The Many Uses of Telescopes

The ninth conceptual objective, “I can describe: a.) the functions of a telescope, b.) types of telescopes and c.) why some telescopes are placed on the ground and some in space”, has been discussed frequently in class as of late. The various characteristics of telescopes were discussed in class as well as exercised in the Lecture-Tutorial book. Telescopes are used to make precise observations in astronomy. Telescopes continue to develop into more powerful and useful tools as time goes on. Perhaps the most famous telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, has an angular resolution of about 0.05 arc second. The angular resolution of a telescope is the smallest angle over which it allows us to tell that two stars are distinct. The two main types of telescopes include, the refracting and reflecting telescopes. A refracting telescope uses transparent lenses to collect and focus light. A reflecting telescope, on the other hand, uses a precisely curved primary mirror to gather light. Most telescopes today that are used for research are, reflecting telescopes. As of late, some telescopes are now placed in space. An advantage of  a telescope being in space is that Earth’s atmosphere can blur light. Telescopes in space can also observe forms of light that do not reach the ground. Telescope technology continues to improve and advance, as demonstrated in my chosen article. In class, we discussed the many characteristics of telescopes. We also defined and differentiated various telescopes. The Lecture-Tutorial book also was used to explain the functions and types of telescopes used. In the section titled, “Telescopes and Earth’s Atmosphere”, of the Lecture-Tutorial book, we as a class were given various telescope projects to choose from. We were then given multiple things to consider when choosing which telescope to fund. This exercise allowed us to understand how efficiently telescopes work at certain wavelengths.

The article I chose, “World’s Largest Space Telescope Is Complete, Expected to Launch in 2018”, discusses the properties and characteristics of a specific telescope. The characteristics discussed in the article, relates to our ninth conceptual objective. The James Webb Space Telescope was recently completed after 20 years of construction. This particular telescope will be placed in space, for the many advantages discussed in class. This telescope will be much more powerful than Hubble. The article then begins to give a disadvantage of a telescope that is placed on the ground. “Earth’s atmosphere glows in the infrared, so such measurements can’t be made from the ground”. This fact was discussed in class as well as in my chosen article. This telescope will be placed directly behind Earth from the sun’s perspective. The James Webb Space Telescope will be used to reveal the universe’s first galaxies as well as view newly forming planetary systems. It will also play a role in searching for signs of life. The article gives an interesting fact about the power of the telescope. “The telescope would be able to see a bumblebee a moon’s distance away”. In October of 2018, the telescope is expected to launch. The many characteristics of a telescope that were discussed in class, were also demonstrated in my chosen article. This massive telescope that is projected to launch next year, will produce a lot of information about space.

As time goes by, telescopes continue to get smarter and more powerful. The James Webb Space Telescope is a prime example of the modern advancements of telescopes. This article clearly demonstrates the ninth conceptual objective and applies it to a real world situation. The ninth conceptual objective has taught me the many differences, uses and properties of telescopes. This article was very interesting to me, especially since it closely relates to this conceptual objective. I will be keeping my eye out for this and I cannot wait for the pictures and science to surface.



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