I've been thinking about getting a new telescope. From what I've read online, reflector telescopes are newer and better then refractor telescopes. Is there any reason to get a refractor telescope instead of a reflector?


2 Answers 2


reflector telescopes are newer and better then refractor telescopes

It's true that the first examples of reflectors we know of were made shortly after the first refractors we know of. But it's not correct to say that they're (always) better. First, each telescope model you might buy has its own specifications and build quality, which have to be carefully considered in terms of what you're trying to view. Second, certain refractors can outperform certain reflectors for certain tasks: for instance, many refractors can offer better views of planetary/lunar/cluster details than similarly priced reflectors could. Reflectors designed such that eyepieces have to be used at a standing height have the disadvantage of being difficult to use for things (e.g. planets) near the horizon. Refractors could also have the advantage of being potentially smaller and more portable than, for instance, something like a 10" dob. Reflectors have their advantages too: lack of chromatic aberration, for instance (although they do suffer from other forms of aberration). I hope this gives you a better idea of the pros and cons of different kinds of telescopes.


Every type of scope has its own strengths and weaknesses. That's one reason why it's fairly common for enthusiastic amateur astronomers to end up with several scopes :) .

Reflectors have the advantage of being available in large apertures, and when coupled with a Dobsonian style mount, are usually the cheapest way to get a given aperture - because the Dobsonian mounts are cheap to make, more of the purchase price can go towards the optics - and the dobsonian mounts are usually nice and stable, too.

Refractors have the advantage of having no central obstruction, a basically fixed setup (they practically never need collimating, unlike reflectors), freedom from diffraction spikes (caused by the "spider" secondary support in newtonian reflectors), and low maintenance - and they are also good for terrestrial use, unlike newtonian reflectors.

Smaller refractors make great grab and go widefield scopes, and make a nice complement to a larger reflector "light bucket", and a good ED or APO refractor is an excellent choice for wide field astrophotography - and complements something like a longer focal length SCT or similar for imaging smaller objects (which needs better tracking/guiding/seeing).

(For long exposure deep sky astrophotography, the most important thing is a good motorised equatorial mount - whatever type of scope you use, you need to be able to track your target accurately as it moves across the sky. Alt-az goto mounts are fine for visual use, but suffer from an effect called field rotation - although they can keep the object centered, the field of view appears to gradually rotate, causing trailing in long exposures. Equatorial mounts have one axis pointing at the celestial pole, and don't suffer from field rotation.)


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