The Ever-Changing Technology for Telescopes

Telescope Technology

Change is the only constant in the universe. This statement holds for almost every circumstance. Here, we will try to understand the timeline of the change in technology for telescopes over the years.

The first telescope was invented by Hans Lippershey in the early 1600s, around 400 years ago. He was a German-Dutch glassmaker who built out a telescope as a small, manually pointed device while adjusting the amount of light to be captured by it simultaneously.

Since then, the world has witnessed some of the greatest telescopes of all time, the Hubble telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope, and the JWST to name a few.

The telescopes nowadays are much more astronomical and are fully automatic; that is, computer systems control them. Even the outputs and results produced by them are in digital format.

While designing a telescope, an architect has to consider mainly the following two properties viz; to install a sufficiently large mirror that provides adequate light-collecting power, and also ensure excellent angular resolution or image sharpness at the same time.

This is done to allow the astronauts to have a clear vision while viewing much smaller and fainter objects in the black void of the universe.

La Silla Observatory against clear blue sky

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has established its mark in the field of astronomy by significantly contributing to the technology for telescopes. The ESO has designed several telescopes in the past few decades that are both sufficiently large, at the same time maintaining the optical accuracy of the telescopes.

Active optics has become increasingly important in the designing of telescopes. It refers to preserving the optical image quality by adjusting the size of mirrors using actuators.

As discussed in the earlier lines, the size of the mirror matters to a great deal while designing. But large-sized mirrors also possess their fair share of disadvantages such as degradation in image resolution due to atmospheric distortions.

To avoid this image spreading, architects across the world are either switching to medium-sized telescopes or adopting the mechanism of active optics to preserve image quality. Sometimes, the astronomers take the technique of interferometry which includes combining the light of two or more telescopes to produce a more defined and sharp image.

Apart from troubles caused by atmospheric distortions, other technical errors that can hinder your experience at stargazing include wear and tear failures, errors due to heat damage, and so on.

The journey traveled by telescopes since the time of its invention has been an exciting one, where it has been adapted to various sizes and forms to improve its overall effectiveness. The technology for telescopes has undoubtedly changed a lot.

Still, one thing has remained constant over all these years, the passion possessed by astronauts to improvise and develop better methods to experience the marvels of the universe.

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