Different Types of Telescopes

Telescopes are very old scientific and observational instruments that started to be made in distant 16th century, and ever since then scientists from all around the world have managed to evolve them into many types that cover wide range of uses. As expected, almost all are focused on gathering information from the electromagnetic spectrum.

Picture Of Telescope Instrument

Telescope types by wavelengths of light:

  • Optical – Traditional telescopes that gather visible light. They are built in all sizes, from small handheld models (spyglasses) to the large observatories both on Earth and in space.
  • X-Ray – X-Ray astronomy observes emissions of many celestial bodies. Most of the X-Ray telescopes are in Earth’s orbit because our atmosphere is absorbing most of those rays.
  • Infrared – Started in 1830s, this type of telescopes is one of the most popular ones for examining distant celestial objects.
  • Gamma ray – These telescopes collect the most energetic waves of electromagnetic radiation that is created both within and outside our solar system (usually from supernovae, pulsars and blazars).
  • Submilimetre telescopes – Best types of telescopes that can examine molecular clouds, dark cloud cores and other types of material that is present in areas that are birthplace of new stars.
  • High-energy telescopes – These telescopes hunt for the most elusive particles such as cosmic rays, neutrinos and others.

Non-electromagnetic spectrum telescopes:

  • Gravitational-wave detector
  • Neutrino detector

Telescope types by location:

  • Ground – Observatories built on ground. Most large scientific telescopes are placed on top of tall mountains so that they are not affected by clouds and thick atmosphere that can distort incoming rays of light.
  • Flying – Telescopes mounted on airplanes, balloons and drones.
  • Space – Telescopes that are launched outside of Earth’s atmosphere to preform experiments that are not hindered by our atmosphere.

Types of telescope mounts:

  • Fixed – Telescopes that are not moveable (Zenith telescopes).
  • Fixed altitude mounts – Telescopes that can only move by rotating its mount.
  • Transit mounts – Telescopes that are fixed on place, but can move on one axis (usually from north to south).
  • Altazimuth mounts – Fully movable telescopes, both in altitude (up or down) and azimuth (from side to side).
  • Alt-alt (altitude-altitude) mounts – Same as Azimuth mounts, but with ability to look at entire nighty sky, without the blind spot at the very top of the zenith.
  • Equatorial mounts – Fixed “polar axis” telescopes that can move only from east to west.
  • Hexapod-Telescope – Very agile telescope mount that is not based on two axles, but on six extendable struts.