Thursday, May 04, 2006

Double Jeopardy

In astronomy there is a well known double jeopardy problem. The number of observatories is small compared to the number of projects requiring telescope time, and it is usually the case (in USA, at least) that you have money for the project but no telescope time, but it can also be the case that you have telescope time but no money to travel. Well I am currently in the second situation !!

In Mexico we have a very productive but rather small astronomical community, with around 100 astronomers plus grad students, but of course many of them work in theoretical models that do not require observational time. We have 3 big optical telescopes, two of them are in the OAN (Observatorio Astronomico Nacional) property of UNAM one of 2m and the other a 1.5 telescope (they also have a big refractor in Tonantzintla, , the remaining one is a 2m telescope in the Guillermo Haro Observatory property of INAOE. The point is that having access to telescope time is not as hard as it is in other countries where the ratio between astronomers and telescope time is much smaller (you still have to write a good proposal, of course).

Our team (working in extragalactic astronomy) got a HUUUGE share of telescope time in the two telescopes of the OAN, 3 weeks to be more precise, and I was supposed to observe in the 1.5m telescope some near elliptic galaxies in infrared. Well, that is scheduled for tomorrow and my wallet is as empty as it can be! Other members of our team will go and I think that we have enough people to do the observations (mainly because a colleague from Birmingham is coming).

The ugly part of things is that I actually requested funds but we (me and two other students) only get less than the half of the requested funds, and the funds wont arrive until june, at least!! It seems that I need better sources of financing. =(

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