Sample Astronomy Case Studies Paper on Telescope



A telescope is a device used to magnify images of distant objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation like the visible light (Clampin, 2016). Telescopes have profoundly altered the scientific discernment of the universe. The study finds out whether the world would still be technologically behind had the telescope not been employed to conduct research.


In 1609, citizens of Venice assembled to see a scientific instrument developed by astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei, which could make distant objects appear closer when viewed from one of its long ends (Telescope, 2003). In the preceding year, Hans Lipperhay, a Dutch by origin, developed the telescope. Galileo came up with improvement on the basic essentials and increased the ability of the device to eight times the observed object. Galileo largely produced the instrument due to availability of high quality ground glass and magnifying glasses. Sophisticated types later on led to the revolution of astronomical observation. Telescopes profoundly affected the general scientific methodology as precise mathematical calculations were made.

Invention of the telescope resulted to simmering disputes over the ancient beliefs in Greek and in Egypt (Sabra & Hogendijk, 2003). Greek mythology and the Egyptian pro-scientists held the belief that the earth was the centre of the world and that planets rotated around the earth. The Copernican theory besides held that the globe was among the numerous planets rotating around the sun. Nicolaus Copernicus, a renowned Polish astronomer invented the theory that the earth revolved around the sun, which contradicted later discoveries. Being a perfect critic, Galileo was more convinced with the perfect application of the device, despite additional conflicts with the Roman Catholic Church. The Church held the belief that God made the earth as the center of the universe and home for man.

The theory of ‘suncentricity’ by Galileo was therefore strongly condemned as false and contradicting the scripture. His discoveries led him to public confrontations with the church and later faced heresy charges and recanted his ideologies. Approximately 350 years later, the church acknowledged their wrong beliefs. Galileo however made considerable contributions in the scientific world as he applied mathematical laws, logical thinking, and scientific methods in his observation with the telescope, thereby introducing modern science of observational astronomy. Although Galileo was not the originator of the telescope, he was the first man to apply it in understanding the night sky. His observations have been exceedingly considerable as they have been practical in understanding the universe, position of the universe and the movements.

The primary device had the ability to enlarge the images three times the original size of the objects (Meghan, 2009). With the improvements by Galileo, images could be magnified to ten times their normal size. By initially observing the moon, it was assumed that the moon was a smooth surface object. Galileo however used the improved telescope to deduce that the moon had craters and mountains, whose depth and height could be calculated. The four largest moons around Jupiter were later discovered through ten-power telescope, where closer and consistent observations, the moons were seen to revolve around Jupiter. These observations changed his perceptions that everything revolved around the earth. Other discoveries through the same device showed that the sun had spots and planet Saturn had rings. These observations resulted to application of laws and mathematical lessons and logics on scientific observations.

Types of Telescopes

Telescopes are identified by the wavelengths of light they distinguish. There are the x-ray, ultraviolet, infrared, optical, sub-millimeter telescopes, Fresnel imager, and the x-ray optics telescope (Wade & Stanley, 2001). When the wavelengths become longer, the telescope can easily use antenna technology to network with electromagnetic radiation. Reflecting optics instead of glancing-incident optics is applied at the photon energy of shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies. TRACE and SOHO telescopes, utilize special mirrors to reproduce tremendous ultraviolet rays. This results to greater resolution and brighter images than can be possible. Larger aperture collects more light and hence produces finer angular resolution. Telescopes identified by location include, space, ground and flying telescopes. Telescopes identified by the forms of operation can be either professional astronomers or amateur astronomers.

Optical telescopes collect and focus brightness from the visible section of the electromagnetic spectrum, and increase the angular size of distant objects and brightness (Wade & Stanley, 2001). Optical telescopes operate by applying curved optical elements to observe images, take a photo, study of send to computers. These telescopes can be reflecting, refracting, or catadioptric. Radio telescopes are mainly directional antennas for radio astronomy. They use dishes, which are constructed with wire mesh bearing openings, which are smaller than the observed wavelengths. These telescopes are mainly applied in collecting microwave radiation and for programs like SETI and Arecibo observatory for studying extraterrestrial life.

Components of a Telescope

The most renowned and largest orbiting optical telescope is the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), which bears an approximately eight feet main mirror and five significant instruments for analyzing numerous features of distant objects. This telescope remains the best telescope to be produced as researchers have used it to solve several questions that have remained unanswered from the past (Chaisson, 2004). Its resolution is 0.02 arc seconds, approximately twenty times enhanced than previous versions of the telescope. This telescope is of great benefit as it can be applied to distinguish wavelengths like the ultraviolet and infrared within the atmosphere.

Primary function of telescopes is to collect light since the more light a telescope collects, the further objects it can detect. Hence, greater telescopes augment the dimension of the universe under observation. Telescopes on a mountain are popular as light that reaches the devices travels through less air resulting to higher resolution. Magnifying power of a telescope relies on the type and quality of the eyepiece applied (Telescope, 2003). Magnification is realized by the ratio of the focal lengths of the objective lenses and the eyepiece. In the past, most of the huge telescopes used refraction glasses. This was due to the availability of the technology to polish the lenses. Presently, advanced technology has incorporated coating of large mirrors for construction of the refracted telescopes.

Refracted telescopes are often affected by the problem of chromatics and additional irregularities, reducing the quality of images. To correct these challenges, multiple lenses are often employed. Refracted telescopes remain popular due to its continuity. Nevertheless, these telescopes bear low transmission because of reflection at the surface of the optical elements. Lens need to be polished on both sides and be produced from materials with the ability of obtaining standard optical quality in its volume.

Large telescopes possess the reflecting feature rather than refracting designs due to diverse advantages (Meghan, 2009). Reflecting material, which is mostly aluminum on polished surfaces lack chromatic eccentricity. Light path can be shortened by minimizing the entire system. Due to the presence of one optical surface to be polished to high tolerance, objects can be enlarged. The quality of the optics in the mirror substance is less essential and the mirror cannot bend when supported from the back. However, in reflecting systems, alignment is more decisive than in refracting systems, complicating the adjustments for aligning the mirrors and employing insensitive mirror substrates. Auxiliary mirrors demand support structure apart from the main mirror, thereby causing diffraction.

To obtain benefits of both mirrors, catadioptric telescopes such as the Schmidt telescope were developed. The camera mainly applied in imaging wide views bears weak lenses. Limitations to the resolution are effects of the passage of light from the far away object through the atmosphere that is optically non-uniform (Chaisson, 2004). From the earth’s surface, stars seem to twinkle due to the continuously fluctuating optical paths within the atmosphere, resulting to variation in brightness and apparent location. As an upshot, astronomers lose much information due to insufficient resolution from their measurements. To overcome these limitations, it is essential to set the telescope out in space to avoid atmosphere, compensate for the destruction on the telescope based on the ground and application of stellar interferometer. These solutions are expected to lead to new levels in observational astronomy.

How Telescope have changed the scientific perception of the world

            Telescopes have transformed the scientific perception of the universe in numerous ways (Overbye, 2011). It has enabled human kind to overcome former misconceptions about the world. For instance, it was believed that the earth was the centre of the universe, mountains and craters have been reveled in the moon. Other transformations are seen in the discovery of geography and weather on different planets in the solar system. New planets and asteroids have presently  been discovered through telescopes. Telescopes have therefore been of great significance as it has enabled scientists to measure the speed of light, understand gravity and other primary laws of physics. Through the application of the telescope, the world has come to acknowledge the radiation of light from the sun and some stars.

With the invention of the telescope, the world had come to acknowledge scientific input into the religious beliefs and myths (Sabra, 2003). This is because, before the invention of the world, religious ideas about the world were chiefly defined by the myths and beliefs. With the development of time, more discoveries that are scientific have been accepted, in addition to the acknowledgement o technology and science. With the invention of modern telescopes like NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, more discoveries with evidence have been made on billions of galaxies, each seizing billions of stars like the sun. These modern telescopes have enabled further studies on objects within the universe through detection of radio waves and X-rays emission. Through telescopes, more discoveries are made on the large and hot planets. It is expected that in the future, enhanced telescopes will be able to solve the puzzle of whether there are similar planets like earth that can sustain life (Bruni, 2011).


            Telescope is a scientific device used to view distant objects through electromagnetic radiation. After the invention of Galileo, telescopes have been significant in the general scientific methodology such as mathematical calculations. Forms of telescopes include  x-ray, ultraviolet, infrared, optical, sub-millimeter telescopes, Fresnel imager, and the x-ray optics telescopes. Telescopes have transformed the scientific perception of the universe such as enabling human kind to overcome former misconceptions about the world, discoveries in geography and weather on different planets in the solar system and new planets and asteroids.


Bruni, F. (2011). “In an Earthbound Era, Heaven Has to Wait.” The New York Times July 6, 2011.

Clampin, M. (2016). Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems. SPIE. Retrieved from

 Chaisson, E. J. (2004). The Hubble Wars: Astrophysics Meets Astropolitics in the Two-Billion Dollar Struggle over the Hubble Space Telescope. New York,: Harper Collins.

Overbye, D. (2011). “As Shuttle Era Ends, Dreams of Space Linger.” The New York Times 4 July, 2011.

Sabra, A. I. & Hogendijk, J. P. (2003). The Enterprise of Science in Islam: New Perspectives. New mYork: MIT Press. pp. 85–118

Telescope. (2003). World of Earth Science. Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Wade, N. J. & Finger, S. (2001). “The eye as an optical instrument: from camera

obscura to Helmholtz’s perspective.” Perception 30(10): 1157–1177, doi:10.1068/p3210, PMID 11721819

Gray, M. & Merrifield, M. (2009). “Telescope Diameter”. Sixty Symbols. Brady Haran for the University of Nottingham.