Spectroscope

At first glance this sounds as though I'm suggesting something as expensive as a luxury car. Some time ago that might have been true but not today. Spectroscopes are now available for amateur telescopes that thread into standard 1.25-inch eyepiece barrels for as little as $150. For many of the great mysteries of the heavens, the key to unlocking their secrets lies in their light. The light given off by a star, nebula or galaxy, split into the rainbow, shows us a great deal about what they are made of and what they are about.

A spectroscope for an amateur telescope consists of two parts, first a grating cell that threads into the barrel of your eyepiece. This is the actual prism-like device that splits the light of the star into its constituent components. The second is a projection screen that fits over the viewing end of the eyepiece and allows you to view the spectrum of the target. Some models will also allow you to thread the grating screen into the barrel of your CCD camera's 1.25-inch nose piece and give you the capability of imaging the spectra of the target. An imaging spectroscope is more properly called a spectrograph.

When you view the spectra of a star, you will notice that it is interrupted by bright lines and dark lines. The bright lines are called emission lines. When an electron loses energy and falls closer to the nucleus of its atom, it gives off a photon creating the bright line in the spectrum. When an electron gains energy, it absorbs a photon, creating a dark line called an absorption line. In later chapters, we'll talk about what these lines mean about the stars we seek to view.

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

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