Astro-Tech 10" f/8 truss tube Ritchey-Chrétien optical tube


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This newest Version A of the Astro-Tech AT10RCT carbon fiber Serrurier truss Ritchey-Chrétien Hot Product for 2015 makes high quality large-aperture/large format DSLR and CCD imaging affordable for the dedicated amateur astrophotographer and educational institution.
Our Product #: AT10RCT
Astro-Tech Product #: AT10RCT
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Product Description

This Astro-Tech AT10RCT Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph (named a Sky & Telescope Hot Product for 2015) has:

• 10" f/8 true Ritchey-Chrétien hyperbolic mirror optical design
• carbon fiber truss tube design with CNC-machined stainless steel and aluminum components
• low thermal expansion quartz primary and secondary mirrors
• three built-in cooling fans in rear cell
• 3" dual-speed Crayford focuser with 2" and 1.25" compression ring adapters
• focuser attachment collar isolated from the primary mirror and baffle tube
• dust covers and finder shoe

This newest version of the Astro-Tech AT10RCT makes 10" coma-free true Ritchey-Chrétien imaging available to the DSLR and large format CCD astrophotographer at a price less than that of most large format CCD cameras by themselves.
Featuring premium low thermal expansion quartz mirrors, rather than aluminized Pyrex glass mirrors, this reasonably-priced 10" Astro-Tech truss-tube R-C provides the coma-free photographic field that large format CCD and DSLR astrophotographers crave, but can't get from conventional reflectors and Schmidt-Cassegrains.

Likewise, as a pure two-mirror system, the AT10RCT has a wide spectral response and is totally free from the spurious color that affects the imaging of all but the most costly apochromatic refractors, and it does it with a 12" aperture that dwarfs the light gathering of every commercially-available apo refractor.

If serious astrophotography is your goal, but the price of true Ritchey-Chrétien optics has been keeping you from the optical design most modern professional observatories use, your wait is over. The 10" Astro-Tech AT10RCT truss-tube R-C can bring the world of professional DSLR/CCD deep space imaging to your backyard observatory at a truly affordable price.

Features of this Astro-Tech AT10RCT Astrograph . . .

Optical design: true Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain-type two-mirror optics, with hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors. The 233mm available back focus allows for the use of long CCD equipment trains.

Optical specifications: 10" aperture, 2000mm focal length, f/8 focal ratio.

Hyperboloid primary mirror: Made of low thermal expansion quartz. Ground and polished under precision computer control and tested for accuracy multiple times during fabrication on Zygo interferometers. 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 and focal length changes as the mirror moves), the AT10RCT primary mirror is fixed to eliminate both image shift and focal length changes, as well as the frequent primary mirror collimation requirements of a Newtonian reflector. Primary mirror collimation is pre-set at the factory, but can be adjusted if needed using three traditional push/pull locking adjustment screw sets.
Hyperboloid secondary mirror: Made of low thermal expansion quartz, rather than Pyrex. Ground and polished under precision computer control and Zygo interferometer tested. Mounted in a CNC-machined four-vane spider and fully collimatable using simple standard Cassegrain reflector collimating techniques. The secondary mirror is precisely center-spotted to make collimation easier. Unlike complicated R-C designs that use motors to move the secondary mirror fore and aft to focus, which can lead to focal length changes, the AT10RCT secondary mirror is fixed and focusing is done externally by means of an optional external focuser, discussed below.

In a review of Astro-Tech's original solid tube 8" and 10" R-Cs, Sky & Telescope said that the Astro-Tech R-C's fixed primary and secondary mirrors "eliminate image shift, which has been the bane of Cassegrain scopes with moving-mirror focusing systems . . . It also keeps the effective focal length of the system constant, and the infinity focal point remains at a fixed point outside of the telescope, neither of which is the case with moving-mirror systems that change the separation between a Cassegrain's primary and secondary mirrors."

Carbon fiber truss-tube design: Three CNC-machined aluminum support rings form the basic structure of the optical tube. Light-weight and rigid carbon fiber tubes connect the support rings in a Serrurier truss design, using CNC-machined stainless steel ball and socket hardware.

The Serrurier truss solves the problem of optical tube flexure by supporting the primary and secondary mirrors with two sets of opposing trusses mounted before and after the center support ring. The trusses are designed to have an equal amount of flexure, which allows the optics to stay on a common optical axis. When flexing, the "top" truss resists tension and the "bottom" truss resists compression. This has the effect of keeping the optical elements parallel to each other. The net result is that the optical elements stay in collimation regardless of the orientation of the telescope, including passing through the meridian during imaging.

The truss tubes are made of a light weight/high strength woven carbon fiber-reinforced composite material with extremely low thermal expansion characteristics. This reduces the possibility of temperature-related focus changes that can occur with steel or aluminum optical tube scopes during extreme temperature swing.

The Astro-Tech AT10RCT is 24.4" (620mm) long without focuser. The supplied focuser adds 5.25" (133mm) with the drawtube retracted. The center and rear truss tube support rings are 15.74" (400mm) in diameter, while the front support ring is 13.38" (340mm) in diameter. The AT10RCT weighs 33.5 lbs (15.2 kg) without focuser. The supplied focuser adds 2.2 lbs (1 kg).

3" focuser: The AT10RCT is supplied with a basic light duty 3" Crayford focuser to get you started imaging. While acceptable for casual imaging with a light imaging train (such as a light DSLR body by itself), upgrading to a high quality rack-and-pinion focuser is required for serious imaging with an optical tube of this quality. A heavy multi-component imaging train will require a rack-and-pinion focuser to support the extra weight without focus shift. Alternatively, you may already have a premium focuser being used on another scope that you would like to use for imaging.

The supplied light-duty Crayford focuser can be unthreaded from the focuser attachment collar, allowing you to use another focuser. One popular choice is the dual-speed 3" diameter 1.5" travel Feather Touch #3015 rack and pinion focuser, available from your Astro-Tech dealer.

The newly designed focuser attachment collar is bolted rigidly to the back plate of the AT10RCT, completely independent of the primary mirror and baffle tube. This allows it to be collimated separately from the primary and secondary mirrors if needed, using an optional #FCR1012 focuser collimating ring. The focuser attachment collar has a male 117m x 1mm pitch thread for attaching the focuser.

The Feather Touch #3015 normally comes with a 109mm threaded collar for connecting to a scope. Using the #3015 with the AT10RCT therefore requires an optional #M117x1 Feather Touch adapter. The #M117x1 adapter threads onto the focuser attachment port. The #3015 focuser (without its 109mm collar) then slips into the #M117x1 adapter and is held in place by three large brass Delrin-tipped retaining knobs. Only focusers with a maximum 1.5" drawtube travel, such as the Feather Touch #3015, are recommended for use with the 12" Astro-Tech AT10RCT Ritchey-Chrétien. For other focusers, such as a MoonLite, contact the focuser manufacturer for an adapter to fit the 117mm x 1mm port on the rear of the scope.

The image plane is located 9.2" behind the rear cell (233mm from the top of the focuser attachment port). To fine-tune the back focus of the AT10RCT to the requirements of your camera and equipment train, three threaded extension rings (one 2" in length and two 1" in length) are provided to thread singly or in combination between the 117mm port on the AT10RCT rear cell and the focuser of your choice. These provide a flex-free solid metal extension that changes the distance between your chosen 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. The 2" x 117mm diameter threaded ring weighs 14.4 ounces; each 1" ring weighs 7.2 oz.

Equatorial mount recommendations: Because of the 33.5 pound (15.2 kg) weight of the AT10RCT (without focuser), plus the weight of your focuser, camera equipment, and any photoguide scope, installing the AT10RCT on a German equatorial mount with a 45 pound (minimum) to 100 pound or greater payload capacity is recommended. Such mounts include the 60 pound capacity CEM60, the 50 pound capacity Celestron CGX or 75 pound capacity CGX-L and the Losmandy 60 pound capacity G11 or 100 pound capacity HGM Titan. Other suitable mounts are also available from Software Bisque and Astro-Physics.

Cooling fans: To allow the AT10RCT to reach ambient temperatures more quickly for optimum imaging performance, there are three small low vibration/high CFM primary mirror cooling fans built into the rear cell. The high speed DC fans are powered by a standard equipment battery pack that plugs into a jack on the rear cell. The battery pack uses eight user-supplied AA batteries. An optional external DC power supply, such as a rechargeable 12VDC battery pack can also be used to power the fans.
Two dovetail mounting rails: Two 9.8" Losmandy-style "D-plate" dovetail rails are provided for installing the AT10RCT on an equatorial mount, as well as for mounting optional accessories (such as rings for a photoguide scope). One dovetail, positioned underneath the 15.75" maximum diameter by 24.4" long (without focuser) optical tube, connects the AT10RCT to your equatorial mount. The second rail, 180° away from the first, will then be on top of the tube for installing a photoguide scope or any other accessory that attaches to a scope by means of Losmandy-style "D-plate" dovetail adapters. The undersides of the dovetails have been hollowed out to lighten their weight without compromising their strength.

Other accessories: This new Version A of the AT10RCT includes slip-on dust covers for both the primary and secondary mirrors. Also included is a mounting shoe for a red dot-type finder, such as the Astro-Tech ATF. The mounting shoe can also accept the Astro-Tech ATF50QRB 50mm finderscope quick release bracket.

Tech Details

Aperture 10"
Focal Length 2000mm
Focal Ratio f/8
Weight 33.5 lbs.
Resolution 0.46 arc seconds
Telescope Type Ritchey-Chrétien
Visual Limiting Magnitude 13.4
Warranty 1 year
Back Focus 233mm


Review by:
This telescope is ideal for astrophotography. It holds its collimation well. It rapidly reaches ambient temperature. Focus with a Feather Touch focuser is easy and is highly recommended for imaging. It is light enough to go portable. Watch your selection of imaging train components to stay within the 233 mm back focus range. Astro-Physics makes a focal reducer that works well with this telescope and an AP end cap for the Feather Touch focuser. (Posted on 12/26/2018)
Review by:
Recent advanced developments in the manufacturing of telescopes has made it possible to have quality Ritchey-Chrétien optics in a Serrurier carbon fiber truss support system at an affordable cost. These scopes have put high quality imaging (the Champagne) in reach for all those on a limited budget (the Beer). I am talking about the new Astro Tech Ritchey-Chrétien Truss scopes. There are many advantages this scope has to offer. First the RC mirrors are of top quality using low thermal expansion quartz substrata, the trusses are made of strong non-expandable carbon fiber and the overall construction uses CNC-machined stainless steel and aluminum components. The truss design is superior for imaging in that the primary and secondary mirrors are cooled down at the same time and cool much faster than closed tube scopes (more time to image). The carbon fiber is not affected by temperature variations making it a focus and forget system. The scope also has a fast focal ratio of f8, which means more data in less time. Besides that - the scope just looks cool. The Astro-Tech RC scopes provide a coma-free photographic field that large format CCD and DSLR astro photographers crave, but can't get from conventional reflectors and schmidt-cassegrains. Likewise, as a pure two-mirror system, the RC scopes have a wide spectral response and are totally free from the spurious color that affects the imaging of all but the most costly apochromatic refractors, and it does it with an aperture that dwarfs the light gathering of virtually every commercially-available APO refractor.

The supplied focuser is more than adequate for DSLR use but I recommend a 3" Feathertouch; if using reducers, filter wheels and heavy CCD's (Posted on 8/4/2017)
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