The "first-light" for the Keck laser was a complete
success with the laser guide star being propagated for the first time at 11:42
UT, December 23 2001. CfAO researchers Claire Max and Dee Pennington were present
Operators were very satisfied with the brightness of the
laser guide star spot at the 100-km altitude of the sodium layer and the fact
that the low-altitude laser beam emission (due to Rayleigh scattering) was at
the low level predicted. It was not easily visible from the Gemini Observatory
600 meters distance from the Keck Observatory. The laser guide "star"
was on the autoguider for the first run
The team present at the summit included:
Joel Aycock, Michael Bray, Curtis Brown, Jason Chin, Pam Danforth, Bill Healy,
Hilton Lewis, David Lynn, Claire Max, Craig Nance, Dee Penning-ton, Paul Stomski,
Doug Summers, and Peter Wizinowich.
The image is from the ConCam all-sky camera on Mauna Kea. In this three-minute
exposure, the narrow white line at the 10 o'clock position is the laser beam.
The Milky Way can be seen as the broad diagonal band. Plans to further optimize
the laser and to fully integrate the laser guide star with the Keck II adaptive
optics system are proceeding.