Tag Archives: turbulence

There’s a reason why stars appear to twinkle and it’s this: constantly moving pockets of slightly off-temperature air in the Earth’s atmosphere that distort the light paths from distant astronomical objects.

But how to counter the blur caused by this atmospheric turbulence? To wit:

The telescope featured in this image, located at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, is equipped with four lasers […] tuned to a colour that excites atoms floating high in Earth’s atmospheresodium left by passing meteors. These glowing sodium spots act as artificial stars whose twinkling is immediately recorded and passed to a flexible mirror that deforms hundreds of times per second, counteracting atmospheric turbulence and resulting in crisper images. The de-twinkling of stars is a developing field of technology and allows, in some cases, Hubbleclass images to be taken from the ground. This technique has also led to spin-off applications in human vision science, where it is used to obtain very sharp images of the retina.

(Image: Juan Carlos Muñoz / ESO; Text: Juan Carlos Muñoz)


Maho Beach on the Dutch Caribbean island of St Martin is famous for its proximity to Princess Juliana International Airport. Along with the powerful turbulence caused by jets taking off from Runway 10, arriving planes follow a 3° glide slope low over the beach.

‘Best spotting airport in the world’ sez Youtuber and plane-spotter pitotdynan. Not the best place in the world to be eating a ’99 though.

You’ll see.