There are primarily three different types of telescopes – refractive, reflective and catadioptric. As the names imply, refractive telescopes use refraction of light, reflective telescopes use reflection of light and catadioptric telescopes combine refraction and reflection of light to form an image. The main purpose of optical telescopes is to magnify an image which is done by a series or collection of lenses and using one or more types of movement of the light.
There are several other types of telescopes based on the sub-designs but optically, the aforementioned are the three categories or distinctly different types of telescopes available today. Refractive telescopes are the oldest. They were superseded by reflective telescopes because of their compact size, ease of use, larger apertures and since they averted the problem of chromatic aberration that refractive telescopes were infamous for. But there were advantages of refractive telescopes which were later inculcated along with the benefits of reflective telescopes in catadioptric telescopes.
Refracting telescopes, also referred to as Dioptrics, include the achromatic telescope or dialytic refractor, apochromatic, binoculars, opera glasses, copyscope, Galileoscope, monocular, non-achromatic, Galilean telescope, Keplerian telescope, aerial telescope, superachromat and varifocal gas-lens telescope.
Reflecting telescopes, also known as Catoptrics, include the Cassegrain telescope, Dall–Kirkham telescope, Nasmyth telescope, Ritchey–Chrétien telescope, Gregorian telescope, Herrig telescope, Herschelian telescope, large liquid mirror telescope, Newtonian telescope, Dobsonian telescope, Pfund telescope, Schiefspiegler telescope, Stevick–Paul telescope and Toroidal reflector / Yolo telescope.
Catadioptric telescopes, also simply known as Catadioptrics, include the Argunov–Cassegrain telescope, Catadioptric dialytes, Klevtsov–Cassegrain telescope, Lurie–Houghton telescope, Maksutov telescope, Maksutov camera, Maksutov–Cassegrain telescope, Gregory (Spot) Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, Rutten Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, sub-aperture corrector Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, Maksutov Newtonian telescope, Modified Dall–Kirkham telescope, Schmidt camera, Baker-Nunn camera, Baker-Schmidt camera, Lensless Schmidt telescope, Mersenne-Schmidt camera, Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope, ACF Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope, Schmidt–Newton telescope, Schmidt-Väisälä camera, astrograph, comet seeker, GoTo telescopes, graphic telescope, infrared telescope, meridian circle, robotic telescope, solar telescope, space telescope, spotting scope, Sun Gun telescope and Zenith telescope.
Apart from differences in designs and constructions, configurations and brands, telescopes also have different types of mounts. The common types of mounts are fixed, transit, zenith, Altazimuth, Alt-alt (altitude-altitude), equatorial, equatorial platform, Poncet platform, fork mount, German equatorial mount, barn door tracker, Springfield mount, hexapod mount and infinite-axis mount.
The specific purpose, the setting and the method of observing astronomical events or the nature of the exploration will determine the type and mount of a telescope.
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