At least Atacama Desert of northern Chile is a good place to build telescopes.

VLT and ALMA locate there.

What about Sahara desert?




1 Answer 1


No, the Sahara isn't a good place to build telescopes.
The Atacama desert is used because it is at high altitude, which means that there is less atmosphere to get in the way. Other telescopes are located on mountaintops for the same reason.
The Sahara is mostly at sea level. It's also very hot, so you get lots of turbulence due to rising air, which distorts the image.
The Sahara is also undesirable for other reasons: no infrastructure, unstable regimes, lots of erosion due to sand storms.

  • $\begingroup$ what about radio telescopes? Atmosphere should have a smaller affect. Man made signal like radio communication may play a bad role. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 8:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ While the atmosphere may play a lesser role, the other listed reasons are still significant. The wind systems in the Sahara are very powerful, picking up sand and carrying it, even recently as far as the UK, and less recently it has traveled across oceans. Considering that, sand is one of the last thing you want around expensive equipment with moving parts. Heat is problem, existing infrastructure, political instability, etc etc. Frankly, there is little incentive for the location. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ oh..Sahara can affect the UK.. $\endgroup$ Commented May 1, 2014 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ sandstorms in the sahara are also heavy. $\endgroup$ Commented May 1, 2014 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ The Atacama desert is optimal for MANY reasons, not just its altitude - i.e. nearly non-existent cloud cover, dry air, and lack of light pollution and radio interference from the very widely spaced cities.(Wikipedia) $\endgroup$
    – harogaston
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 3:19

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