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10 Telescopes That Changed Our View of the Universe [Slide Show]

Historic telescopes through the ages, from Galileo to the 21st century

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SPITZER SPACE TELESCOPE:

The last of NASA's Great Observatories, Spitzer is a space-based infrared telescope. As it does with x-rays, Earth's atmosphere absorbs a lot of infrared radiation, so a telescope in space affords astronomers a much clearer view of the universe.....[ More ]

CHANDRA X-RAY OBSERVATORY:

Another of NASA's Great Observatories, Chandra was launched via the space shuttle in 1999. It primarily observes soft x-rays. The Earth's atmosphere absorbs most x-rays, so a space-based telescope is essential to gain good observations in that part of the spectrum.....[ More ]

W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY

The twin giant Keck telescopes are situated at 4,150 meters atop Mauna Kea, one of the world's best astronomical observing sites, and each has a primary mirror that is 10 meters across. The first telescope, Keck 1, began observations in 1993, followed by Keck 2 in 1996.....[ More ]

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE:

The first of NASA's Great Observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope was carried into orbit in 1990 by the space shuttle. Hubble was originally designed to observe in the visible and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum, but a 1997 mission added an infrared observing capability.....[ More ]

PALOMAR OBSERVATORY AND THE 200-INCH HALE TELESCOPE:

The 200-inch Hale telescope on Mount Palomar, about three hours' drive south of Los Angeles, was also the brainchild of George Ellery Hale. The astronomer, however, did not live to see the completion of the scope, which took 20 years to build.....[ More ]

KARL JANSKY'S RADIO ANTENNA

Karl Jansky, a physicist who worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, N.J., built a radio antenna that was roughly 100 feet long and 20 feet high to monitor short-wavelength radio waves. Jansky wanted to see if they interfered with transatlantic telephone calls.....[ More ]

MOUNT WILSON OBSERVATORY AND THE 100-INCH HOOKER TELESCOPE:

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, advances in glassmaking, along with lens grinding and polishing, led to the building of larger and larger telescopes, often on mountaintops that were suitable for astronomical observations because of thinner air and darker skies.....[ More ]

HERSCHEL'S 40-FOOT TELESCOPE:

William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, built a reflecting telescope in Slough, England, that was 40 feet in length, the largest of its day. It was constructed from 1785 to 1789 at a cost of 4,000 pounds, which was paid by King George III.....[ More ]

NEWTON'S TELESCOPE:

The British mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton built a telescope in 1670 that, unlike Galileo's device, used a mirror to gather and focus the incoming light. Such telescopes are called reflectors, and they offer major advantages over refractors, which use two lenses and suffer from optical distortion effects.....[ More ]

GALILEO'S TELESCOPE:

Galileo's instrument was a simple affair, a refractor telescope that had two lenses at the ends of two tubes, one of which slid into the other. Using it, he first observed the moon in the fall of 1609, then the moons of Jupiter, and sunspots.....[ More ]

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