Resources: Worksheet, Galileoscope, refracting telescope, tripod, meter stick

Terminology: Focal Length, Right AscensionDeclination

Tutorials: none

Demonstrations: Atmospheric EffectsFrequency Allocation ChartGalileoscope InstructionsTelescopes

Guideposts: The iPad may help you to find stars to align your telescope towards.

Refracting telescopes use lenses - doubly-curved pieces of glass or another transparent material - to focus light. This has the effect of brightening an image, magnifying it, and improving the available angular resolution. A single lens will produce a clear, in-focus image at a point that depends on its focal length, as shown by the equation below.

thin lens
Lens Equation

For nearby objects, the position of the focused image S2 changes depending on the distance of the object. What happens when the object is very far away, essentially at infinity?

The magnification of the telescope, the ratio of the size of the image the telescope creates to the angular size of the object creating that image the telescope sees, is determined by both the focal length of the objective lens, fo, and the focal length of the eyepiece, fe.

The magnification equation, which reads: Big M (magnification) equals f (focal length) subscript o (objective) over or divided by f (focal length) subscript e (eyepiece).

A problem encountered with refracting telescopes is that glass lenses bend light differently depending on frequency. This causes an effect called chromatic aberration, in which the colors in the image are distorted and out of focus. The effect can be corrected for by combining two lenses of slightly different refractive indices. One lens is converging, the other diverging. The dispersion in one lens is canceled out by the dispersion of the other, and light of different colors is combined properly at the focal plane.

Combining two lenses of slightly different refractive indices to correct an effect called Chromatic Aberration.
Bresser Telescope

Learning Goals: This lab will allow students to gain hands-on experience setting up a telescope for nighttime viewing. Students will study how telescope optics work, and will be introduced to the features present on more modern, high-end telescopes and how these aid in finding and viewing objects in the night sky.

Challenge: Set up and properly align a telescope for nighttime viewing. Determine the magnification of a simple refracting telescope.