Telescope Tips

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of a reflector telescope?

Pros and Cons of Reflector Telescopes

One of the primary advantages of a reflector telescope is cost. Reflector telescopes often cost less money than other telescopes to produce, and this savings is often passed on to the consumer. Reflector telescopes also produce some of the best and brightest telescopic images, allowing you to see farther in to space. Unfortunately, reflector telescopes are also very fragile, which severely limits their portability. Reflector telescopes also leave their mirrors open to the elements, which means that they need to be cleaned often and periodically readjusted.

What's the technical difference between a refractor and a reflector?

Refractor Telescopes vs. Reflector Telescopes

The two most popular kinds of telescopes are refractors and reflectors. Refractor Telescopes are composed of a long tube. The light is received and focused through the objective lens and it sends it to the eyepiece for magnification. Refractors often utilize many complex lenses and produce some of the best telescopic images. In reflector Telescopes, a concave mirror collects light from a star, reflects it up to a diagonal mirror along the tube, which then redirects it to the eyepiece for magnification. Reflector telescopes are the simplest kind of telescopes, and many of the earliest telescopes were based on the reflector model.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope?

Pros and Cons of Schmidt Cassegrain Telescopes

The great thing about Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes is that they offer many of the benefits of refractor telescopes but with a lesser price. The Schmidt Cassegrain telescope combines some of the feature of reflector and refractor telescopes -- using an objective lense to bounce an image off of several internal mirrors. This combination allows the telescope to remain powreful but to be physically smaller -- creating a powerful telescope that is very portable. One of the major problems with the Schmidt Cassegrain telescope has to do with brightness -- a mirror in the front of the telescope partially obstructs its view, reducing the amount of light that enters the scope. While the telescope is versatile, its images will be less sharp and bright.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a GOTO GPS mount?

Pros and Cons of GOTO GPS Mounts

The major advantage of a GOTO GPS mount is its ability to autmatically locate celestial bodies. In order to successfully operate a manual mounted telescope, one must first learn how to read a star chart. A GOTO GPS mount dispenses with this need. Also a GOTO GPS mount will automatically track an object once it is found. However, for those who aren't computer adept, the GOTO GPS mount can be unusually difficult to use. Additionally, a powerful mount like the GOTO GPS is useless without a powerful telescope. Without sufficient power, the GOTO GPS will end up pointing the telescope at object that it cannot see.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a refractor telescope?

Pros and Cons of Refractor Telescopes

The great thing about a refractor telescope is that it is virtually maintenance free. Since the lenses are held inside a close housing, only the outer lenses need to be clean. Additionally, the enclosed housing of a refractor telescope makes it more durable than other telescopes, improving its portabiltiy. Per inch, a refractor will produce a brighter and sharper image than any other telescope. The major drawback of a refractor telescope is its price. While many small refractors are reasonably priced, large ones can become very expensive as the price increases exponentially.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Dobsonian telescope?

Pros and Cons of Dobsonian Telescopes

Dobsonian telescopes are essentially very large reflector telescopes. The only thing that sets the Dobsonian telescope apart from other telescopes is its large, simple mount that allows the telescope to sit on the ground and swivel easily. Dobsonian telescopes are great becaues they are the largest scopes you can get for the least amount of money. Additionally, Dobsonian telescopes are very simple, requiring little technical fussing. The primary problem with Dobsonian telescopes lies in their portability -- they simply aren't. The scopes are usually too large and unweildy to fit in a car. Also, Dobsonian telescopes are totally manual -- requiring you to use star charts, and making them less than ideal for astophotography.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.