A spotting scope is normally designed for terrestrial observations and is used in situations involving magnifications beyond the range of typical binoculars. It needs to be small and light enough so that it can be easily carried around. However, spotting scopes using the conventional refract objective lens normally have quite a long body size to accommodate the focusing requirement.
A telescope, on the other hand, is largely designed for planetary and deep sky observation, and is required to grasp more light at low lighting levels. Therefore, traditionally a powerful telescope would have a larger objective lens, with larger body size and heavier weight.
With a new technology, refra-reflect lens, it has now become possible to build a telescope which is not only powerful for long distance observation, but also has compact size so that it can be used as a spotting scope in travel, sightseeing and bird watching.
A typical example is the Nipon Compact 800x80 Telescope/Spotting Scope, with the above-mentioned design features.
The scope can be fitted with a wide range of telescope eyepieces to achieve different magnification levels and field of view. Its large 80mm fully multi-coated broadband objective lens lets in more light through to the eyepiece, thus ensuring better image quality over a long distance. Its refra-reflect objective lens makes the instrument much shorter, lighter and non-chromatic aberration than other scopes which adopt conventional refract objective lens. The length of the scope is only about 265mm. These new design features makes the instrument ideal for sightseeing, bird/animal watching, hunting, and other long-range viewing during the day, as well as for observing stars and the moon at night.