What is the Difference between Refractor and Reflector Telescopes?

Refractor telescopes are telescopes that use lenses to gather and focus light. Refractors deliver sharp, high-contrast images with crisp views of the moon, planets and stars. Refractors are known for their rugged simplicity. They are easy to aim, they need little maintenance and lenses rarely need alignment-very popular for beginning students of astronomy.

Reflectors are telescopes that use mirrors. They most commonly use a concave main mirror at the bottom of the tube, which focuses light back up to the top of the tube. There, a small flat mirror deflects the light at right angles to an eyepiece on the side of the tube. Reflectors offer more aperture (objective lens diameter) for the money than refractors, providing enough light to reveal hundreds of deep-sky objects as well as show details of the moon and planets. However, exposed mirrors can collect dust and grime and may need occasional adjustments to keep them properly aligned.

Reflecting vs. Refracting Stargazing Telescopes

When you’re ready to invest in a stargazing telescope, start by looking at the different models of telescope tube – the bits with the optics in. You can find quite a few different designs. Reflecting telescopes use mirrors to gather the light. Refracting telescopes use lenses. There are different kinds of reflectors, but in general the refractors all follow the same basic design.

Stargazing: Refracting telescopes
Refracting telescopes use lenses to collect and focus the light, just like binoculars do. In fact, you can think of a refracting telescope as one half of a giant pair of binoculars. The light enters a refracting telescope through the front lens, called the objective lens. It then travels down the length of the telescope to the eyepiece lenses, which is where the magnifying happens. Read More…

The Difference Between Refracting and Reflecting Telescopes

The difference between a refracting and a reflecting telescope is in their optical construction. The refracting telescope uses a system of lenses to refract light rays, while a reflecting telescope uses a system of mirrors to reflect light rays. Reflectors are usually used to view brighter stars and planets. Read More…

Two Kinds of Telescope

Since the invention of telescopes astronomers have been able to see a huge amount more of what is out there including the detailed surface of the Moon and the planets. We can also see many more stars than we can with the unaided eye.

There are two main types of optical telescope. Refracting and reflecting.

Refracting Telescopes

When a wave such as light passes from one medium to another at an angle it changes direction. This is called refraction. A lens is a piece of glass designed to bend the light that passes through it in such a way that an image may be produced. A refracting telescope uses a combination of lenses to produce an image of a distant object, e.g. a star or planet. Read More…

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