Spectroscopy

Spectroscopy

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A spectroscope is a real scientific instrument that gives genuine scientific results.  When a star is brought into the field of view and the spectroscope is properly focused and adjusted, you will see a beautiful spectrum with all the colors of the rainbow spread out along its length.  Depending on the spectral type and luminosity class of the star, you may see hydrogen lines cutting perpendicular across the spectrum, or many fine lines of metals, or wide absorption bands of molecules.  These lines and bands in stellar spectra have been called the "fingerprints of the stars" because their patterns identify the elements in a star's atmosphere and indicate a star's temperature.  These spectral features are easy to see in some types of stars and less easy to see in others.  The visibility of spectral features also depends on variables that most amateur astronomers are familiar with: stellar magnitude, telescope aperture, seeing conditions, and the experience of the observer.