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How to Choose Telescopes

There is nothing quite as fulfilling as looking through a telescope and seeing the galaxy, planet, or nebula with your own eyes. Astronomy is a rewarding hobby filled with wonder and awe but finding the right telescope can be a confusing task. Here is a detailed guide to help you during the selection process.

What are the five standard telescope designs?

Deciding to buy your first telescope is exciting. But how do you choose a telescope when you aren't familiar with the different types available?

There are five main types including:

  • Catadioptric - Cassegrain or Catadioptric telescope uses a hybrid combination of mirrors and lenses. These components are encased in a sealed tube which folds the optical path to form an image. This type has a modern design with 3'' and larger apertures. Celestron has a variety of scopes available with great lunar, planetary, and deep space observing features.
  • Reflecting or reflector telescope - Instead of using a lens, reflecting telescopes use a mirror, with an eyepiece located at the side of the central tube. They have great focal length, larger apertures, and low optical irregularities, making them an excellent choice for viewing celestial objects such as remote galaxies and star clusters.
  • Refracting or refractor telescope - These are the most common scopes around. They use lenses instead of mirrors, and the eyepiece is located at the bottom of the scope. Their design is similar to most binoculars and spotting scopes.

Other types include:

  • Dobsonian
  • Computerised telescope

What are the most crucial features of a Celestron scope?

Any certified sky-watcher can vouch for the importance of quality features in a scope such as:

  • Aperture - Aperture refers to the focal length of a telescope. It's the diameter of the scope's primary optical component (a lens, a mirror, or a combination of both). The size of your aperture determines the optics - how much light it can capture.
  • Magnification - Magnification of your telescope is essential, but not a defining factor. Magnification is determined by the eyepiece you use. If your scope has low magnification, swap it with one that has a higher magnification.

What type of mount should I buy for my Celestron Catadioptric telescope?

The mount is just as important as it keeps the telescope steady and minimizes shaking. There are two types of tripods available namely:

  • AltAzimuth - AltAzimuth mounts are the most common types used by sky-watchers. They can swivel from side to side and move up and down. However, you'll need to move your scope often to follow the deep-sky, stars, moons, and planets as the earth turns.
  • Equatorial - This type enables a user to follow the rotation of the night sky as the Earth turns. They are a bit more expensive but will always align themselves with the North Star, enabling you to find your focus quickly.

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