Epic Photos of Lasers Slicing Through the Night Sky

European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Yuri Beletsky shot a series of epic photos showing astronomers shooting powerful laser beams into the night sky. The photo above showing a laser beam pointed at the center of our galaxy was voted as last year’s Picture of the Year over at Wikipedia.

You can find full-res versions of these photos over on the ESO website.

Yuri Beletsky’s ESO Photos (via Fotografia 101)

Image credits: Photographs by Yuri Beletsky/ESO

  • Ndt

    All we wanted was sharks with fricken laser beams strapped to their heads, and this is what we get? I hope, at the very least, these observatories are ill-tempered.

  • will hall

    No explanation of the purpose? here we go…

    On earth, the resolution of telescopes is limited by astronomical ‘seeing’. This is basicly the tiny air currents in the atmosphere that distort the path of light rays coming from the star/galaxy being observed. The laser creates a virtual star on the sky. By monitoring the distortions on the virtual star the system can determine the distortions to the rays of light coming from the real stars. The mirrors in these large telescopes are lined with many small actuators which shift the shape of the mirror slightly to correct for the distortions created by the atmosphere, allowing the telescopes to resolve details otherwise only visible by space telescopes. The whole system is known as adaptive optics.

  • Anonymous

    It’s missile command!

  • Retor

    Impressive stuff. Is the laser really that visible?

  • Onefaller

    brilliant.  thank you for the excellent explanation.

  • Dumb

    Yeah, these lasers are that visible.  They look like a skinny light sabre in person.

  • Picrthis

    Better be careful shining a powerful Laser in the Sky like that, the FAA is going to come after you LOL :)

  • roger skillin

    Yes they are, even the one i have at home is that visible outside at night

  • anon

    Unless the FAA exists and has any power outside of America I highly doubt that.

  • Picrthis

    Ahhh but the FAA and the FDA think they do have authority over the whole world, just ask Wicked Lasers about all the demands they have made to them. :)

  • anon

    Fortunately thinking they have authority is pretty meaningless. Wickedlasers got around their demands by utting a sticker on their wares, easy enough. Naturally America is the country with the most demands relating to wickedlaser products. /rollseyes.

  • Picrthis

    You do get I was laughing posting these comments, Right? I just thought it was funny seeing a laser beam in the sky like that and thought the US Gov would freak over it, and then cry because they wouldn’t listen to their cease & diss order. LOL :)

    As for WL the stickers do nothing, they still confiscate them whenever they can in commerce transit.

  • Hamyhaxxor

    Some alien is going to be flying through our galaxy minding his own business, until BAM! He is fucking blinded, slams into an asteroid, gets pissed off and fucks up these guys with giant laser pointers.

  • Picrthis

    Yea that is going to be real bad, when the alien’s start firing their lasers beams back at us, because ours are like to toys compared to those death rays they have. :) LOL

  • Theslickerybeast