Science Editorial
January 19,2012

Astronomy for the Masses

Roy Lisker

Photographs from NASA show us that the night sky on Earth, as seen by the Hubble Telescope and other satellites, is brightly illuminated by electric lights in all inhabited regions, save for one conspicuous region that is almost totally in darkness: the national territory of North Korea. The country is so poor, and its government so despotic, that once the sun goes down most of its subjects must scramble about in the dark, with nothing more to guide them than flashlights and candles.

The illumination also happens to be a problem for Astronomy. Observational astronomers find that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find places on earth where large telescopes can be built and operated without interference from the visual pollution caused by the bright lights coming from cities, towns, highways and other sources.

As indicated above, there still exists one place where this problem doesn't exist: North Korea !!

It is a fact of history that science always finds a way to surmount obstructive and trifling moral and political objections to its unrelenting progress. All progress is Good , sayeth the prophet.

Clearly the next frontier for observational astronomy is the construction of a huge telescope and world class observatory on some very high mountain in North Korea; say Kwanmo-bong, Hamgyõng-bukto, elevation 2,541 meters.

Experience of over half a century tells us that, although the government of North Korea could care less about its subjects, it has a major stake in keeping its baby-faced leaders in an unlimited paradise of toys, electronic gadgetry, movies, spectacles, fantastic banquets, parades, weaponry ..

Think about it: it shouldn't cost more than a few hundred million dollars in bribes , plus some old obsolete Cruise missile parts, (maybe even the rusted hull of a nuclear submarine thrown into the bargain) for the International Astronomical Union to lease the top of Kwanmo-bong, Hamgyõng-bukto for a few centuries. There would be two indispensable conditions for the deal to go through. First, the IAU has to promise to name a galaxy Kim Il-Sung, a star, Kim Jong-il, and a planet, Kim Jong-un. Next, there must be a sincere commitment on the part of its leaders to never, ever allow or undertake the electrification of North Korea. As long as the birth-right of electric power continued to be withheld from its subjects, the detection of quasars from the beginnings of the universe would remain within the grasp of mankind's insatiable curiosity.

Return to

Home Page