August 2015 - Sky & Telescope Special Issue: Astronomy's Funding Crisis

Historical and relevant observatories are facing closure as astronomy faces a funding crisis. But some observatories, such as Lick Observatory in California and the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope atop Kitt Peak, have found ways to fight back. Meanwhile, backyard observers are in for a treat in late summer as the Perseids promise to rain down on a Moonless night, star clusters shine in August's sky, and the treasures shielded by Scutum reveal themselves to deep-sky seekers.

Feature Articles

© 2006 Laurie Hatch / image and text - LICK OBSERVATORY - Mt. Hamilton  California 2006 July 8 - AUTOMATED PLANET FINDER TELESCOPE - Two of the most advanced technologies in astronomy are represented in this two-minute  digital time exposure. In this view looking east from Observatory Peak,  a 12-watt yellow  sodium laser emanates from the Shane 3-meter Reflector dome, located on Tycho Brahe Peak. It  is a component in the worldÕs first scientifically successful and highly specialized Laser  Guide Star Adaptive Optics system. This technology enables astronomers to reduce the effects  of atmospheric distortion, yielding celestial data so improved that they rival those of  space-based telescopes. With a telescope mirror only slightly smaller than the Shane 3-meter,  the newly constructed and more efficient 2.4-meter Automated Planet Finder dome is located  directly in front of the Shane. Fully robotic and equipped with a high-resolution spectrograph  optimized for precision Doppler measurements, it will enable off-site astronomers to detect  rocky planets of Earth-size masses within our local galactic neighborhood. On Huygens Peak at  foreground left, the silver dome of the 0.6-meter Tauchmann Reflector reveals the brilliant  light of a waxing gibbous moon. Note the muted apricot-colored glow on the shadowed left rims  of the Shane and APF domes. This is reflected light from the deep yellow low-pressure sodium  street lamps in nearby Silicon Valley.  - The photographer thanks UCO / Lick Observatory staff for their continual and enthusiastic  support. - A VIEW FROM LICK OBSERVATORY  - Lick Observatory crowns the 4,200-foot Mt. Hamilton summit above Silicon Valley in central  California. This research station serves astronomers from University of California campuses  and their collaborators worldwide. Eccentric Bay Area tycoon and philanthropist James Lick  (1796-1876) bequeathed funding for construction which spanned from 1880 to 1887, fulfilling  his
Lick Observatory's Shane Telescope.
Laurie Hatch

Special Section: Crises for Major Observatories

Budget Scramble at Kitt Peak
As federal agencies tighten their belts, several publicly funded telescopes are seeking inventive paths forward.
By Robert Zimmerman

Lick Observatory's Close Call
In fall 2013, the University of California targeted Lick Observatory for zero funding by 2018. Last fall, that decision was reversed. What happened? And what could other endangered observatories learn from Lick's experience?
By Trudy E. Bell

Astronomy & the VJ Day Kiss
Sun and shadows have finally pinpointed a moment of history and ruled out the widely accepted scenario for an iconic photograph.
By Donald W. Olson, Russell L. Doescher & Steven D. Kawaler

Summer Stars
Seek out these targets for small scopes and binoculars in August's evening sky.
By Maciej Zapiór

Armchair Imaging
In the digital age, you don't need your own telescope to take stunning astrophotos.
By Damian Peach

Beyond the Printed Page

Gemini on Sky Atlas 2000.0
Sky Atlas 2000.0.

Find your way around the sky by learning to use a map at the telescope.

Saving Lick
Read more on the Lick Observatory and its evolving future.

Seeing Variable Stars
Introduce yourself to variable star observing at the AAVSO.

Lunar Librations
Librations and other lunar data for August 2015.


Sharp view of Saturn, June 1, 2014
Christopher Go took this extraordinarily sharp image of Saturn during excellent seeing on June 1, 2014.

Saturn Flies Solo
Evening belongs to the ringed planet, early morning to Mars.
By Fred Schaaf

Dark Nights for Fine Perseids
There's no Moon, and the meteors should peak during night for North America.
By Alan MacRobert

A Paper Atlas for the Digital Age
interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas.
By Tony Flanders

Table of Contents
See what else August's issue has to offer.


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