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Cape Town’s skies among the bluest of the blue

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 20th, 2011

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And — in what South African tourism authorities this week hailed as “actual proof of our claims to having the best skies” — researchers told the Sunday Times that Cape Town’s recorded sky could have scored up to first place had it not been for partly cloudy days throughout the test period.

Measured by Britain’s National Physical Laboratory, readings were taken in 22 countries in a three-month project to establish the place whose heavens had the best hue, brightness and colour.

Recordings of a sparkling blue but partly cloudy scene from Cape Town’s cableway station at 10am two months ago saw South Africa scoop fifth place out of 20 top travel destinations.

Rio de Janeiro came first, followed by Bay of Islands, New Zealand; Ayres Rock (which is now mostly known as Uluru), Australia; and Denarau Island, Fiji. Milky and uninspiring skies above San Francisco, Peru and England came last.

Mariette du Toit, general manager of Cape Town Tourism, said: “We’ve been raving about our blue skies for ages, but now we’ve got scientific proof that we’re among the very best — this is definitely going to be added to the accolades in our marketing material.”

The project team leader at the laboratory, Nigel Fox, said calculations from “spectrometer” light instruments showed that the blue wavelengths dominated most in sub-tropical southern hemisphere countries like Brazil, South Africa and Fiji.

Fox said team members were shown photographs of the sky taken at the 22 cities and “visually, we put the top countries in the same sort of order”.

He added: “There was a little bit of subjectivity on exactly where the measurements took place and clouds did have a significant impact. But we standardised the tests as best we could — like taking measurements at the same time of day — and we’re generally confident in the results.”

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