UK astronomy under threat

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Robin Scagell
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UK astronomy under threat

Post by Robin Scagell »

Major cuts are being planned for the funding UK astronomy and the country's astronomers are asking everyone concerned to write to their MPs and make a fuss about it. There is also a petition to No 10.

No doubt there will be lots of jaundiced replies to the effect that 'complaining doesn't do any good' but if all the people who said this actually did something about it, something would be done! Politicians do listen to public opinion, and while one letter-writer can be dismissed as a crank, 10 or 100 can't. Put another way, if no-one does anything, the government will just get away with it.

Here is a message from Francisco Diego of UCL:
Dear all,

I forward to you this message from a colleague at UCL, for your urgent
attention, apart from what you hopefully may have done about this by other
means (like writing to your local MP, which is usually very effective,
please also visit www.saveastronomy.co.uk).

There is now an approved (e)-petition online to collect signatures
regarding the funding situation for physics and astronomy. Petitions with
sufficient number of signees are forwarded to the government who then
needs to come back with a response.

Its quick and easy;

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Physics-Funding/

Please sign it and then forward this on so that it might reach critical
mass.

In addition, write to your local MP at:

www.saveastronomy.co.uk

-------------------------

some background information:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... 79,00.html

http://www.strudel.org.uk/blog/astro/index.shtml (scroll down to the STFC
item)

Obviously, please forward this to as many people as possible. A government
review on this matter is planned by early January.

best regards,

francisco
T Russell
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Post by T Russell »

Petition signed.
Come on guys, there are less than 500 signatures so far.


Tom
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Post by First Light Optics »

Robin, I have placed your post on the SGL and Astro-Chat forums.

HTH,

Steve
Keith Cooper
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Post by Keith Cooper »

Also signed.

I strongly urge anybody who is remotely interested in astronomy in the UK to sign this petition. It is crucial that we overturn this decision. And it isn't just astronomy that is going to suffer – everything in STFC's remit is going to suffer cuts. And if you can spare the time to write to your local MP about it, even better.

The RAS released a press release about the situation last week, you can find it on their website here: http://www.ras.org.uk/index.php?option= ... 9&Itemid=2

I also wrote about the decision to pull out of Gemini a month ago on the Astronomy Now website, here: http://www.astronomynow.com/news/071116gemini/. Professor Rowan–Robinson's comments in that story help sum up the seriousness of the situation.

Kind regards,

Keith
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Post by Hawk »

Also signed. 856 now :wink:
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First Light Optics
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Post by First Light Optics »

First Light Optics wrote:Robin, I have placed your post on the SGL and Astro-Chat forums.
Now also on UKAI
S_Hawkins
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Post by S_Hawkins »

I've done my bit as well. I'm posting the link of the Sky at Night forum...

Sam
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Davej
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Post by Davej »

Hi,
Just signed.. 1058 now. Keep em coming.
ATB
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Post by martinss »

Done. 1058 signatures now.

Martin
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Robin Scagell
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Post by Robin Scagell »

This petition really is taking off. It was launched yesterday (Tuesday) and I'm told that this morning there were 90 signatures. At about 12.15 there were 605, at 13. 55 there were 855, and at 14.10 there were 1058!

If all those people also write to their MPs, as I will be doing, the results will be significant. Even if your MP is not in the government, you can ask them to support efforts to improve science and astronomy funding, pointing out that there is a severe shortfall in science graduates and that astronomy is an area which inspires many young people. Furthermore, the techniques developed in astronomy can have uses throughout science and even medicine. This trend has been going on for years, as far as I am concerned, so whoever gets in next time we should make the point now.

Robin
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Post by davep »

Robin, are you aware of an easy-to-follow resource that spells out the issues involved so that it would be possible to write to one's MP and make a sensible, exhaustive and cogent argument? I did have a look at this page but it simply makes claims with no backing. While I'm happy enough with the idea that the claims made are valid it would be nice to see them backed up.

Knowing my MP (who recently left the opposition and moved to the other side of the house) he'll brush it off with some pre-canned response so it would be nice to be able to make an informed case. However, having no involvement with academia, I've got no grounding for any of this.

I doubt I'm alone here.
Robin Scagell
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Post by Robin Scagell »

Take a look at the Royal Astronomical Society's page mentioned by Keith which lists the cuts being planned. But I agree that we are working a bit in the dark, and some hard facts are needed. I'll try and get something done.

Robin
Lawrie
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Post by Lawrie »

I have signed up too.

This government can find £50 Billion (Yes! -£50,000,000,000) quick enough to prop up Northern Rock.
(I reckoned that if this sum was paid in £10 notes it would take FOUR HGVs, packed tight, to take that cash to Newcastle! But then there aren't so many votes in astronmy are there?)
Lawrie
KateTheGreatMate
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Post by KateTheGreatMate »

I have signed up - 1263 votes now.

Will post the link on my Facebook page to get some more people on board.
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Hawk
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Post by Hawk »

Kate said:
Will post the link on my Facebook page to get some more people on board.
Good thinking, I'll do the same and I'll stick it on myspace too.
Hawk (yes, that's my real 1st name)
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