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Askar FRA500 Full Review - Our New Favorite Beginner Telescope!

Updated: Sep 28, 2023


Askar FRA500 refractor telescope

The Askar FRA500 is a compact beginner refractor telescope with an aperture of 90mm, a focal length of 500mm, and a focal ratio of f/5.6.


The telescope can be used with full-frame cameras, and the built-in reducer/flattener means you do not need to calculate the back focus.


Attaching the Askar field-flattener/reducer will turn this telescope into a wider and much faster instrument, more info on that later! We have been using this telescope from our light-polluted backyard as well as from the desert, and we are very impressed with the images we were able to achieve. Learn more about this great beginner telescope in this post!


Askar FRA500 telescope full astrophotography review

 

Tables of Contents

  • Introduction

  • What's in the Box?

  • Imaging the Christmas Tree and California Nebula with the Askar FRA500

  • Askar FRA500 Specs & Price

  • Lunar Photography with the Askar FRA500

  • Accessories (Reducer, Conical Extender, Filter)

  • Full-Frame stars

  • Pictures Taken with the Askar FRA500

  • Final Thoughts


 

Askar FRA500 - What's in the Box?


The Askar FRA500 telescope comes in a nice sturdy aluminum protective case with all the slots you need for additional accessories, like a filter box or the field flattener/reducer.


The picture below shows the inside of the case. The slot for the filter case is just under the manual.


Askar FRA500 in the box

Here is what is included with the Askar FRA500:

  • The Askar FRA500 Telescope

  • Tube Rings

  • A Detachable Handle

  • A Small Losmandy Dovetail

  • The "Conical Extender"

  • An M86-to-M68 adapter (only needed if you plan to attach the 0.7x reducer)

  • A Manual, a focuser screw, and Allen Key

Recommended accessories we personally decided to get:

This makes the telescope faster with a wider field of view, but does have a drawback. More info on this later.

A great duo-band filter for narrowband targets, and does not show halos even on bright stars.


You can watch our unboxing and first-light video on our YouTube channel.


 


Imaging the Christmas Tree and California Nebula with the Askar FRA500


Let's show you a couple of pictures we took with the Askar FRA500 before we dig into the specifications. One of our favorite images with this telescope so far is the one of NGC 2264 which we took with the Askar duo band filter.


Small refractor telescope in backyard at night

We imaged this cluster and nebula from the backyard (Bortle 9) and spent 33 hours on it! We used our QHY600C full-frame camera and the Askar 0.7X reducer/flattener to get the widest possible view on the object.


You can see so much gas all around the image below, and the shape of the Christmas Tree itself.



Another nebula we photographed with this exact same setup and location is the California Nebula. This target is rich in Hydrogen Alpha, and its large size also meant we were glad to have a wider view made possible by the reducer. You can check out our full blog post about the California Nebula to see our previous attempts, or just appreciate the one taken with the Askar FRA500 below on the right.


Want to process your images following our own workflow? Download our guide HERE!


GEAR USED:

Camera: QHY600C

Mount: ZWO AM5

Processing: Pixinsight

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 33 hours & 29 hours

Exposure Time per frame: 10 minutes

Gain: 26


 

Askar FRA500 Specs & Price


The Askar FRA500 is small and compact, making it a great telescope for beginner astrophotographers and especially those who often image away from home. The 452mm length and weight of 9 pounds make this a nice portable telescope, and the handle at the top is welcome to carry it around easily and safely.


General Specs


The Askar FRA500 in hand before attaching the rings
The Askar FRA500 in hand before attaching the rings
  • Aperture: 90mm

  • Focal Length: 500mm

  • Focal Ratio: f/5.6

  • Design: Quintuplet Petzval

  • Image Circle: 55mm

  • Back Focal Length: 74mm from M48 thread

  • Tube Length: 452mm

  • Weight: 9 lbs (4.1 kg)


And below is a drawing showing the size of each component on the FRA500 telescope. In this case, the default conical extender is attached.

Askar FRA500 specifications and size

 

The FRA300, FRA400, FRA500, and FRA600


The Askar FRA500 has several other versions with different sizes, so you should decide on which focal length would be good for you before making your decision.


Indeed, the "FRA" series include the FRA 300, FRA 400, FRA 500, and FRA 600. The number following the letters FRA is for the focal length, which is directly linked to the size and weight of the scope.



Askar FRA300 Pro