Questions tagged [telescope]

Questions related to the physical instruments for astronomical observations.

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48
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3answers
25k views

How powerful a telescope would allow me to view the astronauts aboard ISS do a space-walk?

This arose from a comment posted against a question elsewhere on the stackexchange How powerful a telescope/binoculars would allow me to view the astronauts aboard the ISS do a space-walk? Aperture? ...
37
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4answers
8k views

Why are we building larger land-based telescopes instead of launching larger ones into space?

This question is a follow-up to Do bigger telescopes equal better results? How much bigger does a ground-based mirror have to be to match what a space-based one can do? I guess I'm asking primarily ...
28
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5answers
7k views

Is it possible to mount a telescope on a plane? Is it beneficial?

I was wondering if any planes had mounted telescopes with the intent to observe the stars. I understand that the atmosphere itself can warp and hinder incoming light and even completely obscure views ...
25
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4answers
7k views

What would happen if someone had a telescope and watched Betelgeuse when it goes supernova?

Would that person go blind? Neutrino detectors and the abundance of Neutrinos would detect the upcoming visible show about 3 hours before any visible signs, so there would be time to point certain ...
23
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2answers
5k views

What detail can Hubble see on Mars?

I'm researching a scene for a sci-fi novel in which the near-future protagonists observe earth through a station-mounted telescope in Mars orbit. My goal is to understand how much detail they ...
21
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2answers
127k views

How much magnification is needed to see planets of solar system?

I have a 3inch Newtonian reflector telescope with 300 mm focal length. I can use highest magnification of 75x using a 4mm eyepiece. But in 75x I can't see the details of Jupiter what was expected. ...
21
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3answers
14k views

Should I focus more on Aperture or Focal Length for a telescope?

Let's assume there are three types of telescopes with the following specifications: ...
20
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7answers
4k views

How can we focus radio telescopes on a star when the earth is spinning?

Reading about the Star KIC 8462852, it has been said that the SETI project turned its radio telescopes towards the star to search for extra terrestrial radio signals as the star had strange ...
19
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2answers
2k views

Why are wavelengths shorter than visible light neglected by new telescopes?

The diagram below, which I stole from this post by @HDE226868, shows that angular resolution as a function of wavelength suddenly drops by three orders of magnitudes from visible to UV-light. The ...
18
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1answer
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Is there any telescope on Earth that can see the lunar rovers on the moon?

If I have the right numbers, it seems to me that even Hubble telescope might barely be able to make out a carcass of a blue whale on the surface of the moon, which puts objects as small as the lunar ...
16
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3answers
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Why different specifications for telescopes and binoculars?

Sorry for the noob question but I don't seem to be able to find the answer on the internet. I've been looking through some telescopes and binoculars and noticed that shops typically give different ...
15
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8answers
8k views

Determine the moons of Jupiter through a telescope

I was doing my own "space exploration" last night with a telescope. Being a space noob I can't visually determine stars or planets (I know the moon, though), but I focused on one particularly bright ...
15
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2answers
18k views

A good telescope for the viewing of Nebulae, Stars and Planets

So, I am a 15 year old interested in astronomy. My father used to have a reflector telescope, but was never so serious about it that he could recommend me a good telescope. I am looking to buy a ...
14
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2answers
2k views

Space telescope located in outer solar system

I want to pose a question from someone who's astronomy knowledge would fit neatly onto a single piece of paper so please bear this in mind with any comments or answers. I am interested and want to ...
14
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1answer
1k views

How Does a Refractor Telescope Work?

As I understand it, the difference between a reflector and a refractor is that a reflector uses mirrors on the back to reflect the light to the secondary mirror then the secondary mirror reflects the ...
11
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3answers
468 views

What limits the usable focal length of telescopes currently?

What barriers - of technology, physics and possibly economy (things that would be possible technologically but are simply too expensive) sets the upper bound on quality of telescopes for observation ...
11
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4answers
706 views

Using the Sun as a Gravitational Lens

Can the Sun be used as a gravitational lens to achieve better telescopic viewing? Can this effect be practically used to view celestial objects?
11
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1answer
890 views

Recording Spectral Lines at Home

I was wondering if it would be possible to record the emission/absorption spectra of stars without expensive spectroscopy equipment. Would it be possible to somehow utilize diffraction grating? I own ...
11
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2answers
3k views

How does a telescope measure parallax angle?

I know how stars' distances are measured by using parallax, but I want to know how the actual telescope measures the parallax angle. Any helpful links/ explanations are needed.
11
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2answers
213 views

After Oumuamua passage, has an “urgency” telescope time request procedure been set up?

During the rapid passing of ʻOumuamua through our solar system, it was difficult to get instant telescope time. Usually, formal requests and a review process are necessary before telescope time is ...
11
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1answer
149 views

Does the Reflection Method for Looking at the Sun Work For Refractors?

I own a newtonian reflector and occasionally use it (using the reflection method with paper) for looking at the sun. I happen to also own a refractor, but I'm not exactly sure if the reflection method ...
11
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0answers
275 views

Method to determine the amount of reflected starlight necessary for an exoplanet to be visible from a given distance/angle? [closed]

What is the method to determine the amount of reflected starlight necessary for an exoplanet to be visible from a given distance/angle? (Not from occlusion but actually visible on its own.) Further, ...
10
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2answers
1k views

What (actually) is the “ deprojected half-light radius” of this almost-all-dark-matter Galaxy?

The recent news of the Ultra Diffuse Galaxy (UDG) Dragonfly 44 is an excellent example of what could be termed 'observe different' thinking. The dragonfly telescope is noted not for the size of its ...
10
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1answer
388 views

Why does squinting make hard-to-see objects clearer?

So I, like most other astronomy enthusiasts, have, at some point, not been able to see something clearly, such as a star, and have had to squint to be able to see it better. When this happens, the ...
10
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1answer
242 views

What is the bluest narrow band filter mounted on ground based telescopes?

If we want to check a QSO's lyman alpha narrow band image, could a ground based telescope do that? I mean under the circumstance that its lyman alpha shifts to 3300A.
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2answers
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Could we parallax measure stars just based on the Earth's size?

Imagine two major surface observatories, perhaps the "northermost" and "southernmost" such (ideally on a similar longitude). For nearby stars, could they each take a photo at the same time, and ...
9
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4answers
311 views

Why are telescope mirrors made of glass?

Optical telescope mirrors are typically made from endlessly polished glass surfaces that have been aluminised to provide a very smooth surface of reflective aluminium. But why the need for glass at ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Why are radio telescopes shaped so differently than optical telescopes?

Why are radio telescopes typically only a dish with a receiver above it, while optical telescopes have a primary, plus secondary and sometimes even a tertiary mirror? In other words, why do radio ...
9
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2answers
320 views

Is it possible to figure out your location in the Milky Way if you are suddenly wormholed to a random, distant location in the galaxy?

If you were flying along in your spacecraft somewhere in our solar system and then a large, stable wormhole suddenly opened and you flew into it and were whisked away to some distant location in the ...
8
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2answers
716 views

Which telescope's model is being shown to Albert Einstein in this file footage? What event might this be?

In the Economist video Why does time pass? there is some file footage of Albert Einstein attending some event where a model of a large telescope is on display, and being described to Prof. Einstein. ...
8
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3answers
564 views

What was the largest telescope ever fitted with an eyepiece

Serious modern telescopes use CCDs to capture the results. This makes it convenient to process or display the results halfway around the world. However, there is something visceral about looking ...
8
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5answers
280 views

Why was the (small) Hubble better able to find KBO targets for New Horizons than large adaptive optics ground telescopes?

When initial searches for a Kuiper Belt object for New Horizons to fly to after passing Pluto did not find good targets, the Hubble telescope was used, and it resulted in the current targeted flyby ...
8
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1answer
826 views

How can I observe Sgr A* with itelescope.net

I've been experimenting with itelescope.net and tried to observe Sgr A*. I was wondering if there are any suggestions how I can best observe the surrounding stars.
8
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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 (...
8
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3answers
141 views

Why are telescopes positioned in Lagrange points?

In this Wikipedia article about the list of space telescopes to be launched (which I assume is exhaustive), of the 11 telescopes yet to be launched, 6 will be positioned at the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange ...
8
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1answer
259 views

What is a quaternary mirror and why does the E-ELT need one?

In this recent BBC article I read the one-sentence paragraph: "Development on the mirrors - in particular, a very complex quaternary mirror - continues apace." and became interested in the ...
8
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1answer
569 views

Plot of best available resolution vs wavelength - radio through gamma rays?

What I'm looking for is a graphic that shows in a general way the best available telescope resolution vs wavelength throughout the entire wavelength spectrum. So for example, there might be two very ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Selecting a Telescope for Viewing Planets

I hope to observe planets like Jupiter and Saturn, and moons. I am a novice when it comes to telescopes and I know images in magazines are not taken with at least 12-inch telescope in a middle of ...
8
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1answer
280 views

What are the next planned space telescopes?

We've had hubble for two decades. Its become the most famous space telescope, and lately Kepler seems to be running for the second place. Are there any more powerful, better telescopes planned for ...
8
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4answers
1k views

Can we see the color of nebulae?

Someone asked me this question: To see the color of the Great Nebula in Orion, how large the aperture of the telescope should be. I don’t even know whether this is possible. I understand that the ...
8
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1answer
310 views

Is there a cosmic, rather than technological, upper limit to what a telescope can resolve?

Space radio interferometers could have a baseline of millions of kilometers, but is there a point where a larger baseline doesn't improve the resolution anymore because the photons observed are ...
7
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2answers
411 views

Why do we use FITS format for scientific images especially in astronomy? How is it different from formats such as JPEG, PNG etc?

I am new to astronomy and I found that the telescopic dataset can be stored in the FITS format instead of JPEG. Why do we have a special image format just for scientific images?
7
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3answers
397 views

When did “resilvering” large telescope mirrors actually refer to aluminization, and why was it necessary?

This answer nicely summarizes the general picture of historical use of silver for mid to large size telescope mirrors, and the shift to aluminum once good quality vacuum pumps and chambers suitable ...
7
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4answers
357 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 ...
7
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1answer
224 views

How much competition there is for jobs in astronomy compared to other fields of science?

I will soon finish a master's degree in computer science. I have been interested in astronomy for some time, which has included playing around with a Newtonian reflector telescope and reading about ...
7
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2answers
425 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 ...
7
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1answer
288 views

How are the world's biggest telescopes cleaned?

How are the world's biggest telescopes, (such as the Very Large Telescope for example) cleaned? My research includes what I have read about CO2 cleaning here. Are there any other ways to cleaning the ...
6
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5answers
772 views

Could mirrors be replaced with CCDs?

Why do telescopes use mirrors that simply reflect photons, when they instead could be covered with large sensors to register them? Reflection is all good and well, all thanks to silver and beryllium ...
6
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3answers
2k views

Chromatic aberration in lens

Is there a way to prevent chromatic aberration without using an achromatic lens in refracting telescopes or in any other instruments...?
6
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2answers
221 views

Ninth planet - what else could it be?

So recently it was announced that there might be a ninth planet out there. Some people (from NASA) say the odds are 50% that it is a real planet, since it hasn't been discovered by telescopes yet. ...

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