Tibetan Plateau Found to Provide Ideal Conditions for Observatories
The Tibetan Plateau in China provides ideal conditions for building the world’s most powerful telescopes.
QINGHAI, CHINA\ — The world’s most powerful astronomical observatories are currently almost all located in the Western Hemisphere, but a new Chinese study in the journal Nature proposes that the Tibetan Plateau in China provides ideal conditions for large telescopes built in the East.
Any new structures could hypothetically be built at the summit of Saishiteng Mountain, near the town of Lenghu in Qinghai province where four main factors, summarized by MIT’s Technology Review site, contribute to the site’s suitability.
The first factor is that the site has ‘unusually clear skies’ in the words of one of the study’s co-authors, who spoke to Space.com, meaning it has no dense cloud formations and little light pollution.
The second factor is that the local air and weather conditions are stable, with the atmosphere causing minimal interference with optical and infrared observations at night.
The third factor is the site’s infrastructure connections and accessibility, which are described as ‘convenient’ in the study.
The final factor is that the potential locations at the summit are all remote enough for their night sky views to be protected from human activity, with altitudes 100,000 square kilometres surrounding Lenghu Town below 3,000 meters, against Lenghu’s altitudes of between 4,200 and 4,500 meters.
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