Make Your Own Telescope

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
Discover how a refracting telescope works by making one from scratch using common items. This telescope won't have a tube so the learner can see how an image is formed inside the telescope. One lens of a drugstore pair of reading glasses serves as the objective lens of the telescope - the lens that gathers light from stars or other objects. A magnifying glass serves as the eyepiece.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A pair of "drugstore" reading glasses ("Weak" glasses—those with low numbers—will work the best)
  • magnifying glass
  • flashlight
  • masking tape
  • piece of waxed paper or thin typing paper


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Brand, Judith ; Hipschman, Ron