“British astrologers barred from two telescopes”

I may be a little tired and emotional at 06:00-ish on a Sunday morning, but I swear on my copy of The Origin of Species that a presenter on BBC News 24 has just introduced a story thus. Far from original, I know, but it is nonetheless faintly amusing, and a sadly common blunder among the scientifically illiterate.

This is, of course, all about the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) budget cuts, as discussed here and here, and in countless other places discoverable via the web search engine of your choice. And now we hear about the reported loss of access – along with an £8 million financial penalty – for British astronomers to the Gemini telescopes.

This is very bad news, and I refer interested readers to the website of Sheffield University astronomer Paul Crowther for further details.