Telescope – an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation (such as visible light). The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th century, using glass lenses. They found use in terrestrial applications and astronomy.
Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) – network of 18 (and growing) robotic telescopes, placed all over the world. Parallel advances in digital technology allow our telescopes to communicate and operate as a single globe-spanning scientific instrument. This has given us the ability to investigate phenomena continuously. It is always dark somewhere, so the sun never rises on LCOGT. Continuous night means that we can take immediate observations in conjunction with actions triggered by satellites, or we can monitor a star for days on end to watch it pulsate and change.
Optical telescope – a telescope which is used to gather and focus light mainly from the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, for directly viewing a magnified image, making a photograph, or collecting data through electronic image sensors. There are three primary types of optical telescope: Refractors ( Dioptrics) which use lenses, Reflectors ( Catoptrics) which use mirrors, and Combined Lens-Mirror Systems ( Catadioptrics) which use lenses and mirrors in combination (for example the Maksutov telescope and the Schmidt camera). Optical telescopes are located to avoid light pollution.
- Pictured: Radio telescope – 50-foot dish antenna, Kennedy Space Center (KSC)
Radio telescope is a form of directional radio antenna used in radio astronomy. The same types of antennas are also used in tracking and collecting data from satellites and space probes. In their astronomical role they differ from optical telescopes in that they operate in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum where they can detect and collect data on radio sources. Radio telescopes are typically large parabolic (“dish”) antennas used singly or in an array. Radio observatories are preferentially located far from major centers of population to avoid electromagnetic interference (EMI) from radio, TV, radar, and other EMI emitting devices.
Meet the people in Telescope Engineering
- Andy Howell – Staff Scientist at Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) and Adjunct Faculty in physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Andy leads a group studying supernovae and dark energy.
- parabolic reflector – concave (inwardly curved) reflective devices used to collect or distribute energy such as heat or light.
Challenges for you to work on…
- Water telescope (periscope) – how to make an instrument through which you can peep under the watery tent of the big show itself, and see the curiosities swimming about in their native haunts. — from American Boy’s Handy Book
- Up Periscope! – Build a mirrored tube that lets you see around corners.