Rise of the Super Telescopes

I recently read an article titled “Rise of the Super Telescopes: The Thirty Meter Telescope” written by Evan Gough. This article relates to 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.

From reading this article and learning about telescopes in class really help me understand how telescopes are used and what they really are. From the lectures during class and when our professor brought in a telescope and asked us to look down the telescope and asked us what we saw, you would see yourself because you would be looking into a mirror. I never knew you would see yourself when you look down a telescope this conceptual objective helped me understand telescopes.


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