Saying that choosing the right telescope for you can be quite an undertaking is the understatement of the century. There are so many different options out there, each with its own set of benefits. However, some are going to be better bets than others. Dobsonian telescopes are actually one of the astronomy world’s most often recommended options. They are named for their creator, John Dobson, co-founder of the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers. Let’s take a closer look at what they bring to the table.
Simple but Powerful
Dobsonian telescopes strike an excellent balance between simplicity and actual ability to perform. They consist of a simple set of good quality optics positioned on a single sturdy mount. The optical tube assembly (OTA) itself is actually just like those found in Newtonian reflector telescopes – simple and utilitarian, using mirrors instead of complicated lenses, but highly effective when it comes to light gathering.
The better a given telescope is at light-gathering, the easier it will make it detect fainter objects in the night sky. Plus, a simple design – especially one that uses mirrors — helps to keep the telescope affordable. This makes Dobsonian telescopes a great choice for both amateurs and professionals alike.
Plenty of Variety
Like Newtonian telescopes, Dobsonian telescopes are categorized according to the size of their primary mirror apparatus. Starter telescopes of this type will be about 6 inches in diameter while large-scale models may be closer to 30 inches. However, the most commonly found sizes are going to range from 8-16 inches. This gives the modern consumer a lot of choices when it comes to the size of the telescope they choose. Since mirrors are far more economical to produce than the alternative lenses, it’s easier for even amateur astronomers on a budget to upgrade to something larger that may better meet their needs and allow them more range as far as which celestial bodies they’ll be able to observe. Dobsonian telescopes also come attached to a variety of different mounts. Most are made of wood or metal and support both axis of movement by way of smoothly functioning bearings. However, for those interested in a high-tech mount, there are motorized options available as well.
If the Dobsonian scope can be said to have a limitation, it would probably be its unsuitability for long exposure astronomy imaging. That is better accomplished with a scope that features an equatorial mount capable of precisely tracking the stars as they shift position. However, Dobsonian telescopes are usually more than adequate at meeting the needs of the average astronomer.