CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is an essential part of Pocahontas County. Since 1961, when it opened the first fully automatic radio telescope, the NRAO has filtered in tourism, jobs and money. It's a national landmark and a major research center with contacts around the world.
Not only this, but students in Pocahontas County can say that the NRAO is a part of their childhood. It is a place where they have taken school field trips, and it has been the main topic of their astronomy lessons in science classes.
Now the question remains: Why would anyone want to shut down the NRAO?
It seems unrealistic that the National Science Foundation would cut funding for a place that means so much to so man people, but it's more like killing two birds with one stone. In shutting down the NRAO, the NSF gains three new telescopes in Chile.
Unfortunately, the removal of the NRAO and its state-of-the-art telescope would most likely rob the United States of another research facility such as this one. Also, the United States would probably never gain another high power telescope like the Green Bank Telescope.
Some may find this outrageous. Just when the government complains that the United States is falling behind other countries in education -- especially math and science -- the NSF makes major budget cuts to a world-renowned science facility.
The budget cuts would prevent any school students, college graduates or interested astronomers from using the NRAO and its equipment.
In 2009, Lucas Bolyard, then a sophomore at South Harrison High School in Clarksburg, found a rare star called a pulsar with the help of the NRAO and its research facilities. He was invited to the White House because of his achievement. Without the NRAO, an achievement and an honor like that would not have occurred.
Scientists, astronomers, accountants, managers and interns would all be at a loss for a job if the NRAO were closed. At Pocahontas County High School, many people have connections to the NRAO.