Mont Mégantic Observatory saved by the bell

Mont Mégantic Observatory saved by the bell

Main pic: Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic. Photo credit: Simon Villeneuve

Lac Mégantic (Quebec) 12 February 2015 – The Mont-Mégantic Observatory (OMM) owned by the Université de Montreal and Université Laval went from closing its doors at 8:30 in the morning on February 11th to reopening and continuing its operations at 4:30 pm the same day.

The observatory pretty much runs on government grants and the latest amount of money allotted to the centre was expected to run out on March 31 which would have forced the closure of the OMM.

The news of the closure went out to the media around 8:30 in the morning by the director of the observatory M. René Doyon.

The announcement had the physicians and scientific community of the province caught by surprise and generally upset about the lack of funds available to support the centre which is used by universities across the country.

After everyone had swallowed the news, and the closure had been publicised, Radio- Canada announced at 4:30 in the afternoon that the Federal Government would allocate $500,000 to save the observatory and keep it running for another two years.

Most of the people who operate the OMM were not aware of the money coming and only found out by hearing it on the news. Everyone was of course, elated by the surprise announcement.

The federal Industry Minister, James Moore had the money unblocked quickly and sent out a message via his office’s twitter account.

The observatory has always lived on the edge as far as financing is concerned and will continue to face the same challenge in the years to come but, for now at least, everyone can breathe freely for the next two years.

The OMM has been successful in the past for several improvements towards astronomical studies including the development of a special ultra-sensitive camera in 2009 which was bought by NASA, and it was also used as a test site for a new type of antenna developed by a joint effort through Canada-France and Hawaii.

The OMM team had also photographed a new planet back in 2008 which made the rounds throughout the scientific world.

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