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What causes spikes around stars in pictures, and how can I prevent them?

Thomas Hofstätter, Vienna, Austria
Diffraction-spikes
Diffraction spikes. B. Stecklum (TLS) et al./ WFPC2/HST/NASA
The light entering the telescope diffracts around the vanes, and the resulting image shows an interference pattern (spikes) around the brightest objects.

A refracting telescope doesn’t have a secondary mirror, so it will not produce an image with spikes.

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