Telescope

Telescope

Overview

A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

 (such as visible light). The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 at the beginning of the 1600s (the 17th century), using glass lenses. They found use in terrestrial applications and astronomy.

Within a few decades, the reflecting telescope
Reflecting telescope
A reflecting telescope is an optical telescope which uses a single or combination of curved mirrors that reflect light and form an image. The reflecting telescope was invented in the 17th century as an alternative to the refracting telescope which, at that time, was a design that suffered from...

 was invented, which used mirrors.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Telescope'
Start a new discussion about 'Telescope'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia

A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

 (such as visible light). The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 at the beginning of the 1600s (the 17th century), using glass lenses. They found use in terrestrial applications and astronomy.

Within a few decades, the reflecting telescope
Reflecting telescope
A reflecting telescope is an optical telescope which uses a single or combination of curved mirrors that reflect light and form an image. The reflecting telescope was invented in the 17th century as an alternative to the refracting telescope which, at that time, was a design that suffered from...

 was invented, which used mirrors. In the 20th century many new types of telescopes were invented, including radio telescopes in the 1930s and infrared telescopes in the 1960s. The word telescope now refers to a wide range of instruments detecting different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic spectrum
The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. The "electromagnetic spectrum" of an object is the characteristic distribution of electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by that particular object....

, and in some cases other types of detectors.

The word "telescope" (from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 τῆλε, tele "far" and σκοπεῖν, skopein "to look or see"; τηλεσκόπος, teleskopos "far-seeing") was coined in 1611 by the Greek mathematician Giovanni Demisiani
Giovanni Demisiani
Giovanni Demisiani , a Greek from Zakynthos, was a theologian, chemist, mathematician to Cardinal Gonzaga, and member of the Accademia dei Lincei...

 for one of Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

's instruments presented at a banquet at the Accademia dei Lincei
Accademia dei Lincei
The Accademia dei Lincei, , is an Italian science academy, located at the Palazzo Corsini on the Via della Lungara in Rome, Italy....

. In the Starry Messenger Galileo had used the term "perspicillum".

History



The earliest recorded working telescopes were the refracting telescope
Refracting telescope
A refracting or refractor telescope is a type of optical telescope that uses a lens as its objective to form an image . The refracting telescope design was originally used in spy glasses and astronomical telescopes but is also used for long focus camera lenses...

s that appeared in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 in 1608. Their development is credited to three individuals: Hans Lippershey
Hans Lippershey
Hans Lippershey , also known as Johann Lippershey or Lipperhey, was a German-Dutch lensmaker commonly associated with the invention of the telescope, although it is unclear if he was the first to build one.-Biography:...

 and Zacharias Janssen
Zacharias Janssen
Zacharias Jansen was a Dutch spectacle-maker from Middelburg associated with the invention of the first optical telescope. Jansen is sometimes also credited for inventing the first truly compound microscope...

, who were spectacle makers in Middelburg, and Jacob Metius
Jacob Metius
Jacob Metius was a Dutch instrument-maker and a specialist in grinding lenses. He was born in Alkmaar and was the brother of Adriaan Adriaanszoon...

 of Alkmaar
Alkmaar
Alkmaar is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Noord Holland. Alkmaar is well known for its traditional cheese market. For tourists, it is a popular cultural destination.-History:...

. Galileo
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 greatly improved upon these designs the following year.

The idea that the objective
Objective (optics)
In an optical instrument, the objective is the optical element that gathers light from the object being observed and focuses the light rays to produce a real image. Objectives can be single lenses or mirrors, or combinations of several optical elements. They are used in microscopes, telescopes,...

, or light-gathering element, could be a mirror instead of a lens was being investigated soon after the invention of the refracting telescope. The potential advantages of using parabolic mirrors
Parabolic reflector
A parabolic reflector is a reflective device used to collect or project energy such as light, sound, or radio waves. Its shape is that of a circular paraboloid, that is, the surface generated by a parabola revolving around its axis...

—reduction of spherical aberration
Spherical aberration
thumb|right|Spherical aberration. A perfect lens focuses all incoming rays to a point on the [[Optical axis|optic axis]]. A real lens with spherical surfaces suffers from spherical aberration: it focuses rays more tightly if they enter it far from the optic axis than if they enter closer to the...

 and no chromatic aberration
Chromatic aberration
In optics, chromatic aberration is a type of distortion in which there is a failure of a lens to focus all colors to the same convergence point. It occurs because lenses have a different refractive index for different wavelengths of light...

—led to many proposed designs and several attempts to build reflecting telescope
Reflecting telescope
A reflecting telescope is an optical telescope which uses a single or combination of curved mirrors that reflect light and form an image. The reflecting telescope was invented in the 17th century as an alternative to the refracting telescope which, at that time, was a design that suffered from...

s. In 1668, Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 built the first practical reflecting telescope, of a design which now bears his name, the Newtonian reflector
Newtonian telescope
The Newtonian telescope is a type of reflecting telescope invented by the British scientist Sir Isaac Newton , using a concave primary mirror and a flat diagonal secondary mirror. Newton’s first reflecting telescope was completed in 1668 and is the earliest known functional reflecting telescope...

.

The invention of the achromatic lens
Achromatic lens
An achromatic lens or achromat is a lens that is designed to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration. Achromatic lenses are corrected to bring two wavelengths into focus in the same plane....

 in 1733 partially corrected color aberrations present in the simple lens and enabled the construction of shorter, more functional refracting telescopes. Reflecting telescopes, though not limited by the color problems seen in refractors, were hampered by the use of fast tarnishing speculum metal
Speculum metal
Speculum metal is a mixture of around two-thirds copper and one-third tin making a white brittle alloy that can be polished to make a highly reflective surface. It is used primarily to make different kinds of mirrors including early reflecting telescope optical mirrors...

 mirrors employed during the 18th and early 19th century—a problem alleviated by the introduction of silver coated glass mirrors in 1857, and aluminized mirrors in 1932. The maximum physical size limit for refracting telescopes is about 1 meter (40 inches), dictating that the vast majority of large optical researching telescopes built since the turn of the 20th century have been reflectors. The largest reflecting telescopes currently have objectives larger than 10 m (33 feet).

The 20th century also saw the development of telescopes that worked in a wide range of wavelengths from radio
Radio telescope
A radio telescope is a form of directional radio antenna used in radio astronomy. The same types of antennas are also used in tracking and collecting data from satellites and space probes...

 to gamma-rays. The first purpose built radio telescope went into operation in 1937. Since then, a tremendous variety of complex astronomical instruments have been developed.

Types of telescopes



The name "telescope" covers a wide range of instruments. Telescopes may be classified by the type of radiation they detect. Most detect electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

, but there are major differences in how astronomers must go about collecting light (electromagnetic radiation) in different frequency bands.

Telescopes may also be classified by location: ground telescope, space telescope, or flying telescope. They may also be classified by whether they are operated by professional astronomers
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 or amateur astronomers. A vehicle or permanent campus containing one or more telescopes or other instruments is called an observatory
Observatory
An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geology, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been constructed...

.

Optical telescopes




An optical telescope gathers and focuses
Focus (optics)
In geometrical optics, a focus, also called an image point, is the point where light rays originating from a point on the object converge. Although the focus is conceptually a point, physically the focus has a spatial extent, called the blur circle. This non-ideal focusing may be caused by...

 light mainly from the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic spectrum
The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. The "electromagnetic spectrum" of an object is the characteristic distribution of electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by that particular object....

 (although some work in the infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 and ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

). Optical telescopes increase the apparent angular size of distant objects as well as their apparent brightness
Brightness
Brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light. In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target...

. In order for the image to be observed, photographed, studied, and sent to a computer, telescopes work by employing one or more curved optical elements—usually made from glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

lenses
Lens (optics)
A lens is an optical device with perfect or approximate axial symmetry which transmits and refracts light, converging or diverging the beam. A simple lens consists of a single optical element...

, and/or mirror
Mirror
A mirror is an object that reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original quality prior to its contact with the mirror. Some mirrors also filter out some wavelengths, while preserving other wavelengths in the reflection...

s to gather light and other electromagnetic radiation to bring that light or radiation to a focal point. Optical telescopes are used for astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and in many non-astronomical instruments, including: theodolite
Theodolite
A theodolite is a precision instrument for measuring angles in the horizontal and vertical planes. Theodolites are mainly used for surveying applications, and have been adapted for specialized purposes in fields like metrology and rocket launch technology...

s (including transits), spotting scope
Spotting scope
A spotting scope is a small portable telescope with added optics to present an erect image, optimized for the observation of terrestrial objects...

s, monocular
Monocular
A monocular is a modified refracting telescope used to magnify the images of distant objects by passing light through a series of lenses and sometimes prisms; the use of prisms results in a lightweight telescope. Volume and weight are less than half those of binoculars of similar optical...

s, binoculars
Binoculars
Binoculars, field glasses or binocular telescopes are a pair of identical or mirror-symmetrical telescopes mounted side-by-side and aligned to point accurately in the same direction, allowing the viewer to use both eyes when viewing distant objects...

, camera lenses, and spyglasses. There are three main optical types:
  • The refracting telescope
    Refracting telescope
    A refracting or refractor telescope is a type of optical telescope that uses a lens as its objective to form an image . The refracting telescope design was originally used in spy glasses and astronomical telescopes but is also used for long focus camera lenses...

     which uses lenses to form an image.
  • The reflecting telescope
    Reflecting telescope
    A reflecting telescope is an optical telescope which uses a single or combination of curved mirrors that reflect light and form an image. The reflecting telescope was invented in the 17th century as an alternative to the refracting telescope which, at that time, was a design that suffered from...

     which uses an arrangement of mirrors to form an image.
  • The catadioptric telescope which uses mirrors combined with lenses to form an image.


Beyond these basic optical types there are many sub-types of varying optical design classified by the task they perform such as Astrograph
Astrograph
An astrograph is a telescope designed for the sole purpose of astrophotography. Astrographs are usually used in wide field surveys of the night sky as well as detection of objects such as asteroids, meteors, and comets.-Design:...

s, Comet seeker
Comet seeker
A comet seeker is a type of small telescope adapted especially to searching for comets: commonly of short focal length and large aperture, in order to secure the greatest brilliancy of light....

s, Solar telescope
Solar telescope
A solar telescope is a special purpose telescope used to observe the Sun. Solar telescopes usually detect light with wavelengths in, or not far outside, the visible spectrum.-Professional solar telescopes:...

, etc.

Telescopes may also be classified by the wavelengths of light they work with:
  • Ultraviolet telescope, shorter wavelengths than visible light
  • X-ray telescope
    X-ray telescope
    An X-ray telescope is a telescope that is designed to observe remote objects in the X-ray spectrum. In order to get above the Earth's atmosphere, which is opaque to X-rays, X-ray telescopes must be mounted on high altitude rockets or artificial satellites.-Optical design:X-ray telescopes can use...

    , shorter wavelengths than ultraviolet light
  • Infrared telescope
    Infrared telescope
    An infrared telescope is a telescope that uses infrared light to detect celestial bodies.Infrared light is one of several types of radiation present in the electromagnetic spectrum....

    , longer wavelengths than visible light
  • Submillimetre telescopes
    Submillimetre astronomy
    Submillimetre astronomy or submillimeter astronomy is the branch of observational astronomy that is conducted at submillimetre wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Astronomers place the submillimetre waveband between the far-infrared and microwave wavebands, typically taken to be between a...

    , longer wavelengths than infrared light

Light Comparison
Electromagnetic spectrum
The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. The "electromagnetic spectrum" of an object is the characteristic distribution of electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by that particular object....

Name Wavelength Frequency (Hz)  Photon Energy (eV) 
Gamma ray
Gamma ray
Gamma radiation, also known as gamma rays or hyphenated as gamma-rays and denoted as γ, is electromagnetic radiation of high frequency . Gamma rays are usually naturally produced on Earth by decay of high energy states in atomic nuclei...

 
less than 0.01 nm more than 10 EHZ 100 keV - 300+ GeV X
Gamma-ray astronomy
Gamma-ray astronomy is the astronomical study of the cosmos with gamma rays. Gamma-rays are the most energetic form of "light" that travel across the universe, and gamma-rays thus have the smallest wavelength of any wave in the electromagnetic spectrum.Gamma-rays are created by celestial events...

X-Ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

 
0.01 to 10 nm 30 PHz - 30 EHZ 120 eV to 120 keV X
X-ray telescope
An X-ray telescope is a telescope that is designed to observe remote objects in the X-ray spectrum. In order to get above the Earth's atmosphere, which is opaque to X-rays, X-ray telescopes must be mounted on high altitude rockets or artificial satellites.-Optical design:X-ray telescopes can use...

Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 
10 nm - 400 nm 30 EHZ - 790 THz 3 eV to 124 eV
Visible  390 nm - 750 nm 790 THz - 405 THz 1.7 eV - 3.3 eV X
Infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 
750 nm - 1 mm 405 THz - 300 GHz 1.24 m
Milli
Milli is a prefix in the metric system denoting a factor of one thousandth . Adopted in 1795, the prefix comes from the Latin mille, meaning one thousand ....

eV - 1.7 eV
X
Infrared telescope
An infrared telescope is a telescope that uses infrared light to detect celestial bodies.Infrared light is one of several types of radiation present in the electromagnetic spectrum....

Microwave
Microwave
Microwaves, a subset of radio waves, have wavelengths ranging from as long as one meter to as short as one millimeter, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. This broad definition includes both UHF and EHF , and various sources use different boundaries...

 
1 mm - 1 meter 300 GHz - 300 MHz 1.24 meV - 1.24 µeV
Radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 
1 mm - km 300 GHz
Extremely high frequency
Extremely high frequency is the highest radio frequency band. EHF runs the range of frequencies from 30 to 300 gigahertz, above which electromagnetic radiation is considered to be low infrared light, also referred to as terahertz radiation...

 - 3 Hz
Extremely low frequency
Extremely low frequency is a term used to describe radiation frequencies from 3 to 300 Hz. In atmosphere science, an alternative definition is usually given, from 3 Hz to 3 kHz...

 
1.24 meV - 12.4 f
Femto-
Femto- is a prefix in the metric system denoting a factor of 10−15 or . Adopted by the 11th Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures, it was added in 1964 to the SI...

eV
X
Radio telescope
A radio telescope is a form of directional radio antenna used in radio astronomy. The same types of antennas are also used in tracking and collecting data from satellites and space probes...



As wavelengths become longer, it becomes easier to use antenna technology to interact with electromagnetic radiation (although it is possible to make very tiny antenna). The near-infrared can be handled much like visible light, however in the far-infrared and submillimetre range, telescopes can operate more like a radio telescope. For example the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope
The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope is a submillimetre-wavelength telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. Its primary mirror is 15 metres across: it is the largest astronomical telescope that operates in submillimetre wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum...

 observes from wavelengths from 3 μm (0.003 mm) to 2000 μm (2 mm), but uses a parabolic aluminum antenna. On the other hand, the Spitzer Space Telescope
Spitzer Space Telescope
The Spitzer Space Telescope , formerly the Space Infrared Telescope Facility is an infrared space observatory launched in 2003...

, observing from about 3 μm (0.003 mm) to 180 μm (0.18 mm) uses a mirror (reflecting optics). Also using reflecting optics, the Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. A 2.4 meter aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared...

 with Wide Field Camera 3
Wide Field Camera 3
The Wide Field Camera 3 is the Hubble Space Telescope's last and most technologically advanced instrument to take images in the visible spectrum...

 can observe from about 0.2 μm (0.0002 mm) to 1.7 μm (0.0017 mm) (from ultra-violet to infrared light).
  • Fresnel Imager
    Fresnel Imager
    A Fresnel imager is a proposed ultra-lightweight design for a space telescope that uses a Fresnel array as primary optics instead of a typical lens. It focuses light with a thin opaque foil sheet punched with specially shaped holes, thus focusing light on a certain point by using the phenomenon of...

    , an optical lens technology
  • X-ray optics
    X-ray optics
    X-ray optics is the branch of optics which manipulates X-rays instead of visible light. While lenses for visible light are made of transparent materials that can have a refractive index substantially larger than 1, for X-rays the index of refraction is slightly smaller than unity. The principal...

    , optics for certain x-ray wavelengths


Another threshold in telescope design, as photon energy increases (shorter wavelengths and higher frequency) is the use of fully reflecting optics rather than glancing-incident optics. Telescopes such as TRACE
TRACE
TRACE was a NASA space telescope designed to investigate the connections between fine-scale magnetic fields and the associated plasma structures on the Sun by providing high resolution images and observation of the solar photosphere and transition region to the corona...

 and SOHO
Soho
Soho is an area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London. Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation for sex shops as well as night life and film industry. Since the early 1980s, the area has undergone considerable...

 use special mirrors to reflect Extreme ultraviolet
Extreme ultraviolet
Extreme Ultraviolet radiation is high-energy ultraviolet radiation, generally defined to be electromagnetic radiation in the part of the electromagnetic spectrum spanning wavelengths from 120 nm down to 10 nm, and therefore having photons with energies from 10 eV up to 124 eV...

, producing higher resolution and brighter images then otherwise possible. A larger aperture does not just mean more light is collected, it is collected at a higher diffraction limit.

Radio telescopes




Radio telescopes are directional
Directional antenna
A directional antenna or beam antenna is an antenna which radiates greater power in one or more directions allowing for increased performance on transmit and receive and reduced interference from unwanted sources....

 radio antennas used for radio astronomy
Radio astronomy
Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. The initial detection of radio waves from an astronomical object was made in the 1930s, when Karl Jansky observed radiation coming from the Milky Way. Subsequent observations have identified a number of...

. The dishes are sometimes constructed of a conductive wire mesh whose openings are smaller than the wavelength
Wavelength
In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...

 being observed. Multi-element Radio telescope
Radio telescope
A radio telescope is a form of directional radio antenna used in radio astronomy. The same types of antennas are also used in tracking and collecting data from satellites and space probes...

s are constructed from pairs or larger groups of these dishes to synthesize large 'virtual' apertures that are similar in size to the separation between the telescopes; this process is known as aperture synthesis
Aperture synthesis
Aperture synthesis or synthesis imaging is a type of interferometry that mixes signals from a collection of telescopes to produce images having the same angular resolution as an instrument the size of the entire collection...

. As of 2005, the current record array size is many times the width of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

—utilizing space-based Very Long Baseline Interferometry
Very Long Baseline Interferometry
Very Long Baseline Interferometry is a type of astronomical interferometry used in radio astronomy. It allows observations of an object that are made simultaneously by many telescopes to be combined, emulating a telescope with a size equal to the maximum separation between the telescopes.Data...

 (VLBI) telescopes such as the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese HALCA
HALCA
The HALCA , also known for its project name VSOP , or the code name MUSES-B for the second of the Mu Space Engineering Spacecraft series, is a Japanese 8 meter diameter radio telescope satellite which was used for Very Long Baseline Interferometry...

 (Highly Advanced Laboratory for Communications and Astronomy) VSOP (VLBI Space Observatory Program) satellite. Aperture synthesis is now also being applied to optical telescopes using optical interferometers (arrays of optical telescopes) and aperture masking interferometry
Aperture masking interferometry
Aperture Masking Interferometry is a form of speckle interferometry, allowing diffraction limited imaging from ground-based telescopes. This technique allows ground based telescopes to reach the maximum possible resolution, allowing ground-based telescopes with large diameters to produce far...

 at single reflecting telescopes. Radio telescopes are also used to collect microwave radiation, which is used to collect radiation when any visible light is obstructed or faint, such as from quasar
Quasar
A quasi-stellar radio source is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than...

s. Some radio telescopes are used by programs such as SETI and the Arecibo Observatory
Arecibo Observatory
The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope near the city of Arecibo in Puerto Rico. It is operated by SRI International under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation...

 to search for extraterrestrial life.

X-ray telescopes




X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

 telescopes can use X-ray optics
X-ray optics
X-ray optics is the branch of optics which manipulates X-rays instead of visible light. While lenses for visible light are made of transparent materials that can have a refractive index substantially larger than 1, for X-rays the index of refraction is slightly smaller than unity. The principal...

, such as a Wolter telescope
Wolter telescope
A Wolter telescope is a telescope for X-rays using only grazing incidence optics. Visible light telescopes are built with lenses or parabolic mirrors at nearly normal incidence. Neither works well for X-rays. Lenses for visible light are made of a transparent material with an index of refraction...

s composed of ring-shaped 'glancing' mirror
Mirror
A mirror is an object that reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original quality prior to its contact with the mirror. Some mirrors also filter out some wavelengths, while preserving other wavelengths in the reflection...

s made of heavy metals
Heavy metals
A heavy metal is a member of a loosely-defined subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties. It mainly includes the transition metals, some metalloids, lanthanides, and actinides. Many different definitions have been proposed—some based on density, some on atomic number or atomic weight,...

 that are able to reflect the rays just a few degrees
Degree (angle)
A degree , usually denoted by ° , is a measurement of plane angle, representing 1⁄360 of a full rotation; one degree is equivalent to π/180 radians...

. The mirrors are usually a section of a rotated parabola
Parabola
In mathematics, the parabola is a conic section, the intersection of a right circular conical surface and a plane parallel to a generating straight line of that surface...

 and a hyperbola
Hyperbola
In mathematics a hyperbola is a curve, specifically a smooth curve that lies in a plane, which can be defined either by its geometric properties or by the kinds of equations for which it is the solution set. A hyperbola has two pieces, called connected components or branches, which are mirror...

, or ellipse
Ellipse
In geometry, an ellipse is a plane curve that results from the intersection of a cone by a plane in a way that produces a closed curve. Circles are special cases of ellipses, obtained when the cutting plane is orthogonal to the cone's axis...

. In 1952, Hans Wolter
Hans Wolter
Hans Wolter was a German physicist who designed an aplanatic system of grazing incidence mirrors that satisfied the Abbe sine condition ....

 outlined 3 ways a telescope could be built using only this kind of mirror. Examples of an observatory using this type of telescope are the Einstein Observatory
Einstein Observatory
Einstein Observatory was the first fully imaging X-ray telescope put into space and the second of NASA's three High Energy Astrophysical Observatories...

, ROSAT
ROSAT
ROSAT was a German Aerospace Center-led satellite X-ray telescope, with instruments built by Germany, the UK and the US...

, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory
Chandra X-ray Observatory
The Chandra X-ray Observatory is a satellite launched on STS-93 by NASA on July 23, 1999. It was named in honor of Indian-American physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar who is known for determining the maximum mass for white dwarfs. "Chandra" also means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit.Chandra...

. By 2010, Wolter focusing X-ray telescopes are possible up to 79 keV.

Gamma-ray telescopes


Higher energy X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes refrain from focusing completely and use coded aperture masks: the patterns of the shadow the mask creates can be reconstructed to form an image.

X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes are usually on Earth-orbiting satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s or high-flying balloons since the Earth's atmosphere
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

 is opaque to this part of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, high energy x-rays and gamma-rays do not form an image in the same way as telescopes at visible wavelengths. An example of this type of telescope is the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

The detection of very high energy gamma rays, with shorter wavelength and higher frequency than regular gamma rays, requires further specialization. An example of this type of observatory is VERITAS
VERITAS
VERITAS is a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV - TeV energy range. The telescope design is based on the design of the existing 10m gamma-ray telescope of the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory...

. Very high energy gamma-rays are still photons, like visible light, whereas cosmic-rays includes particles like electrons, protons, and heavier nuclei.

High energy particle telescopes


High-energy astronomy
High-energy astronomy
High energy astronomy is the study of astronomical objects that release EM radiation of highly energetic wavelengths. It includes X-ray astronomy, gamma-ray astronomy, and extreme UV astronomy, as well as studies of neutrinos and cosmic rays...

 requires specialized telescopes to make observations since most of these particles go through most metals and glasses.

In other types of high energy particle telescopes there is no image-forming optical system
Image-forming optical system
In optics, an image-forming optical system is a system capable of being used for imaging. The diameter of the aperture of the main objective is a common criteria for comparison among optical systems, such as large telescopes....

. Cosmic-ray telescopes
Cosmic-ray observatory
A cosmic-ray observatory is a scientific installation built to detect high-energy-particles coming from space called cosmic rays. This typically includes photons , electrons, protons, and some heavier nuclei, as well as antimatter particles...

 usually consist of an array of different detector types spread out over a large area. A Neutrino telescope consists of a large mass of water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 or ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

, surrounded by an array of sensitive light detectors known as photomultiplier
Photomultiplier
Photomultiplier tubes , members of the class of vacuum tubes, and more specifically phototubes, are extremely sensitive detectors of light in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum...

 tubes. Energetic neutral atom
Energetic neutral atom
Energetic neutral atom imaging, often described as "seeing with atoms", is a technology used to create global images of otherwise invisible phenomena in the magnetospheres of planets and at the boundary of the heliosphere - the far flung outer edge of the solar system.ENA images are constructed...

 observatories like Interstellar Boundary Explorer
Interstellar Boundary Explorer
Interstellar Boundary Explorer is a NASA satellite that will make the first map of the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space. The mission is part of NASA's Small Explorer program. The IBEX satellite was launched with a Pegasus-XL rocket on October 19, 2008, at 17:47:23 UTC...

 detect particles traveling at certain energies.

Other types of telescopes

  • Gravitational wave detector
    Gravitational wave detector
    A gravitational wave detector is any experiment designed to measure gravitational waves, minute distortions of spacetime that are predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. The existence of gravitational radiation is a prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity. Gravitational...

    , aka gravitational wave telescope
  • Neutrino detector
    Neutrino detector
    A neutrino detector is a physics apparatus designed to study neutrinos. Because neutrinos are only weakly interacting with other particles of matter, neutrino detectors must be very large in order to detect a significant number of neutrinos. Neutrino detectors are often built underground to isolate...

    , aka neutrino telescope

Types of telescope mount



A telescope mount is a mechanical structure which supports a telescope. Telescope mounts are designed to support the mass of the telescope and allow for accurate pointing of the instrument. Many sorts of mounts have been developed over the years, with the majority of effort being put into systems that can track the motion of the stars as the Earth rotates. The two main types of tracking mount are:
  • Altazimuth mount
    Altazimuth mount
    An altazimuth or alt-azimuth mount is a simple two-axis mount for supporting and rotating an instrument about two mutually perpendicular axes; one vertical and the other horizontal. Rotation about the vertical axis varies the azimuth of the pointing direction of the instrument...

  • Equatorial mount
    Equatorial mount
    An equatorial mount is a mount for instruments that follows the rotation of the sky by having one rotational axis parallel to the Earth's axis of rotation. This type of mount is used for astronomical telescopes and cameras...


Atmospheric electromagnetic opacity



Since the atmosphere is opaque for most of the electro-magnetic spectrum, only a few bands can be observed from the Earth's surface. These bands are visible – near-infrared and a portion of the radio-wave part of the spectrum. For this reason there are no X-ray or far-infrared ground-based telescopes as these have to be flown in space to observe. Even if a wavelength is observable from the ground, it might still be advantageous to fly it on a satellite due to astronomical seeing
Astronomical seeing
Astronomical seeing refers to the blurring and twinkling of astronomical objects such as stars caused by turbulent mixing in the Earth's atmosphere varying the optical refractive index...

.

Telescopic image from different telescope types


Different types of telescope, operating in different wavelength bands, provide different information about the same object. Together they provide a more comprehensive understanding.

Telescopes by spectrum


Telescopes that operate in the electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic spectrum
The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. The "electromagnetic spectrum" of an object is the characteristic distribution of electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by that particular object....

:
Name Telescope Astronomy Wavelength
Radio
Radio spectrum
Radio spectrum refers to the part of the electromagnetic spectrum corresponding to radio frequencies – that is, frequencies lower than around 300 GHz ....

 
Radio telescope
Radio telescope
A radio telescope is a form of directional radio antenna used in radio astronomy. The same types of antennas are also used in tracking and collecting data from satellites and space probes...

 
Radio astronomy
Radio astronomy
Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. The initial detection of radio waves from an astronomical object was made in the 1930s, when Karl Jansky observed radiation coming from the Milky Way. Subsequent observations have identified a number of...


(Radar astronomy
Radar astronomy
Radar astronomy is a technique of observing nearby astronomical objects by reflecting microwaves off target objects and analyzing the echoes. This research has been conducted for six decades. Radar astronomy differs from radio astronomy in that the latter is a passive observation and the former an...

)
more than 1 mm
Submillimetre
Terahertz radiation
In physics, terahertz radiation refers to electromagnetic waves propagating at frequencies in the terahertz range. It is synonymously termed submillimeter radiation, terahertz waves, terahertz light, T-rays, T-waves, T-light, T-lux, THz...

 
Submillimetre telescopes* Submillimetre astronomy
Submillimetre astronomy
Submillimetre astronomy or submillimeter astronomy is the branch of observational astronomy that is conducted at submillimetre wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Astronomers place the submillimetre waveband between the far-infrared and microwave wavebands, typically taken to be between a...

 
0.1 mm - 1 mm
Far Infrared Far-infrared astronomy  30 µm - 450 µm
Infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 
Infrared telescope
Infrared telescope
An infrared telescope is a telescope that uses infrared light to detect celestial bodies.Infrared light is one of several types of radiation present in the electromagnetic spectrum....

 
Infrared astronomy
Infrared astronomy
Infrared astronomy is the branch of astronomy and astrophysics that studies astronomical objects visible in infrared radiation. The wavelength of infrared light ranges from 0.75 to 300 micrometers...

 
700 nm - 1 mm
Visible
Visible spectrum
The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation in this range of wavelengths is called visible light or simply light. A typical human eye will respond to wavelengths from about 390 to 750 nm. In terms of...

 
Visible spectrum telescopes  Visible-light astronomy
Visible-light astronomy
Visible-light astronomy encompasses a wide variety of observations via telescopes that are sensitive in the range of visible light...

 
400 nm - 700 nm
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 
Ultraviolet telescopes* Ultraviolet astronomy  10 nm - 400 nm
X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

 
X-ray telescope
X-ray telescope
An X-ray telescope is a telescope that is designed to observe remote objects in the X-ray spectrum. In order to get above the Earth's atmosphere, which is opaque to X-rays, X-ray telescopes must be mounted on high altitude rockets or artificial satellites.-Optical design:X-ray telescopes can use...

 
X-ray astronomy
X-ray astronomy
X-ray astronomy is an observational branch of astronomy which deals with the study of X-ray observation and detection from astronomical objects. X-radiation is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, so instruments to detect X-rays must be taken to high altitude by balloons, sounding rockets, and...

 
0.01 nm - 10 nm
Gamma-ray  Gamma-ray astronomy
Gamma-ray astronomy
Gamma-ray astronomy is the astronomical study of the cosmos with gamma rays. Gamma-rays are the most energetic form of "light" that travel across the universe, and gamma-rays thus have the smallest wavelength of any wave in the electromagnetic spectrum.Gamma-rays are created by celestial events...

 
less than 0.01 nm

*Links to categories.

Lists of telescopes




:Category:Telescopes
:Category:Cosmic-ray telescopes
:Category:Gamma-ray telescopes
:Category:Gravitational wave telescopes
:Category:High energy particle telescopes
:Category:Infrared telescopes
:Category:Submillimetre telescopes
:Category:Ultraviolet telescopes
:Category:X-ray telescopes

See also


  • Airmass
    Airmass
    In astronomy, air mass is the optical path length through Earth’s atmosphere for light from a celestial source. As it passes through the atmosphere, light is attenuated by scattering and absorption; the more atmosphere through which it passes, the greater the attenuation. Consequently, celestial...

  • Amateur telescope making
    Amateur telescope making
    Amateur telescope making is the activity of building telescopes as a hobby, as opposed to being a paid professional. Amateur telescope makers build their instruments for personal enjoyment of a technical challenge, as a way to obtain an inexpensive or personally customized telescope, or as a...

  • Angular resolution
    Angular resolution
    Angular resolution, or spatial resolution, describes the ability of any image-forming device such as an optical or radio telescope, a microscope, a camera, or an eye, to distinguish small details of an object...

  • Aperture synthesis
    Aperture synthesis
    Aperture synthesis or synthesis imaging is a type of interferometry that mixes signals from a collection of telescopes to produce images having the same angular resolution as an instrument the size of the entire collection...

  • ASCOM
    ASCOM (standard)
    ASCOM is an open initiative to provide a standard interface to a range of astronomy equipment including mounts, focusers and imaging devices in a Microsoft Windows environment....

     open standards for computer control of telescopes
  • Bahtinov mask
    Bahtinov mask
    The Bahtinov mask is a device used to accurately focus astronomical telescopes.It is named after its inventor Pavel Bahtinov. Accurate focusing of telescopes and astrographs is particularly of concern to those involved in astrophotography....

  • Carey mask
    Carey mask
    A Carey mask is a focusing aid for astronomical telescopes. The mask is in the form of a thin card or sheet that is placed over the front aperture of the telescope. There are four series of slits in the mask which form a diffraction pattern in the image plane.In this example the two sets of slits...

  • Dynameter
    Dynameter
    A dynameter is an instrument that measures the magnification of a telescope. It is usually a double-image micrometer used to measure the diameter of the image of the object glass. The magnifying power is found by comparing the actual diameter of the image on the glass with the measured image...

  • f-number
    F-number
    In optics, the f-number of an optical system expresses the diameter of the entrance pupil in terms of the focal length of the lens; in simpler terms, the f-number is the focal length divided by the "effective" aperture diameter...

  • First light
  • GoTo telescope
    GoTo (telescopes)
    In amateur astronomy, "GoTo" refers to a type of telescope mount and related software which can automatically point a telescope to astronomical objects that the user selects...

  • Hartmann mask
    Hartmann mask
    Hartmann mask is a tool to help focusing telescopes, mainly used by amateur astronomers.- Theory and practice :...

  • Keyhole problem
    Keyhole problem
    The keyhole problem in the context of astronomy refers to the difficulty that azimuth-elevation type telescopes or antenna gimbal systems encounter in crossing the zenith. -Area of Visible Sky:...

  • Microscope
    Microscope
    A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

  • Remote Telescope Markup Language
    Remote Telescope Markup Language
    The Remote Telescope Markup Language is an XML dialect for controlling remote and/or robotic telescopes.It was created by UC Berkeley's Hands-On Universe project in 1999.-External links:* http://hou.lbl.gov/rtml/...

  • Robotic telescope
    Robotic telescope
    A robotic telescope is an astronomical telescope and detector system that makes observations without the intervention of a human. In astronomical disciplines, a telescope qualifies as robotic if it makes those observations without being operated by a human, even if a human has to initiate the...

  • Timeline of telescope technology
    Timeline of telescope technology
    Timeline of telescope technology* c.2560 BC–c.860 BC — Egyptian artisans polish rock crystal, semi-precious stones, and latterly glass to produce facsimile eyes for statuary and mummy cases. The intent appears to be to produce an optical illusion....

  • Timeline of telescopes, observatories, and observing technology
    Timeline of telescopes, observatories, and observing technology
    -3500s BC:*The earliest sundials known from the archaeological record are the obelisks ancient Egyptian astronomy and Babylonian astronomy-1900s BC:*Xiangfen Astronomical Observatory, Xiangfen County, Linfen City, Shanxi Province, China-600s BC:...



Further reading

  • Contemporary Astronomy - Second Edition, Jay M. Pasachoff
    Jay Pasachoff
    Jay Myron Pasachoff is an American astronomer. Pasachoff is Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College and the author of textbooks and tradebooks in astronomy, physics, mathematics, and other sciences.-Biography:...

    , Saunders Colleges Publishing - 1981, ISBN 0-03-057861-2
  • Sabra, A. I. & Hogendijk, J. P. (2003), The Enterprise of Science in Islam: New Perspectives, MIT Press, pp. 85–118, ISBN 0-262-19482-1

External links