Questions tagged [optics]

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

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2answers
222 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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Have there been studies of “old photons” to see just how constant things like Planck constant has been?

The question Are photons aged? and answers therein have got me thinking: I vaguely remember hearing something about experiments where "old photons" were collected by large telescopes from very ...
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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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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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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 ...
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How did Johannes Hevelius' long telescope work? Why all the round holes?

The drawing below, found in Wikimedia and at lib.harvard.edu is of a very long tubed aerial telescope. I believe it is taken from his 1673 work Machinae coelestis. I've always wondered about the ...
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881 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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1answer
141 views

What exactly is a Hamiltonian telescope? Is this one?

This comment on the current answer to Why is this telescope so short? How hard is it to make such a fast primary? says In this forum topic Borisov appears to call it an f/1.5 Hamiltonian. Wikipedia'...
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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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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 the ...
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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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1answer
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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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286 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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Can a telescope ever increase the apparent luminance of an extended object?

From what I know about common telescope designs, telescopes don't increase the apparent luminance of extended objects compared to the luminance seen with the naked eye. In this sense extended objects ...
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What's still needed before we can observe orbits of exomoons thereby weighing exoplanets?

Comments below this answer to How do we weigh a planet? point out that we currently cannot (or at least have not) detect moons around exoplanets, much less measure the sizes and periods of their ...
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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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How did Michelson measure the diameters of jupiter's moons using optical interferometry?

In Betelgeuse: How its Diameter was measured (Chant, C. A., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 15, p.133, Bibliographic Code: 1921JRASC..15..133C) the author says: The paper in ...
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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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How often are wedge prisms used to correct chromatic effects of atmospheric refraction?

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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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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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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Does this CHEOPS first light image imply bad astronomy?

@KeithMcClary's comment under lousy mirror corrected by software links to Bad Astronomy's First Light for the Exoplanet Hunter Mission CHEOPS Goes Tetrahedral which shows the image below. I understand ...
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Does anybody recognize this kind of prism?

Supplemental to this answer to Did Edmund Scientific 4¼ inch Newtonians have 90° prisms as secondary mirrors in the 1970's? I was poking around a bit further and ran across this "1960's Edmund ...
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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 ...