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Construction begins on 'best astronomical observatory in Asia'

  |   July 12, 2013 at 3:26 PM
LHASA, Tibet, July 12 (UPI) -- An observatory being built in Tibet is expected to be the best astronomical observatory in Asia, the president of the International Astronomical Union says.

IAU President Norio Kaifu said the observatory, located in Tibet's Ngari prefecture, is sited in an ideal place for astronomical monitoring due to its high altitude, transparent atmosphere and mild weather, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

At an altitude 16,700 feet above sea level, the Ngari observatory can compete with Hawaii's Mauna Kea Observatories, the world's largest facility for optical, infrared and submillimeter astronomy, Kaifu said during an inspection tour of the Tibetan site.

The $4.87 million observatory, expected to be completed within 10 years, is the first to be built above 16,000 feet in the northern hemisphere.

Astronomers from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Japan and the Republic of Korea will use the Ngari observatory to carry out joint research programs, said Yao Yongqiang of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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