Telescope to see planets - which one to choose?
There are two main types of astronomical telescopes used in amateur astronomy: the refractor telescope and the reflector telescope. They differ in construction and operation, which also affects the type of astronomical observations they are best suited for. Each telescope is used for observing the sky, but some will be more useful for viewing the planets of the solar system, and others for admiring nebulae, galaxies or star clusters. Each model also has different parameters, and they impact on the image a given telescope allows you to see. Today we will try to help you choose a good telescope that will work well for observing the planets, the Moon and other perfectly visible objects.
What kind of telescope is best for viewing planets?
Planets, the Moon, comets, or the Sun are the brightest and most interesting objects in our solar system. They are fascinating not only for novice astronomers. Even experienced researchers can still admire the beauty of Saturn's rings or the Moon's craters. If we look a little further into space, we can also see other galaxies or globular clusters. However, observing these celestial bodies is more difficult, it requires knowledge, the right equipment and conditions. It is much easier to watch the planets, but for them, it is worth choosing a good telescope.
- Refractor telescope - the first telescope was a scope, that is, a device made of a lens and eyepiece, connected by a tube. It was developed in the 17th century, and even then it was possible to use it to view the disk of Jupiter and the surface of the Moon. Modern refractors are also very good at this. They give great contrast, so they are most suitable for observing large and bright objects. A refractor telescope will work well even in urban and suburban conditions, where the sky is heavily polluted with light. Such equipment is also useful for conducting ground observations. It gives a real and non-reversed image, so it can be used, for example, in animal observation. A refractor is also a good choice for beginners, as it is easy to use and maintain.
OPTICON Perceptor EX telescope is a compact device good for starters
- Newtonian reflector telescope - the reflector was first built by Newton, so it also known under the name Newtonian telescope. In this telescope you get less contrast, so it is better for viewing darker objects: galaxies, nebulae or star clusters. A reflector telescope is also less useful when the sky is illuminated by artificial light, but it allows you to see more in very dark skies. If you intend to conduct observations from places far from urban centers, then reflectors will be a better choice. In such situations, it is worth choosing a telescope that allows us to observe more, and with the help of a reflector you will then see both planets and galaxies.
OPTICON Prometheus telescope is a refractor with parallactic mount
- Or maybe binoculars for planet viewing? - Binoculars are optical devices often used for observation. They are compact, so it's easy to take them with you on the trip, and they give a pretty good magnification. Binoculars are usually used for ground observation in a wide variety of industries and professions, but did you know that you can also watch the stars with binoculars? Binoculars work well for sky observation, but of course not as well as a telescope. With its use, you will have a better view of the Moon and the landforms on its surface, but don't count on a clear picture of the craters. Under the right conditions, that is, in a sky unpolluted by light, binoculars can also work well for finding galaxies or tracking a comet.
The best Sun observation telescope
The Sun is the largest and brightest star in the solar system, so it does not require very sophisticated telescopes at all. You can choose a telescope, reflector or even binoculars, but it is very important to use the right filters or apertures with any of these devices. There are also special telescopes available on the market dedicated to viewing the Sun.
We choose a telescope to observe the planets of the Solar System
Even if you decide on a particular type of telescope, such as a refractor, which is best for observing large and bright objects, you still have to choose a model. Each observational telescope has its own parameters, such as the lens focal length or objective lens diameter, which significantly affect the observations you make.
- Objective lens diameter - the diameter of the lens is really the most important parameter that defines any telescope. The larger it is, the more light the telescope catches, and the more clear the observed object is. With the diameter of the telescope, its size and price also increase. However, you don't have to buy very large equipment to watch the planets. It also cannot be too small, as it will quickly become insufficient for you. Instead, you should opt for a refractor with a diameter of 80-110 mm or a reflector with a diameter of at least 150 mm. This is the optimal volume for both types of telescopes, which already allows you to conduct quite advanced observations. With their help you will see clear images of individual planets, or the moons of Jupiter.
- Lens focal length - this parameter determines how far away from the lens the image focus point is. It also affects the length of the lens tube, that is, that element that connects the lens to the eyepiece. The longer the focal length of the lens, the longer our telescope, which in turn affects its dimensions and ease of handling. The focal length of the objective lens is also used to calculate the magnification in a given telescope, but you also need a second parameter - the focal length of the eyepiece.
- Eyepiece parameters - the eyepiece is that part of the optical system in the telescope through which we are looking. We can change it and thus impact on the parameters of the telescope. When you buy a telescope with eyepieces, it is good if the set includes 3 eyepieces, having different magnification values. You can then match the type of eyepiece to the conditions and the object you want to observe. Eyepieces also affect the magnification of the telescope. To calculate them we divide lens focal length by the focal length of the eyepiece. The result that comes out to us should not be greater than double the diameter of the objective lens.
- Field of view - determines the range of the area we see, and it should be as large as possible. Each type of eyepiece has its own output field, and it is good to choose at least Plossl or Supel-Plossl eyepieces. The range of field of view in a telescope also depends on the diameter of the eyepiece focuser. We can increase it if we use a good quality eyepiece with a larger focuser diameter, that is, at least 1.25 inches.
Additional accessories are able to change the parameters of the telescope and affect its functionality. For example, we don't need to buy more eyepieces in order to obtain better image magnification. Higher magnifications are also possible with a Barlow lens, used with the same set of eyepieces. The Barlow lens can increase the magnification value of the eyepieces by three or even five times.
Telescopes are also used in astrophotography, but they require the right equipment. If you want to try yourself in astrophotography as well, then you will need a smartphone/camera adapter. These allow you to attach photographic equipment to the telescope and then take pictures of objects.
The right choice of equipment will allow you to take extraordinary photos
A stable tripod is also important to minimize vibrations. It should not be too high, because then it is more difficult to stabilize it. A mount must work well with the tripod. A good stabilization is provided by a Dobson telescope with a rotating base.
What telescope to use to observe the planets?
Telescopes are the most important equipment in astronomy, including amateur astronomy. A good telescope will allow you to see the planets and the most interesting celestial bodies of the Solar System. Even if the image obtained with it will not be even close to the Hubble telescope, it is still worth investing in high-quality equipment. A refractor will be perfect for this role, especially for observations made in well-lighted areas.
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