For six months of the year the South Pole is the perfect place for stargazing: darkness around the clock, no light pollution from irritating human settlements, and high altitude and freezing air combined mean a thin, crisp atmosphere with little distorting water vapour.
That’s why the South Pole Telescope was built there in 2006, near the American research base at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The 10-metre reflecting telescope observes the heavens in various frequencies of infrared radiation, paying particular attention to the cosmic microwave background, the dim all-pervasive afterglow of the big bang.
In this picture, the telescope can be seen during the long Antarctic night as the aurora australis, or southern lights, stream overhead.
Originally published by Cosmos as The South Pole Telescope
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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