Friday, March 03, 2006

Telescopes 'worthless' by 2050

Ground-based astronomy could be impossible in 40 years because of pollution from aircraft exhaust trails and climate change, an expert says.

Aircraft condensation trails - known as contrails - can dissipate, becoming indistinguishable from other clouds.
If trends in cheap air travel continue, says Professor Gerry Gilmore, the era of ground astronomy may come to an end much earlier than most had predicted.
Aircraft along with climate change will contribute to increased cloud cover.
The timescale is based on extrapolating air traffic growth figures. The BBC has learned that the calculations were made as part of preparations for an upcoming observatory project called the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).
The ELT is intended to probe planets around nearby stars and look for extremely faint objects in the Universe.

>>"You either give up your cheap trips to Majorca, or you give up astronomy. You can't do both" - Gerry Gilmore, University of Cambridge

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