In the hundred years since telescopes were invented, it has almost literally hundreds and hundreds of new developments that have come about as well. Constant improvement and upgrade has been accompanied by technological developments in telescope design as well as functionality.
One new development in telescopes has to do with optical resolution. Resolution optical telescope – the ability to see fine detail – increases with mirror or lens size. However, turbulent Earth’s atmosphere provides a practical limit on the resolution because it blurs the incoming starlight. This effect stars seem to twinkle at night.
With the use of computers, astronomers are developing adaptive optics that actually take blur the star. Astronomers use computers to analyze blurring created by the atmosphere and compensate for it by fast distorting mirror in a reflecting telescope.
The Keck II telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory Hawaii was created with this new technology in 1999, which allows it to take pictures that are 20 times more accurate than before. Telescopes with adaptive optics can solve something the size of a quarter at a distance of more than 50 km (30 miles).
Optical interferometry is another new development in the telescope that has occurred in recent years. New technology in optical astronomy is to combine signals from telescopes in separate locations so that the resulting image is equal to that received from a single giant telescope, a process called Optical interferometry.
In 2001 the European Southern Observatory opened the biggest optical interferometer, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. VLT combines light from four 323-in (820 cm) telescope and several smaller telescopes to produce an image equivalent to about 630-in (1600-cm) telescope.
Optical interferometers are useful for solving separation between relatively bright, well-matched components, such as double stars. Astronomers hope this technique will eventually make it possible to directly image a small, Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars.
New developments in telescopes are becoming all the time as technology reveal more and more about our earth and it is in the night sky. With these innovations, we are better able to understand our universe and how the various planetary bodies formed and how they co-exist with each other in the vastness of space.
Astronomy is exciting science and the development of new telescopes make it even more exciting. That will change, but still in the coming years, and we will begin to see more and more of what we could not before. New developments in telescopes are eagerly awaited.