If you are relatively new to the world of scopes, you may be wondering if you need a telescope or spotting scope.

We often get asked the question ‘What is the difference between a Telescope and a Spotting Scope?’? People also want to know if there is a significant distinction in their uses or application.

It is a good question, as they can both be used for most observations, including bird watching, wildlife viewing and night sky observation. However, each are also designed to excel for specific applications.

In this short post, we hope to answer the question more definitively for you. Or at least help you make the right choice for your needs!

Spotting Scope

As I just mentioned, each scope has been designed for a specific use and lend themselves towards each observation type. Below is a brief description of each scope and what their function and purpose is intended for.

What is a Telescope used for?

Telescope or Spotting scope

A Telescope is designed primarily for observation of the night sky, enabling the viewer to see many objects of interest.

It is a precision instrument and usually comes with a large solid Tripod and Mount. 

The modern telescope is typically manufactured to enable the viewer to see distant faint targets which have exceptionally low light transmission. 

These include Planets, Galaxies and Nebulae.

The telescope absorbs and focuses the light down a tube and reflects this through an Eyepiece which magnifies the tiny image. 

Now we understand the function of a telescope, let’s look at the the design and function of a spotting scope.


What is a Spotting Scope designed for?

A Spotting Scope has a similar principle of gathering light, but it is a terrestrial scope, more versatile, easier to setup and portable with a robust build design.

Many are gas filled and waterproof. Typically, the spotting scope is smaller and lighter than a telescope so can be carried out into the field for birding, wildlife, viewing landscapes, ships out at sea.

The versatility and mobility of a spotting scope means that they are also used in myriad of weird and wonderful applications. Including being used in  sport for scoring targets at Archery and Pistol shooting competitions.

Difference between Spotting Scope and telescope

Both the Telescope and Spotting Scope can be used for photography with camera adapters. In summary, a Spotting Scope is designed for looking at things on land and a Telescope is designed to view objects in the sky.

Can’t Choose between a Telescope or Spotting Scope?

We hope that this short post has helped make the design and function of difference scopes a little clearer.

If you are still uncertain as to whether you should choose a telescope or spotting scope, please don’t hesitate to contact on of our experts via our handy Chat Tool in the bottom right corner of the page.