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A Newtonian telescope, also commonly known as a reflector telescope, has one primary thing in common with the catadioptric telescope; they both use two mirrors within the tube body to collect and direct light. The difference lies in the addition of a corrector lens within the catadioptric telescope which fixes any distortion at the edge of the field of view common to a Newtonian telescope. The catadioptric telescope is a blend of the refractor and reflector telescope's components – a combination of the lens and the mirror.
For some astronomy enthusiasts, the reflector telescope is a perfect combination of a space photography tool and a planetary observational device. However, the reflector telescope is not without drawbacks. The disadvantages of a reflector telescope include:
1. These telescopes do require a delicate hand and must be moved from place to place with great care.
2. Although the body is compact, the reflector telescope, especially the mid-sized and larger models, tends to be bulkier than the refractor telescopes.
3. Some of the reflector telescopes produce a distorted image.
4. Collimation is often a necessary task with a reflector telescope to maintain a centered view.
A reflecting telescope, also known as a Newtonian reflector, is composed of a thick tube with a concave mirror at the rear of the tube and a secondary mirror at the front. The light enters through the tube, hits the concave mirror, bounces to the secondary mirror, and then moves to the eyepiece, which is located at the front of the tube. Astronomy enthusiasts enjoy the reflecting telescope for viewing planets and the moon as well as objects in deep space. Because of its quick focal ratio, which is the photographic speed of a telescope, a reflecting telescope is popular with astrophotographers for producing brilliant images with a short aperture time.
The reflecting telescope is a good all around optical device, more suited for the amateur astronomer than the very beginning star observer. This type of telescope, which utilizes mirrors within the tube of the telescope body to gather light, has several advantages:
1. The fast focal ratio makes this an effective piece of equipment for viewing faint objects deep in space.
2. The larger models do give more value for your money than a refractor telescope.
3. The reflecting telescope is an excellent light gatherer, due to its two mirrors, giving you better light quality images.
4. This telescope tends to have a compact design, making it easy to transport to a new location.
5. For astrophotography enthusiasts, the reflector telescope is ideal due to its fast focal ratio.
For many astronomy enthusiasts, the mid-size aperture reflectors will provide a sufficient quality image to keep their interest. However, for some, bigger is always better. For those who want larger sized apertures found in commercial reflectors, look for models that come with a 250mm main mirror. The most common size of aperture among commercial reflectors is a 400mm aperture. However, larger sized apertures can become too much telescope for an average astronomy observer. With 300mm sized aperture commercial reflectors, you have to consider the importance of mounting to minimize vibration. Even with an equatorial mount, anything larger than this class of commercial reflectors are best reserved for an observatory.
The Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, or SCT, has been referred to as today's standard of the best telescopic equipment among astronomy enthusiasts. This type of telescope combines the advantages of lens and mirror technology into one unit. The 200mm SCT is the prevailing model, giving you a large aperture size in the package of a reasonably sized tube unit. Most SCT models will come with either the German equatorial mount or the fork equatorial mount. A built-in computer allows you to input a star or nebulae and let your telescope find the view for you. This telescope will give you a good view of a star cluster such as Pleiades. The main drawback to the Schmidt-Cassegrain is compared to a Newtonian telescope with a comparable aperture, the SCT won't give you optical results as good as the Newtonian.
The Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is a telescope similar to the Maksutov-Cassegrain, with the exception of the use of a smaller secondary mirror which gives an even better definition of the planets.
This type of telescope does well in the market with apertures ranging from 150mm to 250mm for their quality of optical correction. Some of the drawbacks to the Maksutov-Cassegrain include a heavier weight due to a thicker corrector lens, longer wait time for internal temperatures to match external temperatures, and longer exposure times for astrophotography.
You can find toy telescopes on the market which provide some magnification of objects and amusement for kids. However, rather than spending money on a product providing little value, consider choosing among the smaller reflecting telescopes. You can find 76mm or 80mm aperture reflecting telescopes, the smallest size recommended for useful stargazing. These models will provide an excellent alternative to the toy telescopes, functioning well at a reasonable magnification up to 50x, enough to see the details of the moon and images of brighter planets.
When investigating a reflecting telescope to purchase, keep in mind the aperture size will have the biggest impact on what kind of stargazing experience you will have. The aperture, which is the clear diameter of your reflecting telescope's main mirror, controls the amount of light your telescope will receive. For a reflecting telescope, an aperture size of 114mm or larger starts to give you a view of the skies where you begin to see specific detail on the planets. You'll also begin to get a view of deep sky objects that you would not have the opportunity to see with smaller aperture mirrors. Telescopes in this class of aperture size can be affordable and will enrich your stargazing experience.