How did we view the night sky in the past?

I am continuing with the space theme as it involves so many aspects of science and history.
Since the mid nineteenth century, man has had the technology to view our solar system and beyond. This image is of an important instrument in the history of astronomy. What is its name?
In order to find the answer you need to follow the prompts…

Which famous university in North America has an astrophysical observatory in partnership with the Smithsonian?

This object features a certain type of lens, which provides a clue to its name. What type of lens is used?

Isaac Newton developed another type of this instrument. What was different about his invention?

Looking forward to your responses, Dr Mackey

A very old and important instrument  used to view our solar system.
A very old and important instrument used to view our solar system.

17 thoughts on “How did we view the night sky in the past?

  1. Hello Dr Mackey,
    For your question with which university is partnered with Smithsonian we believe it is Harvard University. we researched and we found this so we believe that the “Globe” lens – an innovative camera lenses that could be used for studio, landscape and copy work is the lenses that was used for the telescope. we also believe that the name of the telescope name is “The Great Refractor”. For the third question we have researched that his telescope was different – he created a small but powerful telescope that didn’t suffer from chromatic aberration because he took out the lense and replaced it with a rounded metal mirror, He experimented with different mixtures of metal and decided on one that was six parts copper to two parts tin.
    Thank you for the questions as we have enjoyed it very much :)

    1. Hi Girls , fantastic research! Yes “The Great Refractor” is correct and Newton created a telescope that used a small reflective lens , which was quite different . Keep up the great work, Regards Dr M

  2. Hello Dr Mackey,
    For your question with which university is partnered with Smithsonian we believe it is Harvard University. we researched and we found this so we believe that the “Globe” lens – an innovative camera lenses that could be used for studio, landscape and copy work is the lenses that was used for the telescope. we also believe that the name of the telescope name is “The Great Refractor”. For the third question we have researched that his telescope was different – he created a small but powerful telescope that didn’t suffer from chromatic aberration because he took out the lense and replaced it with a rounded metal mirror, He experimented with different mixtures of metal and decided on one that was six parts copper to two parts tin.

  3. Dear Dr Kathy Mackey
    The telescope in partnership with the Smithsonian is the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and is at, coincidentally, Harvard University. The telescope pictured above is the ‘The Great Refractor’ located at Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was installed in 1847 as a 15 inch refractor telescope. Newton’s telescope was different from others because it used mirrors instead of multiple lens. This way the telescope reflected light instead of refracting it. When you use lenses light passes through glass and the different bands (or colours) pass through at different angles and this causes aberrations or problems in the images.
    P.S. I will be leaving my home to move to England on Monday. This means I cannot be doing these activities anymore. I thank you for making these fun questions and I hope my class mates enjoy them!

    1. Hi John ,
      Yes you are correct that the telescope is at Harvard. Newton telescope featured a reflective mirror rather than a reflective lens , so you are correct . Have great trip to England and I hope to meet you when we both return to Brisbane Regards Dr M

  4. Hi Dr Mackey

    1. Harvard university
    2. mirror
    3. reflector telescope and it used mirrors instead of glass
    4. the great refractor
    thanks a lot

    1. Hi Angeline , Yes you are correct on all counts . Well done, Regards Dr M

  5. Hello Dr Mackey,
    I believe that the object in the picture is a telescope.
    The answer for Q1 is Harvard University.
    The answer for Q2 was challenging for Lochy and I but to figure it out we wanted to find out what ‘tele’ meant and this is what we got: To or at a distance. We broke the word up into parts so I thought that the lens might be called a scope lens. We have done further research and found that it might be called a reflector lens.
    This leaves Q3. We believe that the thing different from the 1st telescope is that its uses mirrors instead of lenses and it reflected rather then refracted. Here is some information we got about it:
    The Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) saw first light in 1967 in Herstmonceux, United Kingdom, the site of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. At the time, the INT was the 5th largest telescope in the world.
    It soon became clear that better astronomical weather conditions would benefit the astronomical use of the telescope. Such conditions were found in the late ’70s at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory (ORM) on La Palma, and it was decided to move the telescope to there. The INT resumed operations in 1984, as part of the Isaac Newton Group (ING).

    looking forward for next weeks challenge.

    1. Hello Greer and Lochy , well done on thinking through all of your steps to achieve the correct answers.

      Newton was very famous for developing the reflective telescope, Regards Dr M

  6. Hi Dr Mackey,

    I believe the picture was of the Great Refractor Telescope.

    here are my answers to the questions:

    1. Harvard University

    2. The telescope, The Great Refractor, was unique because it used a concave primary mirror instead of glass

    3. Reflector telescope…. It used mirrors instead of glass

    I really enjoyed this activity:)

    Mattea

    1. Hi Mattea , well done , you are correct with all three answers . I am pleaded you enjoyed the challenge and hope you enjoy the next one as well, Regards Dr M

  7. Hi Dr Mackey,
    My answer to the first question is Harvard University.
    Sorry that I couldn’t find or answer the last two questions.

    1. Hi Lou Lou, Your first answer is correct . The telescope is called the Great Refractor and the other type of telescope is a reflective mirror telescope invented by Newton. All the best with the next challenge , Regards Dr M.

  8. Hi Dr Mackey,
    I think the answer to the first question is Harvard University. I would of told you the link but I had shut down the tab before I thought of doing it.

    On the internet I found that it used mirrors so it could reflect light instead of refract.

    from Zara

    1. Hi Zara,
      Yes you are correct that the telescope is at is Harvard University. It called the Great Refractor !
      Yes the other type of telescope is one invented by Isaac Newton that reflects light with mirrors instead of refracting. Keep up the great work, Regards Dr M.

  9. Hi Dr Mackey

    Thanks for the interesting fact from your response!
    Although I think the answer to question one is the Harvard University as the university has an astrophysical observatory in partnership with the Smithsonian.

    Sorry I didn’t have enough time to answer the rest!
    Thanks for the questions though !

    Kind Regards Choe

    1. Yes you are correct that Harvard University is in partnership with the Smithsonian.

      The second and third answers are that it is called the “Great Refractor ” ad the other type of telescope is a reflective one that uses mirrors …. all the best , Regards Dr M

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