Why buy a refractor telescope? 2023 Easy Guide

By Chris Klein

why buy a refractor telescope

Are you fascinated by the night sky? Have you been researching refractor vs. reflector telescopes? Are you now wondering if you should buy a refractor? If so, then this article is for you.

A refractor telescope is an ideal choice. Refractors can provide superior image quality compared to reflectors. Refractors are easier to set up and use. And there is hardly any maintenance.

In this article, you get

Detailed answers to your question, “Why buy a refractor telescope?”

A look at the advantages of refractor telescopes

A look at the disadvantages of refractors

Various use cases for refractor telescopes

What features to look for when buying a refractor

By the end of this article, you’ll know why buying a refractor telescope can open up a whole new world of exploration!

Let’s dive right in.


Comet Leonard captured with ED80 Apochromatic Refractor
Comet Leonard captured with ED80 Apochromatic Refractor

Refractors generally have the edge over reflectors for a quality image. A modestly-sized refractor can show you subtle details of our Moon and planets.

Refractors often have a great field of view for observing lunar and planetary features.


You’ve probably heard of a refractor telescope, but what exactly is it?

A refractor telescope is an optical telescope that uses a system of lenses to collect light and form an image. They’re able to gather more light than the human eye can collect.

They focus the light by bending it through an objective glass lens at the front of a long tube. This lens has two kinds of glass with different densities and refractive indexes.

Under average seeing conditions, a good quality 3″ to 4″ refractor can often outperform an average quality 6″ to 8″ reflector.

These reasons make refractors an excellent option for exploring the night sky.


Refractor photo credit Akarsh Simha Flickr
Refractor photo credit Akarsh Simha, Flickr

Refractor telescopes are a great choice if you’re looking for superior performance.

  • Their relatively small aperture often has an advantage over larger reflector-type scopes because there is less distortion. As a result, refractors offer impressive contrast and sharpness.
  • Refractors are great for viewing planets and stars. They are also suitable for astrophotography, astrometry, and astronomical research.
  • Their closed-tube design protects against humidity and dust, making them lightweight and transportable.
  • They are easy to assemble and maintain.


A reflector might be a better choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option. Here are some disadvantages of refractors.

  • One of the main disadvantages of a refractor telescope is the chromatic aberration that can occur. Chromatic aberration happens because different colors of light have different focusing points. The result is fringes of color around bright objects in the sky. Apochromatic lenses can reduce this aberration. But they are more expensive and only available in a few models.
  • Refractor telescopes also have a relatively small aperture, so they might not be the best choice for deep sky observing, whereas larger aperture telescopes are more suitable.
  • Refractor telescopes are generally more expensive than reflector telescopes of comparable size.


Are you a casual hobbyist or a professional astronomer? Refractor telescopes are perfect for various uses.

Refractors are great for viewing planets and stars, as well as for astrophotography. Refractors can provide sharp images of planets and stars. They also offer superior performance in poor conditions.

They make great astrometry and astronomical research tools, as their optics are crisp, sharp, and high-contrast images.


A refractor telescope is ideal for viewing planets and stars because it provides a crisp, clear view of the night sky.

With its lenses designed to minimize optical aberrations, a refractor can quickly help you observe subtle lunar and planetary features.

It also offers more brightness and contrast when compared to a reflector telescope, making it easier to observe brighter objects like the Moon and planets.


90mm apochromatic refractor photo credit Gustaaf Prins Flickr
90mm apochromatic refractor photo credit Gustaaf Prins, Flickr

A refractor may be a perfect choice if you’re looking for a telescope to photograph the night sky.

Thanks to its specialized optic design and crisp, sharp, and high-contrast images, it’s easy to capture stunning images of galaxies, nebulas, stars, and other celestial bodies.

If you want to take your astrophotography to the next level, an excellent three-inch refractor is all you need to get started.


A refractor telescope is an ideal tool for astrometry and astronomical research.

  • A refractor telescope’s sizeable objective lens can help distinguish between stars and other celestial objects and can be used to observe distant galaxies and nebulae.
  • A refractor telescope is perfect for long-exposure photography, allowing you to capture stunning images of deep-sky objects.
  • You can easily take a refractor telescope into the field for greater observations. Bonus: its maintenance is relatively simple!


Maintaining a refractor telescope is surprisingly easy.

  • Unlike reflectors, which require frequent cleaning of the mirror, refractors do not need any special maintenance. The only thing required periodically is to ensure the lenses are clean and dust-free. You can use a soft cloth.
  • Refractors use sturdy materials, so you don’t have to worry about wear and tear as much as you would with other telescopes.

With the proper care and maintenance, your refractor telescope should last you for years of stargazing and astrophotography!


When it comes to astrophotography, refractor telescopes are a great option.

  • While less expensive achromatic refractors may suffer from chromatic aberration, they still offer superior image quality compared to reflectors.
  • Astrophotography with a refractor telescope is also much easier than with a reflector telescope due to its permanently mounted lens that doesn’t require frequent adjustments.
  • For the best results, you should look for good lens quality, portability, and easy assembly and maintenance.


When purchasing a refractor telescope, there are certain features to look for that can help you get the most out of your equipment.

  • Size: Consider the size of the telescope, as this will determine how much light it can gather and, therefore, the level of detail you can see. Look for a telescope with a large aperture, as this will allow you to see fainter objects in the night sky.
  • Focal Length: It would help if you also considered the telescope’s focal length
  • Lenses: Does it use an ED (extra-low dispersion) or APO (apochromatic) lens? These lenses offer superior resolution and color accuracy compared to standard lenses.
  • Mount: ensure the mount is stable and secure, which will help ensure steady viewing conditions and minimize vibration.


Regarding portability, refractor telescopes have a definite advantage over reflectors. This type of telescope is lightweight and easy to transport, making it perfect for taking on trips, to star parties, or just outside your backyard.


The portability of refractors makes them an excellent choice for beginner and experienced astronomers. Not only are they much easier to transport, but they also take less time and effort to assemble, align and maintain.

With a Refractor telescope, you can quickly set up and enjoy the night sky wherever you go.

Additionally, its small size makes it an excellent choice for backyard astronomy, allowing you to view the night sky without having to lug around a large telescope.


Setting up a refractor telescope is easy and can be done with just a few essential tools. Once assembled, refractor telescopes are incredibly easy to maintain.

With no mirror to worry about, you only need to keep the lenses clean from time to time.

Refractor telescopes also require very little in the way of regular adjustments, so you can spend more time viewing the stars and less time worrying about maintenance.


Thank you for reading my article “Why Buy a Refractor Telescope?”

The main reasons to buy a refractor are that they are easier to deal with, provide excellent image quality, and don’t require any maintenance.

If you’re starting out or already an experienced astronomer, you can’t go wrong with buying a refractor telescope.

Still undecided? Read this article with six tips to help you decide between a refractor vs. reflector. 

Leaning towards a reflector instead? Read this article for 3 quick tips on why reflecting telescopes are better than refractors.

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About the Author

Chris Klein

Chris Klein is an amateur astronomy advisor, astrophotographer, and entrepreneur. Go here to read his incredible story "From $50,000 in Debt to Award-Winning Photographer Living in Switzerland". If you want to send Chris a quick message, then visit his contact page here.

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