Questions related to the physical instruments for astronomical observations.

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31
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3answers
6k views

How powerful a telescope would allow me to view the astronauts aboard ISS do a space-walk?

This arose from a comment posted against a question elsewhere on the stackexchange How powerful a telescope/binoculars would allow me to view the astronauts aboard the ISS do a space-walk? Aperture? ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

How can we focus radio telescopes on a star when the earth is spinning?

Reading about the Star KIC 8462852, it has been said that the SETI project turned its radio telescopes towards the star to search for extra terrestrial radio signals as the star had strange ...
15
votes
3answers
5k views

Should I focus more on Aperture or Focal Length for a telescope?

Let's assume there are three types of telescopes with the following specifications: ...
10
votes
3answers
184 views

What limits the usable focal length of telescopes currently?

What barriers - of technology, physics and possibly economy (things that would be possible technologically but are simply too expensive) sets the upper bound on quality of telescopes for observation ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Is there any telescope on Earth that can see the lunar rovers on the moon?

If I have the right numbers, it seems to me that even Hubble telescope might barely be able to make out a carcass of a blue whale on the surface of the moon, which puts objects as small as the lunar ...
10
votes
1answer
376 views

How Does a Refractor Telescope Work?

As I understand it, the difference between a reflector and a refractor is that a reflector uses mirrors on the back to reflect the light to the secondary mirror then the secondary mirror reflects the ...
9
votes
4answers
316 views

Using the Sun as a Gravitational Lens

Can the Sun be used as a gravitational lens to achieve better telescopic viewing? Can this effect be practically used to view celestial objects?
7
votes
6answers
280 views

Determine the moons of Jupiter through a telescope

I was doing my own "space exploration" last night with a telescope. Being a space noob I can't visually determine stars or planets (I know the moon, though), but I focused on one particularly bright ...
7
votes
1answer
159 views

Theoretically, what is the biggest optical telescope that may exist?

Recently, I read yet another news about E-ELT. It will have 39.3-metre-diameter segmented primary mirror. And I was interested in the next question: Theoretically, what size of the primary mirror ...
7
votes
2answers
126 views

Why aren't secondary mirrors offset to get rid of diffraction spikes due to the support vanes?

Some kind of ellipsoidal shape mirror could reflect to a secondary mirror which is not in the way of the infalling light. Two advantages are immediately obvious. The primary mirror would not be partly ...
7
votes
1answer
63 views

Does the Reflection Method for Looking at the Sun Work For Refractors?

I own a newtonian reflector and occasionally use it (using the reflection method with paper) for looking at the sun. I happen to also own a refractor, but I'm not exactly sure if the reflection method ...
6
votes
2answers
146 views

Ninth planet - what else could it be?

So recently it was announced that there might be a ninth planet out there. Some people (from NASA) say the odds are 50% that it is a real planet, since it hasn't been discovered by telescopes yet. ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

Best telescope for the viewing of Nebulae, Stars and Planets

So, I am a 15 year old interested into astronomy. My father used to have a reflector telescope, but was never so serious about it that he could recommend me a good telescope. I am looking to buy a ...
6
votes
3answers
236 views

Why are radio telescopes shaped so differently than optical telescopes?

Why are radio telescopes typically only a dish with a receiver above it, while optical telescopes have a primary, plus secondary and sometimes even a tertiary mirror? In other words, why do radio ...
6
votes
2answers
313 views

Selecting a Telescope for Viewing Planets

I hope to observe planets like Jupiter and Saturn, and moons. I am a novice when it comes to telescopes and I know images in magazines are not taken with at least 12-inch telescope in a middle of ...
6
votes
2answers
525 views

How does a telescope measure parallax angle?

I know how stars' distances are measured by using parallax, but I want to know how the actual telescope measures the parallax angle. Any helpful links/ explanations are needed.
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Most important feature of a telescope

I was taking an astronomy test, the following question came up: The most important function of the astronomical telescope is: Resolving power Light gathering power magnifying power ...
6
votes
1answer
198 views

What is the bluest narrow band filter mounted on ground based telescopes?

If we want to check a QSO's lyman alpha narrow band image, could a ground based telescope do that? I mean under the circumstance that its lyman alpha shifts to 3300A.
5
votes
1answer
177 views

Is Sahara desert a good place to build radio/optical telescopes?

At least Atacama Desert of northern Chile is a good place to build telescopes. VLT and ALMA locate there. What about Sahara desert? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atacama_Large_Millimeter_Array ...
5
votes
1answer
221 views

Why does squinting make hard-to-see objects clearer?

So I, like most other astronomy enthusiasts, have, at some point, not been able to see something clearly, such as a star, and have had to squint to be able to see it better. When this happens, the ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it safe to view moon at daytime through telescope

I have a little 76mm Newtonian Reflector. I want to see the moon at daytime. Is it safe to look at sky at daytime when sun is shinning or there is any risk of sun.
5
votes
1answer
151 views

Planned telescope to detect alien waste-heat

I remember watching a talk by someone who designed a telescope to view a single star at a time. The purpose of the telescope was to detect waste-heat which would presumably be emitted by any ...
5
votes
1answer
529 views

Are Barlow lenses stackable for bright objects?

I'm back to the refractor that I own, and I want to maximize the zoom capacity. I realized today that I own more than one barlow lens, and I was wondering if I could stack them together for looking at ...
5
votes
1answer
146 views

What are the next planned space telescopes?

We've had hubble for two decades. Its become the most famous space telescope, and lately Kepler seems to be running for the second place. Are there any more powerful, better telescopes planned for ...
5
votes
1answer
226 views

Basic DIY Telescope

I am looking for a design of a cheap and easy telescope to build with my 9yo daughter with the only basic requirement being that I'd love to be able to see detail on the moon. Looking around, there ...
5
votes
1answer
332 views

What's a good step up from 7x50 binoculars?

I own a Nikon OceanPro 7x50 pair of binoculars, but I find that when I look at the moon, I would like more magnification. My requirements are: costs less than $400 weighs less than 10kg the length ...
4
votes
2answers
150 views

What kind of things I could “see” with an amateur radio telescope?

There are apparently not many reasonably priced radio telescopes available for the amateur users. I only could find this one, which costs ~10 k€. Reading the page, I don't get a good overview what ...
4
votes
1answer
100 views

How do telescopes “zoom” and change angle of view?

Images from the Hubble Space Telescope have widely different angles of view. Is this only the result of composing multiple images, or can the telescope itself change its "zooming" optically, ...
4
votes
1answer
156 views

What can a lunar-based telescope do?

What can a lunar-based telescope do? If the band is ultraviolet and it can do high time sampling exposure, maybe it can be used to get distance for a star with stable pulses. However, the star should ...
4
votes
1answer
155 views

Any cheap (less than 100 euro) telescope for observing Jupiter? [closed]

The moon is not challenging. I would like to observe the big planets and their rings.
4
votes
1answer
73 views

Pictures of large galaxies

The Andromeda Galaxy is tens of thousands of light years in diameter. That suggests that the most distant stars in the Andromeda galaxy is up to tens of thousands of years "behind" in their orbit ...
4
votes
1answer
590 views

Periodic error correction in automatic telescopes

I am starting a study on automatic telescopes and the correction of their periodic error. I found two ways of correcting it : with a CCD camera and manually by recording the error. I was wondering if ...
4
votes
1answer
298 views

Build a high quality telescope from scratch [closed]

I am interested in building a high quality portable telescope from scratch in an attempt to better understand how telescopes work. What kind of materials do I need? How would I go about putting the ...
4
votes
1answer
245 views

How many bodies can I see with a 90x telescope?

I am a 9th class student so I'm a beginner at using a telescope, hence please help me. How many bodies can I see using a 90x telescope? How will I know when and where I should point a telescope to ...
4
votes
2answers
78 views

Is there an oxide layer on aluminum reflectors for telescopes?

I was watching a Nottingham Science video linked here (periodic videos) and they mention modern reflectors are made of aluminum. I can understand why mirrors are preferred over lenses, but what ...
4
votes
3answers
596 views

Telescope buying guide for a beginner in India

I am located in the southern part of India and am looking forward to buy a telescope to gaze up to look ay farther planets, moons in our solar system and take pictures. How should I go about getting a ...
4
votes
1answer
303 views

How does a Bahtinov mask work?

For focusing the image of a telescope, one can use a Bahtinov mask. How does this mask work, and how did Mr Bahtinov get the idea to cut such a peculiar shape? Is it possible for me to design my own ...
4
votes
1answer
37 views

Tools for creating a multiwavelength view of the sky

Not sure that this is the correct place to ask this question, but here goes. I am trying to find tools to accumulate image data (preferably in FITS format) on a given (RA, Dec)-coordinate of sky. ...
4
votes
1answer
28 views

How to compare a Catadioptrics light asorbtion with a reflector?

I used to have a 6" Dobsonian reflector, and the next telescope I buy, I want it to have the equivlant of about a 11/12" dobsonian reflector. I'm looking at this Nexstar VX 9.25 , it says 235mm ...
4
votes
1answer
90 views

Telescope collimation issue

Recently I purchase Chinese 8 inch reflector telescope from local store. When I observing starts and planets I've been having trouble getting really sharp image from this telescope. I observe Venus ...
4
votes
0answers
32 views

What visual artifacts are expected from the JWST?

What visual artifacts should we expect from the images that will be released from the James Webb Space Telescope? Specifically, do we expect 3-pronged diffraction spikes (any preview how they would ...
4
votes
1answer
103 views

Method to determine the amount of reflected starlight necessary for an exoplanet to be visible from a given distance/angle?

What is the method to determine the amount of reflected starlight necessary for an exoplanet to be visible from a given distance/angle? (Not from occlusion but actually visible on its own.) Further, ...
3
votes
1answer
231 views

Colossus telescope, trying to outsmart aliens?

I was listening to Jeff Kuhn's talk on SETI's Colossus telescope project. Background: He explains his theory that a civilization living somewhere the galaxy would want to hide, and thus would ...
3
votes
1answer
267 views

Do telescopes harm while observing sun through them?

I don't know whether we can observe a sun through a telescope. But if we can then will it harm our eyes and if such telescopes exists what is their configuration?
3
votes
1answer
42 views

How do we convert other waves of the EMS to visible light?

So I just had a quick question and I was wondering how we convert other waves of the electromagnetic spectrum to visible light waves. For example we use X-ray's or radio waves to see things in space ...
3
votes
2answers
150 views

Is the angular resolution of a telescope irrespective of used eye-piece?

Suppose a telescope has aperture $D = 20$ cm. The angular resolution of such telescope, according to the Rayleigh criterion (if I have understood it correctly), is given by $$\theta = ...
3
votes
2answers
293 views

What should I look for in an astronomy tripod?

I have a Celstron SkyMaster 20x80 binoculars, and a tripod — Vanguard 263AT with a SBH-100 head. The binoculars weighs 2.2kg, while the head is rated to a loading capacity of 10kg, and the legs to a ...
3
votes
1answer
149 views

What determines which frequency range a radio telescope has?

My simple understanding is that a parabolic dish focuses radio waves to a receiver. It is obvious that any parabola focuses visible light and heat, so I assume that it focuses all radio wavelengths ...
3
votes
1answer
60 views

Ultra Low Cost Telescope Project

A few years or so ago there was a project that distributed small very low cost telescopes (perhaps around US$20). What was the name of (and links to) that project?
3
votes
1answer
272 views

How do I remove fungus from a telescope mirror?

I use a Celestron NexStar 130SLT Azimuthal Newtonian Reflector. I noticed that recently, due to the wet season, some tiny spots of what appears to be fungus have appeared. Having taking appropriate ...