If you are confused about the primary purpose of an astronomical telescope and close to giving up on the topic, you have landed on the right page. We will go through the use cases of astronomical telescopes.
There are many purposes of an astronomical telescope, including viewing/ observing space objects and collecting data for research. An astronomical telescope is used in the observation of distant celestial objects. Astronomical telescopes can come in a variety of configurations, shapes, and sizes depending on what they are being used for. The purpose varies based on the configuration of the astronomical telescopes.
Three Important Purposes of an Astronomical Telescope
While the use cases can be many, based on the data I have, the primary purpose of an astronomical telescope can be grouped into three use cases.
1) To View Space Objects which is not Visible to Naked Eyes
The first purpose of a telescope is viewing astronomical objects that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Telescopes allow humans to look further into space than their own eyes allow them to naturally. Things like planets, stars, and galaxies can be seen easily through telescopes.
This was first attempted by Gallileo in the early 1600s and later achieved by Christiaan Huygens. There has been continuous innovation in this regard leading to powerful telescopes built specifically for astrography.
Most objects in space emit little to no light, which makes it impossible to view through telescopes with low magnification. Astronomical telescopes make it possible to view Galaxies and stars even though they emit minimum light.
However, even though the galaxies and stars are visible on a telescope, the visual accuracy will still be low as they do not emit a lot of light.
2) Magnification of Astronomical Objects
Another purpose of a telescope is magnifying distant objects in space. Telescopes work by using lenses or mirrors, which focus light, so it creates an image on a screen. The distance between the lens or mirror of the telescope and what it is magnifying is what is known as the focal length. Using the magnification power of different lenses, telescopes can be used to see objects that are very far away from where they observe.
There has been progress in R&D of magnification power, making telescopes more powerful. Telescopes could magnify up to 20 times when they initially came out; this has now increased to 60-80 times with innovation in the construction of lenses.
One con of over magnification is that it distorts the real image and shows an unclear image of the object. Due to this, observers sometimes make use of powerful cameras to capture/ observe space objects. The wait time here is zero because the photos are instant, and they do not have to wait for the film to be developed.
3) Collecting Data for Space Research
Scientists need an enormous amount of data to research the space niche. The data can be either visual or empirical. There are certain devices used to measure empirical data; astronomical telescopes are used to collect visual data.
There have been instances of telescopes being put into orbits to capture close photographs of the space objects. One such example is the Hubble space telescope.
These are some main use cases of an astronomical telescope. I am sure there will be more innovation in this niche and we will see upgrades in the clarity aspect of the telescopes. There are government-aided research bodies like NASA working actively on the development of such telescopes.