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What is a Refracting Telescope?

In astronomy, telescopes play a vital role in observing the universe from a different look. If you know about three types of telescopes: reflecting, refracting, and catadioptric telescope, you probably know these three scopes differ in their design and working process. And if more details of a refracting telescope are in your search list, this article will meet your query. Our long-time research and analysis will give a clear idea of refracting telescopes with required data. Stay with us.

What is a Refracting Telescope?

Refracting Telescope

A refracting telescope is mainly an optical tube formed by specifically designed lenses. These lenses gather light from a distant blurry object and refract the light to create a magnified image of that object. Thus you can observe a transparent picture of a sky object. A refracting telescope is smaller, more lightweight, and portable than other telescopes. 

The word ‘refracting’ comes from ‘refraction.’ Which means ‘bending the light.’ According to the refraction rules, the light that comes from a targeted object goes through another medium of different density. For example, in a refracting telescope, light passes through the air to a lens. And then, the lens refracts the light and sends it to the secondary lens or eyepiece.

Thus the eyepiece does the final task of forming an image by magnification. Though a refracting telescope is small, yet it is as long relative to its size as it needs to be. Basically, through a refracting telescope, you can see the solar system’s objects like the moon, double stars, the mars, or the planet.

Let’s know how a refracting telescope is designed and what its structure is.

Design and structure of a refracting telescope

Design and structure of a refracting telescope

Refracting telescopes are designed by two lenses: the larger one is an objective lens, and the smaller one is the eyepiece lens. The purpose of the former one is to focus on the object, and the purpose of the latter one is to magnify the object. You will find the objective lens at the end of the tube and the eyepiece at another side, closer to your eye. These two lenses are called convex lenses because they are designed in a convex shape

While observing through a refractor, the light that comes from an object needs to flow in a straight way through the optical tube and reach the eyepiece. If it can't flow directly, it might not go to the eyepiece where you keep your eyes. As a result, you can't observe the object. The larger the lens, the longer the tube needs to be. Otherwise, it can't bring the images into focus. 

The optical system of a refractor telescope

The optical system of a refractor telescope is high-quality, and it’s basically a two-lens telescope. It can create sharper images than a reflector telescope. For the sharpness and contrast quality, refracting telescopes have gradually become popular with astronomers. But yes, there are a few defects too. Some refractor telescopes contain only one lens, for which they can't create brighter images. So, in this case, you need to choose a refractor capable of using two lenses. Otherwise, you won’t be able to observe the objects in a sharper view.

How does a refracting telescope work?

A refracting telescope works with two curved lenses. The first lens refracts the bending light from a distant object. Then the second lens will magnify it to create a virtual image of the object closer to your eye than its real position. Thus a refracting telescope works by tricking your eye into considering the object closer than it really is. Know in detail how a refracting telescope works.

Do astronomers use reflecting or refracting telescopes?

Astronomers use both reflecting and refracting telescope. But they prefer more to use reflecting telescopes instead of refracting telescopes because in reflecting telescopes, mirrors are easy to build, easy to carry, available, and affordable. Besides, reflecting telescopes have fewer optical defects than refracting telescopes. But to admit, for brightness and contrast quality, some astronomers prefer refracting telescope too.

Refracting telescopes in Astrophotography

Refracting telescopes in Astrophotography

You will find some defects in refracting telescopes, yet as a beginner in astrophotography, you will love to use a refractor telescope. You know why? Refracting telescopes give you more compact images and stable features that overcome the lack of a lot of light. There is also another considerable advantage you are getting in a refracting telescope. Refracting telescopes will accept only the wavelength on the lenses rather than receiving the ultraviolet light. Besides all of these qualities, this refracting telescope is very lightweight and small to carry anywhere easily. And that’s why. Astronomers of today’s world prefer a refracting telescope. If you are interested in enjoying the starry night with a portable scope, try a refracting telescope.    


Advantage and disadvantage of a refracting telescope


  • Transportable and lightweight
  • Not necessary to clean or manipulate
  • Incredible sharpness with great contrast
  • No chance to be dirty as the tube is closed


  • Not enough light collected
  • Expensive
  • Causes chromatic aberration

What is the difference between a reflector and a refractor telescope?

The difference between a reflector and a refractor telescope is in their building process and their method. The reflector telescope is mainly designed with mirrors that focus light on distant objects, whereas the refractor telescope is designed with lenses. And this method of using two different components created a lot of differences between them. 


Defects can be found in everything, but while comparing, if the advantages of an object are much more than the shortcomings, you will like them. The same things go for refracting telescopes. If you compare, you will find more advantages of this scope than disadvantages, and you will love to observe the night sky objects using a refracting telescope. So grab one and start your celestial journey.

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