Types of Telescopes

Magnifying Stars and Planets: 4 Types of Telescopes to Choose From

There are different telescopes used by both amateurs and hardcore astronomers. This article briefly explains the various types of telescopes and related information.
A telescope helps to magnify the images of distant objects, and provides us with a detailed view of the heavenly objects in space. There are many varieties of telescopes used for different purposes, and their features vary according to their make and the principles of working.

Different Telescopes and their Working

There are three basic types of telescopes, and how they work depends on their functioning principles. Each of them has a specific purpose. They help you to view distant celestial objects, and also help you to understand related phenomenon like electromagnetic radiation. The ones used in astronomy include space telescopes, which help scientists and astronomers to study the sky. There are solar telescopes, which can be used for studies regarding the sun. One of the low-cost examples used by amateurs is the Dobsonian telescope.

Optical Telescopes
They are first and most commonly used ones, and they tend to focus on the visible electromagnetic light spectrum. They capture light and other electromagnetic radiation, with the help of one or more curved optical lenses or mirrors. There are three types of optical telescopes:
  • Refracting Telescopes: They use lenses to gather light and bend them into a tube. The light bounces off the mirror at the opposite end of the tube, and falls at the eyepiece for viewing. They are used to observe celestial as well as terrestrial objects.
  • Reflector Telescopes: They are large in size, and use curved mirrors. There are two mirrors that reflect light, and make the image appear inverted. They are used to view deep space objects.
  • Cassegrain Telescopes: They are based on the combination principle of reflector and refractor telescopes. They use two mirrors and a folded optical path. These are portable, and one can also use a computer to control them. They are used for viewing celestial objects in radio astronomy, and are made from dishes in groups or pairs. They are a type of directional radio antenna, which tracks and collects information from the satellites and space probes. They work on the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    X-Ray Telescopes
    They are used to observe objects in the X-ray spectrum. They use mirrors and coded apertures to visualize images. The mirrors are made up of heavy metals, and are rotated on an ellipse, parabola, or hyperbola.

    Gamma Ray Telescopes
    These are high energy telescopes like the X-ray type. They are placed on satellites that orbit the Earth, or on high-flying balloons. The images formed by these devices are not like the ones formed by using visible wavelength.

    High Energy Particle Telescopes
    They are used in astronomy, and do not use an optical system to form an image. They are made from special materials, as the high energy particles tend to go through most of the metals and glasses. They are high-end space telescopes used by few space observatories.

    Most of us tend to use the optical telescopes for observing celestial or terrestrial bodies. Moreover, money is one factor that you need to consider, when investing in such devices. When you are planning to buy one, remember that more the capacity of the telescope to gather light, better will be the image. Find a beginner telescope brand that is right for you, and enjoy the beauty of the world, beyond the boundaries of our blue sky.