Benefits & Drawbacks

- Demonstrate an understanding of the benefits of the Earth's atmosphere to humankind
- Demonstrate an understanding of the drawbacks to astronomers of the Earth's atmosphere ...
Benefits of Earth's atmosphere
  • Oxygen allows humans and animals to breathe.
  • The atmosphere protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun
  • Makes the climate and temperature of Earth consistent
  • The atmosphere spreads out and scatters light from the Sun
  • Protects us from micro meteorite collisions from space



There are some drawbacks also, though mostly for astronomers

  • The atmosphere holds in some "greenhouse" gases that retain the heat of the Sun. These are necessary for life to continue on Earth however gases made as a result of human actions are causing the atmosphere to heat up which causes climate change.
  • Clouds regularly obscure good astronomical viewing
  • The atmosphere refracts light which means the position and clarity of star viewing is less accurate
  • Pollution from light and chemicals obscure observations
  • The atmosphere reflects most radiation making observations at some wavelengths weaker.


  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of Earth's atmosphere?
  • What are factors that decide where an Observatory is to be built or positioned?