Resolution on Astronomy in Antarctica



Resolution adopted by the XXI General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 1991:

Encouraging International Development of Antarctic Astronomy

The International Astronomical Union,


1. the potential for making some important classes of astronomical observations from Antarctica that are not possible from elsewhere on the Earth's surface, particularly at the high inland sites with their extremely dry, cold and tenuous atmosphere, and

2. the unique opportunities Antarctica offers for establishing truly international bases for scientific cooperation,

and noting that:

1. technological advances, particularly in infrared detectors, are greatly widening the scope for exploiting the astronomical merits of Antarctica,

2. a Working Group of the ISCU Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research has formally recommended* serious international consideration be given to participation in designing, building and operating a new station in the highest part of the inland plateau,

3. there is widespread concern to ensure any development in Antarctica is compatible with preservation of the natural environment,

4. planning in some nations for new astronomical instrumentation in Antarctica has greatly increased over the last few years, and

5. international links in these plans are still not strong,


National Committees for Astronomy and National Antarctic Agencies to support detailed studies of the observational qualities of Antarctic sites with the immediate aim of quantifying the scientific returns to be expected, and indicating the optimum site and instruments for an international observatory and resolves:

to establish a Working Group to encourage international cooperation in planning and establishing any new Antarctic astronomical facilities.

* Recommendation 6 of the Atmospheric Sciences Working Group (now divided into two groups: Solar, Terrestrial and Astrophysical Research, and Physics and Chemistry of the Atmosphere) at the biennial meeting in 1990 of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research.