Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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Galactic Elevation

Want a clear view of our celestial neighbourhood? Come to Hanle, Ladakh.

Galactic Elevation Pallava Bagla

Perched on a lonely desolate hill, high in the inner Himalayas, is the latest hot spot for international astronomers—the site for the spanking new Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO). Situated 4,517 metres above mean sea level in the village of Hanle in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, this observatory—commissioned last year—is the highest in the world.

The Hanle telescope tops by 200m the highest so far, the Meyer-Womble Observatory in the US, operated by the University of Denver, deep in the Rocky Mountains. For astronomers, the observatory’s height is crucial since the higher you go, the lesser the aberrations caused by earth’s atmosphere.

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