In 1849, the same year that California pioneers were panning for one of the most “precious” metals a supernova can produce, Armand Fizeau, a little-known 30-year-old French physicist, was testing a cog-and-wheel-mirror contraption that was accurate enough to establish a “ballpark” estimate of the speed of light. Fizeau was clearly ahead of his time, for some 20 years after the California gold rush, he had already proposed a revolutionary way of making astronomical observations, one that is just now reaching full maturity. The young physicist proposed combining two beams of light to produce a barcode-like set of light and dark vertical fringes, which might enable astronomers to boost their telescopes’ resolving power without having to increase their diameter.
KeywordsAdaptive Optic Angular Diameter Tauri Star Adaptive Optic System Mount Wilson Observatory
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