Star gazers have always wanted to get closer to the evening sky, marveling at how light from trillions of miles away can still twinkle and reach us despite the distance. Astronomers, both professional and amateur, have seen the starry canvas as the key to the universe. Unlock it and better understand: everything.
While telescopic devices date back as far as 1000 BC with the ancient Assyrians, Galileo Galilei (1609) is generally credited as the first to use the instrument for astronomical purposes. Though Hans Lippershey is regarded as the true inventor of the telescope, he intended it for military use. Galilei however realized its power for astronomy and spent a lifetime surveying the sky and all that fills it.
Today, some 400 years later, this quest for space knowledge continues and the invention remains relatively unchanged. Its original design simply being improved upon. As for your endeavors in amateur astronomy, which type of telescope is best for you?
- Schmidt Newtonian
- Ritchey Chretien
By rule, the larger the telescope, the better its capability to see distant objects. This is due to the device’s ability to gather more light and combine it with a higher resolution. Resolution enables a telescope to more clearly discern objects that are close together. For instance, two one-inch squares next two each other, may look to be one rectangle from afar, but with a higher resolution, a clear closer look is possible, revealing the two individual squares.
For telescopes, objects being “close together” are of a different scale, but the concept is the same. You’ll want a telescope that will enable you to see faint objects with more clarity. Stars can be seen with the naked eye, but other objects, such as planets and the moon, will need the help of a telescope to come into sharper view. That said, you don’t need your own Hubble Telescope to do so. An amateur astronomy scope will do just fine. Just be mindful of a few things before making your selection.
Overall, a telescope is designed to collect light (aperture) and magnify an image (magnification). In combination, these produce an image viewable by the eye, while the resolution will determine the detail of that image. So, when you’re ready to buy your very own telescope, in addition to aperture, magnification, and resolution, also consider the instrument’s power, mount, and eyepieces.