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You are watching: Difference between reflecting and refracting telescopes

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If you are looking to buy your an initial telescope, friend will discover out that there room a couple of types that telescope designs. The key telescope designs you can select from space the refractor telescope and also reflector telescope.

Many human being buying the very first telescope are making the decision based on the look of the telescope. That is a huge mistake due to the fact that there are large differences between refracting and reflecting telescopes.

The main difference between refractor and also reflector telescope is the the refractor provides optical lenses, and also the reflector telescope supplies mirrors. The distinction is also in the maintenance required in between those two. The refractor telescope requires less maintenance than a reflector telescope. Refractor telescopes usually have actually smaller apertures and are much more expensive than reflector telescopes.

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Refractor vs Reflector Telescope

There are likewise other telescope designs choose Schmidt Cassegrain and also Maksutov Cassegrain telescope, however in this article, ns will only talk about Refractor vs. Reflector telescopes.


If you desire to learn an ext about the various other designs, you can read my short article Schmidt Cassegrain vs. Maksutov Cassegrain.

How walk Refractor Telescope Work


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How does Refractor Telescope Work

Refracting telescopes are really common telescopes used by amateur astronomers. These telescopes are using only lenses to magnify the far-off object. Modern-day refracting telescopes are using Keplerian Refractor design.

The Keplerian Refracting telescope uses a convex lens at the front and also a convex lens inside the eyepiece at the ago of the telescope behind the main lens’s focus point. The light is refracted in the primary lens and produces a magnifying image in the eyepiece, hence dubbed “Refracting” telescope.

Because the eyepiece is situated behind the major lens’s focal distance plane, the eyepiece’s image is reverse both vertically and also horizontally. This design permits for a more significant apparent ar of view in the eyepiece and a longer focal size telescope to achieve greater magnification.


Galilean Refractor architecture is making use of a convex lens and concave lens in the eyepiece, however the eyepiece is placed prior to the focus allude of the major lens. This architecture is producing a true image that is not inverted. Galilean Refractor style is much more like a spying glass, and also it is not offered in the contemporary refracting telescopes.

How go Reflector Telescope Work


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How does Reflector Telescope Work

The reflecting telescope is additionally called the Newtonian telescope since it provides the Newtonian design. This architecture uses mirrors to create an image. The just lens in the showing telescope is the eyepiece.

Reflecting telescope provides a spherical or parabolic primary mirror in ~ the finish of the telescope tube. The tube is open, the irradiate goes through and reflects indigenous the primary mirror to a tiny flat an additional mirror at the prior of the telescope.

The an additional mirror is tilted 45 degrees and also reflects the light right into the eyepiece ~ above the next of the tube. Winter reflect the light to create an image in the eyepiece; it is why it is dubbed a mirroring telescope.


Refractor Telescope Advantages

Refracting telescopes are easy to use and also require little to no maintenance. They room usually tiny and compact.Refracting telescope is a good choice for kids.Refractors with facility lens designs space the number one an option for astrophotography.Temperature readjust doesn’t influence the stargazing experience because of the closed tube design.A Refracting telescope is great choice to observe the moon and also planets.

Refractor Telescope Disadvantages

Refracting telescopes are accessible only with little apertures.Chromatic Aberration – “color fringing” is a trouble with the lenses whereby they can’t emphasis all colors to a one-point. A link lens is correcting this issue resulting in a greater price that the telescope.High-quality refractors v compound lenses are very expensive.Because of the little aperture, they can not collect sufficient light to enjoy observing deep-sky objects prefer nebulae and also galaxies.

Reflector Telescope Advantages

Reflecting telescopes are obtainable in gig apertures.The winter is less complicated to manufacture 보다 a lens, therefore they are cheaper than refractors.Big mirrors have the right to collect a the majority of light to reap every thing in the night sky.Reflecting telescopes have no Chromatic Aberration.Even big observatory telescopes and an are telescopes are using mirrors.A mirroring telescope is the finest telescope for the money.

Reflector Telescope Disadvantages

Reflecting telescope needs an ext maintenance than refracting telescope.Mirrors must be set to obtain the finest image. This is referred to as Collimation, and it requirements to be excellent on every mirroring telescope indigenous time come time.Because of the open tube design, the sudden temperature adjust can affect the picture quality.Reflecting telescopes with big apertures are tough to transport and also store.Comatic Aberration – the stars can be elongated about the edge of the field of view. The trouble can be repair by a coma corrector, including to the price of a telescope.

Refractor vs. Reflector Telescope In visual Astronomy

Comparing the refracting and also reflecting telescope for usage in visual astronomy is subjective. Some amateur astronomers favor the views through the refractor and also others with the reflector.

In mine opinion, the clear winner for visual astronomy is the showing telescope. In astronomy, we need to collect every feasible photon to gain the finest image. So, the bigger is much better because a huge aperture have the right to collect a lot more light than a tiny aperture.

You can buy a mirroring telescope through an aperture as much as 16 inches and maybe more. This is a large advantage over the refracting telescope. The big Newtonian telescope will display you exceptional views that deep-sky objects.


Refractor vs. Reflector Telescope In Astrophotography

The most common an option for astrophotography is the refracting telescope. However, that doesn’t typical you can’t usage a reflector.

Choosing between the refractor and reflector for astrophotography is a matter of preference, and also there is no wrong an option here. No matter what girlfriend choose, friend will be able to do astrophotography. 

The one aspect we can mention here is the price. Because if you want to do astrophotography through the refractor, you need a high-quality one v compound lenses to exactly the chromatic aberration. Preferably triplet, which is very expensive even with a little aperture.

On the various other hand, if you go for a reflector, it will certainly be cheaper, yet you will need to fight the comatic aberration and always perform perfect collimation that the mirrors prior to every astrophotography session.

Check the end my article The ideal Telescope for Astrophotography.


What should I Buy, Refractor, or Reflector?

So what must you select as the an initial telescope, refractor, or reflector? Well, this is a tough question yet let me give you my reference after years of suffer with telescopes.

If you space serious around astronomy and want the best beginner telescope to begin with, go for any Dobsonian telescope. This Newtonian Reflector telescope top top Dobsonian mountain is the many affordable telescope also with larger apertures. Remember the bigger is better in astronomy.

On the other hand, if you space not sure that you will be using the telescope really often, you may sometimes look in ~ the moon or planets. Or you setup to take it it ~ above the camping trip to show the kids some object in the night sky, then you are an excellent with a small refracting telescope. Later you have the right to upgrade come a bigger showing telescope after you get hooked increase on astronomy.


Recommended Reflector Telescope

Orion SkyQuest XT8

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Recommended Refractor Telescope

AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope

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Who found Refracting Telescope

It all begins with the lens plenty of centuries ago- us don’t know exactly when due to the fact that scientists argue around that. Some say the the lens is thousands of years old. 

Archeological proof indicates the there was some sort of rocky crystal artifact date to the 7th century BC so-called Nimrud lens. We additionally have proof that even old Egyptians were using some type of lens based on particular hieroglyphs.


But the first oldest recommendation for making use of the lens is from Aristophanes discussing a “burning glass” in his works from 424BC. And it is shown that in the Roman duration people supplied burning-glasses. Anyway, the lens was emerging century by century till it was first used in a telescope.

It was in the 16th century when great mathematician and astronomer Galileo Galilei made his an initial simple telescope by using two lenses in a hole tube. The an initial prototype the the refractor was created.

Nowadays, the refracting telescope is an ext sophisticated 보다 Galileos’ first prototype, however they work-related on the same principle. It’s based upon two lenses at the front, one for light collection and the 2nd for magnification, and the hollow tube with the eyepiece in ~ the end of the scope.

Who found Reflecting Telescope

When Galileo Galilei created his very first telescope and pointed it to the stars, he started a revolution in astronomy. People wanted to view more, and they were building bigger and also bigger refracting telescopes. It was not lengthy after lock realized that it is no practical, and also lenses suffer from chromatic aberration (rainbow colors around the it was observed object).

A few years ~ trying to fix this problem, Isac Newton developed a showing telescope prototype, the Newtonian telescope. That was using a concave main mirror at the finish with a second small diagonal winter at the beginning and also focusing on one eyepiece. 


Surprisingly, we room using the same design even today. The main benefit of the mirror is that it doesn’t endure from chromatic aberration. The irradiate is just reflecting turn off the mirror, and also it is not going through any type of lens prefer in a refracting telescope. 

We can construct much enlarge and more efficient telescopes. The reflecting architecture is being used in practically all observatories on Earth. Even the Hubble telescope is a reflector through an aperture of 4.2m, and also it is orbiting the Earth because 1990. It to be the an initial space telescope.


Here are few of my favorite gear

Thank friend for analysis this article. I hope you uncovered it beneficial as girlfriend learn an ext about telescopes. Below are few of the equipment I use and also recommend.

Beginner telescope: This is by much the best beginner telescope you have the right to buy. The Orion SkyQuest XT6 is the perfect telescope to begin with. The aperture is huge enough to see almost every thing in the night sky and on the other hand, the price is so short for what this telescope deserve to do.

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My astrophotography telescope: ns use only a newtonian telescope to carry out astrophotography. I use an 8" newtonian astrograph telescope.