In my busy weeks of travelling recently there were a few announcements about the future of some of Europe’s best known observatories.
The first bit of news came from ESO, who announced that the European Extremely Large Telescope, their flagship optical/IR facility for the next decade, is now definitely going ahead. Well, sort of: two thirds of the member states have given their approval. OK, six of them have, and four have agreed “ad referendum”, which I presume means there are some wrinkles to be ironed out – respectively Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, and Belgium, Finland, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
On top of that, Brazil still has to get its accession to ESO ratified by parliament, which has been dragging on a while.
In any case, the E-ELT seems to be going ahead at a swift pace, and a number of contracts are already in place. Good news.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, STFC announced its plans for the operations of the UK’s island observatories, in Hawaii and on La Palma. In a nutshell, UKIRT in Hawaii will be closed down in September 2013, and the others – Hawaiian JCMT and the La Palma telescopes, will be kept open for a bit longer. Details here and some opinions from UK astronomers here.