Small Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes are a godsend for urban observers who need a compact scope with good optics. And “Maks” are back in style, so there’s a good selection on the market. But Maks aren’t for everyone. Here’s how to tell if a Mak is right for you [Read more…] about Maksutov-Cassegrain 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:
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:
In the most recent article on telescopes, you had a look at Newtonian reflectors, the oldest type of mirror-based telescope for astronomy. Newtonians, as you learned, have one big drawback: they are big. Because they use a single primary mirror to direct light back to a flat secondary mirror, which in turn reflects light to the eyepiece at the side of the tube, the physical length of a Newtonian is roughly equal to its focal length. So a 12″ aperture f/6 Newtonian, for example, is at least six feet long and more than a foot wide. But in 1672, shortly after Issac Newton developed his famous design, an obscure French Catholic priest named Laurent Cassegrain invented a reflector that used two mirrors to fold a long optical path into a much shorter tube. Now many reflectors, and nearly all professional astronomy telescopes, use some variation of the Cassegrain design [Read more…] about Schmidt-Cassegrain TelescopesShare 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: