I wanted to make a telescope with DIY things lying around in home. I read up that the aperture was a very important aspect and thus bought a convex lens with 100mm aperture and 200mm focal length, to use it as an objective lens. Apart from that, I have the following lenses lying around:-

  1. 1 convex lens - focal length 20 cm aperture - 10 cm
  2. 2 convex lenses - focal length 17 cm aperture - 5 cm
  3. 1 convex lens - focal length 2.2 cm aperture - 2.5 cm
  4. 1 concave lens - focal length 8.33 cm aperture - 5.5 cm
  5. 1 convex lens - focal length 200 cm aperture - 5.5 cm

I can also buy lenses of range of Power(In Dioptres) from (-14D) - (+14D) of aperture range of 5.5 cm to 7 cm, if suggested.

I made a telescope using lens 1(as objective) and lens 3(as eyepiece) which on calculation, gave a magnification of 9x, but according to stellafane.org and http://skyandtelescope.com the minimum magnification is 14x and that I was 'wasting' the light gathered by the objective lens. This telescope showed me a bright Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, but as dots. Upon seeing the Moon, I could just see it a little bigger than what would be seen with the naked eye.

I would like to know the way to make the telescope, which I would like to use to observe planets and DSOs if possible. I am ready to make separate telescopes also, if suggested.

I would like to know which lenses should I use, or buy and the way to use it. I live in a suburb and it is not very lighted up.

Is there any way I could use the lens 1 in a telescope which I could use to view the planets?


I have accepted @JamesScreech 's answer and am on my way to making it. Apart from that, I would also like to use the big aperture of lens 1, for viewing DSOs, But, it has a very short focal length(just 200mm), and therefore, I am finding it hard to get any eyepiece lens which can "completely accommodate the exit pupil of my scope"(as said on skyandtelescope )

the screenshot of skyandtelescope page

Any way to get such a lens, or make an eyepiece barrell sort of, using a combination of lenses mentioned above or buying. And how to use it?


  • $\begingroup$ Thanx a lot for that..... What details could I expect to see with those? Also, how could I use multiple lenses to remove the chromatic aberration? $\endgroup$ May 13, 2016 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Could you tell me what would be the scope length with the mentioned configuration? Also, I tried viewing Mars(which is quite bright, brighter than every other star) but couldn't see it(I think it's because of the aperture), and even tried seeing the moon, but nothing.. could you suggest anything? I guess it's got to do with scope length.. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2016 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ The length of the scope will be the sum of the focal lengths, so 200cm + 2.2cm = 202.2cm. This will give a magnification of about 91x. You should be able to see Mars and the Moon, are you sure everything was lined up and pointing at the targets? The field of view through such a simple design is very narrow so pointing will be a problem. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2016 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


You would be better off using lens 5 and 3. Though don't expect much, a simple single lens for the objective and for the eyepiece will give a lot of chromatic aberration (false colour). Refracting telescopes usually use at least two lens of different glass types (crown & flint often in a doublet) and eyepieces usually have 4+ lens.

You should be able to see craters on the Moon, the 4 Galilean Satellites of Jupiter, a couple of belts on Jupiter and Saturn's rings. You wont be able to reduce chromatic aberration as simply as that, the type of glass (it's refractive index) and curvature of the lens all need to be matched. You would be much better off buying a ready built objective and eyepieces if you want to make a refractor yourself, though it would probably be cheaper to buy a ready made telescope.

  • $\begingroup$ your answer helped.. Could you elaborate more on the following line 'Refracting telescopes usually use at least two lens of different glass types (crown & flint often in a doublet) and eyepieces usually have 4+ lens.' Also, what can be seen with such an aperture of 5.5 cm? I had tried using lens 5 with lens 3, but couldn't get a clear picture at all, will try again with proper lining up... Other than that, could you suggest me any other lens from the mentioned range( range of Power(In Dioptres) from (-14D) to (+14D) of aperture range of 5.5 cm to 7 cm ) ? $\endgroup$ May 13, 2016 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think you ever will get a good image with such a simple setup. Its probably not even worth trying $\endgroup$ May 13, 2016 at 19:48

I generally agree with the answer above, but have a couple more insights which might help you if you decide to proceed with trying to make your own scope... The lens pairs that James mentioned (crown and flint) are known as a doublet. Glass has two key properties in play here - its index of refraction (how much it bends light) and its dispersion (how much that bending changes over color). The lens pair balances a strongly convex crown (low index and low dispersion) with a weakly concave flint (high index and high dispersion). The dispersions are designed to cancel out, while you want the curvature of the convex crown to overpower the concave flint in terms of index, so it still has some ability to focus. The design also inherently lends itself toward long focal lengths which are desirable in telescope objectives.
Eyepieces, due to their short-desirable focal lengths necessitate more lenses which allow you to balance the chromatic aberration, and also address other optical aberrations which come into play with such a short focal length (distortion, astigmatism, coma, and spherical aberration being the main concerns). There are well-established design forms which are often used for making well-corrected eyepieces, some of which can be found right on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyepiece#Eyepiece_designs

One thing to consider, which I don't think has been mentioned is selection of focal lengths and apertures. A 5cm aperture is plenty sufficient to view the Galilean moons, and probably some bright DSOs if you're well-corrected, and if your focal lengths are well-chosen. The system magnification is the ratio of focal lengths between the objective lens and eyelens/eyepiece. (200cm/2.2cm = 90.9x). This means that something like the Galilean moons, which have a max extent of about 1/8 degree, would be magnified to have an apparent extent of 11 degrees (much easier to resolve). Your aperture selection (particularly of your objective) will determine the light-gathering ability. But the magnification applies here too, so if you have a 5cm objective at 91x, your "exit pupil" will only be 0.55mm diameter, which is tiny compared to your eye's aperture. You'd still be able to see the object, but your eyes will easily accommodate up to a 30cm objective aperture (3mm exit pupil). Keep in mind, there is a tradeoff between aperture and aberrations, so unless you're designing a very well-aligned 2- or 3-element objective, you may want to stick with a max objective aperture of 50-75mm.

In terms of alignment, don't just set the lenses a certain distance apart and expect to see an image. You will need to allow for some adjustment, which is probably easier looking at a distant object during the day. After you form an image, you may need to adjust the centration and tilt of the eyelens to form the sharpest image to optimize your alignment.

All that said, a small aperture, high-end refractive (glass) telescope can perform better than a reflective telescope of the same aperture. But as aperture increases, the cost of the materials and impact of aberrations makes refractive telescopes vastly inferior to reflective (mirror) telescopes. Since the design for these only necessitates 1 powered mirror and an off-the-shelf eyepiece for $50 or less, the best bang for your buck will definitely be a reflective telescope. Sorry if that's not what you're hoping to hear, but it's why most telescopes on the market today are reflective.

  • $\begingroup$ I have decided to get a lens of 70mm aperture and 4m focal length based on @JamesScreech and your answer... Please suggest an eyepiece spec for this... $\endgroup$ May 15, 2016 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ The focal length is way too much, since you would need atube that is 4m long. I suggest you try something in the range 50-70 cm. This will be more manageable. Then with a 20mm eyelens, you would get magnification of 25-35. $\endgroup$
    – Dr Chuck
    May 15, 2016 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ What would I be able to view with that magnification? I can buy lenses available with an eye optician, he would have +0.25D, +0.5D, +1D and so on.... So should I get a 0.5D or 1D..... and correspondingly what eyepiece? 1m-2m is manageable for me.... please also suggest any precautions and care I should take while making the scope @DrChuck I can't get my hands on any telescope eyepieces, only eye optics lenses of 50-70 mm aperture and -14D to 14D power $\endgroup$ May 15, 2016 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ As far as an eyepiece goes, you may be able to use a "disposable" camera's main lens as an eyepiece inexpensively. (You would look through the end that normally faces the scene). This will have a short focal length similar to an eyepiece. I'm not sure how expensive the lenses from the optician are for you, but I would try starting with something on the order of +1 or +2D for the objective. If you can order parts, you may also consider a surplus optics site like surplusshed.com. They've got a bunch of individual lenses and assemblies. $\endgroup$ May 17, 2016 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ Also, this website outlines building a refractor telescope from parts. It discusses a lot of the principles mentioned in the answers here, plus some other useful information and pictures. funsci.com/fun3_en/tele/tele.htm $\endgroup$ May 17, 2016 at 4:03

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