By Plummer H. C. 1875
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Extra resources for An Introductory Treatise On Dynamical Astronomy
Master optician Bernard Schmidt invented the Schmidt telescope around 1930. Through the use of a spherical primary mirror and a uniquely shaped corrector lens at the front of the instrument, he succeeded in developing a coma free camera intended for photographing the night sky. There are a number of professional observatories stationed around the world that utilize Schmidt’s highly successful creation in large survey-type instruments. When modified to a Cassegrain configuration, the Schmidt became extremely popular with amateur astronomers during the 1970s and is still popular today.
For imaging purposes, the focal plane of a SCT is very accessible. Telescope manufacturers have also provided a wide array of accessories for these instruments. A downside to the SCT is the relatively large central obstruction (perhaps 30% of aperture), resulting in a slight loss of sharpness and contrast. Dmitri Maksutov developed the Maksutov telescope in 1944. A Maksutov or ‘‘Mak’’ uses a spherical primary mirror and a meniscus lens at the telescope entrance to correct aberrations. A Mak with a Cassegrain configuration generally will have a longer focal length than a similar aperture SCT.
These smaller telescopes (50–100 mm aperture) are suitable for casual observing or making sunspot counts. Larger aperture telescopes will always show finer detail than smaller aperture instruments; what will be required is patience on the part of the observer for choice moments of steady seeing conditions. Reflecting Telescopes The simplest and the most often employed of the reflecting telescopes is the Newtonian, an invention of Sir Isaac Newton in the seventeenth century. A homemade or commercially manufactured Newtonian is useful for direct observation of the Sun in white light with the addition of a full aperture solar filter.