What is a Reflecting Telescope?


The objects making up the solar system are quite far away. This means that they seem very small when it comes to observing them. That is why we use telescopes to focus the light coming from these objects so as to form clear images. A reflecting telescope is used by astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts to observe celestial objects that are millions of miles away from the earth. Their inherent advantages make them a favored choice for these applications as you will see below.

Read on to find out more about reflecting telescopes….

So…what is a reflecting telescope?

Invented by Isaac Newton back in the 1860s, reflecting telescopes, also referred to as reflectors, were an improvement on the earlier refracting telescopes. The new design managed to create a clearer image than the previous one. All reflecting telescopes available today are a variation of Isaac Newton’s invention. Reflecting telescopes usually form an image through the use of mirrors. The mirrors are used to focus the light rays from the object being observed to create a clear image. It is also worth mentioning that these telescopes form larger images, allowing for better observation of celestial objects.

How Reflection Telescopes Work

Reflecting telescopes usually use a mirror to bend light and make parallel rays converge into a clear image. The focus created is usually in the way of the light coming into the telescope; variations of the reflector telescope designed by Isaac Newton use different mirrors to create an image from the reflected light. Originally a flat mirror was used to focus the light onto an eye piece. Some variations use curved mirrors or other designs.


Reflection telescopes have a variety of associated advantages including the fact that they do not cause chromatic aberration (this refers to the inability of lenses to focus all the colors of a given image at one point due to the difference in refractive indices). These telescopes are also much cheaper to build, especially in large sizes. Furthermore, mounting the mirrors is easy as the entire back surface is free for use as an attachment to the mount.


On the other hand, reflection telescopes also suffer from some noticeable drawbacks, first among them being the fact that the mirrors require regular cleaning since they are exposed. Furthermore, the air in the telescope and that outside should have the same temperature. Otherwise, the image will be blurry as a result of air currents in the telescope.

The above-detailed description of what is a reflecting telescope? shows why they are popular among astronomy enthusiasts. Their superior design as compared to earlier refractive telescopes makes them better for use in observing far away celestial objects.

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