, made up of 6 UK-based senior astronomers (incidentally all men). An electronic questionnaire will be available in the near future for astronomers to express their views, and “facility directors and interested groups” are invited to submit paper contributions. (more…)

New Year, New Financial Crisis April 2, 2009

Posted by Sarah in politics, science.
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British astronomers have had a rough ride in recent years. Last year began with doom and gloom over the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)’s budget deficit that caused it to withdraw from the Gemini consortium. The series of events that ensued were covered in great detail on the web so I won’t delve back into the particulars – but it’s safe to say that the future of British astronomy did not look so bright. Still, everyone plodded along.


Star spotting in Britain December 16, 2008

Posted by Sarah in science.
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So you thought Britain was rubbish for stargazing? Think again! The Campaign for Dark Skies, part of the British Astronomical Association,  produced this cool map, highlighting areas of low light pollution and a good number of clear nights. There’s plenty of spots for great starspotting.

And while I’m on the topic, The Guardian ran this nice article today about the best places and organised events for stargazing around the country, including the Royal Observatories of Edinburgh and Greenwich which are both great to visit. There was a great plug for the International Year of Astronomy too. Good stuff.

Image credit: BAA