Daily Telescope: Shooting a laser into the sky from Antarctica


Enlarge / Shooting lidar into the night sky.

Steve Erskine

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light, a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It’s January 24, and today’s image features an astronomical sight of another sort.

The image was taken by Steve Erskine a few years ago in Antarctica. Astronomers use lidar to measure the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere to calibrate their observations. In this photo, the lidar is being shot nearly straight up from an observatory at McMurdo Station.

“This image was taken in the winter season,” Erskine told me. “The green lidar is measuring atmospheric temperatures and is normally just barely visible to the naked eye. The camera is looking roughly south across McMurdo Sound and the Ross Ice Shelf.”

I like this photo because it gives us some small insight into all the work that goes into making the gorgeous images that populate the Daily Telescope and other astronomy pages.

Source: Steve Erskine

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