Facts about Telescopes

Mother observing stars on the night sky with daughter standing on the viewpoint. Daughter looking stars through the telescope and the mother points with finger in which direction should looking.

Scientists use telescopes to learn more about the world around them. 

The first telescopes were only invented in 1608, and since then they have been used for many purposes including taking photographs of the surface of Mars. 

But what else do we know about these tools? Keep reading to find out!

Do you know, why are telescopes sometimes called “time machines”?

For centuries, people have been using telescopes to explore outer space. Today, astronomers use a variety of different types of telescopes to see distant celestial objects and solve mysteries about our universe’s origins and evolution. 

The earliest telescopes were invented around 1608. They were first used to spy on enemy ships during the Anglo-Dutch war of 1664-67. However, their use as an instrument of war was soon replaced by their use for science. 

The first astronomer believed to have built a telescope was Hans Lippershey, a German eyeglass maker, who applied for a patent on his telescope in May of 1608. 

Although some claim that the Dutch spectacle maker Zacharias Janssen actually built an earlier telescope, Lippershey’s design proved superior and won out in the end. Since that time, inventors have modified telescopes’ basic principles to achieve different results.

Here are some facts discussed about Telescopes-

1. Telescopes can magnify things up to 16 times.

A telescope works by reflecting light onto a regular (or “specular”) surface that is made of glass or metal, which then allows the objects being observed to become clearer. 

Because of this “refraction” effect, a telescope’s lenses are made out of curved mirrors instead of flat ones, making for a magnified image.

2. Telescopes can be very accurate.

While other instruments are prone to errors in the shape or positioning of their lenses or mirrors, telescopes have no such flaws. 

Modern telescopes have a precision that is a factor of 1,000,000 times better than that of the human eye.

3. Telescopes can help you see farther into space.

This power comes from the use of reflecting mirrors rather than lenses. 

The mirrors are so accurate that they can be used to determine distance from faraway objects or even galaxies simply by measuring their angular size. 

In fact, the Hubble Space Telescope’s parent telescope was designed to be so precise that it can measure distances to stars and galaxies as small as one five-hundredth the width of a human hair!

4. Telescopes can look back in time and provide evidence for past occurrences.

The origins of the universe are a prime example of this. The existence that many scientists once believed to be an illusion has been proven to have occurred from telescopes’ observations of the “Cepheid Variable” stars. 

These stars have been observed to change in brightness because of their intrinsic rate of expansion and contraction. 

For example, a Cepheid variable’s light output will increase by a factor of 1,000 during each pulsation- a process that takes about 5 hours. It can therefore be used as a time machine, illuminating the moment the light was exactly the same as now.

5. There are a variety of different types of telescopes.

In fact, there are 14 different types of telescopes being used by astronomers today! These include the solar tower telescope, the radio telescope, and the optical interferometer. 

However, all telescopes have their origin in Lippershey’s first invention- the refractor- which has been modified to suit a variety of needs and purposes. 

Since that first model was constructed more than three hundred years ago, other inventors have built upon his original ideas to create a multitude of scientific instruments that have been used for a host of other purposes as well as space exploration.

6. Telescopes can be very unique and come in many shapes and sizes.

On the outside, you can find telescopes that resemble spaceships or other mechanical devices. On the inside, however, they are extremely complicated and often involve glass lenses and mirrors. 

This is to prevent distortions in the image created by the telescope’s length- which is why you don’t see any mirrors on telescopes! 

The length of time it takes for light to travel through a glass lens is so great that it would cost more than $3 billion today to build just one mile of glass!

7. The two largest telescopes in the world are not located in space!

Both of these large instruments were built on Earth for studying certain features about stars that could not be viewed from other locations. 

For example, the 1.2-meter Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope was built to study the spectra of certain types of stars. Furthermore, the 2.5-meter Nordic Optical Telescope was built to study infrared data about stellar bodies in space.


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