Purchasing a telescope is easy when you know how. Sometimes it can actually be a lot more complicated than it seems. There are many different things to look into when you are looking to buy a telescope.
The best advice to give before making your telescope purchase is to join your local astronomical society. These often have telescopes for use by the members and observing evenings where you can look through many different types of telescope to help you make a choice of one of your own.
The biggest mistake people make when buying a telescope is buying one that doesn't fit them. They will end up spending way too much money on something they end up never using. The most important thing to know when buying one is that power is not that important. No matter what the manufacturer claims, pay no attention to their boasts of power.
Refractor telescopes are easier to use as a daytime telescopes (with an image erector) than reflector telescopes. A 4 inch f10 aperture refractor can provide a notably brighter image than a 4 inch aperture f10 obstructed reflecting or Catadioptric telescope.
Otherwise, get a reflecting telescope. If you are going to be doing astrophotography, then get a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope. If you are buying a telescope for someone that is seriously interested in astronomy, you should consider a reflector in the six-inch to ten-inch range. This will give you maximum light gathering power for your dollar in the range of three hundred to five hundred. Schmidt-Cassegrains, Newtonian reflectors, and refractors all have good and bad points. Variations however, are relatively minor.
what are the uses of a cassegrain and refractor telescope?
Refractors, telescopes that use only lenses, excel at terrestrial viewing, lunar viewing, planetary viewing, star cluster viewing, and astrophotograpy of stars, star clusters, planets, and the moon.
They are especially desirable for observing stars because they have no central obstruction held in place by support bars, so stars appear as perfect dots and not as "stars" with what are known as diffraction spikes. They are desirable for planetary and lunar viewing because they offer high contrast images. They are also more rugged than other types of telescopes.
The full benefits of a refractor can only be had if it's apochromatic though. Good refractors are very expensive.
There are many different types of cassegrains, however, they all share in common a folded design, and a central obstruction held in place by a glass plate at the front of the telescope. Different cassegrains are ideal for different things, but in general, they have long focal lengths so also do very well on planetary viewing, and again stars will have no diffraction spikes when viewed with them.
Cassegrains are an economical alternative to refractors, and like refractors, can easily be made large enough for deep space viewing. Their folded design also means they are more compact that other types of telescopes.
Cassegrain Telescope Simulation
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