Daily Archives: 3-March-2016

Percentage of Atmosphere Beneath Observatories

I often see popular descriptions of observatories that say things like the observatory "is above 40% of the Earth's atmosphere". I had not thought much about this kind of statement until I saw the Wikipedia's list of the world's highest-altitude observatories, which surprised me as to the height and remoteness of the largest telescopes. I cannot imagine trying to build on these locations (Figure 1 is an extreme example). In some respects, the construction challenges remind me of what builders must have gone through on some lighthouses. Continue reading

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