How Telescopes Work

  Prev Next  

Compound or Catadioptric Telescopes

Compound or catadioptric telescopes are hybrid telescopes that have a mix of refractor and reflector elements in their design. The first compound telescope was made by German astronomer Bernhard Schmidt in 1930. The Schmidt telescope had a primary mirror at the back of the telescope, and a glass corrector plate in the front of the telescope to remove spherical aberration. The telescope was used primarily for photography, because it had no secondary mirror or eyepieces -- instead, photographic film was placed at the prime focus of the primary mirror. Today, the Schmidt-Cassegrain design, which was invented in the 1960s, is the most popular type of telescope; it uses a secondary mirror that bounces light through a hole in the primary mirror to an eyepiece.

This content is not compatible on this device.

Diagram of a compound telescope showing the light path inside.

The second type of compound telescope was invented by a Russian astronomer, D. Maksutov, although a Dutch astronomer, A. Bouwers, came up with a similar design in 1941, before Maksutov. The Maksutov telescope is similar to the Schmidt design, but uses a more spherical corrector lens. The Maksutov-Cassegrain design is similar to the Schmidt Cassegrain design.