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What are the Different Types of Astronomy Equipment?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 21, 2024
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There are various types of astronomy equipment, including the most commonly used astronomical telescope. A telescope mount is a type of astronomy equipment accessory needed for most high powered telescopes. Binoculars may be used as astronomy equipment, as well. Telescope filters and eyepieces are types of astronomy equipment that most professional grade telescopes utilize for various purposes. A star chart is another form of astronomy equipment, as is an astronomical calendar or space calendar.

To study various aspects of the universe and the solar system, good quality astronomy gear or equipment is necessary. Whether the equipment is being used for hobby purposes or scientific research, there are several pieces of equipment that allow one to see objects in space, even from one's own backyard. One of the most widely used pieces of astronomy equipment is the telescope. There are different kinds of telescopes, each capable of providing its own purpose and use.

A refractor or refracting type of telescope is a common piece of astronomical equipment. This type of telescope generally employs a lens, most commonly made of glass. This lens refracts light at an angle to provide a clear view of the image that is focused upon. Refracting telescopes are basic in design and not especially difficult to understand and use. These are popular pieces of astronomy equipment for beginning astronomers.

The catadioptric telescope is thicker, rounder and looks quite different than a refractor telescope. It offers better quality of viewing, but is generally more expensive. Scientists believe this is the best type of telescope for sharp image control. Catadioptrics may be more difficult to operate for beginners.

Eyepieces for a telescope can be obtained in various magnifications. Most common are eyepieces that enlarge an image more than several hundred times. The more power the eyepiece has, however, the more distorted the image may become. Eyepiece filters will also be required for most eyepieces to filter out light and other haziness that may distort the view of the image.

Binoculars are often thought to be strictly for terrestrial viewing, which is not entirely true. Although one may not look upon a pair of binoculars as a piece of astronomy equipment, they can be used for average star gazing. Even 10x power binoculars can offer a decent view of the starry night sky on a clear night.

Star charts help the astronomer navigate the night skies, much like a road map. These charts pinpoint the locations of crucial stars and planets. Many people who own telescopes use them in conjunction with star space calendars and star charts.

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