8" f/8 Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph, steel tube

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This Astro-Tech AT8RCS Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph has:

• 8” f/8 true Ritchey-Chrétien hyperbolic mirror optical design
• low thermal expansion quartz primary and secondary mirrors
• 96% reflectivity enhanced aluminum mirror coatings
• ten contrast-enhancing main tube knife edge light baffles 
• dual-speed linear Crayford focuser
• 2” and 1.25” compression ring accessory holders 
• two dovetail rails – one Vixen-style and one Losmandy-style “D-plate”

       The original carbon fiber tube AT8RC that Astro-Tech helped develop was the first sensibly-priced 8” true Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph with premium features available from a U. S. company. Sky & Telescope magazine named it a Hot Product for 2010, along with its larger 10" brother, the AT10RC.

    As Sky & Telescope pointed out in their Hot Product citation, “Ritchey-Chrétien reflectors are highly regarded among today's elite astrophotographers, and premium instruments often carry price tags starting at about $1,000 per inch of aperture. So it's the best kind of 'sticker shock' to see the prices for Astro-Tech's 8- and 10-inch f/8 Ritchey-Chrétiens." 

    Be prepared for more "sticker shock,' as the new steel tube AT8RCS is even more affordable than the original carbon fiber version.

    The Astro-Tech AT8RCS astrograph (a telescope designed specifically for photographing comparatively wide areas of the sky) makes the coma-free imaging of true Ritchey-Chrétien imaging optics available to the DSLR and CCD astrophotographer at a price less than that of most CCD cameras. It is not designed for digiscoping through an eyepiece. Featuring premium low thermal expansion quartz mirrors rather than ordinary optical glass, this very economical 8” Astro-Tech R-C makes you wonder just what those outrageously expensive R-Cs have that makes them cost so much.

    Designed for exceptional imaging, the Astro-Tech AT8RCS provides the wide coma-free photographic field that DSLR and CCD astrophotographers crave, but can’t get from conventional reflectors and Schmidt-Cassegrains. Likewise, as a pure two-mirror system, the AT8RCS is totally free from the spurious color that affects the imaging of all but the most costly apochromatic refractors, and it does it with an 8” aperture that dwarfs the light gathering of most apo refractors.

    If serious astrophotography is your goal, but the price of most true Ritchey-Chrétien optics has been keeping you from the optical design most modern professional observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope use for their imaging, your wait is over. The Astro-Tech AT8RCS astrograph can bring the world of professional DSLR/CCD deep space imaging to your backyard observatory at a remarkably affordable price.

Features of this Astro-Tech AT8RCS astrograph . . .

  • Optical design: true Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain-type two-mirror optics, with hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors. For more details, click on the “optics” icon above.

  • Optical specifications: 8” aperture, 1625mm focal length, f/8 focal ratio.

  • Hyperboloid primary mirror: Made of low thermal expansion quartz, rather than the ordinary optical glass used by competitors. Ground and polished under precision computer control to diffraction-limited or better surface accuracy. Unlike catadioptric designs (SCTs, Maksutovs, etc.) that move the primary mirror fore and aft in the optical tube to focus (which can lead to image shift as the mirror position changes) the AT8RCS primary mirror is fixed to eliminate both a catadioptric’s image shift and the primary mirror collimation requirements of a Newtonian reflector.

  • Hyperboloid secondary mirror: Made of low thermal expansion quartz, rather than ordinary optical glass. Ground and polished under precision computer control to diffraction-limited or better surface accuracy. Mounted in a four-vane spider and fully collimatable using simple standard Cassegrain reflector collimating techniques. Unlike complicated R-C designs that use motors to move the secondary mirror fore and aft to focus, the AT8RCS secondary mirror is fixed and focusing is done externally.

  • 96% reflectivity enhanced aluminum coated optics: Both primary and secondary mirrors are coated with 96% reflectivity enhanced aluminum, overcoated with a layer of quartz for long life.

  • Steel optical tube: While not quite as resistant to temperature-related focus changes as its more expensive carbon fiber brother, the 9” o.d. x 18” long steel tube of the AT8RCS will require few, if any, focus adjustments during most imaging sessions.

  • Multiple internal light baffles: Computer optimized primary and secondary baffling. Ten contrast-enhancing glare-stop baffles in the optical tube; multiple glare-stop microbaffles in the secondary mirror light shield; and five baffles in the primary mirror baffle tube provide truly dark sky backgrounds during imaging.

  • Dual-speed linear Crayford focuser: A new design 2” Crayford focuser is threaded onto the 90mm x 1mm pitch rear cell of the AT8RCS. The matte black interior of the new longer 50mm travel drawtube has anti-reflection threading for high contrast. The focuser can be rotated to any convenient angle for the sake of photographic composition by simply loosening the collar that secures the focuser to the scope body, rotating the focuser to the desired angle, and tightening the collar to lock the focuser in the new orientation.

        The new bearing-less linear focuser has a polished stainless steel drive rail that runs the length of the drawtube, rather than having the stainless steel drive shaft simply press directly on (and wear) the aluminum drawtube as with conventional Crayford focusers. The drive rail rides in a self-lubricating track that extends most of the length of the focuser body. The drive rail and its attached drawtube are thereby supported over most of their length at all times, rather than by a conventional Crayford focuser’s two sets of small contact area roller bearings. This system distributes the drive force evenly over the entire drawtube, without concentrating it on a few small contact points. The result is less potential drawtube flexure and no wear (much less uneven wear) on the drawtube.

        The precision-made non-vignetting focuser has dual-speed focusing. There are two coarse focusing knobs. The right knob also has a smaller concentric knob with a 10:1 reduction gear microfine focusing ratio. This provides exceptionally precise image control during critical imaging. All focus knobs are ribbed, so they are easy to operate, even while wearing gloves or mittens in cold weather. Multiple internal baffles in the focuser drawtube assure high contrast.

        Despite the new more rigid focuser design, the weight of very heavy equipment trains (camera, plus filter wheel, plus temperature-compensated electric focuser, etc.) may cause the 50mm long focuser drawtube to tilt slightly when fully extended, affecting the focus. Three threaded extension rings (two 1” in length and one 2”) are provided to install singly or in combination between the AT8RCS rear cell and the focuser. These provide a flex-free solid metal extension that changes the distance between the focuser and the rear cell. This lets you accommodate the varying back-focus requirements of DSLR-type camera imaging versus long equipment train CCD imaging, while minimizing the need to extend the focuser drawtube. Additional optional 1” and 2” long threaded extension rings are available to fine-tune the back focus as needed, as well as optional Astro-Tech 2” compression ring extension tubes that fit into the focuser drawtube.

        The image plane is located 10” behind the rear cell. With the standard dual-speed Crayford focuser installed on the scope, there is 159.71mm of back focus available from the top surface of the 2” accessory holder to the image plane.

        For exceptionally long and heavy imaging equipment trains, the standard Crayford focuser can be user-replaced by an optional 1.5” travel Feather Touch focuser from Starlight Instruments, #FT-1.5BC. This requires a 90mm x 1mm pitch rear cell thread to Feather Touch adapter, #M90X1. Optional MoonLite focusers from MoonLite Telescope Accessories can also be used.

        For even more impressive coma-free imaging with the AT8RCS, consider adding the Astro-Tech AT2FF field flattener. While not specifically designed to work with Ritchey-Chrétien astrographs, images taken with the field flattener by Astro-Tech R-C owners have shown that the Astro-Tech 2" field flattener works remarkably well with these advanced coma-free reflectors as well as with refractors. This modestly-priced imaging accessory essentially eliminates the residual field curvature inherent in all reflector telescope designs, so that the coma-free star images remain point-like all across the field. An optical analysis and ray tracing of the field flattener was done in ZEMAX and applied to the R-Cs by Roger Ceragioli, the noted optical designer who did the final optimization of the Astro-Tech Ritchey-Chrétien optics. Here is what he had to say about the #AT2FF, “My conclusion, which seems supported by what users are saying, is that you don't need any other field flattener. This one performs well over a 40mm image circle in all three small RCs (6", 8", and 10")."

  • Two compression ring accessory holders: The focuser drawtube ends in a 2” accessory holder that uses a non-marring soft brass compression ring to hold 2” imaging accessories in place. The compression ring won’t scratch the barrel of your accessories as an ordinary thumbscrew can. Also supplied is a 1.25” accessory holder that slips into the 2” compression ring holder to let you use 1.25” imaging accessories. Like the 2” accessory holder on the drawtube, the 1.25” adapter also uses a non-marring soft brass compression ring.

  • Two dovetail mounting rails: Two dovetail rails are provided for installing the AT8RS on an equatorial mount, as well as for mounting optional accessories (such as a photoguide scope) on top of the AT8RCS. One is a Losmandy-style “D-plate” dovetail rail that runs the full length of the underside of the optical tube, for installing the AT8RCS on a Losmandy-style equatorial mount. The second is a Vixen-style dovetail rail that runs the full length of the top of the tube. This can be used for installing a photoguide ring set, piggyback camera adapter, or any other accessory that attaches to a scope by means of Vixen-style dovetail adapters. If the AT8RCS is rotated 180°, it will bring the Vixen-style rail to the bottom of the tube so it can be used to install the AT8RCS on a Vixen-style equatorial mount. Competitors provide only one Vixen-style dovetail. Providing two dovetail rails on the Astro-Tech AT8RCS does not limit your choice of mounts or accessory mounting options, as can happen with similar scopes provided with only one mounting rail.

  • Finderscope dovetail: a Vixen-style finderscope bracket dovetail base is installed on the upper left side of the optical tube. It can easily be removed if not needed. It will accept Vixen-style finderscope brackets as well as red dot-type finders, such as the Astro-Tech #ATF.

  • Other accessories: A snap-in dust cap is standard.

  • Two year warranty: As an expression of the confidence Astronomy Technologies has in the quality of their products, the Astro-Tech AT8RCS is protected by a two-year limited warranty against flaws in materials and workmanship.
Focal Length:
This is the length of the effective optical path of a telescopeor eyepiece (the distance from the main mirror or lens where the lightis gathered to the point where the prime focus image is formed). Focallength is typically expressed in millimeters.

The longer the focallength, the higher the magnification and the narrower the field of viewwith any given eyepiece. The shorter the focal length, the lower themagnification and the wider the field of view with the same eyepiece.

1625mm
Focal Ratio:
This is the ‘speed’ of a telescope’s optics, found by dividing the focal length by the aperture. The smaller the f/number, the lower the magnification, the wider the field, and the brighter the image with any given eyepiece or camera.

Fast f/4 to f/5 focal ratios are generally best for lower power wide field observing and deep space photography. Slow f/11 to f/15 focal ratios are usually better suited to higher power lunar, planetary, and binary star observing and high power photography. Medium f/6 to f/10 focal ratios work well with either.

An f/5 system can photograph a nebula or other faint extended deep space object in one-fourth the time of an f/10 system, but the image will be only one-half as large. Point sources, such as stars, are recorded based on the aperture, however, rather than the focal ratio – so that the larger the aperture, the fainter the star you can see or photograph, no matter what the focal ratio.

f/8
Resolution:
This is the ability of a telescope to separate closely-spaced binary stars into two distinct objects, measured in seconds of arc. One arc second equals 1/3600th of a degree and is about the width of a 25-cent coin at a distance of three miles! In essence, resolution is a measure of how much detail a telescope can reveal. The resolution values on our website are derived using the Dawes’ limit formula.

Dawes’ limit only applies to point sources of light (stars). Smaller separations can be resolved in extended objects, such as the planets. For example, Cassini’s Division in the rings of Saturn (0.5 arc seconds across), was discovered using a 2.5” telescope – which has a Dawes’ limit of 1.8 arc seconds!

The ability of a telescope to resolve to Dawes’ limit is usually much more affected by seeing conditions, by the difference in brightness between the binary star components, and by the observer’s visual acuity, than it is by the optical quality of the telescope.

0.57 arc seconds
Aperture:
This is the diameter of the light-gathering main mirror or objective lens of a telescope. In general, the larger the aperture, the better the resolution and the fainter the objects you can see.
8"
Back Focus:
10” (254mm) from rear cell, 6.25” (159mm) with standard focuser installed
Weight:
The weight of this product.
18.9 lbs.
Telescope Type:
The optical design of a telescope.  Telescope type is classified by three primary optical designs (refractor, reflector, or catadioptric), by sub-designs of these types, or by the task they perform.
Ritchey-Chrétien
 
Based on Astronomy magazine’s telescope "report cards", scopes of this size and type generally perform as follows . . .
Terrestrial Observation:
Observing terrestrial objects (nature studies, birding, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial observing. Scopes with apertures under 5" to 6" are generally most useful for terrestrial observing due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes. 
No
Lunar Observation:
Visual observation of the Moon is possible with any telescope. Larger aperture scopes will provide more detail than smaller scopes, thereby getting a higher score in this category, but may require an eyepiece filter to cut down the greater glare from the Moon's sunlit surface so small details can be seen more easily. Lunar observing is more rewarding when the Moon is waxing or waning as the changing sun angle casts constantly varying shadows to reveal craters and surface features by the hundreds.  
No
Planetary Observation:
No
Binary and Star Cluster Observation:
No
Galaxy and Nebula Observation:
No
Photography:
Yes
Terrestrial Photography:
Photographing terrestrial objects (wildlife, scenery, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial photography. Scopes with focal ratios of f/10 and faster and apertures under 5" to 6" are generally the most useful for terrestrial photography due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes.
No
Lunar Photography:
Photography of the Moon is possible with virtually any telescope, using a 35mm camera, DSLR, or CCD-based webcam (planetary imager). While an equatorial mount with a motor drive is not strictly essential, as the exposure times will be very short, such a mount would be helpful to improve image sharpness, particularly with webcam-type cameras that take a series of exposures over time and stack them together. Reflectors may require a Barlow lens to let the camera reach focus. 
No
Planetary Photography:
No
Star Cluster / Nebula / Galaxy Photography:
Yes
Warranty:
1 year
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General Accessories
Finderscopes (2)
Illuminated multiple reticle finder
by Astro-Tech
Quantity:  
$59.95 
Vixen-Style mounting bracket for Astro-Tech multiple reticle finder
by Astro-Tech
Quantity:  
$10.00 
Visual Accessories
Dewcaps and Lens Shades (1)
Flexible black plastic for the 8" Astro-Tech AT8RC Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph, with two notches
by Astrozap
Quantity:  
$39.50 
Photographic Accessories
Camera Adapters (2)
1" Extension ring for A-T Ritchey-Chrétien astrographs
by Astro-Tech
Quantity:  
$32.95 
2" Extension ring for A-T Ritchey-Chrétien astrographs
by Astro-Tech
Quantity:  
$34.95 
Collimating Tools (1)
Focuser collimating ring for 6" and 8" Astro-Tech Ritchey-Chrétiens
by Astro-Tech
Quantity:  
$84.95 
Focusers (2)
Feather Touch 2" Manual Crayford focuser for reflectors and SCTs
by Starlight Instruments
Quantity:  
$390.00 
90mm x 1mm pitch adapter to put Feather Touch Focuser on Astro-Tech AT8RC astrograph
by Starlight Instruments
Quantity:  
$79.00 
Tele-Compressors (Photo/Visual) (1)
2" Field flattener for imaging with Astro-Tech and TMB refractors
by Astro-Tech
Quantity:  
$150.00 
• 2” and 1.25” compression ring accessory holders 
• two dovetail rails – one Vixen-style and one Losmandy-style “D-plate”
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8" f/8 Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph, steel tube

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8" f/8 Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph, steel tube
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Our Product #: AT8RCS
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The steel tube Astro-Tech AT8RC makes premium 8” Ritchey-Chrétien optics for serious deep space imaging available at the lowest price ever. Sky & Telescope named the AT8RC a Sky & Telescope Hot Product for 2010. A review in the December 2009 Sky & Telescope said “it was how nicely this scope is matched to APS-C and 35mm formats that really wowed me.”





. . . our 34th year