Climate Change is Affecting our Telescopes' Ability to See Into Space

Climate Change is Affecting our Telescopes' Ability to See Into Space

Climate Change and the warming of the earth is making it harder and harder for astronomers to see into space, even with our complex equipment and telescopes.

Science & Tech

As the world's temperatures get warmer, it's getting harder and harder for some of our most advanced telescopes to make observations.

When designing high-tech equipment, particularly with the precision needed to see into space, temperature becomes a big concern. Thermal properties of the environment around telescopes can cause impact how it behaves optically and image blurring might be on the table. Simply put, some telescopes just weren't designed to handle changes caused by the higher temperatures of current world.

A recently published study details some of the impacts of climate change on astronomical observation. Specifically, the research focuses on decades worth of observations and studies from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT). I like to imagine that the naming of this telescope went a little something like this:

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Lead astronomer: "What should we name it"

Astronomer 1: "Well, it is large... one might say, very large."

Astronomer 2: "Oh, and it's a telescope!"

Astronomer 1: "Perfect, we shall call it the Very Large Telescope!"

Lead Astronomer: "Good job team, now let's go grab lunch."

Science humor aside, the VLT is of the utmost importance when it comes to astronomical observation – it's the world's "most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory."

Data from the observatory revealed some of the ways in which climate change is affecting its ability to see into space. According to Faustine Cantalloube, lead researcher on the study "Climate change is affecting and will increasingly affect astronomical observations, particularly in terms of dome seeing, surface-layer turbulence, atmospheric water vapor content, and the wind-driven halo effect in exoplanet direct imaging."