UK research astronomy, space science and physics is currently going through a pretty rough time. This is due to an anticipated £80m worth of cuts in the budget of the Science & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) who fund much of the UK’s astronomy and physics research facilities both here and abroad. One repercussion (one of many) of the cuts was that the UK was forced to cancel its subscription to the Gemini Observatory (one of the finest research observatories in the Northern Hemisphere). Subsequently UK professional astronomers and postdoctoral researchers lost access to their use of the telescopes meaning many will not be able to carry out their vitally important astronomical research.
However there may be a chance to resolve the Gemini issue. Stuart is reporting that the Gemini Board and the UK STFC have announced that they are going to sit down and discuss the future of the UK’s involvement in Gemini whilst at the same time reinstating the observing time (for the first part of 2008 at the moment at least) that the UK astronomers had lost. I’m not a research astronomer but Chris is. He has a post on what this means to those who have spent time and effort in formulating the observing proposals that were initially cut. Finally – If you want great inside view and commentary on the academic side of astronomy then I recommend you have a browse of Prof. Andy Lawrence’s blog (the e-astronomer); he also has some really interesting posts on the funding cuts issue.