By Glen Langston
West Virginia's Observatory in Green Bank is a world leader in astronomy research. The Observatory owes this honor to the support of West Virginia's elected officials, who worked for funding for West Virginians to build the worlds greatest telescope, the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT).
Recently the observatory has been threatened with budget cuts that will damage West Virginia's future. The Observatory needs your help, your voice of support and your prayers.
World recognition comes only from results. With your telescope, the scientists and engineers have discovered important properties of our world. Your Observatory has discovered MOST of the chemicals identified in our galaxy. Your observatory has discovered gravitational lenses, where the gravitational pull of a "nearby" galaxy magnifies an even more distant galaxy. These lenses have revealed the same chemicals seen in our galaxy were already visible when the Universe was one-tenth its current age.
This is a great surprise. Even more surprising was my discovery, in collaboration with others, proving that fundamental physics properties have not changed, at all, in more than 6 billion years. We don't have space here to mention all our discoveries, but there are enough to prove West Virginia's leadership in Astronomy.
Being a world leader is not easy. The weather in West Virginia is not perfect, but that problem is compensated by our efforts to build the biggest telescopes, the most able to answer questions about chemistry in our galaxy, the chemistry that led to life on Earth.
The Observatory appreciates West Virginia's support. The Observatory has given back to West Virginia's children. Our outreach to children is through the Governor's schools and online programs. We have worked hard to inspire each and every West Virginia child, through our science activities center. The Observatory's discoveries are important for all West Virginians.
Due to regulations, the employees at the Observatory have had difficulty expressing the moral relevance of astronomy to West Virginians' lives. However, astronomical discoveries are tests of the sensibility of mankind's laws. This is not new. Astronomers have always been advisors to lawgivers and the government, attempting to put our lives in the context of the bigger world.