Since the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope there has been widespread popular interest in astronomy. A further
series of events, most notably the recent Deep Impact mission and Mars oppositions have served to fuel further interest.
As a result more and more amateurs are coming into astronomy as a practical hobby.
At the same time more sophisticated optical equipment is becoming available as the price to performance ratio become
more favourable. As a result larger and better optical telescopes are now in use by amateurs.
We also have the explosive growth in digital imaging technologies. In addition to displacing photographic film as the
preferred image capture modality it has made the capture of high quality astronomical imagery more accessible to a
wider segment of the astronomy community. However, this customer requirement has also had an impact on telescope
design. There has become a greater imperative for wide flat image fields in these telescopes to take advantage of the
ongoing advances in CCD imaging technology.
As a result of these market drivers designers of consumer astronomical telescopes are now producing state of the art
designs that result in wide, flat fields with optimal spatial and chromatic aberrations. Whilst some of these designs are
not scalable to the larger apertures required for professional ground and airborne telescope use there are some that are
eminently suited to make this transition.