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From: TerryMoselaol.com
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 18:35:52 EDT
Subject: Dunsink IS to close

Hi all,

I have now heard, unofficially but from a usually reliable source, that 
Dunsink Observatory is to close as a working institution on that site at the end of 
January. The decision was taken at the DIAS Board meeting earlier this week. 
It is presumed that the remaining staff there will relocate to the rest of 
DIAS in Merrion Square. 

Of course I can't be absolutely certain until I've heard it officially, but 
it appears that this time the decision has been taken. Whether it is final, or 
subject to ratification at a higher level, I'm not sure.

I have talked to some prominent astronomical people about this, and I have to 
admit that some of them think that it's not a bad thing, in terms of 
efficiency & cost-effectiveness in Irish research astronomy.

But my gut feeling is that it's a shame to see the end of over 200 years (it 
was built in 1785) of our astronomical history at Dunsink Observatory, which 
is the oldest observatory in 'These Islands' still on its original site, and is 
Ireland's oldest scientific institution.

I'm told that the building, & the South Dome (housing the 12" refractor) are 
both listed, and will be preserved, and perhaps used for some sort of public 
astronomy outreach, but the scope & funding of the latter remains to be seen. 
In any case, the building may well become more vulnerable to the attacks which 
have already happened recently. There would need to be excellent security 
provided, or I fear that the telescope could disappear (as did the huge brass 
circle, some years ago). And I'm not thinking of any of us as the possible 
culprits - although at least then it would find a good new home & continue to be 
used!  

If the decision has indeed been taken, and is irreversible, the best we can 
do is to campaign for the maintenance of the observatory, and the South 
Telescope & Dome, as a proper public outreach facility. It is after all the public 
who pay for DIAS & Dunsink, and they are entitled to get something back for 
their money! Is it too much to hope for that it could be something like a 
smaller-scale 'Royal Greenwich Observatory', with historic exhibits, public nights, 
and perhaps a planetarium?

BUT PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS HAS NOT BEEN DEFINITELY CONFIRMED YET!

Comments are welcome.

Terry Moseley

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