Simple refracting telescopes can be made with a magnifying lens of long focal length, (The Objective Lens),paired with one of short focal length, (The Eyepiece). A usable primary lens can be found in many types of equipment that use projection lenses and other optical components. Small inexpensive refracting telescopescan often be found at surplus and used merchandise stores very cheaply.
The reflecting telescope is designed around mirrors. Because it does not transmit the light, but just bouncesit in another direction there is no refractive affect. No false color. The mirrors must be precise enough toaccurately reflect and focus the light without introducing distortion. That is not as hard to do as it sounds.The first project, the Newtonian Reflector, will require mirrors, and we will make them. It is really very easyto do. Physics is on our side.
Links to new terms and topics for this page:Collimation:
 Project 1: The Newtonian Reflector
The Newtonian Reflector Telescope, is an extremely simple and efficient design. If you read the article atwikipedia, (the link is below) you can see that there are some decisions that must be considered prior tostarting construction of the telescope. Two questions that need to be answered right away are how will youuse the telescope and where will you use the telescope. These two questions, and storage when not in usewill directly affect the design.
Thinking About Your Telescope
What Will You Do With Your Telescope? Most folks, me included, spent a lot of time dreaming about makingthe telescope without giving much thought to how it might be used. For instance, at the beginning I talkedabout looking at stars and planets. I also talked about looking at birds and retreating snow fields. Theproblem is, the basic Newtonian telescope makes everything look upside down. Looking at stars? This is notan issue. Looking at birds? We have a problem. Fortunately there are inverters you can buy for the telescopethat will turn things right side up. A second issue with the Newtonian telescope is that it is by design quitepowerful. This means you might be looking at bird feather detail, not the bird. Thirdly, the telescope is largerthan a pair of binoculars and may require setup and maintenance. I don't want you to stress over this, butyou need to consider, what will you do with the telescope?
The telescope design is everything from the optics, (in our case the mirrors), through the mounting of thoseoptics. The type of tube assembly to use. The mounting of the mirrors in the tube. The type of mount for thetube and mounting the tube in that assembly.So looking at the previous section, lets say you want to look at planets and stars in the sky. Longer focallength telescopes give bigger images. That is just the nature of the design. The longer the focal length, the