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D.S. Acton, P. Wizinowich (Keck Observatory), O. Lai (CFHT), P. Stomski, J. Gathright, W. Lupton, C. Shelton (Keck Observatory), E. Johansson (LLNL)
The expected breakthrough in astronomical resolution with the implementation of Adaptive Optics (AO) on the new generation of large, 8-10 m diameter telescopes was clearly demonstrated in February, 1999 with the Natural Guide Star AO facility on the Keck II telescope. These first light images had a full-width-at-half-maximum of 0.04 arcsec at H-band and Strehl ratios up to 30 wavelength. Since first-light we have been engaged in a program to characterize and optimize the system on the sky while carrying out a program to verify the scientific capabilities. The facility is now available to our science community. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview of the facility and its performance. Several science papers in this conference, ranging from planets to galaxies, will further demonstrate the dramatic new scientific capabilities of this facility.
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