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Ever wonder what the impact of wavefront error is in actual viewing situations? Presented here are computer generated images that accurately represent the planet Jupiter as seen through a 10" diameter optical system delivering images with varying wavefront errors ranging from perfect to 1/2 wave, peak to valley. These images* were created by William Zmek, professional optical engineer and amateur telescope maker.

The best way to view the differences in image quality is to  click here  and see them in succession. At first, they will load slowly because of the slow analog transfer rate, but once loaded into the cache and random memory they will load much faster and present a succession of dramatically degrading images and a revealing look at the impact of less than adequate optics. Go to the 1/4 wave picture and then click back to 1/8 wave. Here is where you will see what you are missing.

It is important to note that these images represent ideal seeing conditions. While ideal seeing is not an everyday occurrence, it does happen occasionally. However, even during less than optimum seeing, the image will be substantially improved with superior optics. If a 1/4 wave optical system is degraded by seeing, it can become a 3/8 wave system or a 1/2 wave system. Conversely, a 1/8 wave system might become a 1/4 wave system. Check he difference between these wavefront systems. You will see that the difference between the 1/4 and 3/8 is much more objectionable than the 1/8 to 1/4 wave difference. Better optics give you more advantage not only in ideal seeing, but in less than ideal seeing as well.

The images are also presented here on a single page

* Images are copyright protected and are not to be re-posted or reproduced elsewhere.