Questions related to the physical instruments for astronomical observations.

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27
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3answers
4k 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? ...
14
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3answers
3k 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
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3answers
162 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
288 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
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
181 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
56 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
1answer
4k 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
4answers
212 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?
6
votes
3answers
141 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
77 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
231 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
1answer
875 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
119 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
203 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
1k 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
141 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
403 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
2answers
293 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.
5
votes
1answer
135 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
172 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
259 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
175 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.
4
votes
2answers
121 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
139 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
126 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
71 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
218 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
2answers
70 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
2answers
458 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
36 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. ...
3
votes
1answer
213 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
82 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, ...
3
votes
1answer
225 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
39 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
198 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
128 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
446 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
36 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
76 views

Smallest body that can be observed from Earth?

What is the minimum size of an object that can be observed from Earth with our most powerful telescope? I understand that the answer depends on how far the object is from Earth. For the sake of ...
3
votes
1answer
192 views

Which type of telescope should I make?

I am not very much interested in observational physics but I just like to look at the night sky. It gives me a lot of inspiration. So, i was thinking about making a telescope for basic observations. I ...
3
votes
1answer
258 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

Am I using my Celestron 8 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope correctly?

I became interested in astronomy a few years ago and started with a Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ refractor telescope. That seemed nice, and I wanted to upgrade to a go-to telescope that was also more ...
3
votes
1answer
23 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
164 views

Calculate telescope orientation based on RA, DEC and Lat/Long

I'm parsing FITS files for a project based on data from a telescope. These files include 'DEC', 'RA' and lat long values. I understand roughly the concept of celestial coordinates and I assume that ...
3
votes
0answers
81 views

Is there a cosmic, rather than technological, upper limit to what a telescope can resolve?

Space radio interferometers could have a baseline of millions of kilometers, but is there a point where a larger baseline doesn't improve the resolution anymore because the photons observed are ...
3
votes
2answers
120 views

What range of exit pupils work for observing the full moon?

I'm observing the full moon, from a major city, with heavy light pollution and dust. The objective size is fixed, for this comparison, something between 4 and 6 inches. The question is about the ...
2
votes
3answers
399 views

First night on a telescope questions

So I recently got into astronomy and I am using my fathers old Meade EQ1-B reflector telescope. This is my first night using it and I have come across a few questions. To begin, the telescope was left ...
2
votes
5answers
780 views

Why can't I see Mars clearly?

I just bought my first telescope - a Celestron CDC 1100. It came with a 40mm lens so with a primary focal length of 2800mm the power should be 70x. My problem is that I've looked at Sirius and Mars ...
2
votes
2answers
105 views

Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope

What is a Schmidt-Cassegrain (SC) telescope? We have Newtonian telescopes and also Galilean ones. How is SC telescope different from other optical telescopes? What is its construction detail and ...