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Jacoyia Roseberry
PHYSICS 1040
Science Opinion Paper
Jonathan Barnes
Part 1 Telescopes
One may wonder why all the astronomical fuss about bigger and better telescopes is all about. In
most cases bigger and better may not be the best route to strive for, but in astronomy it is key to
expanding our knowledge and reach within the universe. In 1609, the famous physicist and astronomer
Galileo was first to study the skies with a telescope he designed (Galileo Galilei). Among other things
Galileo was able to observe phases of Venus which added to the sun centered (heliocentric) idea that
was consistent with Copernican system. Galileo, Newton, Spitzer, and Hubble are just a few of the
historical figures who added contributions to the development and understanding of telescopes (NASA).
In 1972 Apollo 16 astronaut John Young used the first telescope on the moon, where light from the
ultraviolet light waves spectrum were obtained (Carruthers).
The construction of sufficient telescopes was a tedious process, and one flaw in a telescopes lens
would distort the image to be collected, and could therefore also ruin years of work. Attention to detail
and the process was essential to having a telescope that would provide accurate images bubbles, and
cracks could be devastating to the telescope efficiency (Wikipedia). Three things are of priority in making
bigger and better when designing and developing telescopes, that is; 1. Light gathering 2. Resolution 3.
Magnification. With their own specifications and limits many problems were encountered when building
and constructing these devices. The two main types of telescopes are refracting, and reflecting.
Refracting telescopes consisting primarily of 2 lenses one larger one smaller. Reflecting telescopes
contains mirrors angled to collect light differently (Craig Freudenrich).
From beginning ground-based telescopes using metal tubes and glass lenses, to current orbiting
space telescopes observing a variety of wavelengths, some of which don’t make it through earths
atmosphere, astronomers have really come a long way! It was Lyman Spitzer Jr. who in 1965 suggested
to put a telescope in space that then lead to the birth of the Hubble space telescope that was launched
in 1990. Telescopes allow the naked eye to observe the cosmos in a better light, what our eyes cannot
perceive within our atmosphere as well as the universe. Earths atmosphere limits and distorts the
ground observer’s view, and ground-based telescopes are vulnerable to light blurring as well, however,
they are of great assistance to the human eye. Space telescopes do not have to look through air and
light polluted atmosphere and therefore allow for far greater definition and size of images to be seen.
Space telescopes have their limits as well, currently the age of the universe is set at about 13.8 billion
years old. This is because that is how far back with telescopes we have been able to look. Looking into
space to view light that has taken billions of years to reach earth is essentially the closet to time travel
humanly possible. The fact remains though that with bigger and better telescopes astronomers
chances of seeing farther than 13.8 billion years ago increases and as well as more understanding of the
universe we are all a part of.
Telescopes contribute immensely to the world of astronomy and the view of the universe that
currently exists. Not only are telescopes a great and key tool for astronomers, but for anyone who
would like to see the skies for themselves as well. The availability and cost of telescopes have greatly
improved for the common viewer, with a wide range of wavelength capturing abilities. In my opinion it
is an amazing experience to be able to look through a telescope and make sense of what your eyes just
are not biologically wired to view with the naked-eye. On July 1, 2015 I was able to visit a star party held
at the University of Utah’s Physics Observatory. I was able to view Saturn and see the glow of its rings! I
highly recommend to any and all who would like to feel a thrill of the mysterious depths of space! Space
exploration through telescopes has come a large distance, but there are still many things yet to be seen
and studied! So all in all to see more then we have currently have and to know more then we do, we
really need bigger and better telescopes!
Works Cited
Carruthers, Dr. George R. "Far-Ultraviolet Camera/Spectroscope." 2 July 2015.
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1972-031C&ex=10. web. 2 July 2015.
Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. "How Telescopes Work." 8 November 2000.
http://science.howstuffworks.com/telescope.htm. web. 2 July 2015.
"Galileo Galilei." 24 June 2015. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. . Web. 2 July 2015.
NASA. "Telescope History." 12 September 2012. http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/912/features/telescope_feature_912.html. web. 2 July 2015.
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. "telescope." 22 June 2015 .
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Telescope&oldid=668106387. web. 2 July 2015.
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