This Antarctic Plateau Could Offer the Best Possible View of Stars at Night from Earth

·1 min read

Stargazers are often in the search of places from where they can get clear views of the sky.

Usually, such places are located at high altitudes. A new study has revealed that astronomers can get the best possible view of the stars from a plateau in Antarctica, called Dome A.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists from China, Australia and the University of British Columbia (UBC), and it has been published in the journal Nature.

The researchers claim that Dome A is one of the coldest and remotest places. It offers the clearest view of the stars at night because of high altitude, low temperature, long periods of continuous darkness. This place also has quite a stable atmosphere.

The study suggests that a telescope placed there could observe even fainter objects.

On the other hand, places located at less altitude and closer to plains offer atmospheric turbulence, resulting in lower image quality of telescopes.

Owing to the turbulence, stars appear to be twinkling. The measurement of the impact due to disturbance is known as “seeing”.

"The thinner boundary layer at Dome A makes it less challenging to locate a telescope above it, thereby giving greater access to the free atmosphere," said UBC astronomer Bin Ma, lead author on the paper.

The researchers found Antarctica favourable for observation because it has dry weather conditions. The presence of water vapours throws challenges as they absorb light, particularly in infrared wavelengths.

Currently, observatories from where astronomers get a clear view are positioned in high-altitude along the equator - Chile and Hawai'i.

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