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April 1, 2019 - Laser Light, Laser Bright

Laser Light, Laser Bright  The Very Large Telescope is the European Southern Observatory’s flagship facility at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. It consists of four 8.2 meter (323 inch) telescopes that work either in tandem or individually. Across the trails left by the stars in this long-exposure photograph on a dark and clear night, a laser beam shoots out of Yepun, the fourth Unit Telescope of the VLT. This beam is used to create an artificial star above Paranal to assist the adaptive optics instruments on the VLT. With the laser as a guide, adaptive optics instruments allow astronomers to overcome the blurring effect of the atmosphere and obtain images almost as sharp as would be possible if the whole telescope were placed in space, above Earth’s atmosphere.

Image credit: Dave Jones/ESO

Weekly Calendar

April 1 - 7, 2019

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 1

1960: TIROS 1 launched
1997: Comet Hale-Bopp’s closest approach to Sun
1998: TRACE launched

Moon phase Tuesday 2

Venus 3° north of Moon
Mercury 4° north of Moon
Neptune 3° north of Moon

1845: First photograph of Sun taken
2010: Soyuz TMA-18 launched carrying ISS Expedition 23/24 crew

Moon phase Wednesday 3

1966: Luna 10 becomes first spacecraft to orbit the Moon
1973: Salyut 2 space station launched

Moon phase Thursday 4

1930: American Rocket Society founded
1968: Apollo 6 launched
1983: STS-6 Challenger launched
1997: STS-83 Columbia launched
2000: First commercial mission to Mir
2011: Soyuz TMA-21 launched carrying ISS Expedition 27/28 crew

Moon phase Friday 5

New Moon 4:50 AM ET

1973: Pioneer 11 launched
1975: Soyuz 18-1, first in-flight abort
1990: Pegsat launched
1991: STS-37 Atlantis launched
2010: STS-131 Discovery launched

Saturday 6

Uranus 5° north of Moon

1965: Early Bird (Intelsat 1) launched
1984: STS-41C Challenger launched

Sunday 7

1991: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory deployed
2001: Mars Odyssey Orbiter launched
2007: ISS Expedition 15 crew launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.