Reflecting telescopes (or reflectors) collect light using a curved mirror at the rear of the main tube rather than a lens at the front end. Isaac Newton gets credit for inventing the first reflecting telescope in the late 17th century. He used a second small diagonal mirror to direct light out the side of the telescope to an eyepiece. His immensely practical design, now called the Newtonian reflector, is the main type of purely reflecting telescope in use today by amateur astronomers [Read more…] about Newtonian Reflectors and Dobsonian TelescopesShare This:
When the members of the great unwashed masses think of an astronomical telescope, they usually think of a refractor. With a large glass objective lens at the top of the tube and an eyepiece down at the bottom, refractors are the most robust and conceptually simplest type of telescope. They offer amazingly crisp views of the Moon and planets and double stars. But they are not for everyone. This short article goes through the pros and cons of refractors for astronomy and helps you decide if such a telescope is right for you [Read more…] about Refracting Telescopes for AstronomyShare This:
Before we launch into the pros and cons of the types of telescopes available to stargazers today, let’s have a quick look at 5 key numbers that describe the operation and performance of every telescope, from the junk scopes in a department store to the venerable Hubble Space Telescope. Once you understand these 5 numbers, you will understand the similarities and differences between telescopes, and you will know how to choose the best scope for your own interests and budget [Read more…] about The Five Numbers That Explain a TelescopeShare This:
In this next article about tools for astronomy, we cover an essential but often overlooked point about telescopes. It may seem strange to cover this, but once you understand this point, you’ll understand the trade-offs involved in choosing a good telescope for stargazing. The fact is, most beginners believe the purpose of a telescope is to magnify objects, to make them appear bigger. This is not true. What, then, is the purpose of a telescope? [Read more…] about The Purpose of a TelescopeShare This:
Binoculars are inexpensive, simple and easy to use, and yet bring in thousands of objects within our own Milky Way Galaxy and beyond. As you learned in the last article in this series, every stargazer should own a pair.
But there may come a time when you want to see more, when you want to see objects brighter and bigger and farther way. That’s when you want to consider a telescope.
A short word of advice here first…
Many beginners who buy a telescope before learning the basics of what to see in the sky (and how to see it) usually get frustrated and give up astronomy before they barely get started. It’s like someone who wants to learn to sail starting out on a 40-foot three-masted schooner. It’s just too complicated and it leads to frustration. By learning a little background first, new stargazers can make their experience with their first telescope rewarding, and quite frankly, life changing (in a good way).
So how do you know if you’re ready to buy and use a telescope? Here’s a subjective list of 10 things you need to know and do before you take the leap into telescopic observing [Read more…] about Ten Things to Know and Do Before You Buy a TelescopeShare This: