Questions tagged [telescopes]

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74
votes
3answers
13k views

How big would my telescope have to be if I wanted to see the Mars rover from my backyard?

I imagine that with a big enough telescope, I would be able to zoom in and see the Mars rover in enough detail to make out the details (like the wheels, cameras, etc.). How large would the telescope ...
50
votes
2answers
7k views

Why are gold mirrors yellow?

Why are golden mirrors yellow? Do they add a yellow component to the spectrum or absorb non-yellow components? If they absorb, then why are they used in telescopes being imperfect? If they add a ...
33
votes
6answers
17k views

Why did high quality mirrors use aluminum coatings instead of silver?

I have two questions on mirrors. I’ve read that in the past quality mirrors were coated with silver but that today vacuum evaporated coatings of aluminum are the accepted standard. When I look at the ...
31
votes
3answers
3k views

How do we stabilise satellites so precisely?

Look at the Hubble Ultra Deep Field photo. The stars in it are on the order of 1 arcsecond across. To an order of magnitude, this is $10^{-6}$ radians in a $10\text m$ telescope which was held steady ...
29
votes
4answers
934 views

Telescopes to avoid as a beginner? [closed]

I've heard people talk about "department store scopes" or "trash scopes". How do I know what to avoid in a beginner scope? How can I know that I'm not getting something we will be more frustrated with ...
28
votes
3answers
6k views

Are Hubble Telescope Images in true color?

Like many others, I have marveled at the images made available from the Hubble Space Telescope over the years. But, I have always had a curiosity about the color shown in these images. An example is ...
26
votes
3answers
13k views

How to determine what size telescope to buy

A couple of years ago my son showed an interest in astronomy and we bought a 6" reflector telescope. We use it pretty regularly and have enjoyed it immensely. Lately we've both been wishing we had ...
25
votes
9answers
6k views

Telescopes and Time: Please Explain

I'm a psychotherapist by training so go easy on me here. I would like to know, in simple terms if possible, the basic mechanics of how Hubble can see back in time. I pretty much understand, in this ...
23
votes
2answers
11k views

What is the theoretical limit for farthest we can see back in time and distance?

13.2 billion years ago the universe was rather small, having started only half a billion years ago. Today, with the help of Hubble Space Telescope, we are able to capture the light of galaxies emitted ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Optimal telescope size?

Consider a diffraction-limited telescope with unobstructed aperture $D$. Such a scope is capable of yielding an angular resolution $\alpha$ that scales as $\lambda/D$, with $\lambda$ denoting the ...
18
votes
6answers
6k views

Why put a radio telescope in space instead on the Moon?

Why are we not building a space-based radio telescope? If a lunar radio telescope is hard to build, why not a space-based radio telescope? It could be an interesting tool, I presume. Thus, what could ...
18
votes
5answers
1k views

Why don't we have a better telescope than the Hubble Space Telescope?

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched in 1990, more than 20 years ago, but I know that it was supposed to be launched in 1986, 24 years ago. Since it only took 66 years from the fist plane to ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is the South Pole Telescope located exactly at the South Pole?

I read that there is less atmospheric interference for the telescope at the South Pole because the atmosphere is thin and there is less water vapor in the air. However this seems to be true for many ...
16
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3answers
6k views

Is it possible to 3D print a mirror to create a high quality telescope?

Is it possible to 3D print a mirror with todays available materials? If so, would there be a reduction in image quality?
16
votes
6answers
5k views

Lenses (refractor) or mirrors (reflector) telescope?

What differentiates, in terms of practical quality, not technical implementation, a refractor from a reflector telescope? Why would one prefer a refractor over a reflector, when reflectors come with ...
14
votes
5answers
5k views

Telescope for 6 year old and dad new to astronomy

What's a good telescope for my 6 year old? We're both brand new to telescopes in general, but love space, stars, planets, cosmology, etc. Happy to spend up to $200 to start. Maybe more for a good ...
14
votes
4answers
27k views

What does f/4.6 mean in a telescope and how important is this value? [closed]

In some specifications for telescopes, I saw a value marked as f/4.6. What does it mean exactly, and how important is when it comes to choosing a telescope?
13
votes
4answers
12k views

Is building your own reflector telescope worth it?

I have always fancied building my own reflector telescope. I am wondering - For a certain budget, can you get better results with a home made rig? Or is this a folly, and really it would be better to ...
13
votes
2answers
269 views

Could a mirror array used for thermal solar power plant double as a telescope at night?

I was looking at the Ivanpah Solar facility and it occurred to me that the large array of mirrors could double as some sort of telescope array at night. The climate in the desert would be ideal for ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

Can you damage your eyes viewing Venus?

Whilst I know it is extremely dangerous to view the sun using a telescope (or even just looking directly at it for prolong periods) can you do permanent damage to your eyes looking at Venus through a ...
12
votes
3answers
666 views

Why does a blue sky at dusk appear nearly black through a telescope?

Earlier this evening I was looking at the Moon through my cheap toy telescope (x150 magnification) when I noticed a (rather mundane) optical effect I couldn't explain. The Sun had just dipped below ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is this radio telescope's reflector spherical and not parabolic?

This is the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Its reflector is spherical, measuring 1,001 ft. in diameter. It is considered the most sensitive radio telescope on Earth, but the fact that ...
11
votes
2answers
415 views

How do air Cherenkov telescopes work?

The very highest energy photons, gamma-rays, are too energetic to be detected by standard optical methods. In fact they rarely actually make it to the surface of the Earth at all but interact with ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

Observing Jupiter's non-Galilean moons

What strength of telescope is required to observe some of the non-Galilean moons of Jupiter? My current telescope at 50 magnification resolves the Galilean moons well, but I'm guessing it's far ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is the Ritchey–Chrétien telescope preferred in professional astronomy?

Hubble, as well as numerous other professional telescopes, use the Ritchey–Chrétien design. What optical and instrumental advantages does this kind of telescope have for professional astronomy?
9
votes
2answers
6k views

What is exactly a Dobsonian, and what are the differences when compared with Schmidt-Cassegrain or Newtonian?

What is exactly a Dobsonian telescope, and what are the differences between this technical choice over a Schmidt-Cassegrain or a Newtonian configurations?
9
votes
4answers
273 views

Automated telescope system

I am living up north in Norway, 300 km above the Arctic Circle, which gives me six months per year of darkness and cold. I used to have a starter telescope when I was living in Spain, but I gave it ...
9
votes
1answer
96 views

How do I use this 'Horizon Observatory'?

Just around the corner, we have one of these: It's at the Halde Hoheward (article in the German wikipedia), and it's called a 'Horizon Observatory' by the people who built it. How does it work ...
8
votes
5answers
162 views

Exoplanet detection via space-based parasol

I remember from watching Cosmos years ago, Carl Sagan suggested an interesting hypothetical method for directly seeing exoplanets. He proposed that in the 'future' we could launch a satellite designed ...
8
votes
1answer
548 views

Why are telescopes on top of Mauna Kea instead of Mauna Loa?

Many large and important telescopes are located on top of Mauna Kea on Hawaii. This is a great location for many reasons: it's tall enough to be above the weather, an inversion layer at night keeps ...
8
votes
4answers
8k views

How can I stabilize an unstable telescope?

I have an 80 mm refractor telescope on a tripod, but it shakes on every touch. It's very hard to see via 6 mm (x120) ocular. Even a little wind causes the image to become too unsteady. How ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Are there any astronomical objects at night that are dangerous to look at (through a telescope)?

Are there any astronomical bodies that would be dangerous to my vision to view through a telescope? Obviously the sun is dangerous, but are there other bodies at night I should avoid?
8
votes
2answers
4k views

How do you clean a dusty lens?

The lenses of my telescope and binoculars are dusty. What is the best way to clean them without damaging the optic coating?
8
votes
1answer
319 views

Why is the Hubble Space telescope able to see farthest in the universe?

What determines how far a telescope can see in the universe? How does recording data for a very long time (~10 years) help? If we could build a telescope which work at microwave region, will it be a ...
8
votes
2answers
334 views

Could many widely separated space telescopes be combined for VLBI on IR/visible wavelengths?

I have read about ground-based Very Long Baseline Interferometry telescope arrays able to achieve huge resolution at IR/visible wavelengths. There are also space-ground VLBI configurations in ...
8
votes
1answer
125 views

What size aperature would I need to find and see the supernova in M51?

On June 2, 2011, a new supernova was identified by an amateur French astronomer in M51. What size telescope aperture would one need to have any chance of seeing this? Given the right sized scope, ...
8
votes
2answers
965 views

Smaller free remote control telescopes?

There are several online services that let you control a large telescope (eg, lightbuckets.com and slooh.com), even some that are free (eg, telescope.org). Unfortunately, the pay services are ...
8
votes
1answer
186 views

Where can I find information for how to create amateur radio telescope?

Where can I find good source of information for how to create amateur radio telescope. Particularly interested in creating Fresnel Zone Plate Antennas (aka flat dish). design, diagrams, electronics. ...
7
votes
8answers
7k views

Can any telescope be used for solar observing?

Can any telescope, such as a 8" reflector, that is normally used at night to look at planets be used or adapted for solar observing? What kind of adapters or filters are required or is it better to ...
7
votes
1answer
631 views

Reflecting Telescope Blind Spot?

Why does the secondary mirror within the body of a reflecting telescope not produce a blind spot for the viewer. Since the light rays are being reflected from the primary mirror onto the secondary (...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

What are the minimum telescope requirements to view a nice spiral galaxy?

I would like to view some spiral galaxy. However, I would prefer not to spend lots of $$$. What are the minimum specs a telescope must have to resolve detail in a spiral galaxy?
7
votes
1answer
643 views

Why aren't there any arrays of visible light telescope?

There have been many radio telescope arrays which are capable of resolving stars significantly fainter than can be resolved with a single "small" radio telescope. Why don't they do the same with ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

How can I determine if my telescope mirror is parabolic?

This week I purchased the “Skywatcher Explorer 130P Newtonian Reflector Telescope”, specifically as it has the parabolic mirror. I do not have the outer packaging for sundry reasons. Therefore, after ...
7
votes
2answers
343 views

What makes a good set of binoculars? [closed]

After trying a bunch of binoculars at Star Parties and the like, I have a pretty good feel for about what aperture and magnification I'd like in a new set binoculars. I'm an eyeglass wearer so a long ...
7
votes
1answer
650 views

What prevents digital interferometry in an optical telescope array?

I understand it is common to combine an array of radio telescopes in to a single instrument using interferometry. This has the photon collecting area of the combined radio telescopes but an aperture (...
6
votes
4answers
256 views

Does the current light pollution set a fundamental limit for the range of Earth-based telescopes?

As far as I know, all deep-sky pictures are captured with the Hubble Space Telescope. If there would be no atmospheric distortion, could we make deeper pictures in the optical spectrum with ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the physical meaning of magnifying power of a telescope?

So the following question was given in the JEE Mains 2016 conducted throughout India on 3rd April. An observer looks at a distant tree of height 10 m with a telescope of magnifying power of 20. To ...
6
votes
4answers
452 views

Mixing and matching across eyepiece designs / manufacturers?

Right now, I am considering moving from 1.25" eyepieces to 2". While I'm convinced of the quality of the premium eyepieces, it would take me years to afford a complete set and, if I go that route, I ...
6
votes
3answers
441 views

How did Jocelyn Bell aim her radio telescope (phased array)?

In 1967 Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars using the Cambridge University radio telescope - a two hectare field of posts and wires. The pulsar was found to be in the constellation Vulpecula. How did ...
6
votes
3answers
19k views

What are ADU (analog-to-digital units)?

Can someone explain simply what are ADU's? I was reading this post here: http://www.qsimaging.com/blog/understanding-gain-on-a-ccd-camera/ However, I still don't quite understand this statement: "...