Five Must-Have Features in a Reflecting Telescope

What uses would a hobbyist have for a reflecting telescope?

Astronomy
Astronomy was the primary driver of the development of the reflecting telescope. Reflecting telescopes provide a cost-effective way to view the night sky or atmospheric effects like the Aurora Borealis.

Bird Watching
The rise of bird watching has literally crowded the field, driving many birds deeper into the wilderness. A quality reflecting telescope permits bird watchers to look for a variety of species from many different vantage points.Sight Seeing
The expansion of wilderness areas among national parks may be good for the animals, but it makes sight seeing of many national treasures increasingly difficult. Do you want to watch a volcano erupt, the whales out at sea or wild animals at play? As humans are increasingly pushed out of the wilderness, telescopes remain one of the few ways to view the natural world up close.

If you have an interest in a hobby that requires a reflecting telescope, what hobbies do you need?

Great Optics
The most important of the five must-have features in a reflecting telescope is quality optics. You must have excellent optical quality. Increased resolution allows you to see finer details. Select a telescope whose mirror has a minimal spider diffraction effect. The Celestron reflecting telescope lines have an excellent reputation in this area.

Dual Axis Motor Drive
A dual axis motor drive allows you to tightly control the movement of a reflecting telescope in both the vertical axis and the horizontal axis. A dual axis motor drive can also be used with a computerized control unit to automatically track the movement of celestial objects. Precision drive correctors improve the accuracy of the dual axis motor drive while improving the quality of images taken from the reflecting telescope.

Steady Mount
If the telescope has an unstable mount, the high quality optics are ruined any time the mount moves. A dual axis motor’s tight control of the telescope is irrelevant if the telescope shifts.

Finder Scope
A finder scope is similar to the laser sight on a gun. The finder scope helps you identify where you are pointing and ensure alignment. Finder scopes are built into some telescope models while others offer them separately. Finder scopes allow you to verify the alignment of the telescope matches the star chart and ensure that you are correctly positioned for viewing.

Easy Set Up
Telescopes that are difficult to set up take time away from viewing and enjoyment. Complex set ups also introduce the risk of errors that affect accuracy. The best reflecting telescopes for amateurs are those that do not require tools for assembly. For aspiring astronomers, buy a unit with a pre-assembled tripod and accessory tray.

What other features are nice to have in a reflecting telescope?

Computerized Mount and Control Software
A computerized mount allows you to control the positioning of the telescope from a laptop. When you have a laptop with the necessary software, once you select a target and know where you are, the computerized mount is moved automatically to point at the desired target.

Large Aperture
You want a good field of view to minimize the amount of adjustment required to locate a target. You can get a good combination of resolution and ease of use by buying a telescope with a larger aperture. The combination of a large aperture mirror and high resolution will give you breath-taking detail of nebulas and distance phenomena.