Questions tagged [optics]

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

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What is the spectral reflection curve of cold white dwarfs and neutron stars?

Suppose that I got a white dwarf and a neutron star and after some trillions of years their temperature are down to just a few °K so cold that they don't emit any appreciable black body radiation. Now,...
4 votes
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General process of calculating what a telescope's diffraction spikes would look like?

I was reading this question about the JWST's diffraction spikes, and I was rather surprised by the magnitude of the 4 sets of diffraction spikes. The large hexagonal spike pattern I believe is formed ...
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How to make a 65 cm lens with a 20 cm hole in it for a Hamiltonian telescope?

This answer to What (the heck) is a Hamiltonian telescope? Is this one? confirms that the telescope in the question linked there is indeed as described and that the first lens is a full 65 cm aperture ...
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Is it possible to block the surrounding light in a solar eclipse if we made the moon bigger or closer to the earth?

Is it possible to block the surrounding light in a solar eclipse if we made the moon bigger or closer to the earth? In an eclipse, you always see a ring of light surrounding the moon, but I am ...
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1 answer
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How far can the best telescope see in outer space from Earth?

I was wondering what is the farthest the best optical telescope can see into outer space from Earth. What causes them to see so far?
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What conditions are necessary for the sun to look [as described below]

First of all sorry for the weird title. I have no idea how to describe it in a succinct way because I've never heard of something similar happening and I've only witnessed it once. The only way for me ...
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How are the aberrations seen in early JWST images corrected?

I found this image on space.com and it can also be found in NASA's JWST blog. This is one step in the process of aligning the 18 mirrors on JWST. A single relatively-isolated star has been selected. ...
5 votes
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When are wedge prisms used to correct chromatic effects of atmospheric refraction? (atmospheric dispersion)

Atmospheric refraction (shown below) happens because Earth's atmosphere has an index of refraction that differs from unity. @MikeG's comment mentions that this refraction would have a chromatic ...
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Does a star shaped mirror present problems either optically, or in signal processing over a more nearly circular mirror?

Pure speculation about a future replacement for the JWST that I almost certainly won't live to see. The JWST's mirror (and then some) would fit unfolded and flat into the Starship's 8m diameter ...
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How exactly did JWST take a "selfie" of its own primary mirror, and what is the real purpose of this capability?

CNN's Webb telescope's first test images include an unexpected 'selfie' says only: The mirror selfie was captured by a special lens inside NIRCam that can image the primary mirror rather than what ...
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Do point spread functions from large single telescopes using adaptive optics still look like Airy functions for narrow-band filters?

this answer to Claim that 30-m class telescopes will have resolution far superior to Hubble: true? mentions ...the possibility of attaining near diffraction-limited images using adaptive optics. The ...
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How exactly does NEOSTEL's fly's eye telescope's secondary mirror array split the primary beam among sixteen cameras?

Wikipedia's NEOSTEL says: The Near Earth Object Survey TELescope (NEOSTEL - also known as "Flyeye") is an astronomical survey and early-warning system for detecting near-Earth objects sized ...
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Did 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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1 answer
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How does eyepiece exit pupil diameter affect image clarity and viewing experience?

This answer to Not Able to View Objects with Barlow Lens includes a calculation of exit pupil diameter as a way to address the limits of useful magnification when observing planets with a small ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Benefits to adding a 32mm Pössl to my Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ's eyepieces?

I am getting a Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ soon. I have heard that its eyepieces aren't the best, so I am considering a 32mm Pössl. For such a choice, what would be the arguments for and against? How ...
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What produces all of these small radial striations in this very overexposed image of a star by Hubble's WFC2? (the four big ones are from the vanes)

In a recent astrometry question in Space SE I needed to check Proxima Centauri's position and the article contained the image below. I've saturated the colors, cropped it, and added a "...
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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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Not getting quality images in telescope

I have a Newtonian telescope (Celestron 130 eq) with 5.2 inch (~132 mm) aperture with 650 mm focal length, Spherical mirror. And having 4mm, 10mm, 12.5mm, 20mm,20mm (erecting eyepiece), a 3x and 1.5x ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Telescope light gathering power and resolution

I'm a little confused. Could you help me? The question is: if we increase the radius of a telescope twice, how much does the light gathering power change? What about resolution? Does it increase 22-...
6 votes
1 answer
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Telescope collimation issue

Recently, I purchased a Chinese 8 inch reflector telescope from local store. When I observing stars and planets I've been having trouble getting really sharp image from this telescope. I observe Venus ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Why is the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope's field of view shaped like a PacMan "ghost"?

The Curious Droid YouTube video NASA's Mega Hubble - The Roman Space Telescope illustrates the shape of the telescope's field of view and the outline has a smile or frown shape. For whatever reason it ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Meade 4000 'LP' designation

I have a Meade 4000 super Plossl 26mm eyepiece in front of me with an 'LP' mark on it. I am a fan of the Meade 4000 series, but this is the first time I see this variant. It looks like it stands for '...
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How well conserved is etendue in extreme gravitational lensing scenarios?

This excellent answer to Could dark matter exist in the Universe in the form of sufficiently dense objects? includes the following image and description: Light from the background galaxy circles a ...
16 votes
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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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How are "parallel fields" implemented on the Hubble Space Telescope?

The Phys.org news item Hubble is the ultimate multitasker: Discovering asteroids while it's doing other observations mentions the Hubble Space Telescope's use of parallel fields: A couple years ago, ...
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Tracking deep sky objects

I have a Celestron Astromaster 130Eq. I saw all the planets in our solar system and quite satisfied. Now I am in the hunt for DSOs, but living in a city is a disaster for tracking some good-for-...
1 vote
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Schmidt corrector plate on a Newtonian = Schmidt Cassegrain?

Went on with a wide range of telescopes and its mechanics. To my understanding, the only change in the optical function in Schmidt Cassegrain telescope is a Schmidt's corrector plate in front of an ...
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Optics: "Airy disc" and size of objects

Jupiter has a minimum brightness that is brighter than stars. Is the reason an “airy disc”, concentric rings as a diffraction effect, is seen around stars and not Jupiter because Jupiter has an ...
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What are the pros and cons of different types of echelle spectrograph cross-dispersers?

Echelle spectrographs, operating at high resolving power, typically consist of an echelle grating with a low numbers of lines/mm, used with high diffraction orders (often $n=$50-100). To separate the ...
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Why does X-shooter use double passes through prisms for Echelle cross-dispersion instead of gratings?

The catchy title Down-the-barrel observations of a multiphase quasar outflow at high redshift: VLT/X-shooter spectroscopy of the proximate molecular absorber at z=2.631 towards SDSS J001514+184212 ...
5 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
5 votes
3 answers
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How can there only be "11 phonons" in the mirrors of LIGO interferometers?

LIGO is an incredibly sensitive detector of small changes in space due to the passing of gravitational waves and uses some very high-level mathematics and physics and experimental techniques to drive ...
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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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I am getting triple image of the moon from a 50mm telescope

I just bought a telescope and saw the moon but with the bright moon at the center there are two faint images of the moon above and below it. I figured out it was due to the periscope mirror. If I see ...
5 votes
3 answers
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What is it about the layout of the three gratings in a Bahtinov mask that makes its indicate focus in this way?

The question Lucky imaging with Celestron 14 - is this result reasonable? includes a beautiful example of a focus test using a Bahtinov mask and the image below from Deep Sky Watch's Home Made ...
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What colors do other stars have when seen from space close to them?

The Sun looks yellow from Earth because we see it through the atmosphere; in space the Sun looks rather white. Do A-, B- and O-type stars look blue from both their planet's atmospheres and outer space?...
2 votes
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What would "the next GAIA"-like instrument be like? Could it simply be a 3 to 5x scaled-up version of the same beautiful system?

This excellent, thorough and well-sourced answer to Has a gravitational microlensing event ever been predicted? If so, has it been observed? mentions several works where hundreds to thousands of ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Are X-ray telescopes with glancing angle surfaces basically "funny-looking" Cassegrain telescopes mathematically?

In this answer I included the image below of a reflective X-ray telescope. It is made from two elements; the first is concentric shells of glancing (high incidence) angle paraboloidal surfaces, and ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Do telescopes exist that reflect the incoming light more than three times along their length?

Refractors only use the length of the telescope once, reflectors twice, catadioptric telescopes like those of the Schmidt-Cassegrain design three times. Have telescopes been built that reflect the ...
5 votes
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Why are these telescope mirror makers not upside down? (Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope)

The new open access Solar Physics article The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope – Observatory Overview is the first of several papers about the new state-of-the-art solar observatory. For more info see ...
5 votes
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Why are Shack-Hartmann sensors so expensive (4k+ USD)?

Recently I am searching for a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor for university laboratory usage. I was expecting my target sensor to be cheap, which is: Low spatial wavefront resolution (50 x 50) for ...
1 vote
1 answer
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How did I flip some mirrors around in the dark at 3 AM and change the focal length of a 24 inch Boller and Chivens?

Current answer(s) to How do telescopes "zoom" and change angle of view? are "they don't", but traditional large genera-purpose observatory telescopes do sometimes (often?) have ...
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Has lunar opposition surge ever been observed from Earth? From Earth orbit?

This thorough answer to How long does lunar opposition surge last? Are there measurements of the full Moon getting suddenly brighter? details observations of lunar opposition surge by the Clementine ...
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How long does lunar opposition surge last? Are there measurements of the full Moon getting suddenly brighter?

Wikipedia's opposition surge is a short article and forwards shadow hiding and coherent backscattering as proposed mechanisms, but it doesn't really explain how much the brightness of the Moon ...
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Deciding optical factors between a refractive and reflective space telescope optics as a function of aperture? (visible light)

Reading Yale News' Lighting a path to Planet Nine: To detect objects that are otherwise undetectable, Rice and Laughlin employ a method called “shifting and stacking.” They “shift” images from a ...
2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Telescope showing high chromatic aberration

Hi i have made a telescope with 1100 mm focal length objective lense and 21mm plano convex as eyepiece. Both these lenses are not achromatic. But when is looked through it , the images were completely ...
5 votes
1 answer
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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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Eyepiece::Astromania or Meoptex

I am looking into getting a zoom eyepiece for myself, and not sure on what basis to evaluate and compare various options. For some background on the type of observing I plan to do see my earlier ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Can angular information be known more precisely than the diffraction limit?

The diffraction limit deals with the ability to determine if two things are separate. I am interested in the ability to find the the centroid of a single object. Imagine a star with no near ...