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Is it possible to see Fraunhofer lines with amateur equipment?

Would it be possible (with reasonable effort) to identify elements or is this hard?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Certainly. Spectroscopes are available to fit most telescopes, or you could make your own using a diffraction grating.

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Some will and some wont - it all depends on your instrument/device and your source (solar vs. stellar), and whether you are looking visually or doing photography. Newton missed them completely, Wollaston saw them in a kind of fleeting manner and thought they were divisions lines between the colors (which means he didnt see much!), but Fraunhofer being the far more skilled practicioner/investigator saw and catalogued hundreds, he was able to calculate the wavelength of d1-d2 sodium lines using Young's forumla for diffraction (he was using a grating vs. a prism!) ... so seeing the Fraunhofer lines is not automatic and the new highly taunted very expensive low-order diffraction gratings no being sold to amateur astronomers reveals very little in the way of stellar spectroscopic details - so stick to looking for the solar Fraunhofer lines after build a cd-spectroscope ... and build it exactly as told! Then you probably will see several dark Fraunhofer absorption lines ... or better yet look for bright Fraunhofer EMISSION LINES in your room lights after building a "diffraction grating spectroscope". The Fraunhofer lines are all the same for a given element and wavelength, whether absorption or emission, and the emission versions are much easier to see!

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There are lots of cool "make your own spectroscope" projects online. Most use a CD as the grating. They aren't for scientific purposes but are fun and educational. You'll be able to see the spectral differences between sunlight and incandescent lights and others. You can make them from a computer print-out on card stock, or use a cereal box!

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