Modern optical telescopes are giving us unprecedented imaging of the Universe in order to probe into the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Large optical telescopes require complex optical systems—often involving multiple lenses and mirrors. Light diffraction patterns on the focal planes influence imaging resolution, so a good understanding of diffraction is required to ensure high precision imaging. This project examines elements of diffraction—such as the Huygens-Fresnel Principle and the point spread function—to understand how they influence telescope optics. In addition, this project compares different diffraction theories, including Kirchhoff, Fraunhofer, and Fresnel diffraction, in order to determine similarities and differences between the diffraction theories.
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