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Shooting to the Edge of Atmosphere

By: Stephane Guisard

 

Region: Americas

Site: Cerro Paranal - Chile

 

The starry night of Paranal Mountain with Small and Large Magellanic Clouds above VLT telescopes. The yellow light from the dome is a laser guide star for Adaptive Optics (AO), a technology to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effects of rapidly changing optical distortion, most commonly used to remove the effects of atmospheric distortion. AO systems require a wavefront reference source in order to correct atmospheric distortion and because bright stars are not available in all parts of the sky, the system shine a laser into the atmosphere to create a yellow artificial "star" in the 95 km altitude sodium cloud around the Earth. Stephane Guisard-Astrosurf.com/sguisard.

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