What is the best telescope to buy for astrophotography?
Astrophotography is the art and science of capturing images of the night sky using a camera and a telescope. It can be a rewarding hobby that allows you to explore the wonders of the cosmos and create stunning pictures of stars, planets, nebulae, galaxies and more. But what is the best telescope to buy for astrophotography?
The answer depends on several factors, such as your budget, your level of experience, your preferred targets and your imaging style. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some general guidelines that can help you narrow down your choices and find the best telescope for your needs.
In this article, we will review some of the most popular and recommended telescopes for astrophotography in 2023, based on expert opinions, user reviews and personal experience. We will also explain some of the key features and specifications that you should look for when choosing a telescope for astrophotography.
Types of telescopes for astrophotography
There are three main types of telescopes that are commonly used for astrophotography: refractors, reflectors and catadioptrics. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you want to photograph and how you want to do it.
Refractors are telescopes that use lenses to gather and focus light. They are usually long and thin tubes with an objective lens at the front and an eyepiece or a camera at the back. Refractors are known for their sharp and contrasty images, their low maintenance and their portability. They are ideal for wide-field and deep-sky imaging of faint objects like nebulae and galaxies.
However, refractors also have some drawbacks. They tend to be more expensive than other types of telescopes, especially if they have high-quality optics that minimize chromatic aberration (the splitting of light into different colors). They also have a limited aperture (the diameter of the objective lens), which limits their light-gathering power and resolution. They also have a fixed focal length (the distance from the objective lens to the focal point), which limits their magnification and field of view.
Reflectors are telescopes that use mirrors to gather and focus light. They are usually short and wide tubes with a primary mirror at the bottom and a secondary mirror at the top that reflects the light to an eyepiece or a camera at the side. Reflectors are known for their large aperture, their high resolution and their affordability. They are ideal for high-magnification imaging of bright objects like the moon and planets.
However, reflectors also have some drawbacks. They tend to be heavier and bulkier than other types of telescopes, which makes them less portable and more difficult to mount. They also require more maintenance, as they need to be aligned (collimated) regularly to ensure optimal performance. They also suffer from optical aberrations (distortions) such as coma (the stretching of stars near the edge of the field) and diffraction spikes (the cross-shaped patterns around bright stars).
Catadioptrics are telescopes that use a combination of lenses and mirrors to gather and focus light. They are usually compact and spherical tubes with a primary mirror at the back, a secondary mirror at the front that reflects the light back to a hole in the primary mirror, and an eyepiece or a camera behind it. Catadioptrics are known for their versatility, as they offer a balance between aperture, focal length, weight and cost. They are suitable for both wide-field and high-magnification imaging of various objects.
However, catadioptrics also have some drawbacks. They tend to have a narrow field of view, which makes them less suitable for large objects like nebulae or star clusters. They also have a long focal ratio (the ratio between focal length and aperture), which makes them slower (less sensitive) than other types of telescopes. They also suffer from optical aberrations such as spherical aberration (the blurring of stars near the