For many of us, telescopes are mainly associated with astronomy or exploration. But not many of us realize how unique telescopes really are. There are three different general types of telescope out there, and each of them function differently. Each unique type is used for very different purposes than the rest. Depending on what use you want to get out of your telescope, determines the type of telescope that you will need to purchase. It will also be the deciding factor in how much the telescope will cost you in the long run. Also make sure that the location you plan to view from is not a built up area, and has no pollution.
The three main types of telescopes are refractor, reflector, and catadioptric.
Refractor telescopes are the traditional lengthy tube shaped telescope, most used by explorers or sailors. The refractor telescope uses lenses that bend light, causing the rays to meet a point at the opposite end. The eyepiece magnifies this for your viewing.
Reflector telescopes however, contain a primary mirror that is concave in shape. This mirror sends light to a flatter mirror, that reflects it out of a side opening to the eyepiece. The light is then magnified and focused.
The final type of telescope is the catadioptric telescope, which is becoming popular on the market right now. This type of telescope utilizes a series of mirrors and lenses that will fold the light's path, sending it through to the primary mirror via a small hole. This allows for the light to be both focused and magnified while viewing. Within the Catadioptric type of telescope are two sub types. These are Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain. This type of telescope is rather easy to move and use, and is extremely versatile, making it great for deep space and planetary observation.
Once you have decided what you would like to view through your telescope, and the type of telescope that best fits your needs, you need to decide how much you are willing to carry around in order to use your telescope. Telescopes can be rather bulky in nature, due to their tripod and mountings which are essential to their use. Once that is decided, you should focus on how much to spend compared to how much aperture you can get. Magnification is not a major concern, you should focus more on how much light gathering capability it has. More light means you will see better when viewing. The larger the aperture, the better when it comes to viewing.