Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Closing UKIRT ...

Twenty-odd hours after first hearing the news I think I can finally write something without breaking out in tears.

Those of you who know a bit more about me than just the beading side probably know that I'm working at the Joint Astronomy Centre (JAC), for UKIRT, and have been for the past 13 years.

We (UKIRT) were supposed to be funded until May 2012, which is near enough but leaves some breathing room. Yesterday we got the big bad news: the STFC wants to stop funding UKIRT as soon as they possibly can (I heard March 2010 by rumor). Here's the (click link) Press Release that came out at 4 a.m. this morning our time. Our management doesn't like for us to have to find these things out from elsewhere, so they told us about 12 hours ahead of time. We don't know how long we have at UKIRT at this time. It may be only a few months.

In the meantime, attrition happens. Some people, me included, may be able to switch telescopes. It was after all JCMT that got me to Hawaii in the first place, helping with the commissioning of a brand new sub-millimeter telescope. Some of it I remember like it was yesterday (but it was in 1987), things changing ALL the time. Things you knew how they worked yesterday worked differently the next day/night. For now JCMT is funded through 2012. But that (for me at least) was true for UKIRT yesterday.

FYI: I had to change the link to the press release in the middle of writing this - because STFC changed it.

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