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Space The Almighty Buck United Kingdom Science

Chance To Snap Up Your Own Observatory 62

Hugh Pickens writes "Like to own your own five-story observatory equipped with a 12" Meade Schmidt Cassegrain catadioptric telescope and a 20-inch Shafer-Maksutov telescope — the second-largest of its kind in the world? Well, there's one for sale at Marina Towers in Swansea, at an observatory that could be Wales' largest telescope. The Swansea Astronomical Society moved out two years ago, blaming increased rent and other costs. So the city council has asked interested parties to submit their proposals and financial offers by the end of March. Brian Spinks, the chair of the society, says the extra rent and running costs meant the society's members would have had to find around £40,000 over the next 10 years. 'The members can no longer be expected to finance such a public presence from their annual subscription. If we had to find £40,000 over the next 10 years it would kill the society.' The observatory was built in 1988 and includes a domed roof, an access tower that houses a spiral staircase, a stained-glass roof by artist David Pearl and panels of carved poetry by Nigel Jenkins. 'We'd like to see a mixed-use development that incorporates features of the existing observatory building,' says Coun Gareth Sullivan, Swansea council's cabinet member for regeneration. 'Bringing the observatory back into use would add even more vitality to the promenade.'"
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Chance To Snap Up Your Own Observatory

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  • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @08:40AM (#38628792)

    That's a car, financed over 10 years instead of 5. Must be a pretty small society.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @08:44AM (#38628812)

    Replying to my own post... 80 members, so yeah, pretty small but only 500 funny currency symbols each over ten years each. That's just 50 per year. My guess is that their members don't want that kind of dues increase. I'd think they could have held birthday parties or some such and raised that money, though.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @08:59AM (#38628874) Homepage Journal

    It might be a big delta but it's not a lot of money. If you can't come up with 4000 pounds a year to support something with as much apparent value then apparently it's not actually worth maintaining.

  • by smolloy (1250188) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @09:22AM (#38629002)
    The site they're moving to -- the Gower -- has much darker skies than the glare of Swansea. So, yeah -- they've decided, probably for good reason, that it's not worth paying that much extra for light polluted skies, when they could maintain their costs and increase the quality of their experience.
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @09:34AM (#38629066)

    That goes both ways. This sounds like a fantastic facility that is often made open to the public, that is completely maintained by the members, and which they pay to use. The community benefits enormously, and from the council's comments, they know it.

    But because they've got some greedy assholes in charge now, they've decided to increase the rent by a factor of 20x over 10 years. And what determines the fair market value? I'm certain the improvements made over the years, paid for by the members, are a big part of it.

    The best thing would for the council to realize the benefit they gain from having a fantastic learning resource run for them for free, and subsidizing the rent - maybe an increase is fair, but not that much - is a win/win for everyone.

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.