Telescope Buying Guide

By Brian Thomas
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You have decided that you want to get a new telescope but are overwhelmed by all the choices at the telescope stores. How does one go about choosing between the various types, makes and models of telescopes available? Here we present a simple telescope buying guide to help you determine which telescope will best fit your needs:

Refractor – In a refractor (also known as dioptric) telescope the part that collects the light is a large curved lens. As light enters the telescope it is bent, or refracted. The light then converges at a focal point in the telescope where it is then possible to view the image through an eyepiece. Examples of refractor telescopes are Galilean and Keplerian telescopes.

Refractor telescopes are great for beginners as they are typically a little more compact than other designs. They work well in environments that are heavily populated and have more light pollution.

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Reflector – A reflector telescope (also known as catoptric) uses either a single or various curved mirrors. Before the light is converged, it is reflected off a mirror onto its focal point. Examples of reflecting telescopes are Newtonian, Cassegrain, Ritchey-Chretien, Dall-Kirkham, Gregorian, Herschelian, Schiefspiegler and Yolo.

Reflector telescopes usually require more space and little background light which makes them ideal for rural environments.

Catadioptric – A catadioptric system uses both reflecting and refracting telescope properties into one single system. That is, the light that enters the telescope is both reflected and refracted before it reaches the viewer through an eyepiece. One of the most popular types of telescopes sold for amateur use is the Schmidt-Cassegrain, a catadioptric telescope.

Catadioptric scopes are typically the most expensive but are also the most versatile. They work well in environments that have a lot of light pollution or none at all. These scopes can be built to be compact and portable or large and less mobile.

It is important to remember that although various telescopes will differ in design and construction, they essentially do the same thing; they magnify the stars to enable the viewer to see more detail. There is no one best type of telescope. When shopping for your new telescope, take advantage of the opportunity to communicate with the telescope stores to see what they recommend for your needs.

You should also consider what accessories you might need when purchasing your new telescope. Most telescope stores that sell telescopes also sell accessories. A tripod is a must if your telescope doesn’t come with one. Without a tripod it will be impossible to hold the telescope still to view the heavens.

If your scope doesn’t come with an eyepiece, you should also consider purchasing at least one. By changing the eyepiece, you can change the magnification of the image that you see.

Last of all, you should look at a decent case, especially if you plan on transporting your telescope to remote locations to view the stars. A case will protect your investment and keep your telescope from taking focus-altering hits and bumps during transport.

Find all these types of telescopes, telescope accessories and more at one of the best online telescope stores.

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