I present to your atten­tion an overview of the best obser­va­to­ries in the world. These may be the largest, most mod­ern and high-tech obser­va­to­ries locat­ed in amaz­ing places, which allowed them to get into the top ten. Many of them, such as Mau­na Kea in Hawaii, have already been men­tioned in oth­er arti­cles, and many will become an unex­pect­ed dis­cov­ery for the read­er. So let’s get to the list…

the best observatories

Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii

Locat­ed on the Big Island of Hawaii, atop Mau­na Kea, MKO is the world’s largest col­lec­tion of opti­cal, infrared, and pre­ci­sion astro­nom­i­cal equip­ment. The Mau­na Kea Obser­va­to­ry build­ing has more tele­scopes than any oth­er build­ing in the world.

Very Large Telescope (VLT), Chile

The Very Large Tele­scope is a facil­i­ty oper­at­ed by the Euro­pean South­ern Obser­va­to­ry. It is locat­ed on the Cer­ro Paranal in the Ata­ca­ma Desert, in north­ern Chile. The VLT actu­al­ly con­sists of four sep­a­rate tele­scopes, which are usu­al­ly used sep­a­rate­ly but can be used togeth­er to achieve very high angu­lar res­o­lu­tion.

South Polar Telescope (SPT), Antarctica

A tele­scope with a diam­e­ter of 10 meters is locat­ed at the Amund­sen-Scott Sta­tion, which is at the South Pole in Antarc­ti­ca. SPT began its astro­nom­i­cal obser­va­tions in ear­ly 2007.

Yerk Observatory, USA

Found­ed way back in 1897, the Yerkes Obser­va­to­ry is not as high-tech as the pre­vi­ous obser­va­to­ries on this list. How­ev­er, it is right­ful­ly con­sid­ered “the birth­place of mod­ern astro­physics”. It is locat­ed in Williams Bay, Wis­con­sin, at an alti­tude of 334 meters.

ORM Observatory, Canaries

The ORM Obser­va­to­ry (Roque de los Mucha­chos) is locat­ed at an alti­tude of 2,396 meters, mak­ing it one of the best loca­tions for opti­cal and infrared astron­o­my in the north­ern hemi­sphere. The obser­va­to­ry also has the world’s largest aper­ture opti­cal tele­scope.

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Arecibo in Puerto Rico

Opened in 1963, the Areci­bo Obser­va­to­ry is a giant radio tele­scope in Puer­to Rico. Up until 2011, the obser­va­to­ry was oper­at­ed by Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty. The pride of Areci­bo is the 305 meter radio tele­scope, which has one of the largest aper­tures in the world. The tele­scope is used for radio astron­o­my, aeron­o­my and radar astron­o­my. The tele­scope is also known for its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the SETI (Search for Extrater­res­tri­al Intel­li­gence) project.

Australian Astronomical Observatory

Locat­ed at an alti­tude of 1164 meters, AAO (Aus­tralian Astro­nom­i­cal Obser­va­to­ry) has two tele­scopes: the 3.9‑meter Anglo-Aus­tralian Tele­scope and the 1.2‑meter British Schmidt Tele­scope.

University of Tokyo Observatory Atakama

Like the VLT and oth­er tele­scopes, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo Obser­va­to­ry is also locat­ed in Chile’s Ata­ca­ma Desert. The obser­va­to­ry is locat­ed at the top of Cer­ro Chainan­tor, at an alti­tude of 5,640 meters, mak­ing it the high­est astro­nom­i­cal obser­va­to­ry in the world.

ALMA in the Atacama Desert

The ALMA (Ataka­ma Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Grid) Obser­va­to­ry is also locat­ed in the Ata­ca­ma Desert, next to the Very Large Tele­scope and the Tokyo Uni­ver­si­ty Obser­va­to­ry. ALMA has a vari­ety of 66, 12 and 7 meter radio tele­scopes. This is the result of coop­er­a­tion between Europe, the USA, Cana­da, East Asia and Chile. More than a bil­lion dol­lars was spent on the cre­ation of the obser­va­to­ry. Of par­tic­u­lar note is the most expen­sive of the cur­rent­ly exist­ing tele­scopes, which is in ser­vice with ALMA.

Astronomical Observatory of India (IAO)

Locat­ed at an alti­tude of 4,500 meters, the Astro­nom­i­cal Obser­va­to­ry of India is one of the high­est in the world. It is oper­at­ed by the Indi­an Insti­tute of Astro­physics in Ban­ga­lore.

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