What is the Telescope ?
Through a telescope, Galileo Galilei was able to observe the Moon, the stars and the planet Jupiter in 1610. A telescope is an optical instrument developed with the ability to allow the observation of distant objects, taking advantage of the use of light and its physical properties.
What is the Telescope Used for ?
It is an essential tool in the field of Astronomy, and one of those that has most influenced the human being’s conception of the universe.
Its operation is based on the principle of magnification of images, that is, the alteration of patterns of light visible to the eye to enlarge the observed object. It is the same principle that binoculars work on, but in the telescope it is much more powerful.
For this purpose, the telescope uses converging lenses with a convex face, through which it refracts the light coming from the object to be observed.
Modern and sophisticated versions of the telescope employ novel technologies, which produce better vision based on the same principles, managing to produce images even from unknown regions of the universe.
Types of Telescopes
There are three main types of telescopes:
This operates as a complex centralized optical system, which captures images of distant objects by combining a group of converging lenses, which distribute the light that passes through them, according to the principle of light refraction.
The original design of this type of telescope comes from Isaac Newton, and its name originates from the fact that it uses mirrors to conduct light, instead of lenses. Generally they use two mirrors: called primary and secondary, which achieve a balance between the opening, quality and cost of the device.
This telescope is the product of the combination of the two previous types. It uses mirrors and optical lenses, according to a system called Schmidt-Cassegrain. Some models contain three mirrors, instead of two.
Parts of a Telescope
Although the composition of a telescope can vary from one type or model to another, their common elements are usually:
It is the extreme lens of the telescope, where the light initially enters, just as it happens with cameras.
It is the lens that amplifies the image and transmits it directly to the observer’s eye.
It is the lens that allows the observed image to be magnified, in a proportion that doubles or triples, depending on the capacity of the device and the optical system with which it operates.
They are small accessories that allow to improve observation, for which they slightly obscure the observed object when positioning it in front of the eyepiece.
It is the physical support of the telescope, especially when it comes to large and / or heavy telescopes.
It is the stabilizing element of the telescope, of special attention especially in small telescopes.
How Does the Telescope Work ?
A Telescope operates by the combined functionality of curved mirrors and convex lenses. In operational conditions they allow the observation of objects at astronomical distances such as stars, planets and even galaxies. Today, modern telescope technology allows observations beyond visible light.
To understand how the telescope works, it is convenient to know the Galileo and Kepler configurations. Both use the principle of the refraction of light waves to achieve an increased observation of distant objects.
In both models there is a first lens, commonly called an objective, in which the rays from the object that travel in parallel converge, converging at a distance equal to the focal length. The second lens, usually called the eyepiece, is the one that generates the final image, which is the result of the objective.
Galileo Galilei Configuration
In 1609, Galileo introduced the first telescope to be used as an astronomical instrument. His design had two lenses, the objective, located closest to the object, converging; and the eyepiece, located closer to the eye, divergent.
Thanks to this, virtual and enlarged images could be obtained. It should be noted that then, as now, they could be used for terrestrial observations.
Johannes Kepler Configuration
In 1611 the eyepiece of a converging lens was used for the first time to observe objects located at great distances. The objective lens shows a first image by the action of light rays that arrive parallel to the first lens, located in the focus, which increases its angle acting like a magnifying glass. It was this that allowed the distant object to be observed more clearly.
Brief History of the Telescope
The invention of the (optical) telescope is attributed to the German Hans Lippershey (1570-1619), manufacturer of lenses. He is considered the first to design the artifact. On the other hand, the notable Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who just by reading the description of the first telescope created his own version of it in 1609.
At the beginning of use, this ingenious invention was called «spy lens». Later, in 1611, the name «telescope» was proposed by Giovanni Demisiani, a Greek mathematician, during a dinner made in honor of Galileo..
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