1. Introduction

Since primaeval times, human beings have been interested in the celestial objects. For many thousands of years humans identified figures in particular groups of stars, which we today know as constellations.

Before the discovery and development of optical visual aids (Spotting scopes, telescopes) one could only look at the sky with one’s own eyes. Therefore people only had an overview of thousands of stars. With the development of astronomical telescopes humans could see further and further into space. Thus the foundation-stone was laid for scientificallybased astronomy.

The further mankind looked into the universe, the more stars, galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and star systems became visible. They produced new mysteries about the emergence of the universe and of our earth.

Astronomy is an “infinite history “and that makes it also interesting for the layman...

Polar Star

Locating the Polar Star

Map of our diferrent constellations and stars

Map of our diferrent constellations and stars

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1.1 The fascinating universe

As a brand new owner of a telescope we would naturally like to immediately penetrate into the depths of the universe. Star observation can only take place on clear nights. If the weather is not kind to us, then we have more time to prepare ourselves for the first night. It is sensible to set up the equipment during daylight, which must eventually also be carried out in the dark. This telescope booklet is here to help you to obtain your first view of astronomy.

When finally, after a long wait, the sky clears and produces a clear view of the starlit skies, then it is time, to give “ first light” to the telescope, as amateur astronomers call „the baptism “of the telescope into the free sky. These evenings can be crucial in determining whether one is struck with fascination for the starlit sky or whether one is put off the hobby by the grind and disappointment of breakdowns. In the age of space travel, we are spoiled by astronomical photographs, taken up space probes and large telescopes. Science fiction films on television and in the cinema impress us with breath-taking star worlds. Our level of expectation regarding our telescope is consequently high. The first view through our telescope may therefore be somewhat sobering. With time we will find that the observation of astronomical objects experienced with our own eyes can be an exciting and fascinating passion. In order to ensure that the telescope does not become a poor investment, as a telescope manufacturer we have written a short manual, to introduce you a little to this fascinating hobby. We do not wish to pass on complex science, but to give a short, practical guide, on how to handle a telescope and what can be observed.

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1.2 History of astronomy

The Hubble telescope in the earth's orbit

Fig. 1: The “Hubble”
telescope in Orbit
around the Earth.
Photo: NASA &
STSel

The large ringed plant Saturn photographed by Hubble

Fig: 2: The large ringed
plant Saturn photographed
by Hubble. Photo: NASA
& STSel

Although the science of astronomy has developed over the last 4000 years, we can assume that mankind has been interested in the celestial objects and with the structure of the universe from the beginning of its existence several hundred thousand years ago.

From the ritualistic actions of the first thousands of years, today's astronomy has developed over time, into the science that we know it today. At first humans built simple, but ever more perfect and precise devices, to observe the movements of the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars.

Knowledge, gained by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians, Mayas and the Chinese at that time using quite primitive means, still astonish us to this very day. For example was Stonehenge in Salisbury in Southern England an astronomical calendar and cult site of the Celtic druids? How is it that the location of the pyramids of Giza in Egypt almost perfectly portray the constellation of Orion? How did the Mayas manage to precalculate a solar eclipse? How did people use astronomy in agriculture, religion and politics? All fascinating questions, which even today have not lost their attraction.

The age of modern astronomy began when Galileo Galilei in 1604 directed a tiny lens telescope against the sky and, full of fascination and curiosity, made the first observations.

The invention of the telescope brought new surprises. It was discovered that the Milky Way, that weakly shining band, which stretches itself across the whole sky, consists of millions and millions of stars.

Small, bright marks in the sky were identified as galaxies and similarly our Milky Way System, in which our sun is only one star amongst an almost infinite number of stars. As the light collecting ability of the telescopes increased, all the more stars and nebulae were discovered. The universe was many thousand times larger than the astronomers of antiquity had ever imagined. Since the employment of modern space-travel technology and the various new instrumental possibilities, astronomy has made an enormous leap forward. The knowledge of astronomy in 1990 is probably about three times as great as it was in 1950. If one considers that all generations of astronomers from the oldest cultures of China, Egypt, Central and South America, Greece etc, all together did not produce more than the astronomers of the last three decades! This also applies when taking into account the reformers of astronomy at the beginning of modern times such as Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo or Newton right up to the first observers of the large telescopes on Mount Wilson or Mount Palomar in the first half of the 20th Century.

In 1990 the first astronomical telescope, named “The Hubble Space Telescope” was positioned in space. Thus a new chapter in the infinite history of astronomy was surely opened.

During the course of the nineties, most diverse satellites and probes were associated with Hubble, using different methods to explore our solar system and the depths of the universe.

In 1999 the ESO put the “Very Large Telescope” (VLT) into operation in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This equipment is one of the world’s largest optical telescopes and consists of four individual telescopes each with a diameter 8.2m . These ultra-modern instruments are supplemented by three small, mobile telescopes with each 1.8m in diameter. With this unequalled optical solution and under perfect weather conditions, the VLT produces extremely sharp pictures and picks up light from the smallest and most distant objects. These activities even exceed the Hubble space telescope.

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