Telescopes Vs. Telephoto Lenses

  • Maruša 

Introduction

The night sky filled with shiny, pearl-like stars is a great canvas for a remarkable photo of the Orion. Now, you have a canvas, but no brush. No telescope? No problem. The galaxies and other celestial objects can still be photographed, unless extremely shy.

But which is better? A telescope, or a telephoto lens? Below, we embark on the journey which leads us into the realm of astrophotography and dwell upon finding out which is the better equipment to photograph the night sky.

Telescopes in General

Telescopes for Observing the Moon

Celestron Advanced VX 6” Newtonian (Source: Celestron)

A telescope is a piece of optical equipment, made out of lenses, mirrors, or a mixture of both, with the purpose of observing faraway objects. The first known functional telescopes were refracting telescopes invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th century, by using glass lenses.

The first telescopes were applied for both terrestrial applications as well as astronomy. Now telescopes can also be used for astrophotography, to observe and photograph various distant celestial objects.

Telephoto Lenses in General

A telephoto lens, just like a telescope, makes the object seem closer than it truly is, but its purpose is solely to photograph. Telephoto lenses are a match made in heaven for photographers who cannot get close to their desired target, perhaps due to physical limitations such as shooting the Moon, or due to safety reasons.

Telescope VS Telephoto Lens

Source: Wikipedia

Telescopes are an excellent and affordable solution for newbie astronomers who cannot yet afford a telescope. 135 mm and 200 mm lenses are appropriate for wide-angle star-field observations, looking for comets and asteroids, while 300 mm lenses are great for observing galaxies, large emission nebulae, and open clusters.

The Telescope

Advantages

  • Unbelievably large magnification

  • Better image quality on highly magnified targets

  • Fast-focusing mechanism

Which Telescope is Best for Astrophotography?

Celestron PowerSeeker 60 AZ apochromatic telescope (Source: Celestron)

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to transport

  • Darker objective

Telephoto Lens

Advantages

  • Quicker set up

  • Easier to transport

  • Easier to mount

  • Easier to guide and find an object even at lower magnification

Telescope VS Telephoto Lens

Source: Wikipedia

Disadvantages

  • Not enough magnification compared to a telescope

  • At high magnification the image gets unsteady

  • Because of chromatic aberration, no telephoto lens can be used at full aperture

Conclusion

As an astronomer or a photographer, either way, taking on the Earth’s shadow can be a challenging task. Whether you wish to treasure the rings of Saturn, or perhaps look out for a Moon crescent, you still need to carefully pick the proper location, the time of year and night, proper weather conditions, as well as the right equipment, be it a telescope or telephoto lens, both are fine, it all depends on the model and the user.

Summary
Telescope VS Telephoto Lens
Article Name
Telescope VS Telephoto Lens
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No telescope? No problem. The galaxies and other celestial objects can still be photographed, unless extremely shy. A telescope, or a telephoto lens? Below, we embark on the journey which leads us into the realm of astrophotography and dwell upon finding out which is the better equipment to photograph the night sky.
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Optics Trade Blog
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