Advantages and disadvantages of using liquid mirrors

The use of liquid mirror telescopes in real world scenarios highlighted their advantages and disadvantages compared to solid glass mirror counterparts. The biggest advantage of liquid mirror telescopes is their cost, with the use of liquid mirror cutting down the cost of the telescope up to 98% compared to solid glass mirror (Schilling, 2003). The second advantage is a simpler and lighter construction, which can be assembled faster than a traditional telescope and requires easy maintenance.

Both of them make liquid mirror telescopes and economically viable option for educational and research in spite of potential budget constraints.

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The biggest disadvantage that limits the widespread use of liquid mirror telescopes is that they can only be pointed straight up; otherwise, the mirror will lose its shape. Because of this fact, all the current liquid mirror telescopes are zenith-pointing (Borra, 2009). Since liquid mirror telescopes cannot be tilted, this proves a challenge for physically tracking an object, only brief digital tracking within the telescope’s fixed point of view is possible. It should also be noted that mercury, the inexpensive metal typically used for liquid mirror telescopes, is toxic to humans and evaporates at above-normal temperatures. This fact emphasizes the importance of safety and highlights the need to search for safer and more efficient alternatives.

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