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aluminum vs carbon fiber



At Stellarvue we offer our 102 mm apo triplet in either an aluminum or carbon fiber tube and dew shield. Many prefer the "sexy" appearance of the carbon fiber tube while others like the classic look of the aluminum tube. We get a number of questions from customers wanting to know which is best. This page will help you decide by giving you the real pros and cons.  

Cool Down: Aluminum tubes adapt to the night air rapidly. Cool down time is less than in a carbon fiber tube. In the case of the 102, there is actually very little difference. In larger OTA's we have measured the difference and it is more significant. 

Durability: Aluminum tubes are powder-coated and carbon fiber tubes are plastic coated. Tightening the rings too tight on a carbon fiber tube can create tube marks. Light marks can be buffed out, deep marks cannot. Keep this in mind when deciding on which tube you prefer, ring marks from over-tightening are not considered a defect.  

Aluminum tubes are threaded to accept aluminum fittings. The connections are solid and maintain perfect alignment. Carbon fiber tubes have aluminum fittings bonded to it using epoxy. Many import telescopes on the market have had issues with parts falling off and much of this is due to improper cementing. For this reason, we bond these parts together here in Auburn using an epoxy specifically created for bonding aluminum to carbon fiber and this increases durability. 

Solar Work: White tubes do not get as hot outside in daylight so many consider them better when used for solar work. 

Thermal Expansion/Contraction: Some say they prefer Carbon Fiber since it does not contract when temperatures drop. They justify it as they believe it maintains focus better. What they fail to recognize is that lenses shorten in focal length as they cool down. In many cases, refractors actually maintain better focus when made with aluminum tubes. 

Weight: Carbon fiber tubes are lighter. The carbon fiber SVR102T weighs about nine pounds and the aluminum SV102T weighs about 11 1/4 lbs.