<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

In a reflecting telescope, the concave mirror is placed at the bottom of a tube or open framework. The mirror reflects the light back up the tube to form an image near the front end at a location called the prime focus    . The image can be observed at the prime focus, or additional mirrors can intercept the light and redirect it to a position where the observer can view it more easily ( [link] ). Since an astronomer at the prime focus can block much of the light coming to the main mirror, the use of a small secondary mirror allows more light to get through the system.

Focus arrangements for reflecting telescopes.

Diagram of typical reflecting telescopes. Shown are three nearly identical reflecting telescopes. On the left, a prime focus telescope is depicted, where parallel rays of light enter the telescope tube and are then reflected off the surface of a concave mirror at the base of the tube. The reflected rays converge at the focus point which is located a short distance inside the telescope tube from the opening where the light enters. It is here at the prime focus where a detector can be placed. In the middle illustration, a Newtonian focus telescope is shown. It is identical to the prime focus arrangement, except that a small flat mirror is placed at the prime focus to reflect the light to the outside the telescope, where an eyepiece or detector can be placed. Essentially, a Newtonian moves the focus point from within the telescope to outside the telescope. On the right, a Cassegrain focus telescope is shown; as with the Newtonian focus, a prime mirro is placed at the prime focus, but in this telescope the prime focus reflects light back down trhough an opening at the bottom of the telescope.
Reflecting telescopes have different options for where the light is brought to a focus. With prime focus, light is detected where it comes to a focus after reflecting from the primary mirror. With Newtonian focus, light is reflected by a small secondary mirror off to one side, where it can be detected (see also [link] ). Most large professional telescopes have a Cassegrain focus in which light is reflected by the secondary mirror down through a hole in the primary mirror to an observing station below the telescope.

Choosing your own telescope

If the astronomy course you are taking whets your appetite for exploring the sky further, you may be thinking about buying your own telescope. Many excellent amateur telescopes are available, and some research is required to find the best model for your needs. Some good sources of information about personal telescopes are the two popular US magazines aimed at amateur astronomers: Sky&Telescope and Astronomy . Both carry regular articles with advice, reviews, and advertisements from reputable telescope dealers.

Some of the factors that determine which telescope is right for you depend upon your preferences:

  • Will you be setting up the telescope in one place and leaving it there, or do you want an instrument that is portable and can come with you on outdoor excursions? How portable should it be, in terms of size and weight?
  • Do you want to observe the sky with your eyes only, or do you want to take photographs? (Long-exposure photography, for example, requires a good clock drive to turn your telescope to compensate for Earth’s rotation.)
  • What types of objects will you be observing? Are you interested primarily in comets, planets, star clusters, or galaxies, or do you want to observe all kinds of celestial sights?

You may not know the answers to some of these questions yet. For this reason, you may want to “test-drive” some telescopes first. Most communities have amateur astronomy clubs that sponsor star parties open to the public. The members of those clubs often know a lot about telescopes and can share their ideas with you. Your instructor may know where the nearest amateur astronomy club meets; or, to find a club near you, use the websites suggested in Appendix B .

Furthermore, you may already have an instrument like a telescope at home (or have access to one through a relative or friend). Many amateur astronomers recommend starting your survey of the sky with a good pair of binoculars. These are easily carried around and can show you many objects not visible (or clear) to the unaided eye.

When you are ready to purchase a telescope, you might find the following ideas useful:

  • The key characteristic of a telescope is the aperture of the main mirror or lens; when someone says they have a 6-inch or 8-inch telescope, they mean the diameter of the collecting surface. The larger the aperture, the more light you can gather, and the fainter the objects you can see or photograph.
  • Telescopes of a given aperture that use lenses (refractors) are typically more expensive than those using mirrors (reflectors) because both sides of a lens must be polished to great accuracy. And, because the light passes through it, the lens must be made of high-quality glass throughout. In contrast, only the front surface of a mirror must be accurately polished.
  • Magnification is not one of the criteria on which to base your choice of a telescope. As we discussed, the magnification of the image is done by a smaller eyepiece, so the magnification can be adjusted by changing eyepieces. However, a telescope will magnify not only the astronomical object you are viewing but also the turbulence of Earth’s atmosphere. If the magnification is too high, your image will shimmer and shake and be difficult to view. A good telescope will come with a variety of eyepieces that stay within the range of useful magnification.
  • The mount of a telescope (the structure on which it rests) is one of its most critical elements. Because a telescope shows a tiny field of view, which is magnified significantly, even the smallest vibration or jarring of the telescope can move the object you are viewing around or out of your field of view. A sturdy and stable mount is essential for serious viewing or photography (although it clearly affects how portable your telescope can be).
  • A telescope requires some practice to set up and use effectively. Don’t expect everything to go perfectly on your first try. Take some time to read the instructions. If a local amateur astronomy club is nearby, use it as a resource.

A telescope collects the faint light from astronomical sources and brings it to a focus, where an instrument can sort the light according to wavelength. Light is then directed to a detector, where a permanent record is made. The light-gathering power of a telescope is determined by the diameter of its aperture, or opening—that is, by the area of its largest or primary lens or mirror. The primary optical element in a telescope is either a convex lens (in a refracting telescope) or a concave mirror (in a reflector) that brings the light to a focus. Most large telescopes are reflectors; it is easier to manufacture and support large mirrors because the light does not have to pass through glass.

Questions & Answers

what is time
Abdul Reply
Time is relative
mrunal
pls elaborate
sakshi
the clear defination.I know that.
Abdul
In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
Eshwarsa Reply
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
what is your opinion about the theory of Vedas about modern physics..
Manish Reply
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
donot Reply
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
Eshwarsa Reply
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Adam
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
Adam
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
adam i want to ask a question
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
Lanika Reply
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome
Jacqueline Reply
how should I make my carrier in astronomy
Ayush Reply
I think that Newton's third law is not appropriate if any also thinks like this please reply me
Ayush
Can you explain your reasoning
Huh
why u think so
joseph
yes Ayush u are right
Yoganshu
I think when we apply force to a object it start moving but , a/c to Newton's third law every action has equal and opposite reaction,so object should also exert equal force on us and it should not move due to balanced force
Ayush
if I am not right then reply me
Ayush
no
Zack
because of friction that opposes that force and help us to move ahead
Manish
but this is not satisfied as third law say another thing
Ayush
you are telling why object moves
Ayush
you have to think a/c to third law
Ayush
its because of its mass
Maya
because it is applying equal and opposite force but also our mass is also less in comparison to the object
Maya
which is why we cant move the object but it can make move us
Maya
manish is too correct in his place because we need to apply force which would overcome the frictional force
Maya
My dear friends, can u plz tell me that among u guys who are in the field of cosmology
Madhav Reply
😢I am not there in cosmology
Samuel
Just A Science Fan.....
Adam
Adam even I am 😥😅😅😂😂
Samuel
I am also not in cosmology but I am just a fan or we can say science and part of NASA is my dream
Yoganshu
yoganshu Arya same here
Samuel
you are from which country
Yoganshu
hi yoganshu
Samuel
India
Samuel
which state
Samuel
I am also from India
Yoganshu
from delhi
Yoganshu
and u...?
Yoganshu
I am from Maharashtra
Samuel
from which state?
Yoganshu
You are a ASTRONOMER ...
Yoganshu
or a scientist..
Yoganshu
or just a member
Yoganshu
What is time...? not about Newton= time is constant..... that all scientists openions n point of view I m knowing. . what can be the Perfect Definition of Time
Madhav Reply
time is what clock reads
Ayush
Who is the best astronomer of India at present time
Gian Reply
Jayant Narlikar, Proponent Of Steady State Cosmology.....
Adam
What is the real colour of sun rays
Gian Reply
white.. so white it becomes violet.. so violet it become ultraviolet
Tom
white and red and yellow
Bianca
Vibgyor
Samuel
the real colour of sunlight is White
Madhav
the Sun's has a variety of waves all throughout the elextromagnetic spectrum.
Jacie
we only see it as a few bc of how some of them get redshifted (? can that term be applied for something so local?) by some particles in our upper atmosphere
Jacie
Vibgyor will be when, the white light will pass through the clouds ( prism ) then Refraction phenomenon leads us to 7 colours splitting from a single colour "White " light
Madhav
so the sun rays r of White colour
Madhav
Taurus in astronomy and horoscope?
Yasser Reply
how to put E=MC2
Gospel Reply
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By "How To Put E=MC2?
Adam
yep
Gospel
Hi guys
Samuel
i mean how NASA came to know the mass and diameters of Stars.how?
Gospel
how did they do using E=MC2
Gospel
thats my questioning
Gospel
that's easy formula's derivation
Madhav
why all planets revolving orbits are nearly in equal inclination?
Kartik Reply
***medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/ask-ethan-82-why-are-the-planets-all-in-the-same-plane-4470245c8743
rishabh
dependent on the mass
Madhav
no
Janak
I think because of the Suns gravity pull ,😕😕
Samuel
Samuel,. it's but obvious
Madhav
Practice Key Terms 9

Get the best Astronomy course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Astronomy' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask