Frequently Asked Questions

Each time we have an open house, many people ask the same questions. Here are our favorit questions asked and the answers.

1. What is the magnification of the telescope?

The magnification of the telescope depends on the eyepiece that is in the telescope at the time. The most important feature of a telescope is the diameter--or how big is the primary mirror. The more light a telescope can recieve the better. The diameter of the telescope never changes, but the magnification does.

2. Can I see a star with 800x power?

Each telescope has a limit to the magnification or power it can achieve. More magnification makes the object bigger, but does not necessarily make the star look any better. In fact, with too much magnification, the star will fuzz out--look like a giant piece of lint! The C-14 only has a useful magnification of around 600x.

3. Why are all the lights red at the observatory?

The observatory's lights are red because our eyes are less senesitive to red light. By using red light, our eyes can see all the faint objects in the telescope. Red light allows your pupil to open up really wide and let in more light.

4. This doesn't look like all the pictures I've seen!

Most of the pictures the public sees are digitally and color enhanced. Also the pictures are taken with some of the largest and most advanced telescopes in the world. Most astronomy research uses pictures similiar to what you see in the telescopes.

5. Can you see through clouds with the telescope?

No. Think of a telescope as a really really strong pair of glasses. Can you see through the clouds with your glasses?

6. Can I see the flag on the Moon? How about the Mars Pathfinder?

No. Those items are very, very, very small compared to the moon. It would be like trying to see New York from St.Louis with a telescope.