A good apochromatic refractor is the Holy Grail telescope for some observers. For some, nothing rivals the deep, contrasty, pinpoint views through a high-quality refractor. In the past, though, first-rate refractors required a serious financial commitment. But recently, lower cost offshore products have brought these once-lofty telescopes within the reach of the average observer. Here I review the Astro-Tech AT115EDT.
Pluses: Planets, the moon, double stars, some deep sky.
Who it’s for: The intermediate to advanced astronomer who’s always wanted an “apo” but couldn’t afford one until recently.
Who it’s not for: Beginners, or those looking to hunt down really dim, deep objects.
The AT115EDT is a 115 mm f/7 apochromat. The package includes the optical tube, a two-speed 2-inch focuser, a set of rings, a Vixen-compatible mounting plate, and a foam-lined aluminum carrying case. While $1400 is not exactly cheap, such a telescope would be hard to find at any price 20 years ago.
Since the telescope is aimed at the intermediate to advanced observer, no mount, eyepieces, or other accessories are provided. Put another way, if you’re just starting out, be sure to price out everything you’ll need to get started. A telescope like the AT115EDT should be paired with high quality equipment; if you don’t have it, budget as much as another $1000 to $1500 to get a complete running rig.
Refractors excel at planets, the moon, and double stars, and the AT115EDT is no exception. Given steady conditions, the author enjoyed views of Saturn’s rings, the cloud belts and moons of Jupiter, and an unusually close approach of Mars in October and November of 2020.
If it’s deep sky observing you’re after, the AT115EDT will accommodate you, up to a point. While 115mm is bordering on being a large refractor, it is comparatively small by reflector or Schmidt-Cassegrain standards. The AT115EDT has no trouble seeing showpiece objects in the sky like the Ring and Dumbbell nebulas (M57 and M27), the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), or the Double Cluster in Perseus, but the telescope’s somewhat limited light-gathering ability may hinder those looking for the really “deep stuff.” For this reason, many astronomers choose to supplement their apochromatic refractor with a larger reflector.
The AT115EDT, like most apochromatic refractors, excels at astrophotography. In the hands of a skilled photographer under good conditions, stunning astrophotos are possible. The author will issue his usual caution to beginners looking to dive into astrophotography too soon, as it can involve a substantial investment in resources. But for those who are smitten, the prospective astrophotographer will find Astro-Tech an excellent imaging companion.
The same basic telescope is available under different nameplates. Astronomics owns and sells Astro-Tech gear but if they’re out of stock check some of the alternate sources that sell it under their own label. Some alternatives in the 115 mm range include the Meade Instruments 115 Series 6000, the Altair Astro Wave Series 115 f/7 ED, the Stellarvue SV115, the TS-Optics Photoline 115 and the Orion EON 115. Prices vary depending on where you buy the telescope, and what accessories the seller offers with it.
With those cautions in mind, the AT115EDT merits a strong recommendation. If you’ve always wanted an apochromatic refractor but couldn’t afford one, or if you’ve wondered what the “refractor fuss” is all about, here is your chance to find out.
Learn more about the Astro Tech AT115 EDT in Ed Ting’s video review:
The AT115EDT is available under the labels of these companies: