Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Why Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the best place for viewing the night sky ?

"The stars at Mt. Chimborazo provide enough light for you to trek the mountain at night. " 

If trekking, night sky and astronomy are the love of your life , head straight to Mount Chimborazo in Ecuadorthe best place on earth for star gazing , the farthest point from the Earth's center. Chimborazo , at an altitude of 6267m above sea level , is more than 2.5 km shorter than Mount Everest, but is around 2150 m farther from the Earth's center than Everest because of an outward bulge at the Equator. The bulge is caused by the spin of the planet, which is responsible for the Earth's radius being 21,000 m greater at the Equator than at the poles. 

Mt. Chimborazo
Pic Credits: Jo Simon 

This makes Mt. Chimborazo the most favored location on the planet for an astronomical observatory. Being the farthest point, and being situated very near to the equator, almost the entire heavenly sky is visible from here. All planets are favoured by circum zenith conditions, when passing the meridian. What more can an astronomer dream of ?  No mountain on the Earth can boast of such a perfect setting for sky lovers, or is even closer to Chimborazo in this respect, but its steep and difficult climb is what's keeping astronomers away from it since a long time. 

Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the tallest mountain of the world, whose Summit is always above the clouds is a tough competitor,  it even has telescopes installed at it's summit. 

The night sky at Mauna Kea
Pic Credits : Tiffany Mueller

About Ecuador 

They say it  "All you need is Ecuador ".
Ecuador is a beautiful country in South America , a delight for travel lovers. Being closest to the Equator, it is famously known as 'The middle of the Earth' . Continuously for 5 years, has chosen Ecuador as the No.1 retirement destination in the world.
The friendly 'happy to see you'  people, the beaches, the natural scenic beauty and the affordability. Read more about it here.

But, what's in for the astronomers ?? 

Even the beaches of Ecuador are farther than Mt. Everest , as measured from Earth's center, making them a great place for astronomy lovers and star gazers. 
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, debated to the most be most beautiful city in South America has an astronomical observatory around 150 years old housing some of the most significant tools, telescopes and equipment.

The Quito Astronomical Observatory

Everything about Ecuador and Quito makes it perfect for 'the astronomy-and-travel-loving couples' to spend their lives . 

Update : I just came to know Indians don't need a visa for Ecuador.