Gemini : outbreak of sanity

I am sitting at home listening to a recording of the last session of the IUS Select Committee .. when suddenly along comes an email from Roger Davies (to the SCAP list I think) alerting us to what Roger called “an outbreak of sanity”. There is an announcement at the Gemini web site. This has a joint statement from STFC and the Executive Agency (NSF) that UK is a Full Partner in Gemini. Here is the text :

The Science and Technology Facilities Council has reaffirmed the UK’s position as a full member of the Partnership under the terms of the current Gemini Agreement. The Gemini Board welcomes this statement. The Board acknowledges the STFC’s need to address its budgetary constraints and notes that, under the terms of the Agreement, the UK is entitled to seek to sell some of its telescope time both within the partnership and, subject to the approval of the Board, outside the current partnership. The Board has directed the Observatory to continue the UK as a full partner, participating in all subsequent observing semesters, and all relevant committees and functions of the Observatory.

Note it gives us permission to start flogging off time. Any takers ?

11 Responses to Gemini : outbreak of sanity

  1. Kav says:

    This is excellent news. Now we just have to hope that sanity breaks out with respect to other decisions.

  2. andyxl says:

    Just remember, as Chico once explained, there aint no Sanity Clause

  3. Ian says:

    If someone will buy G-S time to pay for G-N and balance our books then we’re only £1-2M/year out of pocket on the deal and I applaud it. If another facility is sacrificed to balance that £1-2M/year, and to pay for Aspen, then we’ll be getting a very poor deal indeed. Zero sum game, folks. Here’s hoping this sorry tale leads to better management of Gemini and that STFC’s commitment to Aspen leads to some great new instruments and some hardcore science from Gemini.

  4. Peter Williams says:

    A significant victory for the astronomy campaign. Well done!!

  5. KOMbat17 says:

    Doesn’t this just mean that Gemini has sidestepped the “review” faced by the rest of the programme? Another astronomy facility or activity may well pay the price – a pyrrhic victory for the astrocommunity as a whole, if that occurs.

  6. Paul Crowther says:

    The change in policy between Council’s press release from 6 Feb (reduced investment) and yesterday’s announcement (fullAspen commitment) suggests that the damage to the UK’s reputatation led to someone senior telling STFC to find a solution on Gemini. I agree with Ian that its a “zero sum game” and the flawed peer-review process means I still don’t know for sure whether retaining Gemini was correct, although there were very good reasons to remaining a partner until after the UK had been able to exploit WFCAM and SCUBA2 fully. If the UK shifts 50% of GS from 2009, the difference between quitting and staying is at most £2M/yr including a UK commitment to PRVS@ATC).

  7. Kav says:


    Perhaps Keith’s secret reviewers told him to keep the UK in Gemini 😉

    Be careful with assuming you will have any time. Remember that in STFC world ‘withdrawing from some’ and ‘withdrawing from all’ are not incompatible!

    At the moment it is just nice to have A victory in this sorry mess. Any jobs going working on Gemini?

  8. andyxl says:

    I was one of those secret reviewers, for the in house research of the e-science centre. I could tell what we wrote, but I would have to kill you.

  9. Kav says:

    did you have to learn a secret handshake?

  10. andyxl says:

    No, but I did feel a twit with one trouser leg rolled up.

  11. Dave says:

    So they announce that we are out just before the PPAN meets to discuss the Programmatic Review. Then they announce we are back in just before the report is made public. Neither seems right. What has been happening in the month since the review went through Science Board? Ian’s point (Feb 28th at 8:10) is exactly right.

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