August 2018 Meeting – Astronomy in Antarctica

Astronomy in Antarctica. It seems a strange place to locate a telescope. Most of us find a SE Queensland winter a sufficient challenge to operate a telescope. However, BAS member, Mike Zupanc, who has actually lived and worked in Antarctica, explained to us just why the frozen continent is one of the best places on Earth for a few specific forms of astronomy. For one, the atmospheric turbulence we experience in temperate and tropical zones from jet streams and moving high and low-pressure systems and pestering clouds, are not an issue on the high dome regions of central Antarctica. Moisture is also never a problem as it instantly freezes to ice on the ice pack. So, telescopes are free of dust and condensation and can even track circumpolar objects continuously at certain times of the year. We even learned that the University of NSW has an entirely autonomous telescope operating in Antarctica. That is an impressive feat. Most of us have enough trouble keeping our telescopes operating for a few hours within arm’s reach.

Thank you Mike for a really informative talk.