The impeccable view of the night sky without obstacles from the glowing night sky of civilization makes you feel as if standing on the shore of eternity. However, there is one place on Earth where the gazes extend only a little further than anywhere else.
The researchers measured the transparency of the stars at a large Antarctic research station and found it to exceed current astronomical locations. The result may not be surprising, but for most of us it is a little disappointing.
Dome A is the tallest ice dome on the Antarctic Polar Plateau. Rising more than 4 kilometers (more than 13,000 feet) above sea level and sitting about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from the coldest continent in the middle of the ocean, it will be cool.
In fact, temperatures can drop as low as -90 degrees Celsius (-130 Fahrenheit).
But if it doesn’t forgive you, the reward may just be worth your effort.
This frozen peak provides an astronomical perspective like no other compared to the view caused by spots of light pollution, interference from many nearby satellites, or even the occasional passing cloud.
“The telescope in Dome A could surpass a similar telescope anywhere else on the planet,” says Paul Hickson, an astronomer at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“High altitudes, low temperatures, long periods of continuous darkness and a particularly stable atmosphere make the Dome A a very attractive place for optical and infrared astronomy. The telescope in it would have brighter images and be able to detect weaker objects.”
If you really want to see further into the depths of space and time, you need to escape from the nearest part of the atmosphere called the boundary layer. The gas that makes up this thin blanket is not just contaminated with dust and moisture – the heat of the earth makes it flicker, so the stars seem to flicker.
One way to appreciate this frustrating blink is by a figure called astronomical vision, which is a description of the visible diameter of a light source, called arc seconds.
This number indicates the difference when a point of light can be distinguished as a single source or multiple, so the less turbulence and clearer vision, the smaller the object (hence, the shorter the arc second).
Currently, the best ground-based telescopes available to astronomers are at altitudes where the boundary layer is relatively thin.
Chile’s noble Atacama Desert is currently considered one of the largest telescope spots, featuring the Atacama Large Millimeter Array radio imaging device, and will soon house an insanely large Giant Magellan telescope, a beast that has overtaken Hubble.
At this corner of the globe, atmospheric conditions can provide astronomical seen normal numbers that are approximately 0.66 arcseconds. On some clear nights, that number can drop by about half for even a few hours.
Hickson and his colleagues measured astronomical vision at Dome A Kunlun Station, a Chinese research post that was already considered an attractive place for astronomers.
In another cool place on land in Antarctica, called Dome C, the calculated values were already between 0.23 and 0.36 arcseconds. However, no one has yet had the right tools for those who are from Dome A.
After setting up their measuring equipment 8 meters above the ground, the team captured as many as 0.13 arc seconds, allowing it from the atmosphere at the observatories on the ball court. In fact, the figure reflects only the 14-meter-thick boundary layer.
“After a decade of circumstantial evidence and theoretical reasoning, we finally have direct observational evidence of the remarkably good conditions at Dome A,” said astronomer Michael Ashley of the University of New South Wales in Australia.
Before packing your woolen fabrics and a reliable old telescope for a stare at night, you should know that the conditions of Dome A don’t just pose a threat to frostbite. Your equipment should be up-to-date.
“Our telescope observed the sky at an unmanned aerial station in Antarctica fully automatically for seven months, with air temperatures sometimes dropping to -75 degrees Celsius. In itself, this is a technological breakthrough,” said Bin Ma, UBC’s astronomer. .
Even using advanced technology that could be controlled from somewhere warmer, the team had to fight ice rods. Overcoming extreme temperatures can help you see even more – about 12 percent.
While most of this reading will never look at the clear sky that watches the Dome A sky, we can all benefit from global insights into the great astronomy projects that will be created there in the future.
This study was published in 2006 nature.