Canada turnaround to keep observatory in first dark skies zone open (Update)

February 11, 2015

The Mont-Megantic Observatory in Quebec has been used to discover several planetary bodies in distant skies
Canada vowed Wednesday to keep open an observatory in eastern North America where the first dark skies reserve was created, hours after its director said budget cuts would force its closure.

"Our government will pay to keep the Observatoire Astronomique du Mont-Mégantic open for the two years," International Development Minister Christian Paradis said in a Twitter message.

The Tory minister's pledge to postpone cutting federal funding for the telescope in his electoral district comes ahead of October elections.

Earlier, Rene Doyon, a professor at the University of Montreal, who is responsible for keeping the observatory up and running, told AFP the observatory was scheduled to close on April 1.

"Our federal financing to operate the observatory is being cut," he said.

The telescope in Quebec province is described by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada as "the most important observatory of North America's East Coast" because of its sheer size.

Its telescope holds a 1.6 meter mirror and weighs almost 24 tons. The observatory has been used to discover several planetary bodies in distant skies.

Located 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Montreal in a sparsely populated region at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet), it opened in 1978.

Three decades later, the first dark sky reserve—an area kept free of artificial light pollution in order to facilitate stargazing—was established around the observatory.

Ottawa has provided Can$500,000 (US$400,000) annually, about half of the observatory's operating costs.

Doyon said Canadian astronomers had made their objections over its closure known to the government but officials did not respond to them.

"It's the only university observatory currently operating in Canada," he said.

Scientists have regularly accused the ruling Tories in recent years of muzzling government scientists to advance a political agenda that ignores research findings.

They held a mock funeral march in 2012 marking the "death of evidence" in Canada, and last year protested the government's closure of science librairies.

The government has rejected the claims, saying it actually boosted support for basic and applied research, while cutting overall spending.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper must defend his parliamentary majority in eight months and hopes to campaign as the first G7 power to post a budgetary surplus 2009 global recession.

Explore further: Funding for US-German airborne observatory cut

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5 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2015
it's just that Harper, is plainly a little corporate lackey. He's killing Canadian government sponsored science, and Canadian social systems, in a bid to hand Canada over to dark corporate interests.

Anything else spouting out of him or his cohorts, is distracting and divisive cover story garbage, in order to deflect from the reality of the deeper betrayal of Canada and Canadians.

"Both initiatives are part of the ruling Conservatives' efforts to slash spending and bring in the first budgetary surplus since the 2009 global recession, ahead of October elections."

The above (from the end of the article) is cover story garbage, like every other move he's pulled on the Canadian system. He's dismantling Canada, for his controllers.

The pattern and the actions are obvious to anyone who's even remotely observant.

5 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2015
We don't need observatories in Canada. The Harper Government appears to believe that the world was created in 4004 BC and anything that contradicts it is just wrong. Remember these are the same guys who in the last year dismantled science libraries across the country, so pro science they are not...except for maybe the Perimiter Centre, but that is probably only because they don't have a clue what goes on there.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2015
From the last line of this article
The obseratory is scheduled to close on April 1.
That was not an april fools joke.

This observatory is right beside the little town of Lac Mégantic where a train full of crude oil derailled on july 2013. This would not had happenned if this fucking stupid government would not have laxed the law allowing this dangerous train to be left unattended. This might be one reason why they had second thought and finally decided to finance the observatory maybe for one last time on this election year. Long live Mont Mégantic Hopefully Harper's conservative will not get reelected and the next government will have more consideration toward science.
not rated yet Feb 12, 2015
This $500,000 annual cost is what part of the federal budget? If the government devoted so much time and energy to considering every $500,000 slice of its $280,000,000,000 budget, would they have time for anything else?

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