68

It's cheaper. (1) With adaptive optics you can get 0.1 arc second resolution on the ground (admittedly only on a mountain top with particularly good air flow, but still!). This eliminates one of the major advantages of space until you get above several meters mirror diameter. (2) Rocket fairings are the shrouds which protect payloads during the supersonic ...


52

This has been done. SOFIA is an infrared observatory built into a Boeing 747 SP: SOFIA takes advantage of the fact that some infrared bands are visible at atltitude, these are attenuated by water in the atmosphere so they're less visible on the ground. There have been infrared observatories before SOFIA: The first use of an aircraft for performing ...


42

This has been done before, so I don't have to go through all the heavy calculations using Rayleigh criterion accounting for atmospheric diffraction and visible light wavelength. Ralf Vandebergh, a Dutch astronomer, professional photographer and veteran satellite spotter has been busy trying to do exactly this since the 2007 and has indeed succeeded on ...


37

No, it would not be a problem. Supernovae are not at all like flashbulbs – they brighten over a period of many days and dim again even more slowly. Here are a number of different light curves taken from Wikipedia: The rise is fast on an astronomical scale – several orders of magnitude over a period of roughly ten days – but very slow on a human scale. An ...


36

You're probably asking the wrong question - which I am going to answer anyway, and after that I am going to answer the question you should have asked instead. As a general rule, there isn't much point in pushing the magnification above 2x the diameter of the instrument, measured in mm. 3 inch, that's 75mm, that's 150x max. Beyond that limit, even under ...


34

Forget about magnification. People who know telescopes don't think in terms of magnification. What matters is the angular resolution, or the resolving power: the angular size of the smallest details that you could see in an instrument. Rule of thumb: the resolving power of a telescope with a diameter of 10 cm is 1 arcsecond when using visible light. The ...


24

If you insist on observing the exploding Betelgeuse at peak brightness, you could potentially damage your eye. The complete answer enters the realm of physiology. Here I'll discuss the astronomical parts: Betelgeuse will explode as a type II supernova, the typical brightness of which is around $M \sim -17$. With a distance of $d\simeq200\,\mathrm{pc}$, its ...


24

With a binocular, all its optical components are fixed - the user can't change them. What's important for the user to know is the size of the front lens, which determines the brightness (and in theory sharpness) of the image, the magnification, and the field of view. These are all useful things to know. A telescope has an interchangable component, namely ...


23

Ralf Vandebergh is one of the best amateur astronomy photographers out there who does spacecraft photography. He is using a 10" (25.4cm) Newtonian telescope, as far as I know, so this is pretty much an off the shelf telescope. He supposedly has imaged spacewalkers on previous ISS and STS missions. Though they are only a few pixels in size, and you cannot ...


22

In principle, it's not impossible. The Gaia spacecraft, designed primarily for measuring stellar positions, is able to measure parallaxes up to 10 kpc away with 20% uncertainty. Its baseline is 2 AU; $2.3\times10^{4}$ times larger than the diameter of Earth. Thus, placing two Gaias on each side of Earth would be able to measure parallaxes of stars up to a ...


20

This is a very common question, yet very hard to answer if you prefer a clear, concise, uncontroversial answer that applies to all situations. So I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to describe your main options, and let you choose. Be aware that you'll make the choice while still not knowing much about optics. So, in a sense, it will be just the ...


16

Part of the answer that I suspect the original questioner needs is that although the Earth is indeed spinning very fast, the amount the surface of the Earth moves relative to an astronomical object is tiny. So you put motors in the base of the telescope so that it slowly turns to look at the same patch of sky. You don't need to refocus because telescopes ...


16

The disadvantages would likely outweight the advantages. It's cold out there. This makes it easier to keep an infra-red telescope cool The sun's just a super-bright star. This means more of the sky is visible and not in the glare of the sun. However you orbit so slowly that there will be a few objects that you won't be able to image because they are behind ...


15

There are some technological issues to solve with putting any large telescope into space - and a space telescope is required at UV wavelengths. It is not possible to optimise such an instrument to work at both UV and IR wavelengths because of issues like cooling, mirror coatings and such-like. The simple angular resolution limit of a telescope goes $\lambda/...


15

Hubble was in low earth orbit, and was always intended to be serviceable. In fact, the original plan for Hubble was to have the space shuttle carry it down from orbit and take it back up, but they decided that was too risky compared to servicing in orbit. JWST, on the other hand, will be at the Earth/Sun L2 Lagrange point, like WMAP and Planck before it. ...


14

There is one rule that is generally true for all deep sky objects (nebulae, stars, galaxies,...): Aperture matters! For solar system objects, aperture is not that important. The second most important thing is: What size are the objects you want to look at: Small objects need long focal lengths and high magnifications, large objects need short aperture for ...


14

What else could it be? Very simply, it could all be a coincidence... What they have done is noted that objects in the outer solar system have their orbits grouped in interesting ways. Someone suggested this might indicate there was a heavy planet (or core of a giant protoplanet) that influenced their orbits in this way; the recent announcement is the ...


14

The CCD has no way of recording the direction, the point in the sky, from which a photon is coming. Say you point your mirror-less telescope at the Moon. Every point on the moon's surface would be reflecting photons onto every part of the CCD at the same time. You've just created an expensive, sensitive, ambient light meter. There would be no image ...


14

You're correct in that the sharp dropoff is simply because there are very few planned major telescopes operating in the UV range, whereas there are a substantial number planned in the infrared range. As I mentioned in my answer you linked to, CHARA and the EELT, two of the top planned infrared/visible projects, will use new adaptive optics technology, making ...


14

In addition to Mark's great answer ... Why are we building larger land-based telescopes instead of launching larger ones into space? If you had money for two homes, one near work and a 'summer cottage' in the woods, how would you divide your budget? This question is a follow-up to Do bigger telescopes equal better results? Yes, and I'm not a fan of ...


14

I'm pretty certain it is the 200inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory. There is an image galley of the 200 inch telescope. According to Richard Preston's book First Light: The Search For The Edge Of The Universe, Einstein attended the completion of the telescope truss, yoke and horseshoe bearing at Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in ...


13

Squinting works the same way as a pinhole camera. Ideally, light from a single point source entering your eye anywhere on your pupil will be focused on a single spot on your retina. But this works perfectly only if you have perfect vision; otherwise light entering near the top of your pupil may be directed to a slightly different spot on your retina than ...


13

the "mirror" cover on top of the glass had chipped away all over, giving the result of a patchy look. Optics can take a huge amount of damage (chipping, scratching) before it really starts to affect performance. You'll be surprised at the amount of abuse a telescope can take like that. As long as it's not properly cracked in two, don't lose any sleep over ...


13

I expect that all the itelescope.net instruments work at visible wavelengths. Therefore you have no chance at all to image the stars around Sgr A*, since it is behind about 25-30 magnitudes of optical extinction, caused by dust between us and the Galactic centre. The published images you have seen were taken by large telescopes working with adaptive optics ...


12

The largest optical wavelength telescope that we have now is the Keck Telscope in Hawaii which is 10 meters in diameter. The Hubble Space Telescope is only 2.4 meters in diameter. Resolving the larger lunar rover (which has a length of 3.1 meters) would require a telescope 75 meters in diameter. Information extracted from The Curious Team answers:...


12

No, the Sahara isn't a good place to build telescopes. The Atacama desert is used because it is at high altitude, which means that there is less atmosphere to get in the way. Other telescopes are located on mountaintops for the same reason. The Sahara is mostly at sea level. It's also very hot, so you get lots of turbulence due to rising air, which distorts ...


12

The half light radius is the radius from within which half the luminosity emerges. "Deprojected" means that the authors must have fitted some model to the 2D distribution of light, which can then be mathematically deprojected to give them a 3D model for luminosity as a function of radius, that they can then integrate to give a number for the half light ...


11

All telescopes have in common that they gather and focus light from far away objects. They use a primary opical element, such as a concave mirror or a (planar- or bi-)convex lense (or lense system), and they use an eyepiece with another lense system (for viewing) or a camera in their primary focus. A refractor telescope does not sharpen the image per se. ...


11

It's complicated. Until late-20th century, we've tried to make bigger and bigger monolithic telescopes. That worked pretty well up to the 5 meter parabolic mirror on Mount Palomar in California in the 1940s. It kind of worked, but just barely, for the 6 meter mirror on Caucasus in Russia in the 1970s. It did work, but that was a major achievement, for the ...


11

First you are talking about pointing the telescope at the source not focusing it on the source. Telescopes are generally focused at infinity, and there is no need to compensate for the Earth's rotation in the focusing. The speed of motion of the telescopes location on the Earth is also not directly relevant, what is relevant is the apparent rotation of the ...


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