Bulgaria's Rozhen Observatory Forced to Close over Severe Budget Cuts
Bulgaria's Rozhen observatory, the largest in Southeast Europe, will have to stop working in three weeks due to severe budget cuts imposed by the government.
"We have been forced to close the observatory and cancel all kinds of observatory-related activities. And the worse problem is that no one knows what would happen as a result," Rozhen astronomer Nikola Petrov has told bTV.
The observatory is now unable to pay for its electricity and water supply, with astronomers living on minimum wages (approximately EUR 148 a month).
The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Astronomy manages Rozhen Observatory, located in Bulgaria's Rhodope Mountains. The institute needs as a minimum a budget of BGN 960 000 per annum, but the budget for 2012 was only BGN 690 000.
Since coming to power in 2009, Bulgaria's center right GERB cabinet has made drastic cuts in budgets for research and education, with BAS being hit with as much as 40% of its annual funds.
Minister of Finance Simeon Djankov has been particularly relentless in that policy.
In 2009, Rozhen astronomers took part in the discovery of WASP 3-c, the first exoplanet detected with a new technique called Transit Timing Variations.
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