There are three main types of telescope. These are called refracting telescopes, Newtonian telescopes and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes.
Refracting telescopes use lenses to gather light. This was the first type of telescope to be invented, in the early 17th century, and was first used for serious astronomy by Galileo, 400 years ago.
Newtonian telescopes are reflectors. This means they use a mirror instead of a lens to direct the light from far-off objects. Reflecting telescopes were first invented by Isaac Newton, they use a curved mirror to direct light onto a flat mirror which then sends the light to an eye-piece or a detector.
Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes (SCT) are much smaller than other types of telescope because they use mirrors to fold the path of the light. The Faulkes Telescope is an SCT.
SCTs use a curved mirror to direct light onto a second mirror. This then reflects the light back through a hole in the first mirror to an eye-piece or a detector.
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Authors: Carolyn Brinkworth and Claire Thomas
Last updated: July 2001