Astronomers Play With A Camera 20 Years In The Making

For the past 20 years, astronomers have been refining a camera that promised the sharpest pictures possible of the night sky.

Night Sky Image

The new camera is now being deployed at the high altitude Magellan telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert. Images taken by the new camera are twice as sharp as images taken by the Hubble Telescope.What is it that makes this camera so incredible? It’s an ultrathin curved glass mirror that floats on a magnetic field above the telescope’s primary mirror. The mirror counteracts the blurring that is created by atmospheric turbulence, it does this by changing its shape at 585 different points up to 1,000 times per second! Acco0rding to the lead scientist of the camera’s project, Laird Close, the new camera can “make long-exposure images that resolve objects just 0.02 arcseconds across—the equivalent of a dime viewed from more than a hundred miles away. At that resolution, you could see a baseball diamond on the moon.”

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