08 September 2009
Top 10 Most Remote Extreme Observatories in the World
Photo of the South Pole Telescope at sunset by NSF (U.S. National Science Foundation)
From Denny: Brrrrr! Check out this article on the Top 10 Extreme Observatories in the world. Some of these stargazing facilities are truly one of a kind places around the globe. Remember, this is the Year of Astronomy.
This is the South Pole Telescope on the Antarctic Plateau where this place is so barren it sits atop a two mile thick glacier supporting little life.
What is their job down here in cold land? They are measuring cosmic background radiation that's been traveling for billions of years through space and is now bombarding Earth all over the place.
So, why here for this job? This barren place is perfect because you get a clear sky with very little, sometimes, no, moisture. That moisture can absorb the light.
What that amounts to is that this special place is like a perfect window out into space with a clear view without the expense and bother of having to leave the planet to get the same results. Not bad! Just don't go putting up a row of fast food chains, guys, as we all know that civilization lights are bad for stargazing...
Photo of Svalbard EISCAT system (European Incoherent Scatter)
Remember hearing about the Doomsday Seed Vault located in Norway in case the world ended and we had to start over again? Yep, located in one inhospitable place in the Arctic Ocean! There are more polar bears than human in this frigid place, about 2100 humans to 2500 polar bears if you want the count. They study the auroral ionosphere here since those famous romantic northern lights are best visible in far northern locations. These scientists spend all their time observing the aurora borealis (northern lights) as they best reveal the interactions of the sun and Earth relationship in the atmosphere.
There are some really cool places and studies going on all over this planet! Let's see, there's Puerto Rico, Hawaii (volcano), Chile (desert), Japan (underground), Siberia (Lake Baikal, the largest fresh water lake in the world)and much more. Check out the How Stuff Works article from Discovery for the other observatories, go here.