Across from Gemini North

Star trails blur and lasers streak across the sky in this long-exposure view from Pu‘u Poli‘ahu, the mountain peak adjacent to the Gemini North telescope of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab. Gemini North can be seen slightly to the right of the center of this image, shooting its laser into the sky. A handful of other telescopes that are part of the Maunakea Observatories in Hawai‘i surround Gemini North.

Despite resembling searchlights or a battle from a sci-fi film, the lasers in this image play a vital role in correcting the vision of Gemini and the other cutting-edge telescopes. They are part of these telescopes’ adaptive optics systems, and help astronomers measure the distortions in their data caused by atmospheric turbulence. By continuously feeding these measurements into computer-controlled deformable mirrors, astronomers can compensate for almost all of the blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere. This provides Gemini North with a crystal-clear view of the night sky, rivaling that of a space telescope above the tumultuous atmosphere.


International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. Chu

About the Image

Release date:May 24, 2023, noon
Size:4928 x 2772 px

About the Object

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