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It's helpful to know the types of telescopes available on the market for consumer purchase when you're making a decision on astronomy equipment. There are three main types: the refractor telescope, the reflector telescope, and the catadioptric telescopes.
Refractor - The refractor telescope consists of a long tube with a lens at the front and an eyepiece on the opposite side. Refractor telescopes are favored for their simple design, ease of use, and suitability for long distance terrestrial viewing. However, compared to reflector telescopes or catadioptric telescopes with a similar aperture, the refractor is a costlier purchase. The refractor is also less suited for viewing and photographing faint astronomical bodies due to the constraints of the aperture size and the design limitations of the telescope body.
Reflector Telescope – This model of telescope has a greater dimensional girth than the refractor telescope. Rather than using a lens, the reflector telescope employs a concave mirror at the back of the tube and a primary mirror at the front. The reflector is useful for a number of stargazing opportunities, including viewing planets, the moon, and faint objects deep in space. The reflector is also compact enough to be easily transported from location to location. The downside to using reflector telescopes lies in a distortion of images and lack of suitability for usage in terrestrial viewing due to the inversion of the viewed image.
Catadioptric - This type of telescope is based an evolved design of the reflector telescopes. By adding a corrector lens in addition to the use of mirrors in the telescope, the catadioptric telescope delivers improved performance. The advantages include top notch focus capability, increased durability, and ease of use for photography, terrestrial viewing, and deep space viewing. The main disadvantage of a catadioptric telescope compared with the other types of telescopes is the high cost associated with its refined components.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|