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Project – 2

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16 March, 2011
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The primary element in both spectroscopes and spectrographs is a narrow slit oriented perpendicular to the direction in which the grating or prism spreads the light. As with a pinhole camera, the small aperture images the light source sharply along the spectrum’s axis, which keeps the spread of wavelengths distinct. Each image of the slit, in a slightly different color, is arrayed across the field of view in a wide spectrum image. If any wavelength is brighter or dimmer than the rest, it shows up, respectively, as a bright or dark line in the spectrum.

Although spectroscopes have always been easy to make, a homebrew recording spectrograph presented more of a challenge. Building your own spectrograph meant using microcontrollers and stepper motors to move diffraction gratings past a light sensor — many were planned, but few were actually built.

Today, digital cameras and online tools can turn a simple spectroscope into a laboratory-quality, high-resolution spectrograph. All it takes is a few plumbing parts and other inexpensive materials and less than an hour at your kitchen table.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

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