Today’s Solutions: October 05, 2022

Summer is the season for stargazing. Whether you’re just laying out on a picnic blanket in your backyard or have invested in a high-tech telescope, the twinkling vastness of space above can captivate our attention for hours. Now, astronomers have identified the most ideal place on earth for a telescope. Unfortunately, it might be hard for most of us to get to it.

The place in question is an ice dome on a plateau in eastern Antarctica called Dome Argus, or Dome A. It sits at an altitude of over 4,000 meters and is recognized as one of the world’s coldest places, giving it an extremely thin atmosphere that won’t interfere with visibility.

The remote nature of Antarctica means the telescope won’t have to contend with other visibility challenges such as light pollution or air turbulence which can also warp image quality.

Astronomers measure atmospheric turbulence with a “seeing” number in arcseconds. The lower the number, the clearer the potential image. While some top notch telescope sites in Hawaii and Chile have been seeing numbers between 0.6 and 0.8 arcseconds, Dome A boasts seeing as low as 0.13 arcseconds at night.

Although it’s not somewhere most of us will be visiting anytime soon, hopefully this icy plateau will soon yield some of the most detailed images of our stars ever taken.

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