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TheNorthernMonkey

Irrational lure of Refractors

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I've been looking for my second scope, something with more aperature than the 80mm I currently have, and have logically narrowed my selection down to 2, either a 200 dob, or the 200 explorer on an EQ5 mount.....

but, I can't help really wanting an Equinox 120 instead.

Just for visual use, this makes no sense at all, but I cant help thinking that refractors look like proper telescopes, and have a certain something that other scopes don't have.

Why is it that I'm irrationally drawn towards them?

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I think you've already said it. Refractors look like proper telescopes, and I say that as a 200P dob owner :)

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This comes up very often, i think it is hard to quantify.

Over the years i have had a number of scopes of various types.

These have ranged from 60mm to 16".

The ones that have always pleased the most have been refractors.

The one scope i let go and have regretted ever since was a SW 100ED.

I do not really know why. Contrast, snap to focus, look like a telescope should?

There are arguments for and against all these aspects.

If i could only own one scope it would be 1 120 Apo.

At the moment i own a 7" Mak which is truly superb and a 72mm refractor which i love and use alot.

But i am always drawn towards refractors........and i don't know why :smiley:

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I agree totally a refractor is the pin up of the scope world, to me anyway. I toyed with getting a decent refractor before buying my 200p. I know sometimes a refractor may need collimation but nowhere near as much as a reflector. This was one point that attracted me along with simplicity of use, lenses instead of mirrors, ease of movement and as you say they look like proper, or what people see as proper scopes.

The things that put me off the refractor option were, deep sky performance, less light gathering power, every refractor I looked at claimed how good they were for planetary use & very little was said regarding DSO observations.

I am far from an experienced astronomer so I may have some of these points wrong. I love the way refractors look but in the end went for the light gathering power of a large light bucket. Would love to own a small grab n go refractor though. (watch this space).

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I really don't like fracs. tried two of them (120mm f8 and 90mm f5.5) and sold them both. the observing position is very uncomfortable for me I find and nothing I have ever looked through matches my 16" dob masked to 170mm.

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I too love the classic design of a professional looking refractor - compared to a dob (newt), it's like comparing the graceful, proud lines of a "Titanic" era ship to our modern day cruise ships with their bulberous, top heavy design (I just can't imagine how they don't capsize).

Yes, I wish I could have gotten a nice 10" refractor for visual observing of all those nice DSOs but at what price? But aperture is all important and who cares what the scope looks like (as long as it resembles a telescope). When I was a kid, I loveed the looks of my cheapy 50mm refractor (but hated its performance). Now, I love the views I get with a fast 10" newt but don't care for its looks and (sorry DOB owners) but it looks more like a "real" telescope than a modern DOB.

OK, DOBs have their useful purpose and may not look so classical but I would prefer a nice 10" refractor - Oh, they look so proud and stately - but of course, most of us can never afford such an instrument :huh: So we all have to bite the bullet and concentrate on how the scopes we use perform and not how they look.

Bottom line? I'd prefer a stately looking "Titanic" scope over a funky "Love Boat" scope any day but reality has its way of making the world not what we want :lipsrsealed:

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Yep, quite understand where you are coming from.

My favourite, and most used scope is a 106mm apo refractor. The contrast and colour correction are fabulous, and the lovely tight star shapes are wonderful.

I guess it comes down to what you want to view. I'd probably be tempted to try the 200p, pick one up second hand and you won't lose much if you want to change it for a refractor. The extra light grasp will definitely show you more on dso's, and better resolution on planets.

If I had to stick to one scope though, it would be a 140mm apo I think.

Stu

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I have refractors, reflectors and an SCT, for me it's not what they look like but what they can give me, I frequently change between all three types, even swopping them out on the mount so there are at least two types on there at any time :)

Jim

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I have refractors, reflectors and an SCT, for me it's not what they look like but what they can give me, I frequently change between all three types, even swopping them out on the mount so there are at least two types on there at any time :)

Jim

Control has allowed me to have one large scope in the limited storage space we have. It's one or the other for me

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I adore fracs. The money I have spent would have bough me a very large dob, I don't regret my choice for a moment. I have had in the past Newtonian scopes, I sold the last one after just 3 weeks. There is nothing like a frac, Newtons and Maks just can't compete with those clean crisp views, no star spikes, no coma, no mussy views Big dobs gather a lot of light and can show up those faint grey smudges really well visually, obviously this not the ideal way to view fuzzy blobs, this is best done by imaging them with a nice apo frac. For planetary views, binary star systems, and open clusters where those gorgeous tin pin points produced by a decent frac are without compare refractors are truly the prince of telescopes. When the seeing is less than perfect a refractor will punch through it in a way no other scope can. A stiff breeze is a reflector users nightmare, fracs have no such issues. Refractors cool down quicker and are easier to set up. I am told this summer has been a terrible for observations, I have had dozens of sessions, its just so easy to sneak in a quick session after work.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2

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I think the 'real scope look' phenomenon is true, and I'm a sucker for it! I love my ED80 and use it frequently now to take photos. I keep thinking that now I fancy a purely visual scope for spotting stuuf whilst the ED80 is occupied with the camera. If it is purely visual than that lends itself to a light gathering dob. Somehow I just prefer the look of the Meade Lightbridge dobs because I like the metal trusses. Something inside just says to me they look more like the big professional scopes in large observatories like SALT. Its ridiculous I know but I guess it goes to show the 'real scope look' isn't restricted to refractors! :icon_scratch:

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Here we go again. Refractor versus reflectors, again. I am not knocking refractors or their fans and ultimately this hobby is about what gives you the most pleasure - by definition this is entirely subjective.

However, I get so fed up of refractor fans going on about how superior they are to reflectors. They aren't, they are different and are usually designed for different things. Still the refractor zealots always argue otherwise and then go off comparing a high end AP or Tak refractor against a (probably) poorly collimated low end SCT; well doesn't take a genius to work out which one is "better".

If you compare like-for-like there is much less difference than perceived other than the snob value of expounding the virtues of paying far more for similar performance. You just can't fairly objectively compare an f5 8" reflector costing about £300 (Sky watcher explorer) with a f7.5 5" refractor (skywatcher equinox) costing over 4x as much. This gives an interesting read - though no doubt people will accuse him of having a reflector bias.

And just to throw something out if you think that an SCT can't give astounding planetary views go check out Damien Peach's pictures.

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In fairness, I think the OP was actually agreeing with a lot that Syd says. It is despite the apparent reasons to buy e.g. a large newt that many people just prefer fracs. There's no reason that one person's preference is any more valid than the next, it's a personal preference after all.

Please do keep it civil though for the benefit of all.

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I agree with Shane's interpretation of the intention behind this thread. For some refractors give the most pleasure and the discussion is on why that should be, despite their acknowledged drawbacks in some respects compared to other designs.

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I don't know if I can add to the debate; I can only acknowledge the irrational nature of my own fascination with refractors. I have a perfectly fine SCT, a Nexstar 8SE - my very first scope, which can give me more light, greater magnification potential, greater "reach", plus a totally cool orange finish. Logically, as a mainly visual user, this scope should give me everything I need (well, except larger aperture...;)). And yet, I enjoy using my fracs more. There is no logic to it. They just "feel" right for me. I think it is probably some early memory being reinforced, or some sort of "telescope" meme or achetype or pattern that is being activated in my brain (heart?) in a way that other telescope types just don't trigger. Completely nonsensical, but each to their own, and the astronomical world is richer for so much variety in instruments types, let alone the variety ogf crazy astronomers to use them ;).

Still hoping to get a peak throguh Shane's 16" reflector at PSP (and who knows, after that I may have a totally different opinion regarding my 'fracs), and am intrigued by the whole notion of masking aperture down - seems counter intuituve given the our general proneness to aperture fever :)

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I fully understand the OP thoughts it's the old grass is always greener effect and we all get it. No matter what scope/s we own, we often find that suddenly a look through someone else's makes us start questioning our own scope/s. Or gets us thinking maybe just one more scope :)

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Moonshane has got me thinking. If I create a 115mm mask (the distance between my secondary and the outside of the primary) then I would have a 1500mm f13 scope, with no central obstruction, or difraction spikes and inherently superior colour correction.

Surely a frac isn't going to touch that and, into the bargain, will look like a proper scope - the sort you see on top of mountains, rather than in the background of sitcoms.<ducks and runs for cover>

Russell

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I don't want this to go too far off topic but try it Russ, you'll be astonished.

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It's not which is best but which you like. After all this is a hobby and we can do what we like :grin:

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Thats just what I need - a 115mm F/13 "refractor-like views" scope that weighs 80+ lbs !

Only joking ! - off-axis masking can deliver great results :smiley:

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I too don't care what the instrument looks like (so long as it's not very shabby). As it happens, I recently bought a little 'frac for the wide-field views. Going to a big star party and want to take advantage of the skies. Big Dobs are great but there's something special about M31 at 20x, seeing the larger open clusters in context, or simply scanning the sky at lower power. Those little scopes really come into their own when it's very dark.

However, refractors are not more resilient to poor seeing than reflectors. Small apertures are more resilient than large large apertures and refractors tend to be small. Obviously a large reflector is good for DSOs, but I have to admit I also prefer it for planetary views. The coma goes away with a corrector and the views aren't mushy if the mirror is good and the scope is cooled and collimated. It's true that double stars aren't as crisp as a smaller scope unless the seeing is very good, but you can always stop down or observe those with a different instrument. On planets, the increased brightness at high power more than makes up for the larger scope being more sensitive to seeing. Maybe it's because I've not looked through a refractor larger than about 4 or 5 inches, but so far I prefer the planetary views through a large Newt.

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If you compare like-for-like there is much less difference than perceived other than the snob value of expounding the virtues of paying far more for similar performance. You just can't fairly objectively compare an f5 8" reflector costing about £300 (Sky watcher explorer) with a f7.5 5" refractor (skywatcher equinox) costing over 4x as much. Thisgives an interesting read - though no doubt people will accuse him of having a reflector bias.

Why not? I haven't looked through either, so I can only go on whats written on the internet. I can only have one large scope, so I have to, in some way, compare the two, to pick which I should buy. One being £1000 more than the other is a significant positive on the side of the cheaper one.

It's entirely irrational, since for the majority of targets, the increased speed, focal length and aperature will mean the reflector is superior, yet for some reason, I want to buy the refractor

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I've always been a reflector person (although I image using refractors). However, For a time I got the use of a Megrez 90 which was stunning, the FLT-98 which I image through is just beautiful visually and my trusty old ED100 just keeps on giving me the best planetary views so I can entirely understand why many love refractors to the exclusion of all else.. Of course, this just means that everybody should have at least two scopes, a reflector and a refractor... :grin:

James

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I certainly agree with Umadog about low power wide field views. Just this past weekend, I used my 4” F6.2 Apo and a 35mm Panoptic to take in the whole of M45 with clear skies all the way around (I went on an open cluster marathon during full moon). It really is a very different experience than viewing the same object using my 11” SCT which struggles to give a FOV of more than one degree. Of course a fast Newtonian could easily do the same.

My personal opinion is that no other telescope optical design of comparable aperture (emphasis on comparable) matches the performance of a premium Apo refractor (there is no getting away from the image degradation due to diffraction caused by secondary optical elements), but the improvements (contrast etc) we are talking about are not great, and is that incremental improvement worth the many times in actual cost? That is a personal question that each owner would have to answer. For me, it was, hence why I own two of them.

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