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Different Types of Spotting Scopes

A spotting scope can be considered a lesser cousin on the astronomy telescope in some ways. Spotting scopes are designed for use in the outdoors, and in the day. This means that they tend to be proofed against water and fog, a feature that is rare to non-existent in astronomy telescopes, and they are also designed with a wider field of view, to enable the user to scan large areas of terrain quickly. Spotting scopes also tend to be lighter, to maximize portability, and rugged, because they may be taken over rough terrain. Spotting scopes can also fit onto any standard camera mount, whereas an astronomy telescope requires its own specialized and bulky mount that is generally not compatible with movement outdoors. Spotting scopes are also optimized for observing terrestrial objects as opposed to astronomy telescopes, which are designed to observe celestial objects. To that effect, spotting scopes produce an image that is upright, while astronomy telescopes produce an image that is inverted.

There are three main types of spotting scopes: the straight-through type, the angled type, and the shoulder-mounted type. As one might imagine, straight-through scopes are of the sort where the eyepiece is on the same axis as the path that the light travels on its way though the lenses. Straight-through spotting scopes are best for situations where the user must move quickly; for example, when birding. They are also the easiest kind of spotting scope to use due to their simple design, and they only require a limited amount of experience to be used effectively.

Angled spotting scopes are spotting scopes whose eyepieces are mounted at a roughly 45 degree angle to the optical path. The configuration is unusual, but it is eminently suited for long-term observation, particularly that of birds, where the user can sit down and take his time to put his target in his sight picture. In addition, spotting scopes can look at higher elevations from the same position without having to invest in another, taller, tripod.

Shoulder-mounted spotting scopes are not exactly a third type of spotting scope, but rather, they are spotting scopes that have been fitted with a stock that allows them to be braced on the shoulder much like a rifle would. Their advantage is that they provide much of the stability of a tripod mount, but without the tedious setting up and disassembly one would need to go through when moving from location to location.

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