The idea of using adaptive optics (AO) to compensate for variable optical aberrations was originally conceived by Horace Babcock, an astronomer working at Mt. Wilson in the early 1950s. Babcock’s idea was to compensate for the rapidly varying optical aberrations caused by atmospheric turbulence by using an adaptive optical element to cancel these aberrations in real time. At the time of Babcock’s original conception, the technology to enable this idea to be put into useful practice was not yet developed, but today, half a century later, most major astronomical telescopes are outfitted with adaptive optics systems.
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