Astronomers have been fighting over which kind of telescope is better for a long time now. Some say that the refractor is the undisputed king while others prefer the reflector design. The truth is that you cannot draw a solid comparison between the two. Both designs have their pros and cons. Today, we’re going to be taking a detailed look at some of the best refractor telescope along with how they work. By the end of this article, you’ll have a much easier time picking the right refractor telescope to purchase for yourself. Let’s begin by trying to understand how refractor scopes work.
How Do Refractor Telescopes Work?
The word “refractor” makes refractor telescopes sound a lot more complicated than they are. The refractor telescope design has been around for a long time now. When Galileo first looked at the sky back in 1609, he used a refractor telescope. These telescopes have a long tubular body. It consists of an objective lens at one end and an eyepiece at the other end. The objective lens captures light and focuses it on a point inside of the telescope. This point is then magnified and viewed through the eyepiece.
The size of a refractor telescope’s objective lens (aperture) determines a telescope’s viewing power. A larger objective lens captures more light and hence is able to view objects that are fainter with better clarity.
Initially, refractor telescopes used to have a single objective lens. However, this resulted in refractor telescopes suffering from chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration occurs when the main lens isn’t able to focus certain light rays properly. This results in red, green, and blue color distortions forming around a picture. Fortunately, modern refractor telescopes have solved this problem by using two lenses instead of one.
The Pros And Cons of Refractor Telescopes
- They’re easier to handle. Pointing them in the right direction takes lesser effort and can be done with greater accuracy.
- Perform better in adverse conditions. Their sealed body design minimizes interference from light pollution.
- They don’t have a “blind spot” in the center of their line of sight.
- These telescopes are very easy to maintain. Their lenses don’t need cleaning, and neither does their optical alignment needs to be adjusted.
- Refractors have longer focal ratios. This lets them offer better focusing and reduces the need for intricate eyepieces.
- These telescopes are always more expensive. Their objective lenses are costly to produce.
- Chromatic aberration is present in entry-level to adept level telescopes. Telescopes that have multiple lenses to counter chromatic aberration are expensive.
- Their longer bodies make the telescopes larger and bulkier.
Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Refractor Telescope
Before we jump into our reviews, let’s quickly go through a few things that should be kept in mind. Keeping an eye out for these factors will help you pick a better telescope. One that will make your astronomy experience as enjoyable as possible.
First of all, you should go for telescopes with achromatic lenses. Achromatic lens telescopes are designed to reduce and eliminate chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration can be reduced with longer focal lengths as well. A minimum focal ratio of f/10 is recommended to reduce chromatic aberration further. Your telescope’s aperture and the quality of its optics should be kept in mind as well. You want a telescope with an aperture of at least 80mm. The quality of its optics will play a role in image clarity and the viewing power of the telescope. Higher quality lenses are also flatter. This minimizes any distortion on the edges of your telescope’s field of view.
Refractor telescopes can become incredibly expensive. However, a larger price tag doesn’t always translate to a better telescope. The telescopes that we’re covering down below aren’t exactly entry level items. However, they aren’t top of the line, overpriced telescopes either. The following telescopes are equipped with just the right elements to provide an awesome stargazing experience.
The Best Refractor Telescope Options
Skywatcher Evostar-90 AZ-3 3.5-Inch Refractor Telescope
Celestron 21064 AstroMaster 90EQ Refractor Telescope
Celestron 22096 NexStar 102 SLT Computerised Telescope
Orion 9024 AstroView
Orion 9534 ED80T
Skywatcher Evostar-90 AZ-3 3.5-Inch Refractor Telescope
- An achromatic telescope with a multi-coated objective lens. This telescope is designed for expert and regular use.
- The telescope has a large focal length and is capable of capturing 65% more light than 70mm telescopes. This allows it to provide spectacular image clarity.
- It comes with two eyepieces, a 10mm one and a 25mm one.
- There’s also a finderscope included that makes aiming the telescope far easier.
- Superb for viewing deep space objects with great clarity. The telescope is designed to maximize image quality.
- It comes with a finderscope.
- Its alt-azimuth mount keeps the telescope quite stable.
- The long focal length and coated achromatic lenses keep chromatic aberration to a minimum.
- It has a large body with the eyepiece at one end. Viewing through the eyepiece becomes hard when you’re pointing the telescope at higher angles.
- This telescope has been designed to view terrestrial and extra-terrestrial objects. Unlike most astronomy telescopes, this one doesn’t vertically invert images.
- It’s great for viewing the planets with stunning clarity. It comes with an integrated star pointer that makes viewing objects through the telescope much easier.
- The telescope is designed to be easily usable. This makes it a great option for children and beginners.
- Comes with two eyepieces; a 10mm and a 20mm.
- It’s affordable and versatile. Can be used to view celestial objects or terrestrial objects.
- Great for viewing the planets up close.
- Isn’t good for viewing objects that are farther away than the planets.
- Its provided mount is rather shaky and unstable.
- A computerized telescope that is designed to take care of all the tricky bits of star gazing. It’s easy to set up, and once it has been set up, you get to enjoy a smooth viewing experience.
- It produces 63% brighter images than other 80mm telescopes. The telescope’s f/5 optical system is quite impressive.
- The computerized controls of this telescope are the star of the show. They make using the telescope incredibly easy. It has a celestial objects database with around 4,000 objects in it.
- This telescope can be used for viewing terrestrial objects as well.
- A GoTo function makes object location fast and simple.
- It’s easy to assemble. You can set up the telescope within minutes.
- A superb telescope for getting high-quality images of the planets and stars.
- The eyepieces that come with the telescope aren’t good. You’ll need to replace them with something better.
- Its computerized system is power hungry. It needs 8 AA batteries to function.
- A sturdy beast of a refractor telescope. This telescope is built to satisfy astronomers and enthusiasts.
- It features a 120mm aperture that allows the telescope to capture loads of light. Its entire optical tube assembly is made of high-quality components.
- It’s a great choice for astrophotography as well since the telescope has awesome image quality. It manages to capture colors with striking accuracy as well.
- A high-end device that will meet expert needs.
- It’s more than capable of capturing far off objects such as galaxies and nebulas.
- It is made with high-quality components. This telescope is durable and can easily survive outdoor environments.
- Its focusing system is very smooth and easy to use.
- The telescope is incredibly expensive.
- A 90mm aperture chromatic telescope with a 910mm focal length. This refractor is designed to offer performance but at a much lower price point.
- It comes with an EQ mount that lets you slow-track objects in the sky. There are also two eyepieces (10mm and 25mm) that you can switch around.
- The telescope is heavy enough to provide stability and eliminate needless shaking.
- A powerful refractor that offers plenty of features at a reasonable price point.
- Its eyepiece section has a 90-degree mirror diagonal. This makes viewing through the telescope more comfortable at higher angles.
- Its tripod is adjustable, offers decent stability, and comes with an equatorial mount.
- The telescope’s large aperture and focal length allow it to produce stunning image clarity.
- Its setup and assembly can be complicated.
- This telescope features a triplet achromatic refractor setup. Its lenses are made of Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass. This enhances the resolution of its captured images by a margin.
- Its carbon fiber body keeps the telescope lightweight without compromising on build quality.
- Its dual-speed focusing system allows for incredibly fine focusing adjustments.
- Its sturdy build, compact frame, and a retractable dew-shield make this telescope perfect for outdoor star gazing. Its powerful optics make this telescope a great option for astrophotography as well.
- Has superb achromatic optics that capture sharp images with next to zero distortion.
- It’s a great combination of compactness and expert level viewing power.
- Has great build quality. You can expect this telescope to last for quite some time.
- It’s pricey.
- Its lens cap has poorly designed threads.
These are some awesome refractor telescopes that are a great option for enthusiasts. We’ve covered budget-friendly to high-end equipment to make sure that this list has something for everyone. Hardcore astronomers and hobbyists are both going to find something useful here. We believe that you should always view the night sky through equipment that does it justice.