Refractor Telescopes

Products reviews and general guides for the amateur and hobby astronomer.
Helpful hints and tips for first time telescope buyers.

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Caring For Your Refractor Telescope

Astronomy can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding pastime, and it’s important to learn how to properly maintain equipment to ensure that it remains an enjoyable hobby for years to come. Refractor telescopes have become very popular with less experienced enthusiasts due to their durability and relatively maintenance free operation. The closed optic system does not require any alignment and normally will not need any type of cleaning. However, as with any telescope, refractors still require special care in order to stay in good condition.

Unless the telescope is permanently mounted, it should be kept in a hard case when not in use. If the telescope is mounted in a fixed location, a good soft cover should be used to shield from dust and other contaminants. It is critical that children understand that a refractor telescope, although it looks like a lot of fun, is not a toy and shouldn’t be treated like one. In addition to the damage that could occur to the telescope, injury can be caused if parts or glass lenses become broken. Simply bumping into a refractor telescope can cause it to fall to the floor or tip over and break, so keep this in mind when determining where the best and safest storage place is.

Cleaning the lens and eyepiece is essential to keeping your refractor telescope in pristine shape, but improper techniques can cause permanent damage. Before attempting to clean a lens, it is first necessary to determine what type of cleaning is required. If there is simply dust present, a camel hair brush may be used to gently clear the surface. There is a significant risk of scratching the lens if any dirt or particles larger than dust are brushed. As a result, it is critical that careful consideration is used prior to beginning to clean. Another product that is actually safer for the glass is canned air, which is available at most office supply stores or hobby shops. The only concern associated with using canned air is that there is an aerosol propellant in the container, and it can actually be expelled if the can is tipped too much.

Many individuals believe that they can simply blow the dust off with their mouth, but saliva and small particles can be very difficult to clean if they inadvertently settle on the lens. If there are any fingerprints or other dirt on the glass, it is important to remove it without rubbing it against the surface. There are many different cleaning solutions available on the market that will allow the owner to simply soak the lens in a container. Many cleaners will dry clear and smudge free, so wiping will not be required. However, the lens can be carefully dried if absolutely necessary. Before drying, ensure that the surface does not have any contaminants present whatsoever. Proper cleaning helps keep the images crystal clear, and much more visible.

One of the great things about refractor telescopes is that of the many objective lenses contained within the unit, only the exposed surfaces require cleaning. Although a novice may hear many other enthusiasts talk about aligning optics, it is important to note that refractors cannot be aligned without sending them back to the factory. The inner lens assemblies should never be disassembled or dismantled, as potentially dangerous gases may have been used in the air sealing process. Refractor telescopes are a very wise purchase for any beginner, but are an equally acceptable option for many more experienced individuals. If properly cared for, a refractor telescope can have an incredibly long life and can be enjoyed well into the future.

Refractor Telescopes 2012