04 Mar 08, 11:03am, Fernando Camilo

Hi Bryan,

Thanks for your evocative picture of a version of the future of astronomy.
I have two comments in reply to some of yours:

* As Naomi already noted, optical astronomy does not just have its
Kecks. There are also plenty of 2-4 m telescopes - and they are not
just university-operated. As you will be aware of, during the recent
US NSF Senior Review process some of the recommendations were for the
National Optical Astronomy Observatory to concentrate on the 8-meter-class
telescopes. After considerable community backlash (canvassing familiar
arguments, some brought forth also by contributers to the ATNF webforum),
the NSF/NOAO has reconsidered those recommendations (may the ATNF
leadership be as enlightened). The parallels are not perfect, but they
are relevant: especially since ASKAP will not begin to even replace
some of the key capabilities of some of the existing ATNF telescopes,
it is particularly important to not break what is great among what we
have while moving to building something new.

* You mention the years 2028 and 2040 in your post. That is all
well and good, but the FAO report addresses what is supposed to be
in place in 2012. The immediate concern is that if the FAO plan is
enacted as stated, by 2012 ATNF will not only not be operating four
world-class observatories, it will not be operating even three world-class
observatories. That may not be the intention of the stated plans, but
is a reasonable expectation to infer from their would-be implementation
(especially given the paucity of supporting justification and background