Types of Telescopes

Types of Telescopes

Celestron® SkyProdigy™ 102 26X - 73X Computerized TelescopeTypes of Telescopes – There are three basic types of telescopes– refractor, reflector and catadioptric.  All three types of telescopes have the same purpose, however, each does this task differently.  Each of these types of telescopes has advantages, as well as disadvantages.  Before you buy anything, you must determine what’s important to you.   What do you most want to look at?  How dark is your sky?  How experienced an observer are you?  How much to you want to spend?  What storage space do you have, and how much weight do you want to carry?  Before examining the different types of telescopes available, it’s worth knowing basic telescope terms and the basics of how they work.

Celestron® SkyProdigy™ 130 26X - 72X Computerized TelescopeFor any of the different types of telescopes, the most important aspect is its aperture (the diameter of its main optical component) which can be either a lens or a mirror.  The aperture determines both its light-gathering ability (how bright the image appears) and its resolving power (how sharp the image appears).  The bigger the aperture the better for any of the different types of telescopes.

Celestron® SkyProdigy™ 6SCT 60X - 167X Schmidt - Cassegrain Computerized TelescopeMagnification or “power” is one of the least important factors when choosing from the different types of telescopes.  The single greatest misconception about telescopes is that you need to have lots of magnification to see objects.  Magnification levels can be pushed very high with certain eyepieces and optical appliances, however, the image quality will suffer with any of the types of telescopes.  In fact, it is far better to view with a telescope of a larger aperture and moderate magnification than to push a smaller scope to ultra-high magnification levels.   Image size will be a bit smaller but the image you do see will be of far better quality and you will actually see a lot more with any of the different types of telescopes.

Portability and usability are other important factors in choosing from the different types of telescopes.  There is no use having a huge fancy telescope if it is too hard to set up.  Remember the easier the telescope is to use the more likely you will be to use it and the greater enjoyment you’ll get from any of the types of telescopes.

Before you can determine which of the types of telescopes you need, you must also consider where the majority of your viewing will be taking place.  Light pollution makes large aperture scopes difficult to use in the suburbs, whereas in a dark sky location, you will definitely want to reach further than allowed by a small refractor telescope.

Due to the vast difference in the distances involved between terrestrial and astronomy viewing, for the best results, you need to pick one use or the other when selecting appropriate types of telescopes.


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