Since the emergence of telescopes in the 16th century, scientists have been researching ways to improve upon the technology within them. Nowadays, telescopes come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, at differing costs. There are three main types of telescopes; refractor telescopes, reflector telescopes and compound telescopes.
• Refractor Telescopes
Refractor telescopes use a lens to bend the light entering it, and reflect it off a flat mirror into the eyepiece. This image is then magnified into the eye. Although the aperture on entry level refractor telescopes tends to be relatively small, they are excellent telescopes for viewing the moon and planets. They are generally more affordable then reflector telescopes.
• Reflector Telescopes
Reflector telescopes use a large curved mirror to collect the light, which is then reflected to a point of focus on a secondary mirror. The light is then deflected to the eyepiece and magnified. Reflector telescopes are generally considered to be better all-round than refractors, and are seen as being superior for viewing deep space. They generally have larger apertures than refractor telescopes, providing a better image quality.
• Compound Telescopes
Compound telescopes are often discounted by more advanced astronomers, but they can be a great starting point for people looking to take up the hobby. They combine the qualities of refractor and reflector telescopes to provide a better magnification and view, but can sometimes compromise on quality. Compound telescopes are very convenient to use because they can often be folded to a portable size.