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Orion/Skywatcher 180mm F/15 Mak; Seeking Opinions

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#1 astroneil

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 04:53 PM

Hi Folks,

I'm a complete newbie on this forum, so please go easy on me :)

While waiting on a large refractor purchase; I've decided to take a chance on a lightly used SkyWatcher 180 Pro Mak (original gold tube) version. I've always enjoyed Maks in smaller sizes but I've never gone this big before.
I'd be very keen to hear your opinions on this scope, and in particular, how it stacks up against a larger 5" or 6" refractor once the problem of cooldown has been addressed.

Thanks in advance for all your views.

With best wishes,

Neil. :cool:

#2 ahlberto

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:45 PM

Once this scopes has cooled down they are excelent performers on planets,moon and doubles without beeing as massive as a 6" refractor.This maks are second to none in planets and would be a excelent buy

#3 Asbytec

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 08:26 PM

Neil, just finished putting my Orion 150 Mak through it's paces, and it seems to be an excellent performer. You can read the star test and observations here.

http://www.cloudynig...5/o/all/fpart/1

I can't tell you if a 180 will actually 'outperform' a 6" refractor, but the Mak is no slouch. Both designs apparently have some level of inherent SA, but can be well corrected and produce very sharp images and high Strehl values. You may also read up on effects of an obstructed vs unobstructed apertures to help you decide.

As for the mount and such, actually the Skyview Pro mount is quite hefty for the 150. I like it. It is smooth and sturdy. I imagine it will easily support the 180, too.

Take your time, do plenty of reading...then decide.

#4 jmeriaux

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 04:42 PM

Hi,

In found the Orion 180mm excellent... I have one and (at least mine)it is a keeper. I collimated it one time in one year!

Have a look at the pictures I took... Don't know how it would position against a 6" APO but I think it is one of the best quality / price planetary scope around whether it is for visual or photography ...

http://messier42.us/planets/

and another one here

http://messier42.us/...-november-2010/

Thanks - Jean-Christophe

#5 ahlberto

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 06:37 PM

The skywatcher Mak 180 is a buy you will not regret Take a look at this fabulous images made by Luis Campos with is SW Mak 7".

#6 hfjacinto

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 07:12 PM

Neil,

DON'T DO IT YOU MIGHT NOT GO BACK TO REFRACTORS AGAIN. The maks are supposed to have refractor like views :)

I honestly haven't used this specific scope but I have used Maks and I think they are great scopes.The only issue is the cool down time. They tend to take longer to cool down (especially in the larger size). From my views with several Maks (and a Questar) I was impressed.

I think it will be a nice scope.

#7 jmeriaux

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 07:34 PM

Neil,

Yes cooling time is necessary with large Mak,

I can oberve on the spur of the moment with my 3.5" APO - but not with the Mak 180mm.

When I observe with the Mak I make sure I put it outside 1h minimum before I observe, this way I had no issue with cooling (but I live in California..). Cooling down is not better or worse than a Celestron 9.25 - and with simple planning ahead it should not be an issue ...

Jean-Christophe

#8 astroneil

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 05:00 PM

Hi folks,

Thanks for all your comments and links.It seems to be a very capable imaging scope but I'll only be doing visual work. I got a great deal on it, so it was an opportunity I couldn't pass on really.
It's going to be strange looking through a CAT again. The last one I had round these parts was a 8" LX-90.
Anyone comment on the contrast in the 180 Mak?

Cheers,

Neil. :cool:

#9 RichD

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 05:58 PM

i have the 5" mak in this line, I have been very impressed by the sharpness and contrast. M42 was excellent last time I was observing (very similar view to my 30x100 binoculars) and NGC 404 (ghost of Mirach) was easy and well defined despite so so skies.

One slight problem I have noticed is loop-shaped glares when a bright star is positioned just outside the FOV. I think this may be caused by inadequate flocking on the central baffle tube. It's slightly annoying but doesn't seem to degrade the image too much, contrast is very good.

Sorry I haven't used the 180mm version, but I imagine construction and optical quality would be similar. They are sturdily built and barring severe abuse a well made Mak-Cass should never need collimating by the user. I find this a big plus over SCT's.

#10 dweller25

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 06:24 AM

Hello Neil,

I greatly look forward to seeing your assessment of the 180 Mak. I would estimate it's contrast is the same as a 120mm refractor.

#11 RobertED

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 10:27 AM

I owned the 5 " Mak-Cas from ORION...LOVED IT!! I had to trade it in for a C-11....yeah, yeah...I'm an aperture nut!!! Would seriously consider the 6" or 7" Mak-Cas as a 2nd scope though!!!! :)

#12 astroneil

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 06:10 PM

Hi David,

Yep, I'm looking forward to doing some observing with it too. The 6" version seems to have very decent optics indeed, so fingers crossed on this one. I'm especially looking forward to seeing how well it resolves tricky double stars as well as what it might show me on Jupiter at the end of the year.
I expect to get my grubby hands on it by week's end, so I'll post some pics then.

God it's great being a kid again :D

Regards,

Neil. :cool:

#13 Ed Holland

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 06:26 PM

Congratulations on the purchase Neil. Hope you enjoy the 6" as much as I like my Orion 5" Mak.

Cheers,

Ed

#14 astroneil

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 07:00 PM

Thanks Ed! ;)

#15 moonnerd

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 11:00 PM

What is the quality of the the Orion 180 Mak compared to the IM maks? Ie - for visual lunar, how would the Orion 180 compare to something like the IM715D.

#16 teskridg

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 09:06 AM

Is this a Gregory Mak, with the secondary aluminized onto the corrector? If so, what kind of collimation is required? The Meade ETX's were of this variety, and no consumer collimation was recommended. Tim

#17 astroneil

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 08:44 PM

Hello again,

OK, my big Mak arrived yesterday:jump:. After a long road trip, it presented in good nick. I did a quick daylight test and everything seemed grand. And guess what; the forecast was for clear and frigid skies! So I let the beast cool in my garden shed for a couple of hours and then, after work, set it up out in the cold night air and went observing with my 3" scope.
About an hour in, the Mak had acclimated and I was able to do some preliminary star testing on second magnitude Polaris, in what turned out to be rather good seeing conditions (-6C)
Collimation was spot on - which was nice :grin:- despite its long road trip south. The star test looked very good too; essentially identical patterns of evenly spaced diffraction rings inside and outside focus and with no signs of surface roughness. This is one well polished piece of glass!
Then I had a go seeing how well it did on some doubles; Castor was simply blinding in this big scope and it resolved its two main components so easily, you could have driven a truck through the pair. Contrast was very good indeed. Better than I had expected frankly.
On to Theta Aurigae; a decidely more difficult target and yet again, the tiny seventh magnitude spark was cleanly resolved at 216x. Impressive!
Finally, on to elusive Propus (Eta Geminorum); 216x showed a painfully beautiful blue dot clearly separated from its bright orange primary by a sliver of dark sky. My smaller refractors showed the companion as greenish but now I really know it's blue! :smirk:
I tried to divine more magic from this instrument tonight but sadly, the seeing was *BLEEP*. What a difference a night makes. :(
So, my first impressions of the 180mm F/15 Maksutov are very good indeed. This scope definitely appears to have the potential to do what I purposefully acquired it for; to resolve some trickier double stars on the finer nights that frequently evade my smaller scopes. More testing to do, but I'll keep you all posted. I attach some pics.
Cheers,

Neil. :cool:

Attached Files



#18 astroneil

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 09:11 PM

Sorry guys; the system won't let me post more pics at the minute for some reason. Will try again tomorrow.

Toodlepip.

Neil. ;)

#19 Chassetter

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 09:50 PM

Nice report! :waytogo: Any chance on letting us know how it does on sol system objects too? Seems to me it would be a proper planet-buster too!

#20 RichD

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 04:29 AM

Yes, get that thing on Jupiter! Nice report.

#21 ahlberto

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:52 AM

Hello again,

OK, my big Mak arrived yesterday:jump:. After a long road trip, it presented in good nick. I did a quick daylight test and everything seemed grand. And guess what; the forecast was for clear and frigid skies! So I let the beast cool in my garden shed for a couple of hours and then, after work, set it up out in the cold night air and went observing with my 3" scope.
About an hour in, the Mak had acclimated and I was able to do some preliminary star testing on second magnitude Polaris, in what turned out to be rather good seeing conditions (-6C)
Collimation was spot on - which was nice :grin:- despite its long road trip south. The star test looked very good too; essentially identical patterns of evenly spaced diffraction rings inside and outside focus and with no signs of surface roughness. This is one well polished piece of glass!
Then I had a go seeing how well it did on some doubles; Castor was simply blinding in this big scope and it resolved its two main components so easily, you could have driven a truck through the pair. Contrast was very good indeed. Better than I had expected frankly.
On to Theta Aurigae; a decidely more difficult target and yet again, the tiny seventh magnitude spark was cleanly resolved at 216x. Impressive!
Finally, on to elusive Propus (Eta Geminorum); 216x showed a painfully beautiful blue dot clearly separated from its bright orange primary by a sliver of dark sky. My smaller refractors showed the companion as greenish but now I really know it's blue! :smirk:
I tried to divine more magic from this instrument tonight but sadly, the seeing was *BLEEP*. What a difference a night makes. :(
So, my first impressions of the 180mm F/15 Maksutov are very good indeed. This scope definitely appears to have the potential to do what I purposefully acquired it for; to resolve some trickier double stars on the finer nights that frequently evade my smaller scopes. More testing to do, but I'll keep you all posted. I attach some pics.
Cheers,

Neil. :cool:

Hi.CoNgrats for that wonderfull scope...is indeed one of my dream scopes and isnt even expensive but im broke :bawling:
Currently ive a C8 and a newt 8" f5 and with that mak 180 and a 66mm equinox from skywatcher ans a wide field eyepieçe like a pan 35mm my dream team would be more than complete :bow:
One of the best buys available today without any simgle shadow of doubt :p
One more time...CONGRATULATIONS!

#22 astroneil

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:33 PM

Hi folks; right a few more pics.

That's one big chunk of glass up front:

Attached Files



#23 astroneil

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:40 PM

Here's the beast set up on my beat up old LXD 55 mount. Barely adequate I know, but it's the only driven mount I own at the minute

Rich: I had a look at Jupiter this evening and I'm away out later to do more tests. I'll do a quick write up of my thoughts when I'm done, dusted and defrosted.:lol:

Cheers,

Neil. :cool:

Attached Files



#24 ahlberto

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 07:07 PM

tHATS must one of the most beautifull scopes around(for meat least of course)...I even like the golden paint job.it looks great,great,great

#25 astroneil

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:57 PM

I broke my observing program today into two parts: early evening and late night. Again, I set the big 7.1” Maksutov out in the mid-afternoon, took off the diagonal and let the air circulate through the tube. I have, as yet, no fan for this scope. The temperature maxed out about +2C and fell slowly to -5C over a period of a few hours after midnight. For these tests, I compared the 180mm F/15 Maksutov with my pride and joy; a 4” F/15 neoclassical Fraunhofer refractor.
First target was Jupiter, now well past opposition and rapidly sinking into the southwestern sky. Beginning about 5.30pm local time, both scopes were well acclimated and pointed at the giant planet. I charged the Mak with a power of 150x with my 18mm ortho. I used a 12.5mm ortho yielding 120 x with the 4” glass.
Carefully focussing, I knew instantly that I had indeed reached the limit that the seeing conditions would allow at my location. Despite its low altitude, both instruments served up razor sharp views of Jovian atmosphere. Contrast was better in the refractor, but not by much. As for detail, well, there was no comparison; the Maksutov blew the smaller refractor out of the water. I could see FAR MORE detail in the big Mak than the smaller scope. No surprises there I guess. And though the image was more shimmery and more prone to atmospheric degradation in the Mak, it was still the unequivocal winner in showing detail. It was quite simply a stunning difference. The South Equatorial Belt (SEB) is well on its way back I can tell you!
Later, I compared the two scopes on a waning Gibbous Luna rising in the eastern sky, with broadly the same result; the big Mak hammered the smaller refractor. Far more detail could be seen despite the larger scope’s greater sensitivity to seeing.
Observing Pollux at powers of 216x in the Mak, the seeing disk remained essentially undistorted right the way across the FOV. Further star testing in the Mak confirmed excellent collimation and well corrected optics. Defocusing the stellar image served up remarkably similar diffraction rings inside and outside focus. If anything, they were a shade better defined outside focus than inside. Comparing the sharply focussed views in both scopes, the first diffraction ring was easier to see in the Mak than in the refractor – a consequence no doubt of the former’s 30% central obstruction. There was however, a noticeable difference in the calmness of the image in both scopes. The 4” F/15 was unquestionably more tranquil than the bigger Mak.
So, aperture triumphed, but there’s one final twist to this story that needs telling. Just before midnight, the seeing deteriorated to perhaps Pickering 6, making difficult doubles like Eta Orionis and Propus more challenging to resolve in any scope. Under these conditions, I decided to try Theta Aurigae which had just passed culmination in my sky. On paper, Theta Aurigae looks pretty easy; a whitish primary of magnitude +2.7 separated from its magnitude +7.2 companion by 3.8” of dark sky. Scrutinising the system at 214x in the 4” and 216x in the big Mak, I was reminded of the prowess of the smaller scope under less than ideal conditions. My beloved Fraunhofer clearly showed the secondary as a tiny spark northwest of the primary. The Mak struggled miserably with only a suggestion to the eye that a secondary might exist. The smaller refractor stole part of the show!:lol:
In summary: I paid the princely sum of £275 for this lightly used 7.1” Mak and though I cannot vouch for the consistency of the quality control with this product, I must say that it appears to be an incredible value, delivering performance broadly equivalent to a larger Apo refractor at a fraction of the price. Provided you know how to rub this animal up the right way, she’ll certainly deliver. As a lunar and planetary scope, it’s a steal!

Cheers,

Neil.
:cool:

Attached Files








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