Telescopes for astronomy have existed from as early as the 17th century in the days of Galileo, who used them to observe celestial objects. The first of their kind were made using glass lenses and were used for both astronomical and terrestrial applications. The reflecting radio and infrared scopes followed for astronomers, and these were able to use mirrors instead of glass.

What are the types of telescopes based on function?

There are two types: reflecting and refracting, both made by brands like Celestron, Orion, Meade, and others. The reflector model uses concave mirrors for light focus. The mirrors bend light together by reflecting it rather than bending it as lenses do. The refractor, on the other hand, utilizes convex lenses to focus light, giving the illusion of an object being closer than it is. The refracting type will allow the user to view both the full night sky and land while reflecting types offer only land views.

What are the parts of a telescope?
  • Lens: The lens is the part through which you view. The lens is made up of a concave mirror, and concave and convex lenses. These optics also have the properties of magnification, resolution, field of view and focusing distance which work to control light movement while collecting it, enabling you to view the sky.
  • Tube: The tube constitutes a mirror and a tube cover. It is 8 inches in diameter, and it aids functionality by enhancing the focal length.
  • Finderscope: This is a minor scope that is mounted on the main tube. The finderscope works by locating the object that you need to view.
  • Eyepiece: The ocular lens consists of the eyepiece that provides lock security for the entire apparatus. With this part in place, the ocular lens cannot fall and break or disappear.
  • Mounting: The mounting is what allows the apparatus to move in different directions. On the mount is a regulating knob latitude that helps enhance the efficiency of the apparatus.
  • Tripod: This accessory is used to hold the apparatus in place. It has three stands and can support the apparatus whether it is slanted, inverted or straight. With a tripod, the user can also move the apparatus easily in any direction.
What is magnification?

This is the power of the viewing apparatus. The power usually represents the relationship between the eyepiece and the apparatus itself as it is the product of dividing the focal length of the telescope and that of the eyepiece. You can adjust the power by changing the focal length of the eyepiece. Images are much crisper at lower powers, making lower powers appropriate for larger fields of view.

What does an aperture do?

The aperture is an important feature as it determines how much light the apparatus will capture. A larger aperture can capture clearer images. However, the size of the apparatus is directly proportional to that of the aperture. A large aperture will, therefore, mean a large apparatus and vice versa. It is, hence, important for you to establish a balance as you find what is appropriate for you.