A Guide to Buying the Right Reflecting Telescope

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A Guide to Buying the Right Reflecting Telescope

A reflecting telescope gives every user an opportunity to explore the stars and the moon - as well as terrestrial landscapes - at close range. With practice, the sprawling night sky can be brought into focus by an instrument that fits comfortably into an average sized room. Reflecting telescopes are favoured by professional astronomers, students and laypeople alike, for observing the skies above. They are used both for enjoyment and to broaden the operators understanding of astronomy.
If they choose a portable reflecting telescope, enthusiasts can observe equally well from their own home, or from an outdoor location. The huge variety of reflecting telescopes available, mean every consumer can be sure of finding the best size, specification, and price for their needs. In order to source the most appropriate reflecting telescope, investigate the various brands and designs on the market, then research sellers and individual items, before making a final decision.

About Reflecting Telescopes

Reflecting telescopes magnify objects or areas in the night sky. They provide clear and revealing images, that would otherwise be too distant to make out with the naked eye. They work by using either a series of curved mirrors or a single mirror. The mirrors absorb and gather light from the targeted area and this light is then reflected to form an image. This process is where the telescope got its name. As the image begins to take shape and come into focus, it is conveyed to the eyepiece, where it is magnified for the user to see.

Choosing a Reflecting Telescope

In general, deciding on which reflecting telescope to buy will be a matter of personal taste for each consumer. However, there are a number of factors to bear in mind when making a choice. To refine the search, consider what would be an appropriate size of telescope for the intended location, how portable it should be and what kind of results are expected.

The Newtonian Reflecting Telescope

The Newtonian reflecting telescope is named after the first person to have built one, Isaac Newton. It is the basic concept from which all contemporary reflecting telescopes are constructed. Through the years, the uncomplicated design has made the Newtonian reflecting telescope a perennial favourite amongst astrologers. This was the first design of telescope to include every colour of the spectrum, when revealing the night sky to early astronomers. The instrument uses one large concave mirror and one mirror with a flat surface. The light is reflected and transformed into an image, before being viewed through the eyepiece. A bigger mirror means more light can be absorbed, this allows for detailed and clear views of very distant nebula or galaxies. Furthermore, because mirrors are produced cheaply, Newtonian reflecting telescopes are reasonably priced, in relation to other reflecting telescopes at their performance level.

The Cassegrain Reflecting Telescope

The Cassegrain reflecting telescope has many variations on its primary design; each is better suited to a specific purpose. The most basic Cassegrain reflecting telescope uses two mirrors, one concave and one convex. The first mirror reflects light gathered from the lens onto the second, the second then bounces the light back and it is channelled through a small hole in the first. This is a small yet powerful arrangement, housed within a higher grade product which is reasonably priced and popular with beginners. Some designs include push button technology; this automatically focuses the instrument on a specific target. Moreover, the compact design makes the Cassegrain popular with astronomers working in a confined space. This flexibility means that as the user's skill level increases, the Cassegrain telescope is capable of matching their higher expectations.

The Gregorian Reflecting Telescope

The Gregorian reflecting telescope is slightly different internally to other designs and is considered to be a more complicated instrument to manufacture. The arrangement of mirrors inside, stops unwanted light sources from influencing the image produced. This has made the Gregorian reflecting telescope popular with long distance solar observing, as heat can often affect the results. Also, this design of reflecting telescope is helpful for users who wish to observe terrestrial locations from a distance. Many reflecting telescopes show an upside-down image, but the Gregorian model produces a right-side up view of the land or object.

Accessories for a Reflecting Telescope

There are a huge amount of accessories and parts available for reflecting telescopes. Although most reflecting telescopes are sold as a complete unit, many astronomers choose to adapt or improve their experience with upgraded or specialised equipment. Here is a table to show some of the most common reflecting telescope accessories.

Eyepiece

There are a wide range of reflecting telescope eyepieces, they vary in terms of performance and style. This part of a telescopic kit lets the astronomer select different magnification strengths. Certain eyepieces will work better with specific telescopes, so be sure to match an item to the existing instrument. It is advisable to choose the best possible eyepiece, rather than buying a wide selection.

Mount

The mount is an important part of a telescopes set up. It holds the equipment in position for as long as necessary and allows it to be moved, in reaction to the changing night sky. The range of sizes and weight bearing abilities in telescope mounting types, varies enormously. Sturdier mounts tend to be popular as they hold the telescope steady, reducing any tiny vibrations.

Observation Chair

 

Observation chairs allow a telescope user to manoeuvre themselves into the most comfortable and effective position for viewing. They are designed to be flexible and non-tipping - so there is no danger of toppling over. Consequently, astronomers can give their full attention to the image.

Spotting Scope

A spotting scope is invaluable if a telescope does not have computerised locating technology. They are a small device which attaches to the main telescope; their wide field of vision assists the operator with finding an object in the sky.

Telescope Care and Maintenance

The delicate working parts of a reflecting telescope should be kept in good clean condition. This will ensure the instrument continues to function at a high standard.

Firstly, always store a reflecting telescope correctly when not in use. The lens and the eyepiece should be covered with a cap to avoid collecting dust or fibre particles. Similarly, the instrument should be angled toward the floor, with a protective hood or covering, so it does not gather dust. Any lenses and eyepieces that are not attached to the equipment should be kept in an airtight container while not in use.

Tiny scratches or smudges are magnified many times by the powerful lens, so try not to touch it. Also, do not blow on a lens to clean it, as any moisture transferred from the mouth could be harmful. Instead, use a cleaning solution and either a cotton wool pad or cotton bud, depending on the size of surface area to be cleaned. This process should be completed as infrequently as possible, the optical elements of a telescope are very fragile and their performance can be impaired through over cleaning.

Buying a Reflecting Telescope on eBay

In order to buy a reflecting telescope on eBay, start by opening the landing page. Next select the All Categories link and open the tab for Cameras & Photography. Then, click on Telescopes and Binoculars, followed by Telescopes. From here, choose Reflector/Newtonian from the shaded menu to the left hand side of the page. Look through the items that are available, or use the options in the shaded area to further refine the search. It is possible to find a more specific item by entering more detailed terms into the query box, located at the top centre of any eBay page. For example, to look for a second hand Sky-Watcher reflecting telescope, write 'used sky-watcher reflecting telescope' into the search bar.

Conclusion

A reflecting telescope is a wonderful piece of equipment that can be enjoyed by astronomers of all ages and abilities. Reflecting telescopes are available in a wide range of models, designs and sizes to suit the specific needs of each individual stargazer. Selecting and buying the right reflecting telescope will be a different process for each customer, choose a practical item that will provide the best results and most use. Research all brands and models of reflecting telescope on the market and then focus on sellers, listings and prices, before making a purchase. A well maintained reflecting telescope can improve every user's knowledge of the night sky and will provide years of pleasurable use.

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