Introduction to Telescopes

When Galileo invented
the telescope in 1609, he began a
journey of cosmic exploration, which thousands
of interested sky-gazers have embarked upon since.

His telescope was a crude refractor, giving around 20x magnification, smaller and optically far inferior to even children's telescopes of today, yet the views revealed through it were as wondrous to him as those of the Hubble Space Telescope are to us today, nearly 400 years later. Maybe even more so. In his journal, he wrote after his few nights of wonder;

I render infinite thanks to God, for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries.'

Imagine how that must have been, being the first person ever to see the craters and mountains of the Moon, the glorious rings of Saturn, the dancing moons of Jupiter, as well as hundreds of other stars and celestial mysteries not even visible to the naked eye. There is something about a "live" view through a telescope that is very difficult to capture in photographs, no matter how spectacular. What is it? Is it the crystal clarity? Is it the crisp resolution and brightness? Is it the simple fact that your celestial destination is before your eyes clearly and presently right in this moment? Whatever it is, it has attracted people to astronomy for centuries, and never more so in the past decade.

Picture taken through Sky-Watcher 80/400 Refractor (Startravel-80)
Photo courtesy of William Ronald, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Warning: Specialist Safety Filtering should always be used when directly viewing the Sun

Modern telescope making has advanced the simple designs of Galileo and Isaac Newton (the inventor of the reflector telescope) to state-of-the-art, and prices have dropped considerably, making telescopes of excellent optical quality available to everyone. Owning a telescope today is an investment in wonder, excitement and enjoyment. Whether you are pursuing a serious career in advanced astronomy or you simply like to be out under a night sky awash with stars, piloting your own imaginary starship through the galaxy and beyond, a telescope can help you begin the journey. For a relatively small outlay you will have a scope capable of wonderful tours of the solar system and beyond. When you look through the eyepiece as the rings of Saturn come into focus, whether it's for the first time or the hundredth time, chances are, you will pause for a moment, and say, 'Wow'

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