Although, not very common in practice, but many people love exploring planets, or doing stargazing and this becomes one of their favorite hobbies. To take this hobby further if you are thinking about getting a good telescope, here are a few things you would have to know about and keep in mind.
- The aperture
- The magnification
- The mount
- The focal length
This is the diaphragm or the opening at the end of the lens deciding the amount of light that can enter through the lens. You need to understand that a higher aperture means high quality light gathering ability of the telescope and thus, clear space imagery. Your minimum aperture should be at least 2.8” and the more it gets, the better your output will be.
The magnification if extremely high can spoil the image of the space objects and thus, it is advised that you should keep the magnification lesser than 100x because as you increase the magnification, the output will start getting affected by every little external factor, even your own breathing process.
The mount is very important for a proper grip and better positioning and accurate alignment of the telescope for better tracking and locating. The Dobsonian mounted telescope is considered the best telescope for viewing planets and for deep space viewing and otherwise the best mount that can be commonly used is the Equatorial mount.
The focal length
This is the deciding factor of how far sighted your telescope lens can be. With a focal length of 300mm you can actually see the craters on the moon. The more the focal length, the deeper you can get into the space, obviously also depending upon the aperture your telescope lens has. Both of these go hand in hand.
Types of Telescopes
Reflector Telescopes use concave mirrors, and are short and wide usually. They are used to get into deep space and far off galaxies because of their high aperture ranges and extremely high light-gathering abilities. They are often cheaper in price and easily available, and because of shorter length, they are extremely portable. One very big drawback with reflector telescopes is that they show an inverted image which means that if you use them in the daytime, you would see things hanging upside down.
They use lenses and not mirrors, which are convex in nature. They are often used for on-the-surface space imagery, such as the locating the Moon and the planets. Their bodies are slim and long, and the tubes are sealed making them very low-maintenance. Their best feature is that they give ‘right-side-up’ images and image distortion is the least in the Refractor Telescopes. Because of the use of the lenses, though, they suffer from chromatic aberration, a phenomenon caused by multiple wavelengths of light entering through the same space. Refractor Telescopes are more expensive and generally start with a 3” aperture.
Which one is the best?
When it comes to choosing one, it really depends upon your requirements. If you need a high definition quality of imagery and you want to work with greater aperture and light settings you can always go for Reflector Telescopes. They are a bit complicated to use but if you are an intermediate or higher level astronomer they would work just fine for you and would not be as complicated.
If you need to do stargazing, that too in a good quality, or if you are just a beginner and want to explore the space, Refractor Telescopes would work just fine for you except for the fact that they are a bit expensive and that you would really be able to go very deep into the space. With the chromatic aberration, the colors might distort which is also a bit of a drawback. But for beginner level astronomy you can always go for Refractor telescopes.
Samira Gutoc is the founder and managing editor of Atlas and Co. She is also a content writer, blogger, poet, photographer and an editorial associate.