NASA's iconic emblem.
The major organization of professional astronomers in the United States is asking its members how the ongoing U.S. government shutdown is affecting them and their work.
The American Astronomical Society (AAS), which was founded in 1899, wants to hear shutdown-related stories from astronomers across the country so that its appeal to lawmakers can be as informed and persuasive as possible.
“We are asking you to submit your stories as we prepare to draft a letter to lawmakers that demonstrates the damage their inaction is causing and urge them to re-open the government,” AAS officials wrote in their online message, which posted last week. “Any and all information gathered here will be used completely anonymously in any communications with government leaders.”
The government shutdown began at midnight EDT on Oct. 1 when the Senate and House of Representatives failed to agree on an emergency spending bill. As a result, many government agencies and activities have been scaled back dramatically. NASA, for example, has furloughed 97 percent of its 18,000 employees and ceased operations except those critical to protecting human life and agency property.