Astronomy: Observatory in the Sky

Peering into the night skies, astronomers find their view obscured by the ever-present veil of the earth's atmosphere. Swirling air currents blur the images of stars and planets. Scattered light and auroras in the atmosphere blot out faint stars. The thick blanket of air soaks up ultraviolet light and other radiation given off by distant stars, thus depriving scientists of valuable clues about the nature of the universe around them. Last week U.S. astronomers dramatically thrust their telescopes through the atmospheric veil and began to see the sky in a new light.

On Target. The fresh...