Newtonian vs Refractor

Newtonian vs Refractor: 8 Major Twists!

Who wouldn’t love to gaze at those twinkling stars hours after hours? But a  high-quality telescope is a must for extraordinary astrophotography. 

Newtonian and refractor telescopes are the two most popular types of telescopes. They have lots of similarities and dissimilarities. The situation gets pretty confusing here because of this.

So, which one is better in Newtonian vs refractor telescope?

Several factors differ between the Newtonian and refractor telescopes. The aperture size of the Newtonian scopes is bigger than its competitor. Whereas the refractor scopes are more solid & spike free. But sometimes they’ve aberrations. The price of a Newtonian scope is lesser than the latter one.

This is only the gist of the comparison. To make the proper decision let’s check the specifics below-

Short Comparison 

All types of telescopes will do the same work for you. But the system of their working is different. And this brings some disparities in the outcome of the telescope. A similar scenario is seen in the Newtonian vs refractor astrophotography battle. 

There are lots of differences between these two telescopes. To compare all the factors at a glance, we have made the following comparison table. You can go through the table to have clear views on the differences.

FactorsNewtonian TelescopeRefractor Telescope
Aperture Size LargerSmaller
Collimation Period LessHigh
Diffraction SpikesAvailable Not Available 
Chromatic Aberration Doesn’t HappenHappens
Setting Up Process Difficult Easy
Best forBrighter ObjectsDeep Sky Astrophotography 
Image Alignment Right Side UpInverse
PriceBuy NowBuy Now

Now you can make a quick decision. But if you want to get some more information, we will not disappoint you. In the next section, we have discussed all the differences in detail.

But before that, here’s another attempt to make your decision more comfortable. You can take a look at the following graph. We’ve rated both types on a 1-5 scale:

Sounds about right? If yes, then let’s not pause here. Because more surprises are waiting for you! If you want, you can directly jump to our last call section to make a quick decision. 

Thorough Comparison 

Since you’re still here, let me congratulate you! Because more twists of Newtonian or refractor telescopes will be unraveling ahead. 

Because choosing between these two telescopes is as hard as comparing the 10×50 and 7×35 binoculars. So you will need in-depth knowledge on the topic.

Have a look at our sophisticated analogy on the Newtonian reflector vs refractor telescope imaging. Then you can make the correct decision and choose the best telescope for you.

Aperture Size 

The first thing that comes to our mind while discussing telescopes is the Aperture size. Telescopes need light to process the image of far subjects. Light enters inside the telescope through the diaphragm opening. 

The size of this opening is known as the Aperture size. With a bigger aperture, the telescope will get more light to process the image. So the bigger the aperture, the better the image will be. Let’s see the aperture size in newton vs refractor telescopes.

Both telescopes have a variability of aperture sizes. But the specialty of Newtonian telescopes is to have a bigger aperture size for fewer bucks. A refractor telescope in the same price range will have a smaller aperture. 

In other words, Newtonian telescopes will produce brighter images than refractor ones. So in this aspect of the Newtonian or refractor telescope, the Newtonian telescope leaps ahead.

However, if you have a smaller aperture it’s best to use a red flashlight with your telescope at night. It’ll help you to adapt to the darkness of night and better the vision as well.

I got myself a new red flashlight a few days ago. So before that, I did extensive research. Hence, I can provide some durable bang-for-buck recommendations for you guys-

Figured your winner already?

Winner: Newtonian Telescope 

Collimation Period 

The telescope is made up of several components. All these components work together to produce a decent image of the astronomical objects. To get the most desired output, these components must be in their accurate positions.

Only then the telescope will be able to accumulate the highest amount of light. The process of aligning the telescope components in the right manner is called Collimation. Collimation is very important for Newtonian telescopes.

The Newtonian or reflector telescope uses mirrors for gathering light. The mirrors can move away from their respective positions easily. So the Newtonian telescopes need frequent collimation. The process of collimation takes lots of time.

However, you can use some dedicated collimation tools for a successful alignment. At least, these tools save a lot of my precious time.

On the other hand, the refractor telescope is more intact. It doesn’t need Collimation for a long period. Even some refractor telescopes do not need collimation at all. This saves a lot of time for the user.

Winner: Refractor Telescope 

Diffraction Spikes

You might have seen that many Astro-images have extended light rays around the stars. These light rays are known as diffraction spikes. Some astronomers like these spikes, whereas others take them as a negative issue.

The diffraction spikes are a characteristic of Newtonian telescopes. The secondary mirrors of these telescopes form the spikes. But refractor telescopes don’t have this issue or feature. The refractor telescopes don’t use mirrors for producing the images.

So it stays free from any extra light around the astronomical objects. Some might prefer refractor telescopes for this reason. While others will want the Newtonian telescopes for the spikes.

Winner: Users Preference 

Chromatic Aberration 

The light ray is a combination of different lights. All these lights have different wavelengths. If the lens fails to focus all the lights at the same point, the lights get scattered. As a result, accurate color does not appear. 

This issue is known as Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration is very unwanted in the astrophotography world. But this problem is often seen in the refractor telescopes. 

The doublet refractor telescopes suffer from this problem severely. However, triplet refractor telescopes are free from this issue. So if you get a refractor telescope, you have to consider the problem of chromatic aberration beforehand. 

So, what I do here is, use a fringe killer filter with my telescope. Such as-

On the other hand, the Newtonian telescopes use mirrors. So there is no scope of the light getting scattered. And thus Newtonian telescopes eliminate any scope of chromatic aberration.

Winner: Newtonian Telescope 

Setting up Process 

Before using the telescope to gaze at the sky, you’ve to set up the whole thing. If the setting up process is too complicated, the user will lose interest in it. So it is essential to know about the settings before buying a telescope. 

The refractor telescope is much more solid than the Newtonian. It requires very little maintenance. Refractor scopes have non-moveable lenses. This gives them a steady structure.

But the case is different for the Newtonian scopes. They need frequent maintenance and collimation. You have to set up all the components correctly to use this telescope. The time needed for the settings is also high.

But let me tell you, a telescope mount can reduce your setup pain to minimal. I got myself the following mounts for my telescope. See if you can choose one for yourself as well-

All things said, I would’ve chosen the refractor telescope here. Which one did you like?

Winner: Refractor Telescope

Image Alignment 

The final image of the telescope can be upside down or right side up. Refractor telescopes use lenses for magnification. So the final image of this scope is always right side up.

Because of the application of mirrors in Newtonian telescopes, the image gets changed. It becomes inverse or right side up. A finderscope is necessary to rectify this image.

You can rely on any of the following finderscopes for your telescope. Take a look-

If you don’t know how to align a finder scope watch the following video-

I know you’re smart enough to choose your winner already!

Winner: Refractor Telescope 

Best for

The main function of both of these telescopes is to view celestial objects. Yet the telescopes have specialized sectors based on their specs. So let’s look at the strong points of the Newtonian and refractor telescopes.

The Newtonian scopes are better for bright objects. You will get excellent images of the moon and the planets by using this telescope. The refractor scopes are however excellent at deep-sky astrophotography. 

That does not mean that reflector telescopes are bad for astrophotography. They are well too. But because of their high maintenance, the refractor telescopes get chosen. 

Winner: N/A

Price

Now let’s check the last factor to decide between Newtonian or refractor for astrophotography. As we are not comparing two single telescopes, we can not compare the exact prices. Still, there’s a lot to discuss on this matter.

The Newtonian telescopes give value for money. You will get very big apertures here. But refractor scopes have small apertures at the same price. For large aperture sizes, the price will go high simultaneously. 

So, if you manage to save some money you can buy some must-have telescope accessories. Which one? Have a look-

Hope you have got an idea of which telescope is worth the money.

Winner: Newtonian Telescope 

Last Call 

It’s a complex task to compare these two similar products. The telescopes are not too different as we noticed in astronomy and birdwatching binoculars comparison. 

So we have to be very careful while comparing the facts. Because similarities between refracting and reflecting telescopes are also very high. 

So you have to decide your budget in advance and then select a telescope. 

FAQs 

How big of a telescope do I need to see Andromeda? 

You need a refractor telescope of at least 4 inches to see Andromeda. And if you use a reflector or Newtonian telescope, the minimum length should be 6 inches. However, To get more clear views with the spiral arms you will need bigger telescopes.

Can you see Andromeda from the Northern Hemisphere? 

Yes, you can see Andromeda from the Northern Hemisphere. But it is not visible all year. Andromeda is most visible on the evening of Autumn. At that time it is visible at the north of 40 degrees south latitude. 

What size telescope do I need to see the rings of Saturn?

You need a minimum 25x telescope to see the rings of Saturn. By using this telescope you will be able to detect the rings. But a 50x telescope will enable you to detect the rings separately from the planet.

Conclusion 

This is all you need to know about the Newtonian vs refractor telescopes. Now you can decide which telescope will quench your thirst for astrophotography. 

Join any astronomical club before buying the telescope. You will be able to use various telescopes there. Then you can choose the right one for you.

Happy stargazing!

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