Buying A Refracting Telescope 

Let's chat about the refracting telescope. These are the usual type of telescope people visualize when they hear the word “telescope”.

A long tube with a lens at the far end and a narrow end to look through.

Invented in the 1600s and still in use today, this type of scope has been at the forefront of astronomy for centuries.

Click on the link too go to my refracting telescope recommendations.


Modern refractors are generally regarded as giving you very sharp views and offer high contrast of objects.

This type of telescope is great at viewing the bright objects within the Solar System.

Best for the planets and the moons.

Refractors are good at separating binary stars into the component stars, as there are no obstructions from the secondary mirror.

If your viewing area is light polluted then a refractor may be the better choice as deep-sky observing is limited.

Sealed in its tube, they require little to no maintenance and rarely if ever need collimation.

Refractors offer some good benefits to the backyard stargazer but there are limitations as well.


Some of the drawbacks of refractors is that they can get quite expensive as they get larger.

Using a precisely ground lens instead of mirrors makes manufacture more costly.

Aperture size is the most important feature of any telescope as this will determine what you could possibly see. Grinding glass lenses cost more per inch(or mm). You could most likely get 1.5 to 2 times as much aperture in a reflector for the same price.

Refractors also get bigger and bulkier as the aperture increases. You will notice that in the Orion product catalog the largest aperture refractor is just under 5in(120mm).

Glass lenses also have chromatic aberration. This happens because of the light scattering into different wavelengths as it bends and is “refracted”. This effect gets worse as the aperture gets larger and with shorter focal lengths.

This problem is lessened by refractors made with achromatic lenses and virtually eliminated in apochromatic refractors.

These type of lenses though tend to increase the price of the telescope even more.

Cheaply made refractors also tend to be the type of scope advertised in department stores and the like. These bad scopes that promise “x” amount of power and magnification that is just not realistic have ruined the night sky for many budding stargazers.

Do not buy a telescope from this type of store. Find a reputable telescope dealer, either online or offline.


If you have decided that a refracting telescope is the best choice at this time based on your studies then I have some recommendations.

No matter what stay away from the big box everything stores. Buy from a telescope dealer.

If budget concerns create a problem then consider a low cost item from a telescope dealer or a good pair of quality binoculars.

Good binoculars will serve you well to make sure you actually enjoy your new hobby and you want to save up for a telescope at a later time.

Click this link to see my refracting telescope recommendations.

› refracting telescopes
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