Observatory Trip

Fig 1.  Mill Hill Observatory. The Radcliffe. November 2015

This week, I visited two local observatories located in Hampstead and Edgware.  This was an interesting and surprising experience as I came to find how telescopes can work in a similar fashion as cameras.  At the first observatory in Hampstead, I was introduced to a 6 inch Cooke Refractor telescope and at Edgware, I learned of a variety of other telescopes including an 8 inch refractor telescope named ‘The Fry’ (built in 1862)and the 18/24inch telescope named ‘The Radcliffe’ (built in 1901).

Refracting and Reflecting Telescopes

Refracting- A refracting telescope is able to collect light with the use of an optical lens.  Originally, this type of technology was and still is used for astronomy, however this can also be useful in cameras with a longer focus lens.  By dividing the focal length by the telescopes eyepiece, this can adapt the magnification of the lens.

Reflecting- A reflecting telescope uses built in mirrors to reflect light into the optical lens to create a visual image.   The time of its invention coincided with the refractor telescopes during the 17th century and is known to be an optical technology that is more commonly used in astronomy.


This visit gave me further insight into a form of technology that is able to somewhat relate to my creative field.  I found it enjoyable to learn of the similarities between the technical appliances such as lens and reflecting light with the use of mirrors in astronomical machinery.  I find I can apply what I have learnt to my own creative practice technically, especially as I am currently experimenting with artificial lighting in interior environments.  This trip has also reminded me how using reflectors and mirros can be useful in bouncing light off objects and onto a subject to create a more efficient exposure.

References: UCL Observatory (UCLO),  UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy, [Online], Available from http://www.ulo.ucl.ac.uk [Accessed 25/11/2015]


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