The Newton Reflecting Telescopee – in cardboard!
Picked up this lovely cardboard kit telescope at Astrofest last weekend. It maybe cardboard, but it has a proper silvered glass reflector and two different eyepieces with different magnifications, 15x and 30x. It’s about the same strength as the one Newton invented and does a very good job of showing the moon and craters, and shadows and all that splendid stuff.
(get your own here: http://astromedia.de/)
Before the reflecting telescope was invented, early telescopes used lenses, which have the problem of chromatic aberration – the fact that light bends differently at different points on the lens causing the rays to diverge. This appears as a haze of colour round a point source, like a star, and is very unhelpful for accurate astronomy.
So Newton invented a telescope with a curved mirror that avoided that problem, clever chap.
Astrofest itself was also super cool. Lots of lectures about sunspots, great red spot of Jupiter, Thomas Harriot, the anthropic principle and Reg Hunt speculating about whether there might be water present on the moon (to which Sir Patrick tactfully interupted with the comment “pure bunk”)
Incidently, Astrofest was organised by my lecturer Iain Nicholson who I studied with when I did a year of an Astronomy degree way back when.
You do know that 2009 is the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope don’t you?