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Astronomy

Travelling with a telescope

As I wrote in my motivation page, I am travelling around the world on a motorcycle carrying a small telescope. I want to give an opportunity for kids all over the world to experience the sky through a telescope.

The telescope I am bringing with me is a small Newtonian reflector telescope, named for Isaac Newton who first pioneered this concept. This type of telescope uses a tube, open at one end, which will be pointed to the sky. At the other end is a mirror, which collects the light that is coming from the stars or planets through the opening and focuses and reflects it towards
Diagram of a Newtonian reflector telescope
A Newtonian reflector telescope. The incoming light is focused by the primary mirror and reflected 90° to the side where it can be viewed through a lens.
another mirror, suspended close to the opening within the tube. This is the secondary mirror and it's purpose is to deflect the light to the side, so that it can be viewed without obstructing the opening of the telescope. Another small tube is then attached to an opening in the side, where the light from the telescope will be focused. This is where different lenses, known as eyepieces, are now used to magnify the image and allow to see the area of the sky where the telescope is pointed at. Remember to NEVER point a telescope, binoculars or look directly at the sun. The sun radiates a tremendous amount of energy and a direct exposure can damage the eyes irreversibly. The sun is also the brightest object in the sky.

The telescope's main mirror, which will determine the maximum amount of detail that can be seen, is four and half inches in diameter. Despite the fact that this is small for a reflector telescope, it is as big as I can realistically carry on my motorcycle. However, this is enough to allow good views of the moon, the stars, some galaxies and nebulae, and even resolve some detail on the planets. The degree of magnification is determined by a combination of the telescope's focal length, which in my case is 500 mm, and the eyepiece. E.g. with an eyepiece of 20 mm, the magnification is 500 ÷ 20 = 25×. The maximum practical magnification is limited by the telescope's aperture, or how much light it can collect. A rule of thumb is 60× magnification per inch of aperture, yielding a maximum practical magnification of 270×, which is more than enough for a number of objects.

The telescope tube will be mounted on a sturdy aluminum tripod attached to an equatorial mount. This type of mount is quite heavy, but provides for a better viewing experience when showing objects in the sky to groups of people, as the construction of the mount allows the telescope to track the natural motion of the sky.

Great! How can I schedule a demonstration?

Well, first of all have a look at my current location and where I'm heading in the near future. If you don't see your town or country, look at my planned route for where I'm expected to be. If all of this doesn't help, please send me a message and ask me if I can help. My planned route is not etched in stone and making a deviation of a couple of hundred kilometres (or even thousands) is entirely possible and might even be desireable.

Once you determined that I'll be heading your way, contact me and we can schedule an observation of the sky using the telescope, or if you prefer I can also just give a presentation about astronomy (this might be the only choice if it's raining or cloudy).

For an observation of the sky with the telescope, you need to be aware of a few basic requirements:

Besides observing the sky with a telescope, I can also give a small presentation about astronomy, using my laptop computer. To do this, the best would be to have an LCD projector available (I don't have one) or a
Earth as seen by Apollo 17
The earth as seen from Apollo 17,i returning from the moon in 1972 (NASA)
computer monitor. If none of these is available, I can also show the presentation directly on the laptop. It would also be a good idea to have an electrical outlet, as my laptop doesn't have a battery (I bought it used). The presentation is basically a collection of images of our universe.

So, send me a message and I'll be glad to setup an observation session with the telescope or a presentation.