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A Look Into The Cosmos: How Telescopes Work

Aug 17, 2007
Once Galileo discovered the telescope, there was a sudden leap from fantasy and legends to reality. And reality was so much more fantastic than the world had ever dreamed of. So quickly, planets and stars which were specks in the sky, some of them not even visible to the naked eye, came close and shared their secrets with us. It was a whole new voyage of discovery into the heavens and the wonders that were in it. It was the bridge that connected the world with the rest of the universe. It was the connection between man and space.

Since Galileo gifted the world with this wonderful instrument, technology has driven it along to becoming very hi-tech and very modern. There are two types of telescopes that are available today. They are the Galileo or refractor telescope and the Newton or the reflector telescope. The basic difference is that the refractor telescope uses an objective lens. This makes the light bend towards the eyepiece. The reflector telescope on the other hand uses a mirror which reflects the light towards the eyepiece. Both are available so how do you know which one to buy?

First of all, whichever telescope you decide on, do not go by how much it magnifies as this is no criterion. Viewing large hazy pictures does not mean much. There are three factors you have to take into consideration when you are shopping for a telescope. The most important of these is the aperture. This is the opening through which the light comes in so a larger one will mean better clarity and better details. Next comes the resolution. This is what enables the telescope to give you an image with details. Go for one with a higher resolution. This together with a bigger aperture will ensure good images. The third factor is the focal length. This is the distance between the optical center of the eyepiece and the optical center of the mirror or the lens. This is what is responsible for the magnification. A longer focal length means better magnification.

Besides these, a telescope also has accessories. Let's take a look at what are the important ones and what are the ones it would be good for you to buy. Very essential are filters which reduce glare and make it easier to view objects which are distant. Also important is the Barlow lens which comes in different sizes and must be carefully chosen to fit the eyepiece. The eyepiece of course is crucial to the telescope. They come in various sizes and you can add more than one to see even very distant objects. You should also choose your mounts carefully for this is what the telescope stands on. It should be stable to give you the best possible view without any vibration or shaking.

Owning a telescope is like going on a voyage of discovery to worlds unknown, while you are standing in one place. It is a window to the whole universe and as you gaze through it, you feel you're a part of that too.
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