Refracting telescopes – Buying guide & Comparison
If you’re short on time and you just want to find the best refracting telescope, this short paragraph should help you get exactly the model you need. We did plenty of research to gather information on various products on the market. In order to find the top rated refracting telescopes, we gladly dove into the best refracting telescope reviews we could find and compared and validated the data there with what is said about specific products in actual owner feedback. Thankfully, after that exhaustive product research and comparison, we have been able to find the number one product in this category, the Sky-Watcher ProED. Equipped with a 120mm f/7.5 Doublet APO Refractor lens, the instrument also features a doublet apochromatic lens system with extra-low dispersion (ED) glass as well as the exclusive photon anti-rejection Metallic High-Transmission Coatings on all of the telescope’s air-to-glass optical surfaces to eliminate unwanted chromatic aberration. All you can enjoy are clear and bright images with high contrast and genuine color detail. The versatile optical tube assembly is suitably designed for expansive astronomical observation of prominent star clusters, galaxies and nebulae. If the Sky-Watcher ProED runs out of stock, we highly recommend the second best option, the Orion 9534 ED80T, which is just as good.
There’s no time like the present to enjoy being an amateur astronomer. Thankfully, the market is overflowing with a rich selection of the best refracting telescopes, so novice astronomers can either be excited or overwhelmed by all the options available. Now what exactly do you look for when buying this kind of observation equipment?
The best type for your specific purpose
Hobbyists and learners should get a good refractor telescope that allows them to look deep into the wonders of the universe and view firsthand what is there in the vastness and all the glory. This kind of instrument is a sturdy one, equipped with adequate photon-snatching capacity and a hefty build quality that enables the instrument to perform well night after night when taken outside. You can choose between digital and analog models. Digital units offer easy setup and feature computerized mounts, and are able to locate celestial targets without requiring you to evaluate charts or understand coordinates properly for input into the instrument.
Analog models are ideal for those who would rather invest in the telescope’s optical capabilities than anything else. This type of observation instrument offers effortless setup, quick Go To navigation, and also features remarkable optics as well as efficient aperture. These machines let you plant them under the dark sky, switch them on, and the camera on the arm of the mount will start taking an image of the sky and compares it to a built-in database, in addition to taking a few other images in other locations for triangulation. Instantly, these types know where your target is so you simply need to enter the choice of object from among the many possibilities listed on the keypad.
Portable telescopes for city dwellers and travelers are lightweight and compact. They are suitable for those who want to do their celestial observation while camped out in the balcony of a condo or out in the outback during a safari. A small telescope used in a very dark sky setting works better than a large one used at home under lightly polluted skies. This type of telescope conveniently doubles as a spotting scope with exceptional optics. It can have either an angled view for comfortable viewing or a straight-through design that any photographer can appreciate, providing a powerful telephoto lens for a mirrorless or DSLR camera. With razor-sharp focus and remarkable color accuracy, what more can you ask for when viewing distant targets?
The best refractor telescope for beginners provides quick and hassle-free access to the universe, with better and bigger optics that gather more light rather than ordinary marketing gimmickry. Easy to set up so you can start observing quickly, this type of tool should come out of the box already fully assembled, with every component working fully from the bearings to the smooth focuser. You may have to collimate the optical path of the instrument after some time by adjusting the mirror, but this shouldn’t be too hard to do.
Inexpensive models are great for gifting. They are not department store-type telescopes that are nothing more than toys. Inexpensive telescopes do not make out-of-this-world marketing claims emblazoned on their packaging. Think something like ‘300x power’ and you get the drift. Unlike cheap telescopes that will end up in a landfill just a few months after purchase, inexpensive telescopes or the best small refractor telescope offers easy setup, smooth operation plus unforgettable viewing ability. Some models come with astronomy software and even pack down small using a nifty tube and truss configuration. They transform from a compact package to an amazing working focal length nearly twice the folded-down size. Considered grab-and-go telescopes, these types easily fit on your car seat and set up quickly.
Aperture, aperture, aperture
The diameter of the objective or primary lens or mirror of the best refractor telescope for astrophotography is referred to as the aperture, which is frequently quantified in millimeters. Basically, the larger the aperture is, the more brilliant and vivid the images will be. This enables you to probe deeper into the universe. The aperture is the diameter of the telescope’s main optical component, or the lens or mirror. It is the element that determines not just the scope’s light collecting capability but also its resolution. It contributes to the user’s ability to view the night sky.
You will be able to distinguish craters on the moon about a mile across using a 6-inch scope. This is about twice the size of what you can see using a smaller 3-inch telescope, subject to the same conditions and under the same magnification. Using those two instruments would give you even more dramatic differences on a clear, moonless night. This is due to the four times larger surface area that the 6-inch unit boasts as compared to that of the 3-inch instrument. The larger tool will be able to gather four times as much light so the galaxy will appear much brighter, up to four times so in fact. This is equivalent to 1 ½ magnitudes of greater brightness.
Top quality components
The best refractor telescope under 1000$ is equipped with premium quality components for durability and years of use. The main part of the instrument, which gathers light and is where the eyepiece and all other accessories are installed or setup, is called the optical tube assembly (OTA). This element should be resistant to chipping and corrosion, and be solid and strong. The mount attaches to the OTA and serves to enable the user to properly align and move the instrument when tracking celestial targets. This component can be an alt-azimuth (alt-az), German Equatorial (EQ) or a motorized type.
Coatings should be microthin and applied in multiple layers to optical surfaces, ensuring increased instrument performance. The coatings, when applied to the lenses, help prevent the reflection or glare of incoming light on the surface, resulting in optimal nighttime viewing of celestial objects. When applied to mirrors, the coatings increase reflection, ideally up to 100 percent. Dielectric coatings are the best ones as they are able to achieve 99+%.
Lenses are made of glass, with most decent and cheaper models being equipped with optical glass ones. Quite superior to standard glass, optical glass can contribute to reduced spherical and chromatic aberrations for crisp and clear images. Higher quality instruments utilize extra-low dispersion (ED) or fluoride glass to correct aberration at superior levels.
Top refracting telescope reviews in 2018
There is a huge selection of refracting telescopes, which can unduly complicate the buying process especially for the first time buyer. We hope the buying guide above will help make you a more intelligent shopper. We have also showcased the best products below for even more shopping assistance.
The Sky-Watcher ProED 120mm f/7.5 Doublet APO Refractor comes equipped with a doublet apochromatic lens system supplemented with Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and bolstered by the exclusive photon anti-rejection Metallic High-Transmission Coatings (MHC) on all air-to-glass optical surfaces.
This impressive combination of optical elements results in the virtual elimination of chromatic aberrations so you can enjoy genuine color renditions in the clear and bright images that you view with high contrast. The versatile optical tube assembly (OTA) is expertly engineered to enable wide-expanse astronomical observation of distant but prominent star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. The OTA also doubles nicely as an astrograph for sky photography or a convenient terrestrial spotting scope or telephoto lens.
Thanks to the large 120mm aperture, the telescope will not only improve image brightness compared to the smaller 80mm and 100mm models but will also provide increased contrast and resolution. Clamped well over the OTA is the mounting cradle-ring, which enables you to make orientation changes and adjust the scope’s position relative to the mount for optimal viewing comfort and balance, along with avoidance of interference with other equipment. The two-speed Crayford-style focuser helps you carry out quick and effortless fine focusing while eliminating backlash.
The telescope ships with other accessories for faster and easier observation. These include the two long eye relief eyepieces for 30x and 120x magnification, the large 8×50 erect-image finderscope for fast locating of celestial objects, and the 80-degree star diagonal for viewing comfort.
The Sky-Watcher ProED features a professional, doublet apochromatic lens system. Moreover, it comes equipped with an extra low dispersion glass.
On top of that, with the Sky-Watcher ProED, you gain the extra benefit of working with a machine that features the premium anti-rejection high transmission coating for metals. All the optical surfaces that are air-to-glass type are compatible with this exclusive function.
The images displayed by this refracting telescope are clear and feature genuine color renditions. High contrast is enabled in their case so you will be able to notice even the slightest details while working with this machine.
The Sky-Watcher ProED is not one of the least expensive refracting telescopes for sale right now, which might be something that the users will not like.
Also, its components are tightly screwed so you cannot replace any of them with ease at home.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1549)
The Orion 9534 ED80T is a versatile triplet apochromatic refractor instrument geared with an advanced extra-low dispersion (ED) glass for superior resolution without the annoying chromatic aberrations. It comes with a fast f/6 focal ratio and 80mm aperture refractor to enable it to excel in both visual and astrophotography applications.
Lightweight yet solid and strong, the carbon fiber tube optical tube assembly construction results in a fantastic telescope for viewing distant celestial objects. Ideal as an astrophotography telescope, this tool has a small, compact frame and a lightweight design for easy portability. The robust dual-speed Crayford focuser makes fine focusing hassle-free.
Equipped with wide-field apochromatic optics that, when guided and focused properly during the exposure, will produce the sharpest wide field images optically possible for the scope’s aperture size. The dovetail finder scope base enables problem-free mounting on any Orion equatorial mount or your preferred tripod for support and stability while viewing.
This telescope folds down easily to a compact size thanks to the retractable dew shield. Peripheral glare and dew accumulation are reduced when the dew shield is fully extended. Lightweight at just 5.5 pounds, the scope is easy to carry and mount. The smaller fine focus knob adjusts the focus level at a rate of 11:1, so you can easily hone in on the perfect focal point for viewing objects with crystal clear and sharp detail.
The Orion 9534 ED80T is a versatile refractor telescope that features a premium extra-low dispersion and a superior resolution that helps it display clear images, without any chromatic interferences.
This device has been widely appreciated by its users for managing to excel in visual applications and function well in the case of astrophotography projects.
This device is lightweight, portable and these benefits do not come with any compromise on its strength and durability.
Moreover, the Orion 9534 ED80T includes a carbon fiber optical tube within its construction which helps it deliver great viewing results when distant celestial objects are considered for observation.
The threads in the case of the Orion 9534 ED80T are poor on the lens cap. These elements seem to always want to cross and this might affect the display of the results sometimes.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($929.99)
Unbelievably affordable, the Orion 9024 AstroView is a powerful premium quality refractor boasting a 90mm aperture plus a 910mm focal length to deliver crisp and clear views of the night sky. View the planets and the moon with amazing detail and clarity using this instrument.
It comes with an EQ-2 adjustable tripod and equatorial mount to accommodate manual slow-motion tracking of celestial objects. The two included Sirius Plossl 1.25″ eyepieces (25mm and 10mm) work nicely with the supplied 6×30 finder scope and the smooth-adjusting 1.25″ rack & pinion focuser for superior quality images and comfortable nighttime viewing using the 90-degree mirror diagonal.
The classic achromatic refractor is statuesque at five feet high and is hefty at nearly 25 pounds, ensuring enough support, stability and rigidity so it won’t get jarred out of focus easily when accidental bumping of the tube occurs.
The scope comes with fully illustrated instructions for assembly and mounting, so you can get started on an astronomy observation journey that is worth remembering every night. The scope also ships with the revolutionary Starry Night planetarium software from Orion for your PC. The EQ-2M Electronic Telescope Drive comes with a battery-operated motor that enables automatic tracking. Enjoy nighttime sky views with this awesome telescope.
The Orion 9024 AstroView is an affordable and powerful refractor telescope which features premium quality of the used materials as well as in terms of functions made available for the users.
This machine is the perfect ally for you when you intend to see the moon and the stars with great detail and without compromising on the quality of the displayed images in any way.
This refractor features a 90-mm aperture as well as a 910-mm focal length, features that add up value to the overall quality of the displayed images.
Moreover, this instrument comes with an adjustable tripod and a professional equatorial mount that help you accommodate the slow-motion tracking function for celestial objects.
Any nighttime viewing experience can be comfortable due to the 90-degree mirror diagonal included in the list of features for the Orion 9024 AstroView.
This instrument can be a little difficult to set up in the beginning if you are not a tech-savvy person. However, you can follow the guidelines from the instructions manual to get it installed the first time.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($249.99)
If you’re looking for a top of the line device, then the Orion 09565 is the model we think can offer you the best performance and quality in this price range. This premium alternative features 130mm (5.1”) aperture that will allow you to observe even the tiniest details of deep space objects and planets. Be ready to observe Mars, Jupiter and Saturn and its moons in a completely new light.
The three-lens ED optics and the moderately fast f/7.0 focal ratio will work together to provide you with the most beautiful visuals and performance that is hard to rival with. The huge 3 inch dual-speed 11:1 Crayford focuser provides only the most precise focus control that in turn gives you sharp images and crisp visual observations.
The Orion 09565 is not only built to impress with the performance that it can offer, but it is also built to last. This option is beautifully constructed with only the most durable materials, and that include both the outside metal body as well as the optics.
To make transporting the Orion 09565 more convenient, you get a triple-latch hard case that will protect your telescope during transport as well as when the product needs to be stored safely.
The Orion 09565 offers one of the best performance among the premium alternatives due to its quality optics that feature a generous aperture of 130mm, enough to let all the details of the cosmos flow through the eyepiece and straight through your eye.
It is beautifully constructed with a design that does not only look good but also serves a purpose. This model is constructed to last, which is why only the highest quality materials are used.
The retractable glare-blocking dew shield and the blackened lens bear anti-reflective multi-coatings that provide a rich contrast and a superior light transmission for sharp and detailed images.
It includes two substantial, split-clamp tube rings as well as a hard case with custom foam interior to aid in transporting and storing the device.
Another thing that makes this option worth considering is the fact that it allows you to attach different accessories to it with the help of the tub rings that feature multiple ¼ inch-20 threaded sockets.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($2999.99)
Designed as a dual purpose telescope for terrestrial and celestial viewing, the Celestron 21064 AstroMaster 90 is able to deliver correct views of both land and sky. Give it a spin at nighttime to view bright and clear images of the planets and the moon. If you’ve long dreamed to see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter up close, grab this incredible tel
escope for awesome views of those universal elements and more. Enjoy spectacular views of brighter deep space targets such as nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. Priced affordably to enable budding astronomers to indulge in nighttime sky viewing, this scope is perfect for the beginner who has just gotten interested in the perfect evening hobby.
This adult-size scope stands at an impressive height of almost five feet and weighs nearly 25 pounds to ensure stability and robustness for years of use.
The fully illustrated setup guide ensures hassle-free assembly. The package ships with all you need to get started on your space exploration venture, including an erect image prism, an impressive astronomy software for your computer, plus high and low power eyepieces to complete the optical assembly. The rugged refractor design ensures high-contrast, crisp views of celestial objects right out of the package.
The Celestron 21064 AstroMaster 90 is a professional telescope that was manufactured for users interested in dual purpose instruments. Therefore, you can use it both for terrestrial and celestial object viewing.
This device can display clear and accurate images both from the land and the sky. You can also use it at nighttime because its functions allow it to display bright images regardless of the light conditions outside.
Moreover, this device allows you to visualize the most spectacular deep space targets within bright images that lack any color rendition errors.
Finally, the Celestron 21064 AstroMaster 90 is an affordable instrument that delivers outstanding quality and performance to its users for the purposes it was intended to be used.
This telescope is a high-quality one, featuring a sturdy construction yet the tripod is made out of a light steel tube that might interfere with its stability.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($209.95)
Shipped to you complete with all the components you need to view the spectacular wonders of the incredible night sky, the Meade Instruments Infinity is a 102mm Refractor Telescope with red dot viewfinder that delivers bright and detailed images for amazing viewing of both sky and land objects.
The precision Altazimuth mount is equipped with slow motion controls that enable effortless tracking of celestial objects as they move across the night sky. The three included eyepieces deliver low, medium and high powered magnification so you can have a wide variety of viewing options for different celestial objects, including the moon and planets.
As a great bonus, the package ships with the Autostar Suite Astronomy planetarium DVD that features 10,000 celestial objects that you can study using your Windows PC. The 102mm aperture works well with the focal length of 600mm and focal ratio of f/5.9 for tremendous light gathering capability so you can see brighter and clearer views every time.
The aluminum altazimuth mount comes with adjustable height and slow-motion controls for easy tracking of the movement of celestial objects across the night sky. The adjustable tray keeps your eyepieces and other small paraphernalia handy. The included 2x Barlow lens doubles the magnifying power of each eyepiece in the package.
The Meade Instruments Infinity is the perfect telescope for users interested in discovering the wonders of the sky in any location. It can be used during nighttime, as it can provide clear, accurate and bright images of the celestial objects without any compromise on their quality.
This is a reliable telescope that comes equipped with a precise mount that features the latest slow-motion controls. Therefore, you will not have to engage in any complex efforts to track the spectacular celestial objects from the sky in the area where you are located or during your travels.
The Meade Instruments Infinity features a 102mm aperture that is a perfect match for the 600-mm focal length it presents. With the help of these functions, you will be able to benefit from the latest light gathering capability that allows you to see clear and bright views regardless of the outdoor conditions.
The Meade Instruments Infinity comes equipped with all the necessary components for the setup but it can be quite difficult for you to install it for the first time if you have no experience and struggle with following technical indications.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($209)