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Astronomers are vitally interested in the earth's atmosphere, since it affects their observations of the universe. Precious astrophysical photons are absorbed and have their directions altered; boring atmospheric photons contaminate our data. We would much rather observe from space, but that is roughly 1000 times more expensive.
The high plateau in Antarctica turns out to be the best place on the earth's surface for astronomy since it is relatively high, and exceedingly dry and cold. This enables astronomy that would otherwise require a balloon-borne experiment or spacecraft.
This talk, profusely illustrated with photos from Antarctica, will describe the ways in which the atmosphere affects astronomers, and will discuss some interesting astronomy experiments, including a terahertz telescope that has been operated remotely for four years at a deep-field site 900km from the South Pole. The astronomical data are also useful for ground-truthing of earth observation satellites.
Michael Ashley is a professor of Astrophysics at UNSW School of Physics. His main research interest is in conducting astronomy and making measurements of atmospheric properties from the Antarctic plateau. His research team has designed and built several automated observatories for this purpose. He is most famous for his work in Antarctica, with the study of the seeing capability at Dome C. Michael is also a matchmaker for the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, the aim of which is to connect journalists and government officials with experts in climate science.