Buying A Telescope: Tips For First Timers

By: Alexis Gibrault

If you are looking to the stars and want to get a better look; of course you know that your next investment, whether as a novice stargazer or an avid astronomer, is a telescope. Unfortunately, as is true of most technological investments; painstaking research must be done to compare product specs, costs, and overall features to find the best telescope for your particular purposes. Not to fear: here is all you need to know on the latter aspects, to aid in your beginner telescope purchase.

First and foremost, there are three basic types of telescopes: reflector, refractor, and combo catadioptric.

· The reflecting telescope (or Newtonian) basically uses a concave design and mirror lens to reflect light off an object in the distance, to perceive it more closely. These types offer great light-gathering technologies, are typically stationary, and are the least expensive of the three. They are the best beginner telescopes for those interested in casually exploring the night sky at a value price.

· The refractor telescope works by using a number of lenses to refract or bend the light that is being transmitted by a distant object, to gain a more focused magnification from the eyepiece. Refracting telescopes are comparatively much more expensive; but also offer sharper, high-contrast, accurate views of the stars, planets, and moon above. It is also worthy to note that another bonus of the refractor is that it performs with aplomb in all atmospheric conditions, unlike the former.

· Lastly, is the catadioptric (example: matsutov-cassegrain) telescope. This type compasses both the bent lens system of the refractor telescope, as well as the mirror technology of the reflector telescope. Middle ground of all three, the catadipotric boasts high-quality precision, resolute optical technologies, convenient portability, and promises a more digestible price range than the refractor models.

Once decided upon what type of telescope you'd like to invest in; the next step is figuring out what technical specifications to look for, as far as magnification, aperture width, focal length, resolution, etc.

· Magnification is the first number listed in the formula usually expressed for a telescope, example: 100X5. The magnification in a 100X5 would be 100, and means that this telescope will give you 100 times the magnification you would perceive an object with than the naked eye. It is necessary to recognize that more is not always better, because the more the object is magnified, the less light is allowed to view it with.

· Aperture is the second number denoted by the formula (In this case: the 5, of the example 100X5), and is simply the diameter of the objective lens. The aperture measurement tells us how much light will be allowed in offering clarity to the object you are looking at. The larger the diameter, the more light allowed; and so it is necessary to adequately balance magnification (power) with appropriate aperture.

· Focal length (represented in millimeters) is the length that light has to travel within your telescope to reflect and perceive the object. The higher the focal length measurement: the higher the magnification, the larger the image, and the smaller the field of view.

· Resolution is the telescope's capability to render the object's image in detail. The higher the resolution, the sharper the details you will be able to perceive. This is directly in relation to the aperture width, as discussed earlier: the larger the aperture, the better the resolution.

Once you recognize the different types of telescopes, and the relationship of the basic specifications as listed above; you can begin to maneuver your way around selecting one for yourself. How casual your intended use, what objects you'd like to view, and how much you'd want to invest; all play a big part in determining the best telescope for your uses; but now armed with the basics of buying a telescope, you're sure to find the perfect new optical device with ease.

Gadgets
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Gadgets
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles