Image Credit & Copyright: Ethan Tweedie.
As if you needed another reason to visit the island state of Hawaii, you can go visit this incredible site captured here by Ethan Tweedie. High atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, which from base to summit is the tallest mountain on Earth, is also one of the most powerful ground based observatories on Earth. In this image, the twin 10 meter W. M. Keck telescopes fire their Keck II Laser Guide Star (LGS) Adaptive Optics (AO) lasers into the atmosphere at the heart of the Milky Way. Adaptive Optics utilize lasers to act as guide stars and they greatly reduce the damage done by atmospheric turbulence which results in incredibly detailed images that otherwise wouldn’t be possible by a ground based observatory.
The mighty Keck twins aren’t the only observatories atop Mauna Kea. There’s a twin of a different sort as well; the 8.19 meter Gemini North Observatory whose partner (Gemini South) resides in Chile. Another big player is the 8.2 meter Subaru Telescope belonging to the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). All told, there are about 13 systems of telescopes atop Mauna Kea serving just about any need that an astronomer could ask for. I provided links to the different observatories below.
Thank you to Ethan for this brilliant image and as always be sure to check out more of his incredible work.
Ethan Tweedie Photography: http://www.ethantweedie.com/
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Mauna Kea Observatory; University of Hawaii Astronomy: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/mko/
Keck Observatories: http://www.keckobservatory.org/
Gemini Observatory: http://www.gemini.edu/
Subaru Telescope: http://www.naoj.org/
Canada/France/Hawaii Telescope (CFHT): http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/
NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (NITF): http://irtfweb.ifa.hawaii.edu/
University of Hawaii 2.2m Telescope (UH2.2): http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/88inch/
United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT): http://www.jach.hawaii.edu/UKIRT/
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT): http://www.jach.hawaii.edu/JCMT/
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Submillimeter Array (SMA): http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/sma/
Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO): http://cso.caltech.edu/
University of Hawaii Hilo Educational Telescope: http://www.astro.uhh.hawaii.edu/NewEducationalTelescope.php
Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA): http://www.vlba.nrao.edu/