Fiery demonstration: Why you shouldn’t look at the Sun through a telescope

Astronomers have an old professional joke. According to it, you can look at the Sun through a telescope twice in your life: the first time with your right eye, the second with your left.

Solar telescope. Source:

The reason why you shouldn’t do this is obvious. Even the weakest telescope collects much more light than the human eye and focuses it into a narrow stream. And anyone who played with a magnifying glass in childhood knows what happens if you focus the sun’s rays on an object. Only in the case of a telescope, the effect will come much faster and will be much worse.

Of course, astronomers regularly observe the Sun through telescopes. This can be done in different ways. For example, by projecting an image of the Sun onto a white surface. This is how Galileo Galilei observed the luminary. A more modern method involves the use of special protective filters that cut off all harmful radiation and transmit light only at the wavelength required by the researcher. There are also specialized telescopes, originally designed to observe our luminary.

But what happens if you point an ordinary optical telescope at the Sun that is not equipped with any protective filters? Renowned astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy decided to demonstrate this effect by recording a small but very visual video. At the same time, he stressed that he used one of his least powerful telescopes for the experiment.

Earlier we talked about how Andrew McCarthy made an epic portrait of the Sun.

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