Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/232

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218
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which its construction depends is that by combining lenses of different dispersive power the dispersion of the spectral colors can be corrected while the convergence of the rays of light toward PSM V45 D232 Achromatic object glass.jpgFig. 3.—Achromatic Object Glass. a, crown glass; b, flint glass. a focus is not destroyed. Flint glass effects a greater dispersion than crown glass nearly in the ratio of three to two. The chromatic combination consists of a convex lens of crown backed by a concave, or plano-concave, lens of flint. When these two lenses are made of focal lengths which are directly proportional to their dispersions, they give a practically colorless image at their common focus. The skill of the telescope-maker and the excellence of his work depend upon his selection of the glasses to be combined and his manipulation of the curves of the lenses.

Now, the reader may ask, "Since reflectors require no correction for color dispersion, while that correction is only approximately effected by the combination of two kinds of lenses and two kinds of glass in a refractor, why is not the reflector preferable to the refractor?"

The answer is, that the refractor gives more light and better definition. It is superior in the first respect because a lens transmits more light than a mirror reflects. Prof. Young has remarked that about eighty-two per cent of the light reaches the eye in a good refractor, while "in a Newtonian reflector, in average condition, the percentage seldom exceeds fifty per cent, and more frequently is lower than higher." The superiority of the refractor in regard to definition arises from the fact that any distortion at the surface of a mirror affects the direction of a ray of light three time as much as the same distortion would do at the surface of a lens. And this applies equally both to permanent errors of curvature and to temporary distortions produced by strains and by inequality of temperature. The perfect achromatism of a reflector is, of course, a great advantage, but the chromatic aberration of refractors is now so well corrected that their inferiority in that respect may be disregarded. It must be admitted that reflectors are cheaper and easier to make, but, on the other hand, they require more care, and their mirrors frequently need resilvering, while an object glass with reasonable care never gets seriously out of order, and will last for many a lifetime.

Enough has now, perhaps, been said about the respective