For the World's Best Stargazing, Head to Antarctica

By Allison Bond | September 2, 2009 7:00 am

AntarcticaLooking for the best place on Earth to gaze at the stars? Scientists have identified the exact spot on the planet that provides the greatest view of the heavens. The location, called Ridge A, is deep in the Antarctic interior, according to a study published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society.

You’ll want to bundle up, though, because the 13,297-foot-high location has an average winter temperature of about -94 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s so inhospitable that researchers say that no human has ever set foot on Ridge A.

To search for the perfect site to take pictures of the heavens, a U.S.-Australian research team combined data from satellites, ground stations and climate models in a study to assess the many factors that affect astronomy — cloud cover, temperature, sky-brightness, water vapor, wind speeds and atmospheric turbulence [LiveScience]. Scientists believe that a telescope set in place on Ridge A could take pictures as well as the Hubble Space Telescope, which is orbiting the Earth, thanks to the area’s lack of wind and weather.

Related content:
80beats: Perseid Meteor Shower Should Dazzle Despite a Bright Moon
80beats: World’s Biggest Telescope Will Provide “Baby Pictures” of the Universe

Image: flickr / es0teric


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