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It's only a sharper moon

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10:16am, August 28, 2002

Astronomers have taken what appears to be the sharpest image of the moon ever recorded from Earth. The image, which shows a small area on the rim of a 56-kilometer-wide lunar crater called Taruntius, resolves features as small as 130 meters across.

Scientists accomplished the feat by employing a computerized system, called adaptive optics, that automatically compensates for the blurring of images by our planet's turbulent atmosphere. Adaptive-optics systems normally work by keeping a bright guide star in sharp focus. If the computerized system can flex a telescope mirror rapidly enough and in just the right way to maintain the star's image as a point rather than a blur, it will also keep in focus other objects in the same field of view.

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