By Will Knight Astronomers at one of the world’s most famous observatories say that a new fast-food restaurant could ruin their view of space by filling the air with thermal pollution and greasy fumes. France’s Pic du Midi observatory sits at 2890 metres on an isolated summit of the Pyrénées and researchers there have launched a campaign to stop the restaurant expansion. They are concerned that heat and greasy emissions from the restaurant, which serves tourists visiting the telescopes, might distort the appearance of space. François Colas, an astronomer from the Paris Observatory who frequently uses Pic du Midi, is leading the campaign to stop the construction. “They decided to build it very quickly,” Colas told New Scientist. “And did not consult any of the observers.” The Pic du Midi observatory has a long and distinguished history. In 1969 NASA used the 123-year-old outpost to draw up a detailed map of the moon, prior to the moon landings. The new restaurant is to be built near to the telescope used for this historic work and critics have joked that, had the restaurant been around in 1969, Neil Armstrong might have mistaken the Moon for a large spot of grease. The restaurant is crucial to the observatory’s future, however. Much astronomy is now done from clear-sky locations like Hawaii and Chile and, a decade ago, the observatory faced possible closure due to a lack of government funding. The restaurant is part of local government efforts to replace state subsidies with money from tourism. Colas concedes that expansion is necessary but says that a solution would be to restrict the restaurant to selling only cold food such as sandwiches. Web links: Pic du Midi Observatory (French) Francois Colas: Can astronomy and tourism go together?