What Types of Equipment Do Astronomers Use?

Katie Deits/Photolibrary/Getty Images

According to NASA, modern astronomers’ tools include advanced telescopes capable of studying light reflected from the sun, moon, planets, comets and stars. Radio telescopes are utilized in the study of radio waves, while space-borne gamma ray telescopes aid in the study of gamma rays.

Various types of equipment are used for astronomy depending on the section of the electromagnetic spectrum that an astronomer needs to observe, according to Astronomy Online. Astronomers use telescopes and radio dishes from Earth’s surface to observe visible light, radio waves and near infrared rays. The telescopes sport additional devices such as filmless charged coupled device cameras, a range of filters and spectrometers. These tools enable capture of phenomena not visible to the naked eye.

Mainstream astronomy is increasingly adopting specialized instruments, such as underground neutrino detectors and gravity wave detectors. Telescopes and radio dishes can also be used in pairs to introduce interferometers, which enhance resolution capacities to provide clearer pictures.

Early civilizations did not use astronomy equipment to study stars, although they did observe and try to make sense of them. Galileo invented the first telescope and used it in the early 1600s to observe craters on the surface of the moon, dark marks on the sun’s surface and small moons revolving around Jupiter. A telescope, no matter how complex, works on the principle of either refraction or reflection.