Module: Modern Telescopes

Modern Telescopes


Pretty much everything we know about the Universe comes from the study of distant light arriving at Earth. We start the module with a look at the history of telescopes, and at how early astronomers used basic observations to determine our place in the Solar System. After a short practical activity to explore how light is manipulated by different types of telescopes, we investigate how technological advances in telescope design and instrumentation have been the main driver for our knowledge of the cosmos. We take a few moments to investigate the typical night of a research astronomer, and finish the module with our own analysis of real observations from a professional telescope. For older groups (ages 11-14), we also discover how observations are undertaken right across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves through to Gamma-rays, and provide students with a basic introduction to the idea of spectroscopy.

Age Range

7 – 11   or   11 – 14


45 minutes

Module Composition
  • History of Telescopes – Presentation
  • How Telescopes Harness Light – Practical Activity
  • Modern Telescopes and Instrumentation – Presentation
  • Observing with Professional Telescopes – Practical Activity
  • Introduction to Image Processing – Practical Activity
  • Observing across the Spectrum – Presentation for Age 11+
Extension Activities

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