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Tibetan Observatory to be Best in Asia: IAU President

An observatory that is under construction in Tibet is expected to become the best astronomical observatory in Asia after its completion, International Astronomical Union (IAU) President Norio Kaifu said.

The observatory, based in Tibet's Ngari prefecture, is located in an ideal place for astronomical monitoring due to its high altitude, transparent atmosphere and mild weather, Norio Kaifu said during an inspection tour in Tibet from June 28 to July 1.

The Ngari observatory, perched at an altitude of 5,100 meters above sea level, can compete with Hawaii's Mauna Kea Observatories, the world's largest observatory for optical, infrared and submillimeter astronomy, he said.

The Ngari observatory, the first observatory built above 5,000 meters in the northern hemisphere, will also help to promote cooperation among Asian astronomers, he said.

The observatory will enable scientists from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Japan and the Republic of Korea to build large-scale telescopes and carry out joint research programs, said Yao Yongqiang, chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The observatory, built with a total investment of more than 30 million yuan (4.87 million U.S. dollars), is expected to be completed within ten years, Yao said.

A 0.5-meter telescope has been set up in the observatory to carry out research on planetary science, star formation and other astronomical projects, Yao said.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has long been a popular location for stargazers. The 13th king of ancient Tibet's Yuyuhun Kingdom, who reigned from 481 to 490, built an observatory in the remote Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan autonomous prefecture in neighboring Qinghai Province.

As part of China's efforts to explore the universe, a 3-meter KOSMA telescope has been built in the town of Yangbajing in Damxung County, about 90 km from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. (Xinhua)

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