Are you a space fanatic? Don’t you just love those documentaries about space and the universe?
Perhaps you are looking to buy a telescope to see what it can show you of the Universe beyond Earth. Or, perhaps you already have a telescope and you are curious to see what stars really look like.
Either way, you are probably wondering what a star will look like when you peer through a telescope, will you see no more than usual, or will you see exciting new things and gain a deeper insight into other possible solar systems.
We’ve done the research and we can tell you what you should expect to see and how to see it best.
Starting from scratch?
If you are new to telescopes and star-gazing, you may be thinking of investing in a high-end telescope and going full-throttle to get the ultimate best experience right away. But, it may not be such a great idea.
Starting up with telescopes means starting at the bottom and climbing your way up.
As tempting as it may be to invest in something high-tech right away, you may not be able to fully control some of the flaws a high-end telescope has, it may shake and be wobbly, and therefore cause distortion and lose focus in all you were hoping to see.
So it’s best to start simple first and get the hang of telescopes first.
What is a star and how are they born?
If you are here, you may already know about stars. If you don’t know what stars are, it's always good to know before you go looking for them through a telescope, so you know exactly what it is that you are seeing.
A star is born from clouds of dust (gaseous nebula) found in most galaxies. A turbulence in these clouds will give rise to knots, which have high mass and so the gas and dust from the cloud will collapse under the gravity it causes.
As this happens the material at the center will heat up, at this stage, this is referred to as a protostar, this hot core will eventually become a star, it is somewhat like a toddler star.
Once it collapses, a dense and hot core forms and gathers the surrounding dust and gas which will form parts of the star as it grows, what dust and gas are not gathered will form parts of planets or comets or may simply remain as dust.
Stars are held together by their own gravity. They shine due to a thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into the helium at its core. This releases energy that passes over the inside of the star and radiates outward into space. The best way to imagine this is to simply think of our own sun, which is also a star.
What does a star look like through a telescope and what will I see?
Now you know how best to see a star and what exactly a star is, what can you expect to see when you look at one through a telescope?
This is all very dependent on the type of telescope that you are using. If you use a basic telescope you should not expect to see much more than you would see with the naked eye, It will simply appear as a slightly larger version than what you see when you look up at the sky at night.
Similarly, if your telescope is of a low quality then it may appear bigger but it will still look like no more than a mere dot in the sky.
However, with a high-end telescope, you should expect to see more. You may see a shining ball, accurately able to see the spherical shape of a star. You may also find that not all stars are singular, many may be in pairs, clusters, or more.
The stars you will see through a more advanced telescope will basically look like large shiny balls.
You should, however, not expect to see what you may see on a space documentary or what scientists would see through the Hubble Telescope, as these all use very high-tech equipment worth much more than even the most high-end telescopes you can publicly buy and with much more extreme technology.
But you can still expect to see way beyond the abilities of the naked eye.
When you look up you will find clustered and paired stars. So what to the naked eye seems like a singular star, you may find it to be a double star, this can only be realized through a telescope.
Excitingly, if you were to view the same group of stars/ pair of stars progressively over time with a telescope you may see them change positions and you may even see color changes and differences in stars of different ages and distances.
Types of stars and if you can see them.
- Protostars- The pre-life of a star, you will not be able to see this through a telescope.
- T-Tauri- The last stage before a star is born, it is unlikely you will be able to see this through a telescope.
- Main Sequence- The most seen star in our sky, you will be able to see thousands of these.
- Red giant- A star that has consumed its hydrogen, you will be able to see these.
- White Dwarf- A star that has run out of hydrogen and collapses inward, you will be able to see this type of star.
- Red Dwarf- Most common in the universe, they are the smallest and coldest in the universe, you may be able to see these.
- Neutron Star- The collapsed core of a supergiant star, you will not be able to see these.
- Supergiant- The most massive star in our solar system, you will definitely be able to see these.