Up until now, the coma-free performance of a true Ritchey-Chrétien optical system came only in large apertures that typically started
at well over $10,000 – putting true R-C optics out of the reach of most astrophotographers.
But Astro-Tech asked, “Why should a simple optical tube with only two mirrors and no moving parts have to be big and cost five figures?” Sure, Ritchey-Chrétiens use complex hyperbolic mirrors that are more difficult to make than the simple spherical and parabolic mirrors of Newtonians, Schmidt-Cassegrains, and Maksutovs. And large R-Cs need carbon fiber tubes, quartz mirrors, and cooling fans to prevent even the smallest focal length change during long exposure imaging.
But Astro-Tech also knew that modern computerized mirror grinding technology was now capable of making complex hyperbolic mirrors to the high surface accuracy needed. Buying in large quantities would bring the cost of quartz mirror blanks and carbon fiber optical tubes down to a reasonable price. Reducing the amount of non-essential cosmetic machining and simplifying the mechanical complexity of the system would reduce unnecessary production costs. And machining the scopes at an experienced top-quality off-shore optical shop under precision CNC computer control would keep the quality and consistency up and manufacturing costs down.
So Astro-Tech partnered with the best-known optical shop in Taiwan to produce a full line of top-quality true Ritchey-Chrétien astrographs at prices that most astrophotographers can afford. It really is possible to produce a true Ritchey-Chrétien that you don’t have to be a millionaire to own. Astro-Tech has proved it with the imaging scopes below.