the Thirty Meter Telescope

I read an article on called, “Rise of the Super Telescopes: the Thirty Meter Telescope”, by Evan Gough, that I feel correlates with the conceptual objective #9, ” I can describe: a.) the functions of the telescope, b.) types of telescopes and c.) why some telescopes are placed on the ground and some in space”. The article talks about the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). This telescope uses a primary mirror that is 30 meters long, and 492 smaller mirrors. What makes this telescope so special is its diffraction-limited special resolution (DLSR), which makes it easier to be able to identify and tell the difference between two objects that are very close to each other, rather than those two objects appearing to be one. Another important feature of the telescope is its active optics. This allows it to compensate for things such as change in wind, temperature, or mechanical stress. The telescope operates in near-ultra-violet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths. The telescope is desired to be built in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, which has elevations of 14,000 feet and great observing conditions.

Telescopes are used to learn more about the universe and to find information that could never possibly be found with the naked eye. The TMT uses mirrors to gather light. This makes it a reflecting telescope, which is one of the two types of telescopes, the other one being a refracting telescope which uses transparent lenses to gather light. The location of the TMT accounts for what type of wavelengths it uses and how it differs, yet how it tries to emulate a telescope that would be found out in space. On page 51 of the “telescopes and earth’s atmosphere” lecture tutorial, we learned about different wavelengths used by telescopes and how far they penetrate into earths atmosphere. The ultraviolet and visible light travel all the way to the ground of the earth, and infrared down to a mountain high object. This explains why the TMT uses these wavelengths, considering the fact that it is on earth and not in space. It is also on a mountain at an elevation of 14,00, which explains the infrared wavelengths. The TMT tries its absolute best to try and replicate what a telescope out in space would be able to do. One of the reasons that telescopes are out in space aside from the which wavelengths it reaches, is to avoid problems created by earths atmosphere, as I learned on page 126 of the textbook. This can range from brightness of the sky, clouds, turbulence in the air, and light pollution. This can all alter the clarity of the view of the telescope, but combined with the telescopes location and its active optics, the TMT tries to counter the effects that earth has on the accuracy of the telescope.

This Conceptual objective helped me learn the details of a telescope and a lot more than just, its a thing that you use to see stars. I never knew there were different kinds of telescopes, I thought they were pretty self explanatory and simple. This wasn’t the most interesting conceptual objective, but I can say that I have learned a lot of new stuff I never knew about telescopes. This gives me an insight on what it must be like to make one of these things and how it is a lot harder and takes a lot more work than I may have thought.



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