EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Spectroscope. Historical illustration of a spectroscope, a device that was first invented in 1814 by German optician Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826). This is a single-prism spectroscope, with the prism mounted at centre. Light travels from the sample towards the prism along the tube at left. The observer uses the telescopic tube at right to observe the resulting spectrum as the prism splits the light. The electromagnetic radiation emitted by excited atoms and ions of a chemical element or molecule produce a characteristic spectrum. Such spectra are used to identify chemical elements, both in the laboratory and in distant stars.
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