Corporate Sponsorship I Can Get Behind
Lowell Observatory in Happy Jack, AZ, has just broken ground on a new $35 Million telescope that's being sponsored by The Discovery Channel. According to this article from Space.com
, it will be the fifth largest telescope in the continental United States--I can only assume they mean fifth largest visible spectrum telescope, since radio astronomy arrays are huge.
I think Astronomy is like poetry--it may seem useless but it's inspiring and necessary. Actually, I have some hypotheses on why it's actually very useful, but lacking all the evidence I want to sustain that argument, I'll keep them to myself. In the mean time, however, I think it's safe to say that Astronomy provides a valuable kind of entertainment. The budget for this telescope pales in comparison to even mediocre summer blockbusters. There's no reason to fear that Discovery will unfairly influence the research that gets done, so this seems like an ideal transaction between a public that wants to consume this information and a group of scientists that want to discover it, with Discovery acting as the middleman. I wouldn't mind seeing more of this kind of thing, at various scales. Link from Abbas Raza at Three Quarks Daily