Spotting Scope vs Telescope – Which One is Better?

Our Earth and the galaxy around are full of hidden treasures. You will be taken aback by the beauty and variety you find. You can observe them on the far beyond skies as well as on the landscape around. All this has been made possible with the use of astronomical instruments. They include spotting scopes and telescopes. What is the difference between the two, and which one is better? Let us explore together from the fundamental meaning to their basic types and everyday life applications.


It is derived from two separate words. Tally points to far off things and scope means to look or to see. So, it is an astronomical instrument, and you can use to see distant celestial bodies, star gazing, etc. It brings the big objects far away to a size that is captured in the tube of your scope.

Parts of The Telescope

It has the following essential parts.

The lens is an essential part that controls the whole working of the telescope. Lenses can be of different types; convex, concave lens, or mirror. It includes the focusing distance, magnification, resolution, and field of view. It gathers and controls the amount of light.

Other parts are telescope tube, finder scope, eyepiece, mounts, tripod, and half pillar.

Types and Their Uses

Their types, according to their uses, are two. We will see them with their application, examples, and pros and cons. This information will help you decide their suitability according to your needs.


It has a glass lens that is placed in front. This glass lens refracts the light as it passes through it. Hence it has got its name based on its mechanics.

Its examples include the Yerkes observatory with an aperture of 1.02 meters. Kyle Cudwork and Lick observatory also have them.

You will find the refractors in small-sized telescopes that you buy from the departmental stores. You need to mount it on the rifles for better distant aiming.

It has the advantage that its optical system is resistant to misalignment and hence maintenance-free as it is temperature resistant, so images and visual sharpness remain unaffected. But with these advantages, it comes with the disadvantage of chromatic aberrations at specific parameters.


They rely on a mirror for converging the light rays. As they reflect the light rays, so they acquire their name as reflector telescopes.

They include Hale telescope at polymer observatory, and with so many others, we have one at WM Keck observatory as keck telescope.

They find their application in astronomical studies, observation, and fulfilling hobbies of stargazing.

They have the benefits that they are free from color errors, need fewer adjustments for better viewing. They are less expensive than other astronomical instruments. They have the drawbacks that they need proper maintenance, alignment, and may produce spherical aberration at higher distances.

Application of Telescope:

It is used in astronomical studies, observing the moon and the solar system. It helps to analyze the movement, directions, surrounding, behavior, and composition of stars. It is used both at day and night times.

One of its non-astronomical use with slight modification and technical changes has been developed as a spotting scope. Let us take an overview of it for a better understanding of their differences.

Spotting Scope

These are the type of telescopes that can be carried from one place to another due to their compact size. It operates on power optics, which produce an upright, more precise image. It has a magnification power ranging from 20-60 X.

Parts of The Spotted Scope:

It consists of two main parts; body and the eyepiece. The eyepiece provides the magnification of the object. It can be with either fixed or enhancing power.

Types and Their Uses:

It has a refractory type that uses optical glass lenses. Another example is called Catadioptric, which uses a mirror to reflect light.

Applications of Spotted Scope:

It has a wide range of uses in our daily life. It is preferred for some leisure and observational outdoor activities like hunting, bird watching, and target shooting, be it for professionals as in the military or amateur competition.

You may find them useful for ski resorts to enjoy the beauty of harbor sights. They help in distant sports such as boat racing and hiking of the mountain. You may also use them for studying the life cycles of the insects without their notice or disturbance.

The biological scientists use the spotting scope to observe the minute details of the honey bees, ants, etc. Similarly, a spotting scope may help you to do surveillance of the farmers and their activities. It has the added advantage of capturing the golden moments and observations by attaching unique mounts on them.

Overview of The Difference

Now, as we conclude their overview, we can understand their differences in their application for better decisions.

As far as portability is concerned, you can carry the spotting scope where you want, whereas telescopes (depending upon their size) may or may not be taken all the time. The spotted range uses a field of view of 50-150 feet.

On the contrary, the telescope has it up to 1000 yards. You can use spotting scope on landscape activities basically whereas telescopes handle working with celestial bodies.

The spotted range is usually user friendly, but some of the highly sophisticated telescopes require skilled handling and maintenance. Glasses often have aberrations at high magnification. On the other hand, the spotting scope is free of these errors.

Which one is better?

They both hold their advantages and limitations. It all depends upon what purpose you want to choose them for! If you are interested in observing celestial bodies and stars, the telescope is the right choice.

However, if you are aiming for a far-sighted activity on land, then definitely spend your bucks on spotting scopes.

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