Climate crisis could blur our telescopes' view of the universe


Climate crisis could blur our telescopes' view of the universe

The worsening climate crisis could soon endanger the view of our ground-based telescopes. "Climate change is already affecting astronomy and my work," said planetary scientist from the University of Alicante in Spain Santana-Ros.

Time and time again, studies have shown that climate change is leading to an increase in the frequency and severity of wildfires as the years go by. With our current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, some models predict that the risk of very large wildfires in the United States will increase six-fold by mid-century.

As reported by, last year, Santana-Ros kicked into action when astronomers realized an asteroid called 2022 WJ1 was headed directly for the Canada-US border. With just four hours on the clock, he rallied his team to help pinpoint just how threatening this asteroid would be.

What cities would it hit Would it be like the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub or would it simply make a plop sound before sinking into a rugged body of water? Finally, the asteroid was small and just produced a spectacular fireball, the scientist said.

About the Telescope

The telescope is an optical instrument which through the operation of lenses or mirrors or other devices allows the vision of distant spatial objects through the emission, absorption or reflection by these of light or other electromagnetic radiations.

Although the term telescope usually indicates the optical telescope, operating in the frequencies of visible light, there are telescopes sensitive to other frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum as well. The birth of the refracting telescope can be traced back to Galileo who showed its first application in Venice in the summer of 1609.

In reality, the first lenses were built in 1607 by Dutch opticians who applied them to rudimentary instruments with very bad resolving power. Nonetheless, the properties of the lenses had been known for some time and Galileo must be credited with the improvement and first astronomical use.

The Earth's atmosphere absorbs much of the electromagnetic radiation from space, with the notable exceptions of visible light and radio waves. For this reason, observation from the ground is limited to the use of optical telescopes and radio telescopes.

The former are preferably located in high or isolated places, so as to reduce the influence of atmospheric turbulence and light pollution. For observation in the remaining bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, which are absorbed by the atmosphere, orbital telescopes or telescopes placed on high-altitude balloons are used almost exclusively.