High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! A space observatory is any instrument in outer space which is used for observation of distant planets, galaxies, and other outer space objects. This category is distinct from other observatories located in space that are pointed toward the earth for the purpose of reconnaissance and other types of information gathering. A large number of observatories have been launched into orbit, and most of them have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the Cosmos. Performing astronomy from the Earth's surface is limited by the filtering and distortion of electromagnetic radiation (scintillation or twinkling) due to the Earth's atmosphere. Some terrestrial telescopes (such as the Very Large Telescope) can reduce atmospheric effects with adaptive optics. A telescope orbiting the Earth outside the atmosphere is subject neither to twinkling nor to light pollution from artificial light sources on the Earth.