The Hubble Space Telescope

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The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most famous telescopes in the world.

Oops, excuse me—one of the most famous telescopes built.

Hubble, after all, is certainly not in this world. Unless you call the universe the “world,” it’s about as far from being in this world as you can get. It’s in space.

Hubble isn’t that different from an ordinary, ground telescope. It’s only as big as a bus. There are bigger optical telescopes. Its mirror is 2.4 m across—hardly an achievement by modern-day standards.

Palomar Observatory, which was the biggest telescope in the world when it was built, has better optics than Hubble, meaning its images are a bit crisper.

But that doesn’t keep astronomers from continuing to use Hubble. In fact, if you want to use Hubble, you have to get in line—it hardly has time to complete all the projects astronomers ask of it, even observing the night sky 24/7.

So why is Hubble so useful? Continue reading

Telescope Imaging Systems

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Have you ever seen an image like this?

Okay, maybe you have…online. What with the spread of the internet these days, I’m guessing that at one point you have seen something like this on a page of image search results.

That’s the thing, though. You’ve seen this incredible phenomenon on a computer screen. But have you ever seen it through a telescope?

Don’t worry—if you haven’t had an opportunity to look through a telescope, you’re not missing out. You’re not going to see the Sombrero Galaxy above in all its photographed glory just from looking through the eyepiece of a telescope.

So…how do we get an image like this, then? Continue reading

Sunrise in Flagstaff

It’s 5:00 am and I’m up ungodly early to photograph the sunrise for a school assignment. So I figured I’d blog about it. Because, why not?

4:50: Okay, I’m up. Why do I have to be up so freaking early again?

5:00: Dressed. I can see the sunrise from a spot about twenty minutes away. Do I really have to get moving now?

(Unfortunately, yes. Because my brain is absolutely useless for anything but the prearranged plan. Working on homework sounds atrocious.)

5:19: Almost to my lookout point. Thank goodness there is little to no traffic. I really don’t feel like being run over because I didn’t have the brain space to remember the rules of the road…

5:21: At the parking garage. I’ll have a view of the horizon from the roof. But why does a multistory building need all these stairs…?

5:24: Up six flights of stairs, and I’m on the roof. Sunrise isn’t till 6:02. But my god, the horizon is beautiful…

For me, this is a once-in-a-lifetime sight, like a solar eclipse. I will never be up this early again if I can help it, so I’m going to appreciate the view while I’m here.

Well. Sunrise isn’t for another half-hour. I’ll check back in when the sun peeks over the horizon… Continue reading