BEIJING – Astronomers from Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan have picked a highland area in the Tibetan Autonomous Region as the most likely candidate for their joint astronomical observation site, academic sources said Friday.
The East Asia Core Observatories Association, formed by the four nations’ major astronomical observatories, reached an agreement at a recent meeting in Beijing to research the possibility of locating Asia’s first premier international astronomical observation site in Tibet’s Ali district, some 5,100 meters above sea level, the sources said.
It would be the first astronomical observation site more than 5,000 meters above sea level in the Northern Hemisphere, and astronomer Yao Yongqiang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ National Astronomical Observers said the group is seeking to have the site constructed within five years.
EACOA plans to build a full-fledged international observatory in the future after completion of the joint observation site, the sources said.
The new site will enable major international astronomical observatories currently located in such places as Hawaii, Chile and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic to observe astronomic targets around the clock, they added.
The latest move came after a 20-year effort by Norio Kaifu, professor emeritus at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and Liu Caipin, a former professor at China’s Purple Mountain Observatory, to create an international astronomical observatory in East Asia.
Both of them welcomed the agreement as a major step forward to realizing their dream.