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How Do Telescopes Work?

Have you ever thought to yourself, "How do telescopes work?" Well if you have, then you have come to the right place. I will answer that question for you here.

Before we talk about telescopes and how they work, let's get a quick overview of the nature and properties of light. After all, without light, telescopes would be useless. Light is fundamental to the study of astronomy. Most of what we know about the universe comes from the study of starlight.

Picture a single beam of light as a wave. A wave can be thought of as a rising and falling disturbance that carries energy from a source to a receiver without the transfer of material. One place we can see wave motion is in the ocean. As we watch the ocean, we can see the waves crashing upon the beach.

A light wave is an electromagnetic wave that has both electric and magnetic properties. Light waves carry energy from accelerating electric charges in the stars to the electric charges in your eye. When these electric charges meet, you see starlight.

Your eye can see waves that have extremely short wavelengths. These waves that you can see are called visible light.

Did you know that there are light waves that you can't see?

Different types of telescopes -Now that you have had a quick overview of the nature and properties of light, you're ready to answer the question, "How do telescopes work?" For the purpose of this discussion, let's limit our focus to optical telescopes.

Optical telescopes - An optical telescope forms images of faint stars and other objects that are very far away. This type of telescope can gather many times the amount of light that your eye can.

Optical telescopes have main lenses in them that collect light from objects in the sky. These lenses focus the light, by either bending it or reflecting it to form an image. There are two different designs of optical telescopes, Refracting telescopes and Reflector telescopes.

From now on, if someone asks you, "How do telescopes work?" you'll be able to tell them. If you're thinking of buying a telescope, Telescopes.com has a fine selection of telescopes for both kids and adults.

More telescope resources

The history of the telescope


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For Young Astronomers


Celestron Powerseeker 60AZ 89.99

Introduce your family to the wonders of the night sky with this high-quality telescope. from Celestron. Features: Refractor optical design with 60mm aperture 700mm focal length Focal ratio: 11.67 Quick and easy set up – no tools required Slow motion controls for smooth tracking objects in the night sky.

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