As reflector telescopes gather light and make dimmer images brighter, so if I viewed through telescope with 1x magnification or viewed the horizon ,would I see the strip of milky way?

  • $\begingroup$ I am unsure what you are asking here. You can see the Milky Way with the naked eye,. so why do you think a telescope would be any different? $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 14, 2023 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ I understand this as being about surface brightness, the law of entendue and the impossibility of making an image that is brighter than a source. See physics.stackexchange.com/questions/88821/… for context $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Jan 14, 2023 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


A telescope (or any system of lenses and mirrors) can't produce an image that is brighter than the source. So while a telescope can gather more light, it can never raise the surface brightness of a source. Most nebulae do not look brightly coloured in an eyepiece, because their surface brightness is low.

There are significant biological factors here, in how your eyes detect colour and how your brain interprets the signal from your eyes. But you cannot create a 1x telescope that makes the image you see brighter, but not larger.

(Such a thing would be "magic". If you could make an image brighter, you are creating energy from nothing)

To create the coloured images that you see in books or on the internet, long-period photography must be used.


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