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Keck II's Views of Uranus, Neptune Are Best Ever Seen

October 26, 2000

The new Keck II Telescope in Hawaii has provided the best infrared views of Neptune and Uranus ever available. The telescope's clear Neptune views, released Wednesday, are created by adaptive optics, which compensate for blurring caused by turbulence in the atmosphere.

The bright bands on Neptune are haze layers in Neptune's upper atmosphere. The dark stripe is an artifact of the camera. The Uranus image clearly shows the methane haze layer on the planet's south polar cap and tiny cloud features at high northern latitudes. The image also shows four of the planet's rings.

This is the first time that Uranus' rings have been viewed from the Earth's surface.

The photos were taken by a team from UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and were released at a meeting in Pasadena of the American Astronomical Society.

-- Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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