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:
Looking for an eyepiece that makes stargazing a little easier? The new Tele Vue DeLite series of eyepieces might fit the bill. These new eyepieces feature a modest 62º field of view, a far cry from the super-wide Nagler and Ethos line of eyepieces from Tele Vue, but the DeLites excel in one important feature: they’re easy to look through. Read this full review of the DeLite eyepiece line by William Paolini, author of the book Choosing and Using Astronomical Eyepieces. It’s available at the new astronomical community website called Astronomy Connect.Share This:
From its launch in 1948 until 1975, the largest telescope in the world was the Hale Telescope on Palomar Mountain in southern California, a giant Newtonian reflector with a mirror 200 inches (5 meters across). Even when Hale was displaced by the 6-meter Russian BTA-6 telescope, it remained the most effective large-aperture telescope in the world because the Russian behemoth suffered from many design flaws and operational problems.
But in the early 1990’s, Hale was bumped once and for all from the top of the telescope world. That’s when the first of the two Keck telescopes, each with 10-meter mirrors, became operational at an observatory on Mauna Kea. Since then, ground based astronomy has entered a new period of rapid innovation and growth as larger and more sophisticated instruments come online, most with adaptive optics and systems to combine the light from more than one mirror. The Keck scopes are still #2 on the list, and were only recently bumped by a slightly larger scope called the Gran Telescopio Canarias. If you are having trouble keeping track of the world’s largest telescopes, the infographic above will help you sort out which is which [Read more…] about World’s Biggest TelescopesShare This: