There are many famous telescopes
and astronomy observatories
around the world which have been built to help in mankind’s quest to conquer space. Without an instrument like the telescope we would know very little about the vast universe or our own galaxy for that matter. The invention of the telescope by Hans Lippershey was a milestone in astronomy. Galileo improved upon Lippershey’s device when he built a telescope in 1609 which could see objects 20 times larger at far distances. With this telescope, he could see the mountains and craters on the Moon. He also discovered the four large moons of Jupiter and the Milky Way with his telescope.
A telescope is an instrument which is used to see distant and faint objects much more closely. Optical telescopes are mainly of three types. A refracting telescope uses lenses, a reflecting telescope uses mirrors and a cadiotropic telescope uses the combination of both lenses and mirrors. There are many well known and famous telescopes around the world, and even in space.
Speaking of famous telescopes, the largest of all optical reflecting telescopes is installed in Mount Graham International Observatory, Arizona. This is a large binocular telescope with an aperture which is 11.8 meters in diameter. The second largest of the famous telescopes located on Earth is in South Africa, at the South African Astronomical Observatory, with an aperture of 11 meters in diameter and the third largest optical telescope is in Canary Island with an aperture that is 10.4 meters in diameter.
Today with the advancement of technology, telescopes have developed into very complex devices. The most complex kind of telescopes are called radio telescopes. A radio telescope is a parabolic shaped dish with directional radio antennae. The parabolic dish is made of conductive wire mesh. These telescopes are huge in size with a series of dishes located together. These dishes synthesize together and create a huge virtual aperture.
An observatory is a center used for observing and doing research of celestial events. Observatories are built for research purposes on astronomy, climatology, geology, oceanography etc. Earlier observatories had only basic instruments like sextants and telescopes. Now observatories are equipped with complex scientific instruments which help us to know more about the universe.
There are hundreds of astronomy observatories situated in different parts of the world, all engaged in astronomy research. Generally, these astronomy observatories are set up in high altitude locations. Moisture and dust in the air often distort the light coming to the telescopes, so the high altitude causes less hindrance for the telescopes. Mauna Kea Observatory is perhaps the most famous observatory in the world. Mauna Kea is a dead volcano on Hawaii Island and is the highest place on the island. Mauna Kea Observatory is located 13,800 feet above sea level.
Another famous astronomy observatory is Kitt Peak which is west of Tucson, in Arizona. At the Kitt Peak National Observatory, astronomers from various countries work together on research projects. There are dozens of high powered telescopes, highly sophisticated equipment and laboratories located there. Kitt Peak has turned itself into a mini city with libraries, hotels, restaurants and it even has its own water and power supply system with a fire department for the observatory.