If you’re an astro-nerd like us, there’s nothing you love more than a far-reaching telescope. You love directing it toward the night sky, searching for new sights in distant space. Maybe you’ve traced the constellations or seen Mars shine red on a clear evening.
If you’ve spent much time around telescopes, you’ve probably used standard reflecting telescopes most. Yet, for all their popularity, reflecting telescopes aren’t the only options for astro-lovers. Instead, consider using a refracting telescope.
Refracting telescopes are a classic telescope style, originating in Galileo’s work in 1608-1609. They were the first telescopes invented to see across vast distances. Today, the largest refractive telescope resides in Yerkes Observatory.
If you’ve never tried out a refractive telescope, it’s time to change that. In this article, we’ll examine the top five benefits offered by refractive telescopes.
1. Refracting Telescopes are Low Maintenance and Easy to Use
One much-beloved benefit of refracting telescopes is their low-maintenance quality. These tools rarely need maintenance of any kind. Because its lens attaches securely to the optical tube, it rarely shifts its position.
Since the lens stays so stable, it seldom needs adjustment. Likewise, internal refracting telescope parts rarely come out of alignment. With their straightforward design, any owner can maintain these telescopes with ease.
This simplicity also makes these tools convenient to use. You can set up your telescope and use it instantly, unlike most reflective designs. Their more complex design sometimes requires you to collimate the telescope.
Collimation requires several adjustments to your optical alignments. Unfortunately, as you manage the optical elements, you often lose time on your viewing.
As a result, refracting telescopes are often the best amateur telescope. Their ease of use and lack of care help amateurs set them up and begin stargazing immediately.
2. Offering Stellar Optical Performance and Visual Clarity
When Galileo crafted his refractive telescope, he could see well beyond what most people see in the night sky. Not only could the scientist see planets like Venus, but he could discern the moons of Jupiter.
One difference between Galileo’s telescope and its modern descendants is in visual quality. Galileo’s telescope allowed him to see tremendous distances, but the lower quality lenses blurred his vision.
Modern refractive telescopes offer much clearer vision than many other alternatives. Yet, you must bear in mind the caveat that a lens’ optical performance is only as effective as its materials.
A low-quality refractor telescope uses a refracting lens made from a single piece of glass. While this isn’t a problem for short distances, over longer distances, it causes chromatic aberration.
The reason for this phenomenon is that various light wavelengths need different focal lengths after they refract. Fortunately, you can reduce chromatic aberrations with quality achromatic objective lenses.
A better option is using an apochromatic lens. Sometimes, photographers and telescope enthusiasts refer to these as APO lenses. These use two or three matched glass elements.
These refractors offer sharp, top-quality images. As such, they make an excellent choice for people who want to view solar system objects in detail. They also make stellar choices as astrophotography resources.
3. Astro-Imaging Capacity
One of the best features of refractive telescopes is their simplicity and convenience. That convenience, combined with the sharp image quality of APO lenses, makes these tools a favorite for photographers.
Several other factors make these telescopes popular among photographers. First, they don’t need a sizeable aperture for their photography. Instead, they require more light per pixel in the telescope.
Refractive telescopes often perform faster because they have a lower focal ratio. They process the light entering their smaller lens faster than reflective telescopes can with large lenses.
Another reason for this preference is that refractive telescopes often weigh less. Their small size makes them easier to mount, saving photographers money on expensive mounting systems and tools.
Their smaller size also allows photographers to follow moving objects more swiftly. Bigger, bulkier telescopes may sooner lose track of their target.
4. Refractor Telescopes are More Portable
This benefit follows naturally from the previous points. Since refracting telescopes are often smaller than reflective telescopes, you can carry them with you more often.
This portability benefits astrophotographers in many ways. It allows them to carry their telescope across long distances without much hassle. It also takes less time to set up, allowing them more speed in their photography work.
5. Affordability and Accessories
Depending on your purposes for using a telescope, you may not have given their accessories much thought. However, more advanced telescopes often include astronomy software and applications.
Astronomy software helps you plan your night sky photography. These programs include tools for helping you predict what the night sky will look like in your area. You can also input locations and dates to get an idea of what you’ll see through your telescope that night.
Other applications include things like maps of the stars and moon. Sometimes, you can get these tools with a telescope separate from the astronomy software.
If you’re questioning whether you have to break the bank to get the best telescope for adults, don’t worry! You can find several refracting telescopes for affordable prices. Typically, you can expect a decent aperture, tripod, and visual quality from cheaper models.
Some more expensive models often include more astronomy software and mapping tools. However, you can find some telescopes with these applications for less than $200. Don’t let price stop you from investing in this craft!
Find Your Refracting Telescope Today!
As you can see, there are several advantages to using a refracting telescope. They make reliable tools for astrophotographers, with excellent durability and little required maintenance. All you have to do is find the right telescope for you.
Want to take great pictures of your astronomical finds? Take a look at the best cameras for astrophotography today, and be sure to look at our other articles for more astronomy education.