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Questions tagged [optics]

Behaviour and properties of light, and its interaction with matter, particularly in detection of light.

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95 views

What would be the obstacles to building a 6.5km space telescope besides cost?

In the comments of another question on this Stack Exchange site, I talk with another user about the possibility of building an optical space telescope with a 6.5 km aperture. Obviously, this is much ...
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Within a given image of a multiple-image producing gravitational lens, does Fermat's principle apply?

The question Does gravitational lensing provide time evolution information? is excellent! When we see multiple images of the same object because of the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, do all ...
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3answers
176 views

Why does the Moon appear to be flat?

There's no way around it: when I look at the full moon at night it looks like a mostly flat disc, with at most a bit convexity in the middle. Phases of moon look like a full moon seen through a cut-...
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1answer
100 views

Angular diameter of the Sun's reflection from the ocean, seen from Sun-Earth L1?

I'm trying to understand how smooth the reflecting ocean surface would need to be to produce such a small bright spot as seen from the DSCOVR satellite at Sun-Earth L1. It appears to be only about 8E-...
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1answer
171 views

How does making a refracting telescope very long reduce the chromatic aberration of an uncorrected lens?

Below are two cropped views of "Johannes Hevelius's 8 inch telescope with an open work wood and wire "tube" that had a focal length of 150 feet to limit chromatic aberration." from Harvard University, ...
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What are some formulas that are associated with the Schmidt corrector?

I want to fully understand how an SCT works. Thus, I figured out I can use some formulas that describe how an incident ray that is parallel with the axis would act after refracting off a Schmidt plate....
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What are the aberrations of an SCT? And how can they be eliminated?

The Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is amazing! It is compact, suitable for astrophotography ,and it requires little to no collimation. However, the SCT has some inherent optical issues. What are they? ...
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1answer
53 views

Why aren't corrector plates aligned with the center of curvature in an SCT?

According to wikipedia, Schmidt corrector plates must be aligned with the center of curvature to eliminate the spherical aberration. However, in compact SCT designs by Celestron and Meade, that is ...
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93 views

Advice on first Telescope (refractor vs reflector), Barlow lens

I am planning on buying my first telescope. I am getting an 80mm refractor and a 114mm reflector for the same price range. Which would be a better option? Further, would a Barlow lens solve the ...
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151 views

Are they really sure this isn't an Airy disk? How was that ruled out?

How do they know that this is a spherical shell of gas, and not just something like an Airy pattern-like artifact produced by the VLT's large interferometric aperture? Image from: https://www.eso.org/...
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47 views

Does Arecibo's secondary optics compensate aberrations when viewing farther away from vertical?

In the beginning of the short YouTube video Arecibo Uncut: Under the Dish with Phil Perillat it is mentioned that while dish antennas are usually a parabola, the problem is that a static parabola ...
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2answers
33 views

Arago Spot in the Shadows of Celestial Bodies

Recently, I've watched this video by Veritasium describing Poisson's Spot, or the Arago Spot. It is explained in the video that near circular (or spherical) objects can produce this optical effect, ...
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1answer
103 views

What is the cause of all of these sharp, concentric rings around bright stars in this HST image?

ESA's HST page heic1819 — Photo Release; Hubble reveals cosmic Bat Shadow in the Serpent’s Tail is of course beautiful and stunning, but my eyes are drawn to the diffraction artifacts of the bright ...
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1answer
138 views

Why does the sun appear 13x bigger through diffraction in Voyager 1 image from 1990, but not from Earth? [closed]

The sun in the Voyager 1 photo here from 1990 appears 13x bigger than its diameter, diffraction of course. On Earth, photographs of the sun do not make it appear 13x bigger. Why? A description of the ...
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1answer
127 views

Why are there optical differences between sunrise and sunset?

I've noticed that sunrises are not reverse sunsets regarding the sky hues and lighting. Sunrises always start pinkish and end with a glorious yellow sunshine. On the other hand as the sun sets ...
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4answers
212 views

Where exactly is the modification that first corrected the spherical aberration in Hubble's primary mirror?

The April 2015 CBS News article How NASA fixed Hubble's flawed vision - and reputation describes the modification taken to the Hubble Space Telescopes by the Space Shuttle that was used to correct for ...
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3answers
569 views

Has anyone ever tried to make a simple telescope using ice?

I grew up with long cold winters, and saw a lot of remarkably transparent ice formed by refreezing meltwater, both in puddles and ponds, and in large icicles. I'd always thought about making optical ...
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1answer
93 views

What is a pupil slicer, and how does it work with anamorphic optics in VLT's ESPRESSO Echelle spectrograph?

This excellent answer points to ESPRESSO, - Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations. From there I looked at the Instrument Description and Performance page. ...
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227 views

Why does the sky look like it has three suns in this video? [closed]

Check out @natalie9280’s Tweet: long story short, friday morning at around 6:40am i looked outside and i saw three suns. i checked to see if there was an eclipse and i could[n't] find anything. ...
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1answer
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How to understand Kepler telescope under large aspherical wavefront

To my understanding, a Kepler telescope is designed to conjugate one plane to another. For example scale down/up the incoming wavefront onto a wavefront sensor for measurement. It works well for small ...
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1answer
118 views

Telescope and its construction

I want to build a reflecting telescope in my home. I've attached a drawing of my plan that contains some explanations of what I understand so far, and highlights the parts of the design for which I ...
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0answers
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Is it possible to model a solar thermal concentrator using Zernike polynomials?

This question might seem a bit off-topic, but I guess there are a lot of people here that know about optics, telescopes, etc. I would like to simulate solar thermal systems that focus solar ...
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1answer
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How well can the Sun's surface be resolved by an observatory?

There's no lack of photons, how well could a telescope resolve Sun spots and other surface features of the Sun? How would a high resolution Solar (space) telescope differ from for example Hubble which ...
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5answers
260 views

Are there any mirrors in space?

We have encountered galaxies that act as lenses, magnifying the light coming from behind them. This is super fascinating and it makes me wonder what other optic tools we might have at our disposal. ...
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1answer
395 views

How do tip tilt mirrors correct distortion in adaptive optics?

I'm currently trying to learn about how adaptive optics correct the blurriness caused by atmospherical seeing effects. This is my current understanding of how adaptive optics works (trying to offer ...
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3answers
475 views

Projecting an image of the sun / eclipse

This might be an astronomy.stackexchange.com question, but I think it is more in line with a camera obscura. During the last eclipse I didn't plan ahead and grabbed some lousy toy "spy" telescope we ...
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1answer
147 views

Why is this HST WFPC2 image so much fuzzier than the WFC3 image of the same field?

I was looking at the comparison of 2007 and 2015 HST images of the "disappearing" star N6946-BH1 in Phys.org's article Collapsing star gives birth to a black hole. The 2007 images is from the WFPC2 ...
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1answer
103 views

What telescope is this, and how does it work?

In the excellent chemistry series of Periodic Videos' episode Amazing piece of metal (speculum) there is an interesting showing and discussion of Isaac Newton's first telescope. At ...
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1answer
823 views

Constructing a periscope/telescope - trouble with lenses

Not sure if this is the best place for this, maybe physics would be a better fit, but I'm trying to build a periscope and am running into an issue. Traditional mirror periscopes work well, but when ...
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1answer
107 views

What could have made a satellite appear to move side to side while near the horizon?

Yesterday while coming out of a restaurant my wife and I noticed what appeared be a satellite passing quite high in the sky. Based on the location, time, and brightness this appears to have been a ...
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1answer
290 views

Lunar terminator illusion

Sometimes, you can see the Moon high in the night sky, which is illuminated from the side where Sun goes down but slightly from above. It is paradoxical when Sun hangs at the lower level above the ...
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2answers
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Is there a spectrum of polarization? Does polarization vary depending on wavelength, from one and the same source?

Is it possible, and does it occur naturally, that the light from the same source is simultaneously polarized differently at different wavelengths? Light can be polarized by interstellar magnetic ...
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1answer
118 views

Can a telescope be built to focus on a point source star?

If a Kepler telescope were built to focus on one point source star at a time, would it provide more information, or did Kepler capture virtually every photon from any given star anyway? In order to ...
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1answer
645 views

What is the faintest magnitude a telescope can see?

This website claims: The space telescope can detect objects as faint as 31st magnitude... It's referring to Hubble, but does not cite any source or math. How do you calculate the faintest (...
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2answers
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How to make a telescope for viewing planets, moon and DSOs using a convex lens of aperture 100 mm and focal length 200 mm and other lenses at home?

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 ...
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1answer
342 views

Magnification of a telescope

I took an image of Jupiter through my 8" Dobsonian Telescope, attaching a DSLR and a 1.25" Barlow Lens where the eyepiece goes, as shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reFxoF3XoaU ...
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What is the longest observable wavelength of light using an optical telescope?

How far outside the visible spectrum could an optical telescope feasibly operate?
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Dish antenna as parabolic mirror for OPTICAL telescope?

Can I use a chrome painted dish TV antenna as a parabolic reflector for my optical telescope? Given that glass mirrors are quite expensive, I am thinking of using a Dish TV antenna and coating its ...
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2answers
786 views

Is it practical to hand grind a convex parabolic or hyperbolic mirror?

I know it's practical to hand grind a convex spherical mirror and that it's practical to make a concave parabolic mirror from a spherical one. But as I understand it, the procedure for doing so depend ...
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1answer
696 views

What would be the maximum theoretically possible angular resolution?

I have studied some basic astronomy, but I have difficulty conceptualizing the physics of luminosity and optics. We use electromagnetic spectra to detect existence and properties of distant planets, ...
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1answer
457 views

Why does a mirror bent 'like a potato chip' allow space telescopes to be smaller and have a wider field of view?

I was browsing NASA featured items and came across this - Out With the Old, In With the New: Telescope Mirrors Get New Shape Called freeform optics, this emerging mirror technology, brought about ...
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2answers
920 views

Astronomical telescope making

I am thinking about making a telescope. I have a 100cm focal length lens which I can use as objective lens in my telescope. So which is the best focal length I can use as eyepiece in my astronomical ...
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2answers
147 views

What makes small interferometers useful? Like NIRISS on JWST

NIRISS is an instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope. It has a "non-redundant aperture mask" which obviously covers most of the area of the sensor. It seems to be advantageous for high contrast ...
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1answer
2k 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 (...
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1answer
141 views

Could spy satellites use laser guide stars (for adaptive optics)?

Are sodium lasers useful for Earth observing space telescopes/spy satellites?
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2answers
369 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 ...
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4answers
2k views

Enhanced Star-Gazing with Special Glasses

I watched a video yesterday on how telescopes not only magnify images but also increase the amount of light entering into your eye, allowing you to see things not normally visible with naked eye. ...
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1answer
332 views

Is it possible to steer the sight of a Liquid Mirror Telescope using a plain mirror scheme? If yes, why hasn't it been done?

I have read about Liquid Mirror Telescopes in a number of places, and according to these sources, a major disadvantage of these telescopes is that they can only "see" straight up. In a nutshell, the ...
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1answer
243 views

Why can't the surfaces of stars be observed?

If I'm correctly informed, only three stars: Sol, Betelgeuse and Altair have surfaces which have been resolved by telescopes. All other stars are only point sources of light, even in the greatest of ...
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1answer
64 views

Adaptive Optics?

I get the general idea of adaptive optics. The light from an object distorted by differences in the earth's atmosphere, and a telescope with AO tries to compensate for this distortion by various ...