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Sodium laser launch from the side of the Lick Observatorys
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Sodium laser launch from the side of the Lick Observatory's

May 11, 2010
Sodium laser launch from the side of the Lick Observatory's 120-foot Shane telescope. This is a 10-minute, time exposed image. Note the star trails. The laser is used to create an artificial guide star for the adaptive optics (AO) system using excitation of the sodium layer at an altitude of approximately 90 km. It is mounted on the side of the telescope.

This research was conducted at the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a National Science Foundation-supported Science and Technology Center. The center researches AO in the fields of vision science and astronomy to remove the effects of image blurring through turbulent media. Applications include astronomical telescopes, laser guide stars, wavefront sensing, MEMS technology and retinal imaging.