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How To Choose The Right Telescope

Aug 17, 2007
How a telescope works depends on whether it is a refracting telescope or a reflecting telescope. In order to answer your question regardless of the type, we will explain how both oft these telescopes work. Once you know the differences between the two, it will make your purchase decision much easier. It will also help remove the inconvenience of returning a telescope after you find out it is not the one you wanted in the first place.

Reflecting telescopes use curved mirrors to collect and focus light. Remember, what you are seeing through a telescope is how light bounces off of an object. There is a large concave mirror that then collects all the light and reflects it as one image. A lens on the eyepiece than lets you adjust the image by letting in more or less light.

A refracting telescope works very similar to a magnifying glass. A convex lens (made of glass) bends the light and brings it into focus by bringing it into one focus point. The point of focus is where the image is viewable.

There are some telescopes powerful enough to see miles into space, while other telescopes have very limited distance capabilities. Generally speaking, telescopes will provide you with a gauge as to how far you can expect to be able to reflect the image as well as how sharp the image will be.

Telescopes are also able to take photos based on the images being refracted or reflected through the mirrors in the telescope. This is a really neat technology and can be used for hobbyists or professionals alike.

Because telescopes use glass and mirrors, it is important to care for them well. Scratches or other damage to the mirrors or glass will destroy the ability of the telescope to reflect the light or refract the light into an image. The last thing you thing you want happening with your brand new telescope is having to buy another new one! So remember to take extra care of it and put it in a safe place after use.

Even the most powerful telescopes work based on the ability of the telescope to reflect or retract light and bring an image into focus. Whether the telescope is used to see a distant planet or used for looking at the moon, its ability to capture light and create an image from the light is how it works.
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Byran Kempa for Telescope Information
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