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Thread: Advantages and Disadvantages of Refractor Telescopes

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    Arrow Advantages and Disadvantages of Refractor Telescopes



    Advantages and Disadvantages of Refractor Telescopes

    This will be helpful to those deciding between a refractor and a reflector


    Advantages of a Refractor Telescope


    • Virtually maintenance free due to their close optical tube design
    • No telescope mirror to adjust (no collimation needed)
    • One of the most rugged and long-lasting telescope designs
    • Good choice for children / people sitting down because the eyepiece is located at the bottom of the tube, therefore easier to see through for smaller people
    • Great as a daytime telescope also for birding and other hobbies vs other telescopes
    • Generally lighter and smaller optical tube assembly (OTA) per inch of aperture

    Disadvantages of a Refractor Telescope


    • most expensive per inch of aperture than other telescopes
    • price of refractors escalates highly after 3 inches
    • affordable apochromatic refractors are very small aperture which will be outgrown by many astronomers over time
    c cooper, fmhill, snorvich and 5 others like this.
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    Two additional refractor advantages I've personally observed-

    1. No secondary objective blocking the light path, resulting in light grasp equivalent to reflectors of 2-3 inches larger aperture. This results in greater object detail inch for inch of aperture. (Note greater detail, not higher magnification.)

    2. Sharper contrast and focus than reflectors, again due to the lack of the secondary objective and the direct path of the light to your eye.

    Two additional disadvantages to refractors-

    1. Much longer in larger apertures than equivalent aperture reflectors, requiring more substantial mounts.

    2. Apparent violet fringe on bright objects in 2 element achromatic designs, requiring use of filters to limit fringe. 3 element Apochromatic designs eliminate this problem, but are substantially more costly at equivalent apertures. ($500-600 for 6 inch achromatic OTA vs $8500-12,000 for 6 inch apochromatic OTA)
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    2-element Apochromats like the Orion ED-80 do not show blue fringes. They are economically priced at $500 usd too.
    Matthew Ota
    10" Meade LX250GPS SCT, 80mm Orion ED80 Achromat, Coronado Helios H-alpha Solar Telescope

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    Refractors DO need collimation... BUT only some have push/pull cells that allows the owner to do the job... NEVER ever THINK they never need collimation and (in my opinion) Never buy wone that has to be sent back to the factory to collimated Case in Point MY AR-5 Meade 5" ...

    Pain in the tail...

    Bob G.
    CPC1100 housed in a slotted domed observatory (Exploradome) 4 and 5 inch refractors for use from the lawn, a 8" Sct (NS 8i) for star parties...
    I Hate the winter so I use heated Motorcycle clothing to stay warm while observing in winter
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    1. tinker with older Corvettes (6 in garage)
    2. make a heck of a lot of sawdust in my wood shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by matthewota View Post
    2-element Apochromats like the Orion ED-80 do not show blue fringes. They are economically priced at $500 usd too.
    ED's are less expensive than true 3 element apochromatic designs, but at $500 for an 80mm ED vs $500 for a 150mm Achromat or 200mm Newtonian reflector, I still don't know that I would call them "economical". That said they do provide image quality close to that of 3 element apochromats at lower price points.
    -C6-RGT refractor w/JMI EV-1r focuser & Orion 80mm guide scope on CGEM mount. Orion 10" Dob
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    The only advantage a refractor has over a decent reflector is portability, at least in the 4" and under size.

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    Now things are going to get interesting... /gets popcorn

    Welcome to the forums hhowardn.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhowardn View Post
    The only advantage a refractor has over a decent reflector is portability, at least in the 4" and under size.
    Quote Originally Posted by GriffinBF View Post
    Now things are going to get interesting... /gets popcorn

    Welcome to the forums hhowardn.

    Nah, everyone is entitled to their opinion and their personal preference. I respectfully disagree, but then that is my personal opinion and preference. Of course I'm right though.

    I also welcome you to the forum hhowardn! Clear skies and Merry Christmas!
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    Ha-ha. Thanks very much. I did post this to generate some comments. I admit I have never looked through an apo refractor but I am keen to do so. Who know, I might become a true believer once that happens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hhowardn View Post
    The only advantage a refractor has over a decent reflector is portability, at least in the 4" and under size.
    Hi HHowardn ...This dosent make sense to me ... If you have a refractor and a reflector , and there both under 4in i would think they are equaly portable ...I have an old lxd55 5in achromat refractor and the views from it are great , In my opinion .........
    16in Night sky Dobsonian F4.5 , 90mm refractor 500mm FL , 7in LX200 classic Big-mac , Meade eye pieces with a few odd balls thrown in ...
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