Category Archives: Optics

The science of light, how it behaves and how to use it to see more of nature.

“Earthrise” from the Moon, Animated

Another iconic (literally) moment was the capture of this photo, which came to define an entire new–there’s just no other way to say it–worldview. Continue reading…

Posted in Astronomy, DIY, General Interest, History of Science, Observation, Optics, Photography, Space | 1 Comment

A Viewer’s Guide to Comet ISON

Comet ISON on the morning of Oct. 8, seen with the 0.8-meter Schulman Telescope at the University of Arizona SkyCenter atop Mount Lemmon. Credit: Adam Block / CaelumObservatory.com, blogs.discovermagazine.com.

The comet is already visible in some areas with binoculars or a telescope, and is starting to become visible to the naked eye, particularly away from light pollution and on a clear night. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Astronomy, Breaking News, Instrumentation, Observation, Optics, Photography, Space | 1 Comment

Citizen Science Musings: Making Amateur Scientists

One of the telescopes featured in Ingall's inaugural column,made by E. L. Worbois, 127 Adam Street, Tonawanda, New York.

This past week I was graciously invited to speak to a local astronomical club, the Peninsula Astronomical Society. After some consideration, I decided to talk about the role of Scientific American’s famous, much-loved and equally-missed column, “The Amateur Scientist” in the growth of amateur astronomy. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Astronomy, Citizen Science Musings, DIY, History of Science, Invention, Machine Shop, Makers and Making, Observation, Optics, Physics, Projects, Science Education, Software, Space | 1 Comment

Astronomers Find Farthest Galaxy Yet Seen

A new galaxy has taken the title of most distant known, according to scientists from the Subaru and Keck Telescopes. Continue reading…

Posted in Astronomy, Breaking News, History of Science, Instrumentation, Observation, Optics, Space | Leave a comment

Amateur Assembles Stunning View of Saturn

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An amateur image processor has stitched together raw images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to produce a stunning image of Saturn, seen from above on 10 October. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Astronomy, Computer Science, DIY, Instrumentation, Invention, Open Source, Optics, Photography, Space | Leave a comment

Creating Effective Camera Obscuras

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The earliest form of ‘photography’ and use of a pinhole was the camera obscura (latin for ‘better than the telly’). Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, DIY, History of Science, Makers and Making, Optics, Photography, Physics, Science Education, Science Fair | Leave a comment

Amateur Astronomers Photograph Comet ISON

The light curve of Comet ISON. The solid line traces the predicted brightness of the comet; red dots are actual observations. These data were compiled by Matthew Knight of the Lowell Observatory on Sept. 20, 2013. Click to enlarge.

“Comet ISON is approaching Mars in the pre-dawn sky,” explains Lisse. “It is invisible to the naked eye, but within reach of backyard telescopes.” Continue reading…

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The Instant Microscope: Just add water

While reading about the history of single-lens microscopes, I came across an interesting design called the water drop microscope. In these instruments, a single drop of water suspended beneath the perimeter of a small hole forms the lens. Continue reading…

Posted in Biology, DIY, History of Science, Instrumentation, Microbiology, Microscopy, Nature Study, Optics, Tools | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Grinding a Miniature Biconvex Lens

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In this article I describe how I made a 0.75 mm diameter biconvex lens using ordinary material and common resources available to amateurs. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, DIY, Instrumentation, Machine Shop, Measurement, Microbiology, Microscopy, Optics, Tools, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Amateur on Earth Shoots Stunning Solar Promience Footage

At first glance, this incredible close-up of roiling solar prominences on the Sun’s surface looks like footage captured by a Sun-observing spacecraft. In fact, they were shot from right here on Earth. Continue reading…

Posted in Astronomy, Best Practices, Observation, Optics, Photography | 1 Comment