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Make a Telescope: See the Moon

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Make a Telescope: See the Moon

Earth & Space Science

Learning Made Easy

You will discuss the importance of the telescope for making observations, and you will design a refractive telescope to observe the moon.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Define a telescope as an invention that allows us to see objects in space more clearly and brightly.
  • Design a telescope using a variety of lenses that will produce the sharpest image of the moon.
  • Design a telescope using a variety of lenses to produce the highest magnification.

Everything You'll Have Covered

There are many different types of telescopes. We are most familiar with those that examine the visible spectrum of radiation. There are telescopes designed to look at virtually every area of the electromagnetic spectrum. Each different wavelength of light carries its own picture of our universe that scientists can gradually add to our ever-changing model. There are also terrestrial and space-based telescopes. Telescopes can also be linked to form vast arrays that act as one large telescope. None of these advances in technology would have been possible without the simple glass lens.

The glass lens has been in existence since at least 424 B.C. when a "burning glass" was mentioned in a play by Aristophanes. It took almost 2,000 years before scientists began publishing their observations using lenses to make microscopes. At about this time, Galileo began to use his lenses to observe the stars.Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630) added to Galileo's work by defining the laws of planetary motion and laying some of the groundwork in physics that Issac Newton would eventually use for his invention of Calculus. It wasnot until Issac Newton published his "Optiks" in 1706 that we were able to really understand how lenses worked and how we could exploit the properties of light and glass to make new discoveries. Now scientists can design lenses for a specific purpose and know how it will work before going to all the trouble of grinding and polishing.

Converging and diverging lenses are both able to change the optical qualities of light in specific ways. By understanding the properties of these lenses, scientists can manipulate the way an object is viewed to suit their needs.

A converging lens is also known as a convex lens. It is thicker at the center than at the edges. This causes light that enters the lens on one side to converge at a point on the other side. The point of convergence is called the focal point. This type of lens produces a sharp image of the object being viewed, but also inverts the image. A simple example of a convergent lens is a magnifying glass.

A divergent lens also known as a concave lens is thinner at the center than at the edges. Light that enters on one side is dispersed on the other. The true focal point of this type of lens is on the same side of the lens as the light entering the lens. This type of lens is used in telescopes to enlarge the image that has been concentrated by the convergent lens.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 15 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts The learners should have some knowledge of lenses, including converging and diverging lenses.
Course Earth & Space Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary astronomy, converging lenses, diverging lenses