If you enjoy watching, observing, or celestial imaging objects, then a quality astronomical telescope is one of the essential tools you will need. A clear understanding of the uses and how an astronomical telescope works will make it easy to get the best quality.
An astronomical telescope is a device used to form enlarged/magnified images of distant objects. It is a critical investigative tool in astronomy as it provides a reliable means for collecting and analyzing celestial objects, including those far from the earth's surface.
Read on to familiarize yourself with some of the essential aspects of an astronomical telescope that you should pay attention to whenever you purchase one for yourself.
Types of Telescopes for Astronomy
There are three main types of telescopes; Newtonian reflector, refractor, and Catadioptric. Each of these telescopes is designed to collect light and bring it to the focus point to be magnified by an eyepiece. However, it is crucial to understand that each design works differently to achieve this objective.
The refractor is a telescope that utilizes lenses to bend the light it collects. The refraction leads to parallel light rays converging at a focal point at the opposite end where they are magnified. At the front, there is a large lens called an objective lens comprising two or more lenses arranged to form the objective lens.
Advantages of a Refractive Telescope
- Easy to use and requires little or no maintenance
- Its simple design makes it reliable
- Great for terrestrial viewing
- Perfect for planetary, lunar, or binary star viewing
- It offers high-contrast images because it has a clear aperture
- Objective lenses are permanent
- More expensive than the other two
- Heavier and bulkier making it is portability challenging
- Not great for observing deep-sky objects
The Newtonian refractor is a telescope that employs a concave or a spherical, parabolic primary mirror to collect light and focus it on a flat secondary mirror. The secondary mirror reflects the light into an eyepiece for focus and magnification.
- It is pretty affordable.
- Compact and portable
- The telescope is excellent for deep faint sky observation. You can use it to observe objects such as nebular and star clusters and remote galaxies.
- Reasonably great planetary and lunar work
- Can deliver bright images
- You can use it for deep astrophotography.
- The primary may require regular re-coating
- It is not suited for terrestrial applications
These telescopes employ a combination of lenses and mirrors to fold the light path. Generally, there are two types of catadioptrics; the Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutove-Cassegrain. The two designs work similarly with similar benefits and disadvantages.
In Maksutove, the light gets through a thick meniscus correction lens with a strong curvature. The light strikes the primary mirror before it is reflected in the secondary that reflects it out through an opening in the back of the instrument. The Schmidt also works in similar principles, only that the Schmidt has a shorter focal length.
- It is an all-purpose design
- Perfect for deep sky observing
- The closed design enhances the image quality
- Compact and portable
- Easy to use
- Quite versatile
- It has more accessories available, making its repair easy
- Large apertures at a reasonable price
- More expensive when compared to the Newtonians of equal aperture
- It has a narrower field view
- Slight light loss occasioned by secondary mirror obstruction
How to Choose an Astronomical Telescope
You need a quality telescope to get the most from observing celestial objects. But how do you navigate the selection process and ensure that you have the best from the Market?
The aperture is a telescope's most crucial specification, which can either be a mirror or a lens. A telescope's aperture directly influences the light-gathering efficiency and resolving power. In other words, the aperture determines how bright and sharp the image appears. Therefore, if you want clear and sharper images, you should use a telescope with a larger aperture.
Another essential aspect that you need to bear in mind when shopping for a telescope is magnification. Often, people ask how much a telescope can magnify objects. The truth is that any telescope can provide an infinite amount of magnification depending on the quality of the eyepiece. However, it is essential to note that the most useful magnification is 50 times.
The Focal Length and Eyepieces
The focal length is the distance from the primary mirror or lens to the image it forms. A telescope's focal length is essential as it determines the efficiency of the magnification of your telescope.
Longer focal lengths mean longer telescopes, and if you are looking for a portable telescope, you need to go for the one with a shorter focal length.
The Telescope Designs
When looking to purchase your beginner telescope, you do not have to make your life difficult by trying to understand the different designs that exist. Instead, you should focus on the basic understanding of the different types of telescopes and their function.
A good telescope offers the freedom to change positions whenever you find it necessary, which is why investing in a portable telescope is essential. A portable telescope is easy to close and load into the car whenever you find it convenient.
Top 5 Amateur Astronomical Telescopes
If it is the first time you are getting into the hobby of observing celestial bodies, you need to invest in amateur astronomical telescopes that will allow you to build your skills. Here are some of the best amateur astronomical telescopes that you should buy.
1.Skymax-127 Virtuoso GTi tabletop telescope
The Skymax-127 Virtuoso GTi tabletop telescope is an excellent telescope for beginners as it is lightweight and easy to set up. In addition, it is a compact design, meaning that you will not have a hard time with portability. The long focal length makes the telescope great for observing planets, the moon, and some brighter deep-sky objects.
2.The Celestron StarSense Explorer Telescope
The Celestron StarSense Explorer Telescope is a product of Celestron, best known for crafting quality telescopes for over 60 years. Interestingly, the telescope is designed to allow the integration of your device with the company's StarSense Explorer app. Further, it has a 130mm objective lens to allow clear viewing of the planets and stars with incredible accuracy.
There is no doubt that the Celestron StarSense Explorer Telescope is a perfect option for beginners interested in exploring the universe without having to maintain their telescope now and then.
3.Gskyer Refracting Telescope
The Gskyer Refracting Telescope is another solid option for kids and beginners who are passionate about exploring the universe. With the 70mm aperture, observing the planets and the moons becomes fun. It is also good to note that assembling this telescope is easy and fast, meaning that the kids may not require the assistance of their guardians.
4.Orion GoScope 80 Tabletop
The Orion GoScope 80 Tabletop is designed to make astronomy easy and enjoyable for beginners. With this telescope, you are assured of clear views of the moon, planets, and other bright deep-sky targets—additionally, the telescope's starry night software is designed to help you pinpoint your targets at night. The lifetime tech assistance ensures that you do not experience any challenges when using the telescope in your lifetime.
5.The Vaonis Stellina Observation Station & Hybrid Telescope
This telescope is on another level. As a beginner, you do not want to spend a lot of money on acquiring your first telescope as there are many things you need to learn. The Vaonis Stellina Observation Station & Hybrid Telescope boast an intelligent design eliminating the need for eyepieces and finderscopes. Instead, it has CMOS, making it easy to view sky images.
While there are multiple astronomical telescope designs, selecting one for your use should never be a complex task. Before making your choice, you only need to examine the different telescopes' strengths and weaknesses.
After extensive research and considering different online reviews, we can conclude that the Celestron StarSense Explorer Telescope can open the universe to you and, therefore, is the best telescope to get.
Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.