Making a Telescope

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What You Need:


  • Telescope kit
  • 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper with the same upside-down/mirror-image word printed over and over, filling up the entire sheet of paper, in small (6 point?) font. (Prep a few sheets with different words to find)
  • dark pieces of poster board to affix the paper in the center


What Do You Do?

  • Follow the telescope assembly instructions in the lesson pdf
  • Stand on one side of the classroom with the telescope and try to read the word posted on the opposite side of the classroom on the poster board.

What Happened?

To understand how a basic telescope makes faraway things look closer, think about why we can’t see distant objects using only our eyes. First, the tiny opening at the front of the eye (the pupil) does not let in enough light to give many details of a distant object. Second, an object that’s far away projects only a tiny picture onto the back of the eye.

A telescope improves our vision in two steps. First, the big end of the telescope gathers a lot of light from the object you’re seeing. The lens in that end of the telescope focuses the light to make a small, bright image. Second, the small lens in the eye piece magnifies that small image, spreading it over a bigger area on the back of your eye. That way, you see a bigger image, including the details.

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