Frequently Asked Questions

What are Telescopes

History of Telescopes

Tips On Using Telescopes

Frequently Asked Questions


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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a box-shaped binocular?
A:   Cherubin D'Orleans, Pattroni from Milan and I. M. Dobler from Berlin manufactured box-shaped binocular terrestrial telescopes during 1750-1850. The binoculars failed owing to poor quality and inept handling.

Q: Which are the most popular telescopes?
A: Some of the most popular telescopes include,

  • The Hubble Space Telescope: Launched in 1990, the 2 billion dollar telescope orbits earth from 370 miles up in space. Hubble took the first image of Saturn's aurora in 1995 and discovered another possible black hole, while also taking amazing images of the birthplace of stars in the Eagle nebula.
  • The largest Keck telescope soon to be superseded by the Gran Telescopio Canarias and Southern African Large Telescope.
  • The VLT: The Very Large Telescope holds record for total collecting area with four telescopes each measuring 8 meters in diameter. The four telescopes located in Atacama desert in Chile belong to the European Southern Observatory (ESO)
  • The Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer is an optical telescope (array) that produces the highest resolution images at visible wavelengths
  • The CHARA (Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy) array is the telescope array produces the highest resolution images at near-infrared wavelengths
  • Swedish Solar Telescope (SST) is the 1-meter refracting telescope in La Palma rated the highest-resolution solar telescope in the world
  • The 200 inch (5.08 m) Hale telescope on Palomar Mountain was the largest conventional research telescope for many years. It has a single borosilicate (Pyrex) mirror known for its difficulty in construction.
  • Hooker is a 100-inch (2.54 m) telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory. In 1919, the telescope was used for the first stellar diameter measurements using interferometry and is still useful for advanced research.
  • The 1.02 m Yerkes Telescope in Wisconsin is the largest aimable refracting telescope in use.
  • The 0.76 m Nice refractor (in France) in 1888 was the world's largest telescope. It was exceeded in size one year later by the 0.91 m refractor at the Lick Observatory.
Q: Who invented the telescope?
A: In 1608, a Dutch scientist named Hans Lippershey looked at a church steeple through two lenses arranged in front of each other and saw the image magnified. Unfortunately, Lippershey's model had a poor image quality. However, Galileo Galilei is credited with the invention of telescope in 1609 for purely astronomical viewing. He first named it a perspicillum, then renamed it using the terms telescopium in Latin and telescopio in Italian. Isaac Newton in 1668 invented a telescope that used mirrors instead of lenses.

Q: What kind of telescope is the best?
A: The most vital element of a telescope is its aperture. As telescopes employ high magnifications, their performance gets limited due to diffraction. Aperture is an opening, determined by the most tapered part of the telescope including the focal lens or mirror of the telescope. It is a known fact that on an average, the maximum reasonable magnification in a telescope is 50-60x per inch of aperture. An 8-inch (20cm) telescope could be used with magnifications up to 480x. Despite of the high magnification, one can still use larger magnifications to view fine details. Selection of aperture gains importance owing to the fact that small inexpensive apertures are wrongly advertised as being able to produce high magnifications.


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