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Types of Telescopes

There are three main classes of telescopes available to the amateur astronomer:

Refractor telescopes

These are the classic "department store look" telescopes that use refracting lenses housed in a long, thin tube mounted on a tripod. Refractors are great for viewing the sun, moon and planets where magnification detail is important but brightness is not. Smaller achromatic versions are used as finder or spotting scopes.

Reflector telescopes

These are large telescopes that uses mirrors housed in large tubes. They are often mounted in a low "rocker" style mount (called a Dobsonian). Reflectors are "light buckets" and are great for viewing faint, deep-sky objects like galaxies, star clusters and nebula.

Cadioptric telescopes

Also called compound telescopes, use both refracting lenses and reflecting mirrors in their design to provide a compact form factor. Compound telescopes include those of Schmidt, Cassegrain (Cass), Maksutov (Mak) and hybrid designs.

The following lists the various types of telescopes and their approximate starting prices:

      1. Telescope Type
      2. Aperture range
      3. Starting Cost
      1. Equatorial Newtonian
      2. 4.5" - 16"
      3. $300
      1. Schmidt-Newtonian
      2. 5" - 16"
      3. $600
      1. Maksutov-Newtonian
      2. 3.5" - 10"
      3. $400

    Find your inner astronomer. Your complete guide to amateur astronomy.

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