Reflector vs. Refractor Telescope Pros and Cons




Reflector vs Refractor Telescope Pros Cons

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Anyone venturing into astronomy or astrophotography should understand reflector vs. refractor telescope pros and cons. Both telescopes have their uses and strengths that make them ideal for exploring the sky. Understanding the pros and cons of each telescope will help you decide which one is most suitable for your needs. 

Reflector and refractor telescopes are the most common types of telescopes that individuals have at home. They are available in physical and online stores for anyone who has an interest in astronomy. 

This blog explores the pros and cons of each telescope in detail to help you decide which one is the best telescope for you.

What is a Reflector Telescope?

A reflector telescope uses a series of mirrors to reflect an image. It has a large primary mirror reflecting light from the back of the telescope to a series of small mirrors.

The telescope is placed at the front, which is a defining characteristic of a reflector telescope. 

The reflector telescope is the most popular because they are excellent for sky gazing and hobby astronomy. There are many advantages to using a reflector telescope for astronomy and hobby sky gazing. 


  • Beginner Friendly

A reflector telescope is excellent for beginners because it shows a wide field of view. Beginners can learn about various celestial bodies as they start doing astronomy or astrophotography as a hobby.

The telescope has a simple design that newbies can adjust when looking at the sky. 

Moreover, it allows in a lot of light that allows the viewer to see celestial bodies well. You can explore the sky and learn about celestial bodies.

Overall, a reflector telescope is an excellent choice for beginners. 

  • Affordable 

Reflector telescopes are affordable because they use ordinary materials and they are simple to produce. They use a basic design that Isaac Newton developed in the 1660s, with a few modern modifications.

Therefore, beginners don’t have to spend a fortune to get an effective telescope for observing the sky. 

  • Lightweight

A lightweight telescope is simple to set up outdoors and when traveling to new locations. You can carry your telescope for various outdoor activities and watch the sky from different perspectives.

Overall, a lightweight telescope gives the option to pick a suitable location to do observations depending on where they live. 

For example, you can move to a location where there are no buildings to obscure your view of the sky anywhere in the city. Moreover, you can move the telescope with ease to and from your favorite observation location. 

  • Magnification

A user can upgrade the magnification capacity of a telescope because magnification power is part of the eyepiece. You will get two or more eyepieces after purchase, which will be handy when learning how to use a telescope. 

You can upgrade your eyepieces to magnify 200x to 500x to get a more detailed view of the sky. Additionally, you can swap the eyepieces with ease when observing celestial bodies under different magnifications.

You can find modification eyepieces for your telescope online. 

  • Adjustable Field of View 

You can adjust the field of view of a reflector telescope by changing eyepieces. The size of a field of view for a telescope depends on the magnification.

You can view a larger field by using low magnifications and high magnification for a smaller field of view. A smaller field of view will allow you to see more details on the celestial bodies you observe. 

  • Big Mirrors 

Lighting is an issue for some telescopes, but you don’t need to worry about that when using a reflector telescope. The telescopes have large mirrors that take in a lot of light, helping a view see better into the night sky.

Also, the open design allows more light to flow into the telescope. 


  • Collimation

Collimation is the process of aligning the mirrors in a telescope to create a clear line of sight. Reflector mirrors have two mirrors and an eyepiece that enable the viewer to see an image.

A misalignment of the mirrors leads to a blurred image. You must need to collimate your telescope often for high-quality images. 

  • Dirty Mirrors

The mirrors in a reflector telescope tend to get dirty fast because of the open design. Dirt and dust tend to settle on the face of the mirrors, which requires you to do frequent cleaning.

Therefore, you need to clean the mirrors and optical tubes to ensure you get a sharp image when doing observations. 

What is a Refractor Telescope?

A refractor telescope uses a large convex lens at the end and refracts light into a smaller image to the telescope’s back. The light hits another convex mirror, and the image is magnified so the user can see a clear image.

Refractor telescopes have a smaller tube compared to reflector telescopes, and they allow in less light. 

Refractor telescopes are useful in observing deep-sky celestial bodies. Therefore, they are suitable for viewing objects that are further away from the moon and other planets. 


  • Compact Design

A reflector telescope has a compact design because of the way it’s set up. It uses two lenses to transmit images of celestial bodies instead of mirrors.

The lenses are small, depending on the size of the telescope, but they have high clarity. The compact design is suitable for people who do deep sky observation from different locations.

  • Higher Magnification

Refractor telescopes have a high magnification capacity because they have a longer focal length. You can switch from low magnification to high by switching out the eyepiece as you desire.

Moreover, a refractor telescope will provide a clearer image than a reflector telescope of a similar size. 

You will see more details on celestial bodies when you use high magnification eyepieces. You can always upgrade your eyepieces to the level of magnification you want. However, high-power lenses are expensive. 

  • Fewer Adjustments 

Refractor telescopes require a few adjustments after setting up when you leave them in one location. The telescopes are closed at the end, reducing the amount of dust and dirt landing on the lenses.

Therefore, you won’t have to clean your lenses often to see clear images when observing celestial bodies in the deep sky. 

The fact that the telescope requires fewer adjustments makes it easy to use, even for beginners. It is convenient for people who do deep sky astronomy or astrophotography regularly.

However, it would be best to make a few adjustments now and then, depending on what you look at in the sky. 

  • Ideal for Professionals 

Refractor telescopes are ideal for astronomers and astrophotographers because they enable the focused study of celestial bodies. Professionals can capture high-quality images for their studies and observations.

However, a hobbyist can use the telescope for fun and deepen their understanding of the celestial world. 


  • Expensive 

Refractor telescopes are significantly more expensive than reflector telescopes because they offer a lot more detail to a viewer. Moreover, modification parts are also expensive, especially corrective lenses for chromatic aberration.

Therefore, you need to spend a lot more on a basic refractor telescope than what you would pay for a reflector telescope. 

  • Chromatic Aberration 

Colors can be a bit distorted under a refractor telescope because colors of light travel at a different speed. Refractor telescopes use two lenses to refract light and create an image for the viewer.

Chromatic aberration is the appearance of blurry colors and colorings surrounding celestial bodies because color lights reach the second lens at different rates. 

Some lenses reduce chromatic aberration, but they are expensive. Moreover, no lens can eliminate chromatic aberration.

You have to bear with the colored blurs and rings when looking at celestial bodies. 

Reflector vs. Refractor Telescope FAQs


Exploring the sky is a fun hobby because celestial bodies are mesmerizing. You can choose either one of the two telescopes because they are both suitable for exploring the sky.

You should consider a reflector telescope if you want to do astrophotography. Moreover, you need to invest in some high-power eyepieces to view celestial bodies in greater detail. 

Overall, it’s up to you to choose the kind of telescope you can afford and meet your needs. Alternatively, you can start your explorations with a reflector telescope and later upgrade to a refractor telescope for deep sky exploration.

Either way, you can start your exploration of celestial bodies with any telescope. Ever wonder what age a kid can start using a telescope?

Please be careful and use at your own risk
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