Chinese astronomers eye Tibetan Plateau site for observatory project

Chinese astronomers hope to establish a major observatory program on the roof of the world, the Tibetan Plateau, with new research arguing for pristine observing conditions nestled in the uplands.

The analysis focuses on a study site near Lenghu Town in Qinghai Province at an altitude of more than 2.5 miles (4.2 kilometers) and some 1,900 miles (3,000 km) west of Beijing. In the paper, the scientists argue that three years of monitoring shows conditions on par with those at some of the most renowned scientific outposts on Earth. Moreover, making use of the site would fill a gap in scientists’ existing global network of high-altitude, high-caliber observatory complexes, allowing for more reliable monitoring of phenomena that change rapidly, like supernovas. Right now, top-tier observatories cluster in the Western Hemisphere — think Maunakea in Hawaii, Cerro Paranal in Chile and La Palma in the Canary Islands.

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