By Burke W.L.
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Kyle Kirkland) 36 Light and Optics pictures six months apart. In six months’ time, Earth has traveled one-half of its 12-month (yearly) orbit, and the distance between these two points is at a maximum—they are on opposite sides of an ellipse. The distance between these two “eyes” is enormous— roughly 186,000,000 miles (298,000,000 km)—so astronomers get a great stereoscopic view. Even with this technique, though, only the nearest stars show a measurable parallax. Movies can be 3-D if two cameras are used, separated by a distance that is similar to the distance between the two human eyes.
But a small fish called Cuatro Ojos that lives in South America and Central America developed a unique solution—it has four eyes! The fish swims near the surface, with part of its head raised above the water. One pair of eyes is above the waterline and works well with the refractive properties of air; the other pair of eyes is below and works well underwater. The fish gets a good view of both above and below. Seeing 3-D: Stereoscopic Vision Most people get along well with only two eyes. Even having two eyes might seem unnecessary—having only one eye, as was the case with a mythical creature called Cyclops, would appear to be good enough.
The light converges in front of the mirror, but this is not where the astronomer wants the image to form—if it did then astronomers would block light when they poked their head in the telescope to see it! A small mirror reflects the converging light rays so that they can be focused and magnified off to the side. Reflecting telescopes can be huge, but there is a limit here as well. Large mirrors are heavy, and even if they are supported they tend to lose their shape because of their weight. Today’s biggest telescopes get around this difficulty by using more than one main mirror.