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Keck In Motion

February 18, 2012


I have posted about Very Large Telescope (Chile) in past, this time posting a beautiful video showing Keck observatory in action. Keck observatory is located at the summit of dormant volcano in Hawaii and is used for probing our near and distant universe with great precision (nanometer precision level). The observatory hosts worlds largest optical and infrared telescopes; telescopes are about eight storeys high and weigh more than 300 tons while the diameters of their primary mirror are about 10 m! The telescope uses adaptive optics (AO) which changes it’s shape depending on changes in environmental conditions and thereby eliminates any kind of aberrations or distortions in images resulting from turbulence in earth’s atmosphere. For adaptive optics to work, a bright, nearby reference star is required but since bright stars are limited in the sky, astronomers at Keck have created their own little neighborhood star– by using a laser and exciting sodium atoms in upper atmosphere (90 km above the earth’s surface) resulting in  a bright artificial star which adaptive optics can use as their reference. In this cool video, you can see the Keck observatory in action. In the beginning of video, you see the hexagonal object, that’s the keck 2 telescope. Enjoy the video along with the cool music!

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