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No 55 - March 2008

UK astronomy in funding crisis

Money is the root of all evil! Or so the saying goes! As far as astronomy in the UK is concerned, the saying is very true!

So many astronomical facilities and research will be cancelled due to a shortfall of £80 million in the budget the government allocates to the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The STFC came about from the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC). To a lot of people they are the 'bad boys on the block', but before the merger the William Herschel telescope and the UKIRT in Hawaii were already going to be cancelled!

So what does this mean for astronomy in the UK?

*) ESA's work on ExoMars, Herschel, Gaia & BepiColombo is safe.

A pretty dismal time ahead for astronomy in the UK is forecast - in a time when astronomy was gearing up for 2009 - the International Year of Astronomy - a full year of promoting astronomy to the person in the street and encouraging youngsters to take an interest in the science. "If the planned cuts go ahead, astronomy research in the UK may never recover" said the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson.

So what does this leave us?

What can be done, if anything?

A petition was available to be signed at, and it was signed by 17,525 people. This petition was on Downing Street's website and had a closing date of 18th February. Another site to check out is

Iain McEachran

This item is adapted from Iain's editorial in February's Scottish Astronomers Group Magazine. A good web resource to stay up to date on this issue is Paul Crowther's "STFC funding crisis: astronomy" at


Cover page

Society news

Astronomical Society of Edinburgh - Annual General Meeting


Astronomical Society of Edinburgh - Annual Report for 2007

UN declares Year of Astronomy

Scottish Astronomers Group - reincarnated

UK astronomy in funding crisis

John Christopher Bartholomew, MA. FRSGS. FRSE.

Book review: The lost language of the stars

Recent observations

Forthcoming events

Asteroid "Harryford" 6907

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