Help me find the best Mak tabletop scope
Posted 03 November 2013 - 06:48 AM
I own a 8" newtonian that I use three or four nights a month during winter in a suburban summer house near the coast.
I've realised that some nights I'm just too tired to drive there and I'm looking into portable scope options to be used intown.
In my terrace I have a flat concrete surface that would be perfect for a tabletop telescope. I always loved the questar but unfortunately my budget is limited to arround 300 euro. I intend to use this telescope for planetary, lunar and solar viewing (I'll need to buy a filter).
So far my options are:
Skywatcher 90mm Virtuoso
Tracking is a nice extra but it is not essential. I was wandering how these two maks compare opticaly?
Also, are there any other options avaliable?
Posted 03 November 2013 - 10:02 AM
I love it; for my family, it's been pretty much exactly what we needed. But the thing about these small Maks, is that, despite their compact size, they have really long focal lengths. Their strength, really, seems to lie at higher magnifications for their size.
But at high magnifications, which is with any eyepiece shorter than, say, 15mm, the tabletop mount component was the weak link. I found it hard to aim and almost impossible to manually track anything. (My kids did not have this problem, though, so younger eyes might do better.)
Our Mak became much more usable when we bought a Porta II. It's much bulkier and heavier than the tabletop mount, but also much steadier and easier to track objects with the slow-motion controls.
Given that, I think the go-to on that Skywatcher might be very helpful if you're planning to keep it as a tabletop scope.
Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:39 PM
Posted 04 November 2013 - 05:35 AM
A 90mm Mak will work, but has little aperture to compensate for less than perfect optics. A C5 will be much better because of it's bigger aperture while still being small and light. On the used market, you will probably pay around US $ 400 for a nice one, but if you're lucky, they can be had at lower prices. The last of the double forked C5 are from around 1983 and run on AC current. The C5 can be used on a tabletop with just it's equatorial wedge. In the pic is my 1983 C5.
Posted 04 November 2013 - 05:52 AM
I see you set your price-limit in €. In what country do you live?
Posted 04 November 2013 - 06:30 AM
Posted 04 November 2013 - 06:52 AM
Posted 04 November 2013 - 07:20 AM
Posted 04 November 2013 - 08:37 AM
Posted 04 November 2013 - 03:07 PM
I see you set your price-limit in €. In what country do you live?
I live in Spain and as you might know, our economy is not in great shape... hence the price restriction.
Smith Cassegrains are quite expensive here and we don't have a particularly big second-hand market, besides if I want more aperture I could always use my 8" newtonian.
The astroscan however has caught my atention, what a nice scope!
Posted 04 November 2013 - 04:43 PM
What I meant was € instead of US $, not what amount in €. The € gave me a clue you live somewhere in Europe.
Posted 04 November 2013 - 04:44 PM
Posted 04 November 2013 - 05:50 PM
A few months ago there was a thread about "worst" telescopes. My nomination for "worst" was the Astroscan. I got slammed for dissing it, with lots of remarks that said (essentially) "How dare you!" and "This was my favorite scope when I was a kid." We have an Astroscan. My wife bought it from none other than Scott Roberts when he was just another young sales clerk at OPT (about 1986). I've never figured out what it's good for. I know it's not good for high power -- OK, I get that. But the low-power views are so poor, I really don't see how anyone -- even a beginner -- can enjoy it.
Please,Please,Please don't get an astroscan. They are only for very very low power views. I only included it in the picture to show the small size of the C5. You are better off with a cheap pair of Binoculars. I have had 3 astroscans in the last 30+ years and not one could give a good sharp image of the moon or planets. It is a telescope I have really tried to like but can't.
Posted 05 November 2013 - 04:38 PM
Not a Cat, I know. But you can mount a 90 or 102mm Mak on that at any time.
Posted 06 November 2013 - 01:37 AM
Posted 06 November 2013 - 01:48 AM
Posted 06 November 2013 - 08:33 AM
Please,Please,Please don't get an astroscan.
Yes, that would be my advice as well.
Horrible focuser, horrible coma, and a very fast mirror with no provision for easy collimation.
Posted 06 November 2013 - 08:45 AM
I have one of these. Mount was bad so I stuck it on a Alt Az tripod.
But I don't like it. Not a very good performer.
It has a lot of off axis light loss even with a 32mm Plossl. Only the center of the field is fully illuminated and the falloff is much worse than most scopes. Maybe 45% at the edge of the 32mm.
I also own a C5. It is far, far, far better. Field is will illuminated in ES 2468, it is very sharp and it has about the same true field at low power.
But finding them on a single arm fork at a reasonable price can be difficult.
There is the Meade 2045, and these come up for sale from time to time. They are SCTs. Very cute little observatory in a bag.
If you can find one of these, it might fit your bill. I have always wanted one of these in fact.
I would recommend stepping up a bit though.
My own recommendation would be the Celestron 5SE. Compact, and will run off of high capacity rechargeable AAs for two or three hours, depending on how much you slew.
While the base is a bit small, you could always mount it to a larger piece of plywood.
But be careful here. Unless your has a rather small top on it, using a "Tabletop" scope can be ergonomically challanging.
In a small Cat or SCT, your head can wind up down on the cold concrete, or you can wind up moving the telescope a lot to get it into a position where you can observer.
Honestly, a good small Alt-az mount is just a better solution.
That way, you can use the scope not only in your back yard, but anywhere else you want to use it.
So, 5SE would be a great scope, and I personally would steer away from 90 degree MCT.
And also, C90. I was not all that impressed with the C90 I bought used. Had heard good things about it, but C5 is sooooo much better.
Posted 06 November 2013 - 08:50 AM
I have always wanted one of these and one day I will find one to buy, but I think I would rather use my C5 for actual observing.
I just always thought the 2045 was like a cute little puppy and always wanted one.
Call me Mr Roboto.
Recent 2045 listing on CN
Posted 06 November 2013 - 09:01 AM
Posted 06 November 2013 - 02:15 PM
"The ones in the Aluminum cases were nearly always great optically. I have had several through the years.
It was Meades PRE ETX.
Buy it you won't be sorry! have I steered you wrong yet?
You can tell the difference in the ones with the lens in front of the secondary.
They say Mirror Lens on the front cell
The true Little Schmidts SAY Schmidt Cassegrain.
As Glenn stated the non-Schmidts were horrible, low contrast, chromatic aberration, ghosting.
the good ones are about 905 as sharp as a 90mm ETX but brighter. The Little fork mounts are really very nice.
not Questar or Quantom nice but exceedingly more user friendly than the ETX.. Also yes picky little buggers on collimation.
One HUGE point.
If you get it, make sure and have the shipper REMOVE THE FINDER AND BRACKET! and then wrap the finder in bubble wrap!If he doesnt 100% sure it will get broken in shipping, same for the B&L 4000!!!! Again personal experience!"
Posted 06 November 2013 - 04:59 PM
I have an Orion Starmax 102 on a EQ-2 Mount. It seems to be quite sharp, and with the RA drive the mount is reasonably solid.
I also have NexStar 5i which is actually easier to set up and probably weighs a little less than the Starmax (mostly because of the counter weight). It is definitely a more solid mount. FWIW the 5i has essentially the same mount as the Nexstar 6SE. It is a a little heavier than the current 5SE
Posted 06 November 2013 - 05:06 PM
I do want one just because they are so darned cute.
But I have been throwing money at astro-equipment like crazy lately, with a new SV110ED, new eyepeices, a second binoviewer, a 12" Go-To Dob, Moonlight focuser, Newtonian GPC for binoviewer more eyepieces, new solar filter, More eyepieces, extensions for the 110ED, Tuning rings, ES 20/100, Baader MPCC, more tuning rings, Bluetooth Telescope controller, Sky Safari, Android tablet to run said Sky Safari, and 12" telecope wirelessly, and well, I am sure I am forgetting stuff.
So for now, as much as I would like one, I really have to get my fingers out of my wallet.
Posted 06 November 2013 - 05:07 PM
Seriously, thanks for the info. I really do mean that because one day, I want one of these miniature telescopes just for the novelty of it. They really are quite fun.