June 29, 2009 - Clarifying the Universe

Clarifying the Universe In the same way that heat rising off a far-off stretch of highway causes distant scenery to appear blurry, atmospheric turbulence degrades a ground-based telescope’s view of astronomical objects. Telescopes with adaptive optics, like Gemini North (see week of 22 June), compensate for these distortions by accurately measuring the atmosphere’s activity in real time. Computers then send instructions to deformable mirrors that minutely change their shape up to one thousand times per second, resulting in images that rival or exceed the sharpness of pictures taken from space. This high-resolution view of Jupiter obtained with adaptive optics shows two giant red spots (which appear white in the near-infrared) brushing past one another in the planet’s southern hemisphere.

Image credit: Gemini Observatory/Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy


Weekly Calendar

June 29 - July 5, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 29

First Quarter Moon 7:28 am

1868: George Ellery Hale born
1961: Transit 4A launched, first nuclear-powered satellite
1971: Soyuz 11 crew dies during reentry

Moon phase Tuesday 30

1908: Tunguska impact levels hundreds of miles of Siberian forest
2001: WMAP spacecraft launched

Moon phase Wednesday 1

Canada Day (Canada)

Uranus appears stationary

1917: 100” mirror arrives at Mt. Wilson Observatory
1972: Wernher von Braun retires from NASA
1997: STS-94 Columbia launched

Moon phase Thursday 2

1985: European Space Agency launches Giotto probe to study Halley’s Comet

Moon phase Friday 3

Earth at aphelion

1935: Harrison Schmitt born

Moon phase Saturday 4

Independence Day

Antares 0.5° south of Moon

1054: Crab Nebula supernova observed
1997: Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars
2005: Deep Impact probe collides with comet Tempel 1
: STS-121 Discovery launched

Moon phase Sunday 5

1966: Apollo-Saturn 203 launched
1982: Space Shuttle Challenger arrives at Kennedy Space Center for first time

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.