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Nature16 September 2004

 nature highlights

Astronomy on ice

The twinkling of the stars caused by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere is the bane of ground-based observations. Astronomers use adaptive optics and orbiting telescopes to minimize or by-pass the problem, but they continue to scour the planet for the best possible site for a telescope. Now, a team of astronomers have used a robotic observatory at Dome C in Antarctica to quantify the degree of twinkling from this uninhabited site. The results are spectacular: the star images are a factor of three times sharper than at the best mid-latitude observatories. Dome C is a therefore a strong candidate for the site for the next generation of optical telescopes.

letters to nature
Exceptional astronomical seeing conditions above Dome C in Antarctica
JON S. LAWRENCE, MICHAEL C. B. ASHLEY, ANDREI TOKOVININ & TONY TRAVOUILLON
Nature 431, 278–281 (2004); doi:10.1038/nature02929
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