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Is the Canadian Arctic the Future of Astronomy?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the planets-and-poutine dept.

Canada 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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106 comments

Firstly... (4, Interesting)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Firstly... (3, Insightful)

kahless62003 (1372913) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608068)

Secondly... the annoying light pollution you get from the aurora borealis.

Re:Firstly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608078)

The south pole has aurora too.

Re:Firstly... (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608126)

Its possible to put a telescope at the south spin pole because of the base there, and that is a long way from the south magnetic pole, which attracts the aurora. The northern spin pole is in ice over water and the northern magnetic pole is IIRC in Canada, so maybe this means a telescope in Canada would see more of the aurora.

Aurora location (5, Informative)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608508)

Aurora occur in rings centered on the magnetic poles [noaa.gov] , not at the magnetic poles themselves. As activity intensifies, the radius of these rings increases, in parallel with lines of geomagnetic latitude [nwra.com] , but even in periods of very low solar activity their radius never goes to near zero -- meaning, there are few aurora near the magnetic poles themselves.

Re:Aurora location (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38620394)

Aurora occur in rings centered on the magnetic poles

Sorry, but that is not correct. Auroras [gdargaud.net] occur in rings centered on the geomagnetic poles, which are more or less between the geographic pole and the magnetic pole. Look at the small map [gdargaud.net] I did here to explain the choice of Dome C for astronomy: it's smack near the geomagnetic pole, meaning we hardly ever see auroras down there... C:-(

From this page [gdargaud.net] :

The geomagnetic pole, located somewhat between the magnetic and geographic pole, is harder to define. The Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field that extends far away in space and protects us from the solar radiations. This layer converges on the Earth at the geomagnetic poles. You can also consider it as the true axis of the 'magnet Earth' (the dipole equivalent). It is approximately 1200 kilometers from the south pole, close to Vostok Station (roughly halfway between geographic and magnetic pole). The maximum amount of auroras tend to happen on a 1000km radius circle centered on this pole.

Re:Firstly... (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38612900)

Its possible to put a telescope at the south spin pole because of the base there.

The base where earth rests or the bearing for the axle?

Re:Firstly... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608506)

Nunuvut is actually fairly close to the current location of the north magnetic pole. This can be annoying (as in Aurora Borealis light pollution) or useful (cosmic ray telescopes). I just noticed that google maps only covers up to 85 degrees latitude. How many school kids are getting a distorted view that the earth stops there? What are the spy satellites not showing us in that 300 mile wide band between 85 north and the north pole, Santa?

Re:Firstly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608820)

How many school kids are getting a distorted view that the earth stops there? What are the spy satellites not showing us in that 300 mile wide band between 85 north and the north pole, Santa?

Just you. The rest of us understand map projection.

Re:Firstly... (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608854)

I just noticed that google maps only covers up to 85 degrees latitude. How many school kids are getting a distorted view that the earth stops there? What are the spy satellites not showing us in that 300 mile wide band between 85 north and the north pole, Santa?

Spherical mercator projection can't represent the poles in any sensible way. As you get closer to the poles, the map gets more and more stretched. This is usually ok since there isn't a lot of interest at the poles...

Re:Firstly... (4, Funny)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608964)

If you're using Mercator you're not really into maps.

http://xkcd.com/977/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Firstly... (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608086)

I think both locations experience -40 for long stretches of time (currently -14F at Amundsenâ"Scott station, South Pole... but it's the middle of summer there), and even though there's land under the airplane flying you to the station, I'm not sure that makes it easier to supply the station. In fact, it's cheaper to supply bases by boat (though the south pole station is inland by about 1300-2500miles, depending on who's counting). Internet access is going to be by Satellite/radio link as well, probably using whatever comm sattelite the south pole is (it's likely in a polar orbit). It's not like you can just subscribe to DSL or Cable internet in the Yukon :)

Re:Firstly... (2)

danny_lehman (1691870) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608116)

I think its in Nunavut. the article mentions PEARL being on the 80th parallel - which is way up in Ellesmere island's neck of the woods. agreed, communication probably by satellite/radio - theres only a couple cell towers in Nunavut at the moment - owned by Lynx Mobility

Re:Firstly... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608384)

I dont' have the exact location, but the approximate site [google.ca] is on western Ellesmere Island, near 80degN, 86deg 25'W, just west of Eureka. I've been to Eureka, which is mainly a weather station on the north side of Slidre Fiord, right on the coastline (if you move east along the shore in Google Maps you'll see it). It has a nice airstrip up the hill that Hercules and other large military aircraft can land at. In the fall (usually September) the base gets resupplied by an icebreaker, so theoretically it is possible to steam all the way up there with a big instrument and offload it, and then move it by road. The PEARL station [candac.ca] is a 15km drive to the west from there. It's quite pleasant at Eureka in the summertime (up to 15C). In the winter, well, I wouldn't want to be there, but 24 hours of darkness and bitter cold is probably good for astronomy, and it is much more accessible than the Antarctic pole. Although it wouldn't get continual coverage all the way to the horizon, at 80 degrees north you could still track a target 24 hours a day over most of the northern sky in winter.

People are right that building on permafrost is a challenge, but one that is probably a lot easier than building on ice. Likewise, yes, communication would have to be by satellite, but that's true in Antarctica too. On the whole this is indeed a much more accessible location.

Re:Firstly... (4, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608228)

To be perfectly honest? The difference between the antarctic and arctic is...land travel. So it is easier. In the summer, you can get around by short carrier craft jumps and ship hopping. In the winter, you can drive trucks from point to point. It gets cold there, I've had friends stationed in Resolute, AKA the asshole of Canada. As for communication? Hah no. Emergencies are handled by sat phones. Major outpost cities are done by uplinks via satellite too. There's too much of an issue with the frost/freeze cycle in the spring to drop down landlines.

And well, if it becomes big enough, and important enough. The government may, eventually, possibly decide to drop in a rail link. But don't hold your breath, otherwise they'll simply sub in plane drops like we do for other remote cities. But that's it. If you live in the middle of nowhere Canada, you're on your own. I've been there.

Re:Firstly... (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38621722)

The other difference is shear distance. Like it or not (and apologies to our friends in Australia/South Africa/Brazil/etc.) most of the world's richest and most heavily populated countries are in the northern hemisphere. An awful lot of them are near the Atlantic, and a substantial amount of the world's wealthiest are in North America.

For most people, a flight to an airport in Canada will be a small fraction of the multi-stepped journey to the Antarctic continent. The last leg (from the airport to the base) might be just as difficult for both, but that's still many hours of travel saved.

Re:Firstly... (2)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608328)

You insensitive clod! I live in the Southern Hemisphere, way way South. It's much easier to get to the ANTarctic.

Re:Firstly... (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608546)

Lol. I also live in the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa to be precise.

There's not nearly as much by way of infrastructure here as there is in the USA, which is, last time I checked, right next door to Canada.

Re:Firstly... (2)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609656)

Indeed, and Canada has tons of its own infrastructure. You can drive to the Arctic, and scheduled airline flights get to many points up there as well.

Now, the parts of the Arctic that are being considered here may not have roads to them, but it is still a relatively easy jaunt to them from ports in eastern Canada and the northeastern USA. It might be easy to get from Tierra del Fuego to Antarctica by boat, but you still have a lot of overland schlepping that you wouldn't have to the same degree in Arctic Canada.

Also, simply thinking practically, at the South Pole half the heavens are inaccessible. This is true at the North Pole too, but the visible regions of the sky are complementary.

Re:Firstly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608940)

My friend manages a WAN up there for school districts and such.. way up in the north of Canada.. doing VPNs and such between links, and they use microwave transmissions for it all since there's no hung cable for internet transfers and with the environment it'd be too easy for something to happen to them.

Re:Firstly... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609142)

If it were really worth it, we could dig some huge-ass underground tunnels and bypass all of that nasty weather.

I know there's been more than a few situations where something bad happens and we can't get our people out of Antarctica because it is during that unfortunate time when no planes can land.

Re:Firstly... (1)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609666)

That's not the case in Arctic Canada, except for specific short periods of intense weather. Due to the presence of the Arctic Ocean, the temperatures are much more moderate so air travel occurs pretty much all year long.

Re:Firstly... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615108)

You are disclosing a secret that should not be revealed. Please endeavor to maintain the premise that the entirety of Canada is a frozen, desolate tundra inhospitable to human life. There will be no further warnings.

Re:Firstly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38610082)

You'd think... But sadly no. I'm thinking of moving up there this month. Surprisingly, there is only 1 Satellite telecommunications that basically services the whole circumpolar region. (which was knocked out last October)

The Canadian government is too stupid, cheap and short sighted to invest in the arctic region. There is a lack of housing (highest rental prices in Canada), a lack of subsidized shipping/postal costs, and a lack of subsidized flights to the region.

Basically their lack of proper management is making it economically in feasible to work and live there unless you get paid a lot.

Re:Firstly... (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611386)

Man, now that's a sense of entitlement to beat the band!

alaska anyone? (0)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608050)

there should be more than a few points that are up high there as well.

Re:alaska anyone? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608064)

alaska anyone?

It's hard to believe the US can be the future of any scientific endeavour.

Re:alaska anyone? (3, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608342)

Do you have a globe? Alaska isn't close enough to the pole for the desired purpose.

Re:alaska anyone? (2)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611530)

Do you have a globe? Alaska isn't close enough to the pole for the desired purpose.

This is the US, we haven't been able to afford globes for classrooms since the '60s.

Re:alaska anyone? (3, Funny)

Existential Wombat (1701124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38612152)

Actually, globes are not provided, for fear of upsetting those who believe the Earth is flat.

Re:alaska anyone? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611534)

Being closer to the pole is NOT the issue. Lack of light, pollution, moisture, and atmosphere are the issues. So, being on top of a tall cold mountain in Northern Alaska or Canada would do equally nicely. [wikipedia.org]

To be honest, once spacex has their FH working, we would be smart to develop a small telescope that can be popped into lunar craters esp. on the poles and far side of the moon. Add some relay sats, and away you go. The same can be done on mars.

Re:alaska anyone? (1)

littlebigbot (2493634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38613700)

This is sounding awful lot like an evil lair or the Fortress of Solitude.

Re:alaska anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614450)

Alaska is right beside hawaii. That's near the equator, not the poles!

fiber (3, Insightful)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608060)

Telescopes generate huges amount of data. Fiber to the south pole must not be cheap.

Re:fiber (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608180)

Why? You don't even have to dig!

Sneakernet (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608184)

Maybe initial analysis could be done on site and data dumped to storage media to be couriered elsewhere every few days?

Anything with higher priority could be transmitted by satellite uplink, presuming the cost of such bandwidth is not prohibitive.

Re:Sneakernet (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609032)

Maybe initial analysis could be done on site and data dumped to storage media to be couriered elsewhere every few days?

Anything with higher priority could be transmitted by satellite uplink, presuming the cost of such bandwidth is not prohibitive.

All travel in Antarctica is difficult, as it is at the whim of the local ferocious weather. What's more, with telescopes you typically store all the data collected because it's very hard to work out what's important, i.e., it takes significant image processing and you don't necessarily know yet what you're looking for (modern astronomy is less hypothesis-driven than particle physics during the data collection stage).

Re:fiber (4, Interesting)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608768)

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

Re:FedEx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608828)

Federal Express don't go to the south-pole, only the NY Air National Guard.

Re:FedEx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38609080)

South-pole? Were we not talking about the arctic?

Re:FedEx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38612318)

Thread following fail. GP was refering to it's own GP's mention of South Pole.

Re:fiber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38620822)

And that's what is done, depending on the data volume. In the Observatory I work at, I know of at least one (solar) telescope which ships terabytes of data every now and then.

If you use one pole you need to use the other (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608084)

Or use a site at the equator. Its useless arguing between north and south poles. Each can only see half the sky.

Vote this guy up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608090)

For using his head, and not simply thinking about transit time/difficulty or telescope data creation.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (3, Insightful)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608136)

"Or use a site at the equator. Its useless arguing between north and south poles. Each can only see half the sky."

This depends on what you're after. Having only half of a near limitless supply of information may not be a problem to you, as long as you can make the reasonable assumption that the two halves are statistically representative of the other.

A bigger problem may be that just as they both have one very long winter night, they also one very long summer day (clearly neither are endless).

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (1)

hviniciusg (1481907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608432)

Why not doit on top of mount everest then?

http://g.co/maps/ugkwm [g.co] as you can see in this link it is almost at the equator level and would be able to have a 360 look of the universe, and i bet it is a nice place to have a telescope. and im gessing that it would not be that hard to run some fiber optics or even a wireless link could be made, it could be operated remotly from some confy office.

top of mount everest (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608538)

And I am sure the astronomers would love having to wear oxygen masks the whole time they are in the observatory. +1 for continuous airplane air from positive pressure living quarters. You forget that the air is unlivably thin up there.

Re:top of mount everest (2)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609400)

I see no reason why you couldn't have airlocks with a somewhat fancier HVAC system. Yes, similar to an airplane you would be compressing external air adiabatically, but you probably wouldn't need to cool it off, in fact it may need some additional heating after compression to be livable.

The pressure differential would not be outrageous, so the structure would not need too much special engineering. If the RCA dome [wikipedia.org] in Indianapolis could pull it off, I don't see why a small observatory couldn't. The atmosphere would be very normal, and not airplane like.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38609104)

Everest is 'almost at equator level'? Really? A quick look at Wikipedia gives the coordinates for Everest as being 275917N 865531E. If you translate latitude degress-and-minutes into miles, then you get over 1930 (3106 km). Hardly 'almost'

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38609392)

Why not doit on top of mount everest then?

Although Mt Everest has less air than the poles, it has more moisture (which is bad), and much more atmospheric turbulence (which is really bad).

One downside of Canada is that you don't get to see the Galactic Centre (in the southern sky), which contains a whole lot of nifty stuff for astronomers to look at.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (1)

dcw3 (649211) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611968)

This depends on what you're after. Having only half of a near limitless supply of information may not be a problem to you, as long as you can make the reasonable assumption that the two halves are statistically representative of the other.

So, maybe we should only study the Atlantic ocean? Or, just study the left part of our brains? No, you don't do that, it's poor science.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608532)

And how would being on the equator mean you can see 'all' the sky? You can't see through the earth, so wherever you are you can see pretty much the same 'amount' of sky. There is the fact that earth is slightly flatter on top and bottom so i tiny little bit more is blocked by the earth.

Anyhow the one important thing is how much of your vision is being blocked by the atmosphere. And it's really thin around the poles (hole in the ozon layer?). Think of the moesson rains that usually last months at end around the equator, that's several months where you can't see anything.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38609186)

There is this crazy idea that the earth rotates. I know it is a shock, but there may be something to it....

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609212)

And how would being on the equator mean you can see 'all' the sky? You can't see through the earth, so wherever you are you can see pretty much the same 'amount' of sky.

At the poles, you always see the same stars, as they rotate around a point directly overhead, half will always be hidden by the horizon. On the equator the entire 'sphere' of stars rotate overhead, in perfect circumstances you could see all the stars, with the North Star (and its hypothetical southern equivalent) on the horizon not moving.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (1)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609700)

To elaborate, over the course of a year, the entire celestial sky is visible at the equator. At the poles, only half the celestial sky is visible.

Large chunks of the sky are circumpolar, that is to say are visible any time of year because they never set. The more stars you have that don't set, the more you have that never rise.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (4, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608840)

Yes, but you can only see the night sky for about half of each day. When you take away twilight, you are down to perhaps 6-8 hours of observation time per night. With that kind of cycling, you get a lot of diurnal temperature variation, both in your equipment and in the air you are looking through. And while an equatorial site can see more of the sky over the course of a year, it can't see all of it equally well. To see the celestial poles, you would need to point your scope more or less at the horizon, which means looking through a whole lot of atmosphere. There aren't all that many high and dry places near the equator, and while interior Antarctica is a relatively stable air mass, the tropics are raging atmospheric torrents by comparison.

In contrast, telescopes at the south pole can have days or weeks of continuous observation with very stable temperatures. And while it is true that the south pole has whole months where no observation is possible, the long stretch of continuous observation makes up for it. If it wasn't worthwhile, astronomers and the NSF wouldn't have gone through all the headaches and difficulty to do it.

It doesn't need to be an either/or situation. There are lots of good places to put scopes, and lots of good reasons for each site. There's a large untapped potential of semi-equitorial sites in the Southern Sahara, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and the Arabian Peninsula. But in some ways Antarctica is logistically and politically easier.

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609680)

You're right - that's a great idea.... ...well, except for the lack of frigid temperatures, lack of dry air, and lack of endless nights.

Aside from that, though: brilliant!

Re:If you use one pole you need to use the other (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614968)

Mauna Kea [wikipedia.org] seems very popular.

No One Location Solution (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38612896)

It's hard to take a clear picture of a far away galaxy that requires as little cloud and atmospheric interference as possible, and for motors to slowly track the far away object with the slow motion of earth through space.

Putting a telescope on the equator with it's faster motion and hectic atmospheric conditions is the equivalent of trying to take a portrait shot of a race car driver while speeding around a track in fog. Sure, it can be done, but it will never be of the same quality for money spent. This is why space based telescopes are needed for the clearest pictures of the furthest away objects.

Even if it did work, you still don't get the entire sky just by going to the equator. Near the horizon, you have severely bending light, and the accumulation of not just one cloud, but lines of clouds for miles. There is one single location solution for ground based telescopes.

Re:No One Location Solution (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38612924)

typo: There is no single location solution...

Two Things... (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608088)

I would think building a large telescope on the permafrost you get up north would be quite challenging. I could see the foundation being a real headache to keep level and stable.

Secondly, I don't see why "endless nights" are so much of an advantage, since that just means your telescope is fairly useless during the "endless days" of the summer months.

Re:Two Things... (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608096)

Well, after RTFA, it seems that being able to observe continuously for long stretches has certain advantages for things like finding extrasolar planets.

Re:Two Things... (1)

hviniciusg (1481907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608412)

Why not doit on top of mount everest then?

http://g.co/maps/ugkwm [g.co] as you can see in this link it is almost at the ecuators level at would be able to have a 360 look of the universe, and i bet it is a nice place to have a telescope. and im gessing that it would not be that hard to run some fiber optics or even a wireless link could be made, it could be operated remotly from some confy office.

Re:Two Things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38609158)

Why the dupe posts? Couldn't come up with anything more to say?

Re:Two Things... (1)

EricTheRed (5613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608110)

I think permafrost wouldn't be quite an issue if you think that for large parts of the antarctic it's nearly 2000m thick - just make sure it's still got bedrock beneath it & not water ;-)

As for the endless nights, well same goes for the antarctic, just offset by 6 months but then they'll use the downtime for maintenance

melting permafrost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608200)

I suspect the issues would occur when heat from the buildings affect the permafrost they are immediately sitting on.

Re:melting permafrost (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608376)

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:melting permafrost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608446)

It's just for a project that expensive, you can do better.

For example Norway, Sweden, and Finland have all those things at Iceland's latitude, and you don't have to deal with crossing the North Atlantic. All three also extend farther north, and with Sweden and Finland you don't have to deal with the North Atlantic at all. Bothnia extends nearly as far as the northnern tip of Iceland.

Canada OTOH, is easier than Antarctica but is still pretty difficult that far up. So is Alaska. Putting a project up a river from the top of Bothnia is hard to beat.

Re:melting permafrost (1)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609418)

and you don't have to deal with crossing the North Atlantic.

Well . . . from some places. Getting to Scandinavia from North America without crossing the North Atlantic would be quite an ordeal.

Re:melting permafrost (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38619764)

Iceland has excellent ports and regular shipping service which already takes lots of goods in and out, followed by a quick drive around Hringveginn. You're not going to drive things straight up to the destination in Norway, either -- you'd ship them to Trondheim and then drive them the rest of the way up the E6. Where, unlike Iceland, power, aluminum, and bandwidth are not in surplus.

Re:melting permafrost (1)

arcctgx (607542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608480)

I suppose weather conditions in Iceland are not favorable. The climate is said to be very erratic. Astronomical observatory built in such place may experience extended periods of downtime due to bad weather.

Re:melting permafrost (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38619784)

Well, that depends on what you mean. If you mean storms, parts of northern Iceland are borderline desert, akin to New Mexico in amount of annual precipitation. Now, the southern coast on the other hand, chunks of it would be considered rain forest if they were forested ;) There's a major rain shadow effect.

Re:Two Things... (2)

laejoh (648921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608394)

Thank $diety a new breed [xkcd.com] of scientists has emerged!

In Canada, wouldn't there a glaring lack of... (4, Insightful)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608134)

southern sky?

--
bjd

Chile (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608550)

The high altitude telescopes at Chile takes care of a lot of southern sky.
In the north there is HANLE IAO in the Himalayan deset at 4300m altitude.
So I guess, antarctic telescope would take care of further south, while the arctic will take care of northwards.

Re:In Canada, wouldn't there a glaring lack of... (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608572)

And that would be a greater problem than the lack of northern sky that one might observe in Antarctica for what reason?

Re:In Canada, wouldn't there a glaring lack of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614202)

Yes, because the center of our galaxy is only visible from the southern sky

Depending upon who is counting.... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608148)

....there may be a serious problem caused by permafrost thaw, the coming years, due to climate change. In other words: what are you going to build upon ?

Re:Depending upon who is counting.... (1)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609744)

There's plenty of bare rock in northern Canada.

There are also building techniques that solve the problem of permafrost. They require extra expense, mind.

YOu FAIL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608158)

have the energy JOIN THE kGNAA!!

iYUo FAIL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608196)

Advantages and drawbacks (3, Interesting)

Framboise (521772) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

No way! (4, Insightful)

Troyusrex (2446430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608414)

This is a silly suggestion. The future of astronomy is not in Canada but in space...

Re:No way! (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608988)

Think small fusion plant in a diamond mine!

Re:No way! (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 2 years ago | (#38612862)

Space is a lot harder to get to than Canada. That's why earth-based astronomy is still doing lots of useful research, and will continue to do so for a long time to come: a handful of space-based instruments can only do so much, and there are thousands of earth-based ones. Some of them are much, much bigger than the space-based ones, which helps make up for having to look through an atmosphere, but there's useful research being done even with very small telescopes on the ground.

Air traffic... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608438)

The arctic has a lot of air traffic. Would that cause any light pollution issues?

Re:Air traffic... (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 2 years ago | (#38612808)

Not really. Light pollution is primarily due to continuous lighting sources; any airliners flying over are only going to be in range for a few minutes each, and aren't going to contribute to skyglow in any noticeable way. They can probably even get the airlines to route around the observatories; a fairly small radius would be sufficient to keep them from interfering entirely.

Scientists can finally smash the stereotypes (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608530)

In addition to the scientific benefits, scientists can also finally put to rest the stereotype that nerds are weaklings. Since they will have nothing else to do during downtime, they can prove how manly they are through engaging in polar bear combat and then blogging about how to prepare and eat polar bear steaks. Nothing manlier.

Re:Scientists can finally smash the stereotypes (1)

Pyrus.mg (1152215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614764)

This is what we all thought back when Canada actually did research in the Arctic. It didn't work out too well. Some of the polar bear blogs about how to toy with and devour human scientists were quite interesting though.

Not always night... (1)

HeyBob! (111243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608888)

"and endless nights" ...for maybe 1/4 of the year.
For half the year its about 50% and then 1/4 of the year it's endless daytime.

How can the air be dry? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609462)

If the Arctic ocean is going to ice free by 2050, how can the air be "dry" in that region of the world? Isn't the air humidified by the ocean?

I mean, I guess that temperatures are lower on Antarctica (because the land keeps the warming currents far from the interior?). The ice never melts (hasn't for millions of years!) and the air stays drier (i guess though even ice sublimates some water vapor). Still it should be a lot drier right?

Re:How can the air be dry? (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38610434)

Cold air doesn't hold that much moisture, and thus is considered dry. Warm air can carry much more water vapor.

As long as ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38610418)

... some moose doesn't fog up the optics with its breath.

Re:As long as ... (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614596)

I'd be less worried about moose, than say, polar bears...

Ice and Snow? Polar Bears? (2)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611140)

Um wouldn't one of the obvious problems be the build up of ice and snow and the necessity of its removal constantly?

also

Day 215: "Trapped in Telescope again. Polar bears are circling like sharks. Loyd and Weber are gone.I don't know how much longer I can hold out."
Day 216: "Discovered another exoplanet. Tentatively named it Ursa Polaris Pallas Meas Lambe 12."
Day 217: "Another supply air drop came today. Bears ate it. Played with the rest. They are just taunting me now."

diff north/south poles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38613332)

South has a view of the entire center of milk way, north pole does note. So for "short range" (within the galaxy) south pole is better. For "long range" (outside the galaxy), north pole is better.

NK? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615132)

I've always been surprised that North Korea doesn't exploit its situation of having the darkest skies in Asia for the purpose of optical astronomy.

Jaypee Garden Isles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38620562)

Thank you for information..
http://jaypeegreens-noida.in/jaypee-garden-isles.html

In Soviet Russia (1)

Kvasio (127200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626668)

In Soviet Russia astronomers were sent to Arctic to labor camps, you insensitive clod

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