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The difference between a refracting and a reflecting telescope is in their optical construction. The refracting telescope uses a system of lenses to refract light rays, while a reflecting telescope uses a system of mirrors to reflect light rays. Reflectors are usually used to view brighter stars and planets.
A refracting telescope is what most people think of when they picture a telescope. It has a long, thin tube with an eyepiece on one end, and sits on a tripod. A refracting telescope is an excellent scope for a beginning astronomer, because it is sharp and allows you to see bright planets and stars that are familiar and easier to find.
If you'd like to view many different objects both during the day and at night, it might be wise for you to invest in both a reflecting telescope and a refracting telescope, since you'll be able to view a wider variety of stars, planets, and other objects.
If you purchase a refractor telescope you'll be able to see higher emissions of light, such as planets or stars with more detail and higher contrast than a reflecting telescope. A refractor telescope can also be used for normal daytime observations, too, especially if you use an "image rectifier" that turns the image right-side-up for the viewer.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|