Observatories, Ground - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Space Sciences

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The Locations of Ground-Based Observatories

The best ground-based sites for optical and infrared astronomy are Mauna Kea, a volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii that is 4,205 meters (13,796 feet) high, and mountain peaks in the desert in northern Chile. Other good sites are in the Canary Islands and the southwestern United States. The following are the characteristics that astronomers look for when they select a site for an optical/infrared telescope:

  1. Clear skies. The best sites in the world are clear about 75 percent of the time. Most types of astronomical observations cannot be carried out when clouds are present.
  2. Dark skies. The atmosphere scatters city lights, making it impossible to see faint objects. The best sites are therefore located far away from large cities. (Even with the naked eye, one can see quite clearly the difference between what can be seen in the night sky in a city...

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This section contains 2,503 words
(approx. 9 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Observatories, Ground Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan Science Library: Space Sciences
Observatories, Ground from Macmillan Science Library: Space Sciences. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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