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Canada Space Science

Is the Canadian Arctic the Future of Astronomy? 106

sciencehabit writes "Frigid temperatures, dry air, and endless nights should, in theory, make the polar regions top spots for ground-based optical astronomy. So far, Antarctica has been getting all the action, with a handful of optical telescopes peering into the sky from the icy continent. But a new study indicates that the Canadian high Arctic is also a good spot for ground-based optical astronomy. In fact, the great white north offers some practical advantages over the Antarctic."
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Is the Canadian Arctic the Future of Astronomy?

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  • Firstly... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ( 1706780 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @06:43AM (#38608044)

    To begin with, it'd probably be easier to get there.

    Disclaimer: I've never so much as been to Canada so I don't know what it's like in the polar region there, but I'd imagine that the lack of a huge southwards plane / boat voyage would be an immediate bonus over Antarctica.

    Probably be easier to get internet and other communication up there as well.

  • by Framboise ( 521772 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:37AM (#38608230)

    For optical astronomy (that is in visible, near-infrared light) the long winter nights are good for observing objects continuously 24/24 as long as non-cloudy sky permits.
    Of course the converse occurs in summer when darkness doesn't exist for months.
    Polar auroras are also a nuisance.

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:20AM (#38608376) Homepage

    Yeah, Antarctic buildings generally slowly sink/get buried; it's a big challenge. Bedrock is best.

    I'm surprised that Iceland isn't more utilized. It's a first-world nation, the north/northeast has lots of areas that are borderline desert, it's pretty far north (Fairbanks-ish, further north than Yellowknife), the whole country is well connected by an excellent road system (except for parts of Vestfirðir), there's a very low population density (and thus low light pollution outside the capitol region), a huge amount of aluminum production (it's one of the main exports), and electrical power is abundant and cheap. Sounds like a good site for building large high-latitude telescopes, IMHO.

  • Re:fiber (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Prof.Phreak ( 584152 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @09:39AM (#38608768) Homepage

    Never underestimate a ship packed with hard-drives... or something. Oftentimes FedEx-ing data is cheaper AND faster.

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