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Telescope Types

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Posted by Forum Master on August 16, 2007 21:52:36 UTC

Hello John,

What kind of telescope to obtain depends on what you wish to accomplish. Without knowing more details I can only help describe each telescope type and some attributes.

Reflector (Newtonian for example)
This design provides a lot of capability for the dollar. Many types exist, but a good 8 inch Newtonian on a simple Dobsonian mount provides great views in a simple package. Newtonians are at home on a good equatorial mount also and are used often for photography. The shorter focal lengths of Newtonians make for brighter images and wider angle views.

Refractors
Refractors are great scopes, but good ones command a large price and are much more expensive than similar reflecting scopes. Note I am not talking about the cheap department store telescopes (those are pretty much worthless for astronomical viewing). Practical astro scopes have main optic diameters at least 4 inches. Refractors have enjoyed a comeback in recent years despite the high cost. They typically have longer focal lengths providing more magnification, but at the expense of brightness and viewing angles.

Cassegrain
This is a popular professional telescope design using two mirrors: a primary and secondary. The folded optical path is such that the combination yields a very long focal length in a compact size. This style of reflector (as opposed to the Newtonian) places the eyepiece at the back of the telescope which is often a good place to view from.

SCT
Arguably the most popular consumer grade telescope combines traits of the reflector and refractor designs into a very compact unit. While the SCT is not my favorite design for the type of astronomy I pursue, I do think it is the right kind of telescope for the average consumer. Both Celestron and Meade produce many fine products of this type in many sizes. They both have awesome "goto" computer aiming systems that make finding objects easy.

Not knowing anything more about what you want, I would suggest looking into a consumer grade SCT telescope. At least start there and then see where your interests might take you next.

Good luck.

John

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