AAS Electronic Notification Service - Announcement #24 4/96
AURA ANNOUNCEMENT - PROJECTED TELESCOPE CLOSURES AT KITT PEAK AND CERRO TOLOLO
2. NSF RECOGNITION AWARDS
1. AURA ANNOUNCEMENT - PROJECTED TELESCOPE CLOSURES AT KITT PEAK AND CERRO TOLOLO
NSF has projected the budget for the astronomy division for the next five years based on an assumption of level dollar funding, and has asked NOAO to plan based on this assumption. Assuming 3% annual inflation in the US and 8% in Chile, the result of level dollar funding is a cut in spending capability on the order of 16% of the present budget by 1999, but with much deeper cuts being required at KPNO in order to provide support to CTIO and the US Gemini Program. While the recently published OIR Panel report (McCray 1995) examined the consequences of constrained
budgets on NOAO, the depth of the cuts projected now exceeds the worst case considered in that report, because the base from which the projection is to be taken is already substantially lower than
it was at the time of the writing of that report. If these projections are realized, then NOAO will be compelled to close or privatize telescopes on the following schedule:
1996 KPNO share of the Burrell Schmidt; CTIO 0.6-m
1997 KPNO 0.9-m; CTIO 1.0-m
1998 KPNO 2.1-m and Coude' Feed
1999 KPNO 4-m
This conclusion has been reached after a detailed study of cost-saving measures and "benchmark" comparisons with operating costs at other observatories carried out by NOAO management.
AURA has reviewed the budget analysis, benchmark comparisons, and priorities presented by NOAO management and agrees that these consequences are unavoidable unless the priorities or the budget projections change, which appears unlikely.
The effects of tight budgets are being felt across astronomy, in terms of shortages in grant funds as well as pressure on national facilities. By providing budget projections five years ahead,
NSF has given astronomers an unprecedented opportunity to anticipate the effects of present trends on the field as a whole -- grants as well as centers.
A detailed discussion of the priorities, calculations and constraints that have led us to these conclusions, including a zero-based budget for NOAO for 1999, is posted on the world wide web at
An open forum has been set up with this posting, as well as directions for sending comments or addressing questions to the AURA Observatories Council. A copy of the posted materials (four
files plus a Readme) will be automatically sent to you if you send email to
In the www posting, we present the basis for the conclusions sketched above and go on to invite a community-wide effort to improve the funding situation for all of astronomy. We encourage all AAS members, not just NOAO observers, to read the posting and participate in the discussion.
Lee Anne Willson, Chair
AURA Observatories Council
Goetz K. Oertel, President
2. NSF RECOGNITION AWARDS
NSF Publication 96-87, the solicitation for the new NSF activity "Recognition Awards for the Integration of Research and Education," is now available on the World Wide Web at http://www.nsf.gov/od/osti. An announcement to this effect has been posted on the NSF Grants Bulletin Board and will be sent via e-mail to the Sponsored Research Offices of all eligible universities. Distribution of the solicitation will be via the World Wide Web; a printed version of the solicitation will not be produced. ASCII and Microsoft Word 6.0 versions of the solicitation are available at the Web site for downloading and printing.