Introduction to Adaptive Optics

Mary Begier heard a speaker explain the complex in simple terms-- just right for us Rotarians.  Tapping the bountiful knowledge of our treasured UH-Hilo, we were enlightened on the topic of how astronomers peer into the universe.  Christoph Baranec is an Assistant Astronomer with the Institute for Astronomy.  The hot and cold air mixing in our atmosphere causes a blurring effect, much like cold fresh water mixing with warmer ocean water.  Christoph has pioneered a completely robotic telescope, called AO-Robotics, that uses adaptive optics to correct and sharpen the focus of celestial objects.  Adaptive optics uses a laser shot toward the star or other object to determine the light scatter.  This feedback then manipulates a deformable mirror to produce a sharper image.  The potential applications of this technology to other fields are just being explored, such as thick tissue imaging or optometry.