On 13 December 2007 the STFC submitted a proposal to remove the UK’s access to Gemini South by 2009, but to retain access to Gemini North until the end of the current Gemini agreement in 2012. On 25 January 2008 STFC was informed that the Gemini Board had rejected this. STFC now proposes to issue formal notice to withdraw from Gemini completely.This has caused dismay to the astronomical community. Following consultation, the Council of the RAS authorised its President to send the following letter to the Gemini Board in the hope of salvaging something from the current impasse.
Dear Gemini Board,
I am writing on behalf of the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society to express our extreme disappointment that STFC's attempt to negotiate continuing access to Gemini North has been unsuccessful.Given the UK's investment in Gemini and the strong support of the UK astronomical community for the project since its inception, we had hoped that the needs of UK astronomers would have received a more sympathetic hearing.
The RAS would like to assist the Gemini Board and STFC to a fair outcome, of benefit both to the UK community and to the Gemini partnership, in any way that it can.
(President, Royal Astronomical Society)