Category: observatory

This Is How Astronomy Is Finally Defeating Its…

This Is How Astronomy Is Finally Defeating Its Greatest Enemy: Earth’s Atmosphere

“This is not only a tremendous boon to astronomy, but represents the potential of successful collaborations between government-funded endeavors and private industry. Without the participation of both, improvements such as these would have been impossible. With 25-to-39 meter class telescopes scheduled to come online in the coming decade, including the future ELT at 39 meters and also managed by ESO, it’s never been a better time to be a ground-based astronomer. 

For decades, the only ways to contend with the atmosphere were either to live with it or to go above it. Yet over the past few years, all of that is changing. It’s time to seriously consider outfitting all of our large observatories with adaptive optics systems like this. If these improvements continue, ground-based astronomy may be able to surpass space-based telescopes, as far as quality-imaging-per-dollar goes, once and for all!”

So, you want to view the Universe as accurately as possible, but you don’t have the ability to put your dream observatory in space? Welcome to the world of astronomy, where there’s a trade-off between what you can do from the ground (where weight and size are no concern) and what you can do from space (where you don’t have an atmosphere). The Hubble Space Telescope has been so revolutionary because of all that it could see without any atmospheric interference, but the ground is catching up. The science of adaptive optics is progressing tremendously as the years go by, enabling us to compensate for the atmosphere and. in some cases, to even defeat Hubble with telescopes here on Earth.

At last, astronomers are finally defeating their true observational nemesis: Earth’s atmosphere. This is the story of how.