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Who makes the best 90mm SCT?

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#26 Sarkikos

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 10:15 AM

A top loading fluid head has more imbalance and deals with it by friction.. fluid friction.  Properly balancing a scope may take some creativity, stock dovetails etc, don't always cut it. 

 

With a 90 mm Mak, there are no heavy eyepiece's..  

 

In terms of photo tripods, I am not talking about department store tripods. I'm talking second hand Bogen/Manfrotto heavy duty tripods. I find these on Craigslist etc. The tripod on the photo is a 3046 with a 3047 head. New this would be around $500, used, under a $100.

 

My favorite mount for a small Mak is the Vixen Portamount. 

 

Jon

Sure, you could piggyback a longer dovetail onto the short dovetail on the C90.  But that adds weight and length and unnecessary cumbersomeness to what should be a light and compact grab-n-go scope.  I wouldn't do it.  

 

What works better is to attach the C90's short built-in dovetail to a moderately long quick release plate.  Here's one.  https://www.bhphotov...ting_Plate.html  (IIRC, mine was another brand and less expensive.)  This slips onto the top of the fluid head.  This way you can set the C90 farther forward on the head without dealing with a long and heavy piggyback dovetail.  

 

Of course, you should put the fluid head on a decent tripod.  Bogen/Manfrotto.  Vanguard makes some decent tripods.  An elevator column is a nice addition.  It doesn't need to be geared.  The kind that you can release and move up and down by hand is good enough for a small scope.

 

I'm basing all this on my own field experience with a 501HDV fluid head versus small side-saddle heads such as a DwarfStar and MicroStar.  For me, when observing with a C90, a fluid head provides a more enjoyable experience and smoother movement than the side-mounting heads.

 

I think the Portamount or Voyager is more than is needed for a C90.  That's like having a mouse ride an elephant ... or at least a horse.  grin.gif  If I were to bother taking out my Voyager mount, I'd probably have the C6, 6" short tube Newt or even EdgeHD 8" on it, not the C90.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 22 August 2019 - 10:29 AM.


#27 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 10:35 AM

Sure, you could piggyback a longer dovetail onto the short dovetail on the C90.  But that adds weight and length and unnecessary cumbersomeness to what should be a light and compact grab-n-go scope.  I wouldn't do it.

 

 

It's a few ounces and adds no length. You're using a mounting plate, I am using a mounting plate, probably the same plate.

 

With the Bogen 3047 head, the scope sits ahead of the pivot and can be balanced throughout the range of altitudes, something not possible with a fluid head. 

 

I am not presenting this alternative for your use, rather for the use by the general membership. It can be very effective but may take some thought to get right.

 

Jon

 

 



#28 asanmax

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 11:00 AM

I'm looking to buy my first SCT and a smaller, 90mm or so one is looking appealing to me. I wouldn't mind going up to a 102mm but for the sake of this let's say 90mm. I know a lot of companies sell 90mm SCT's and I don't know much about them, I was wondering if there was any certain one that's better or stands out over the others, (aside from Questars 90mm we all know it's great) if not and they're all relatively the same then which one would you personally recommend? Thanks.

I've had both Celestron and Meade 90mm older model Macs.

With the Meade 90mm/1000mm, the main mirror was seating on a silicon pad. I had to redo it as the main mirror had no collimation screws. I removed the silicon and reapplied it using micrometer to make sure the mirror surface was perpendicular to the optical axis. The scope was giving a good airy disk after that but not perfect.

 

With the Celestron 90mm f/11, the primary mirror had 3 collimation screws and I was able to adjust them to get the perfect airy disk image. By saying perfect I mean the pin-point central circle and a couple of rings around it.

 

To me the Celestron was superior to Meade. But, my understanding is that the quality may depend on many factors, it may vary from batch to batch and from scope to scope.

Best thing is to test the optics on an artificial star.

 

Here is a link to a website where they perform a lot of test of various telescope brands and post their results. It is in Russian so you may want to use Chrome Translate feature.

 

http://www.fidgor.na...rvers/test.html


Edited by asanmax, 22 August 2019 - 11:02 AM.


#29 Bowlerhat

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 11:55 AM

Mike, I think you misunderstood. I said it was unnecessary because he already got a tripod; what I was saying is referring to this

 

Oh, I have a really cheap photographic tripod I suppose it could work, as long as the scope is within its weight limit.

I doubt "a really cheap photo tripod" comes with a decent fluid head, especially the ones with the proper counterbalance mechanism.

 

I mount my C5 on a 3-way pan head mounted on the side and it can clear zenith easily. The handle will not touch the pier because it's moving on the side. For me, it's convenient because of the locking handle so I don't need to fiddle with the tripod head, and it's just smaller than a bulky fluid head for travel.  Having said that, I'm using both.

 

illust side mount

 

And on a side note, some fluid heads also made to be possible to be rotated by 90 degrees to the side anyway to make it more stable.

illust side mount fluid head

Edited by Bowlerhat, 22 August 2019 - 11:56 AM.

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#30 Sarkikos

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 12:46 PM

It's a few ounces and adds no length. You're using a mounting plate, I am using a mounting plate, probably the same plate.

 

With the Bogen 3047 head, the scope sits ahead of the pivot and can be balanced throughout the range of altitudes, something not possible with a fluid head. 

 

I am not presenting this alternative for your use, rather for the use by the general membership. It can be very effective but may take some thought to get right.

 

Jon 

I understand that presenting all options is a good thing.  

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 22 August 2019 - 12:47 PM.

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#31 Sarkikos

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 12:48 PM

Mike, I think you misunderstood. I said it was unnecessary because he already got a tripod; what I was saying is referring to this

 

I doubt "a really cheap photo tripod" comes with a decent fluid head, especially the ones with the proper counterbalance mechanism.

 

I mount my C5 on a 3-way pan head mounted on the side and it can clear zenith easily. The handle will not touch the pier because it's moving on the side. For me, it's convenient because of the locking handle so I don't need to fiddle with the tripod head, and it's just smaller than a bulky fluid head for travel.  Having said that, I'm using both.

 

And on a side note, some fluid heads also made to be possible to be rotated by 90 degrees to the side anyway to make it more stable.

A fluid head that can be rotated to the side might be the best of both worlds.

 

Mike


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#32 2696

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 01:57 PM

Mike, I think you misunderstood. I said it was unnecessary because he already got a tripod; what I was saying is referring to this

I doubt "a really cheap photo tripod" comes with a decent fluid head, especially the ones with the proper counterbalance mechanism.

I mount my C5 on a 3-way pan head mounted on the side and it can clear zenith easily. The handle will not touch the pier because it's moving on the side. For me, it's convenient because of the locking handle so I don't need to fiddle with the tripod head, and it's just smaller than a bulky fluid head for travel. Having said that, I'm using both.



And on a side note, some fluid heads also made to be possible to be rotated by 90 degrees to the side anyway to make it more stable.

You're right, my tripod doesn't have a great head, nor does it have a great tripod to be honest. But for what I'm using it for now it's fine. I will most likely end up upgrading my tripod with one that has a better head and all around just better.

#33 Hesiod

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 05:27 PM

I use ballheads tilted at 90° and find them being very effective from the perspective of size and weight.

This was my most used setup for holidays, being around 3kg heavy and very small:

gallery_215679_8115_2334460.jpg

 

This tripod was from the entry-level range of Manfrotto (the actual one is called BeFree, and these are much better because you can freely and easily replace the head)

 

In a few days we'll begin our vacations with this

gallery_215679_8115_517477.jpg

 

even if will bring also the tripod depicted in the previous picture.

 

I purchased the Skywatcher 90/1250 "spotting scope" because it was equipped with a red dot finder instead of some crap and unusable optical finder and a nice padded bag; this version however lacks the Vixen-type dovetail bar (not an issue for me since would have put it on a photographic quick release plate anyway, or atop a L-bracket* when used with the SLT or Porta mount), but think it is important to underline.

Since are more interested in planetary observations, my opinion is that the VMC's quirks outweigh the advantages it has over the 90/1250 MCTs, even if, as a general purpose, very compact telescope I prefer the VMC (in any case, only if can find at a price around those of the 90/1250s, 200-220€. The "official" retail price is just ludicrous)

 

 

*otherwise the red dot finder would end under the tube, very nasty with the Porta mount, but even with the computerized SLT for the initial procedure


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#34 Sarkikos

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 07:30 PM

 

With a 90 mm Mak, there are no heavy eyepiece's..  

How heavy is heavy?

 

A 13 Ethos or a 4.7 Ethos-SX will fit in a 1.25" diagonal, which will fit in a C90.  They are each 20.8 oz, or 1-1/3 lbs.  Maybe I wouldn't put them in a C90, but you can do it.

 

Mike


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#35 fcathell

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 05:18 PM

My most used scope is the Skywatcher (Synta) 102 Mak with a red dot finder.  It is has a little more light gathering ability than the 90 Mak and it is noticeable.  I use it on a Meade Infinity alt-az mount (also branded by Coronado) that I got in a trade and it is the ultimate in grab-and-go with decent stability.  Here is a link to the mount and it appears on sale:

 

https://optcorp.com/...ount-and-tripod

 

Frank


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#36 luxo II

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Posted 24 August 2019 - 09:31 AM

A 13 Ethos or a 4.7 Ethos-SX...which will fit in a C90.


4.7mm is insanely short.

Vixen SSW 14, 10 and only maybe the 7 mm would be better choices. Throw in the SLV 25, 12 or 9mm if need be.

Edited by luxo II, 24 August 2019 - 09:34 AM.


#37 Sarkikos

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Posted 24 August 2019 - 12:18 PM

4.7mm is insanely short.

 

It depends on the object.  4.7 Ethos in a C90 would give 266x, 76x per inch, and a 0.3mm exit pupil.  76x per inch is not too high if you're splitting close double stars.  The 110 degree apparent field of view would come in hand when star hopping to the star, and when recentering the star if it drifts out of the field. 

 

Mike



#38 SandyHouTex

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 01:31 PM

A nice backyard planetary package is the Celestron 127 SLT.  Larger aperture, a reasonably solid mount with motorized tracking, and a keen price at $389.  If I were shopping this would be on my short list.

 

https://www.amazon.c...B0038LX8XE?th=1

I’ve been looking at the reintroduced Meade ETX-125 and, as far as I can see, it is identical to this scope.  So clearly Synta is now making scopes for both Celestron and Meade.  Monopoly city.



#39 fcathell

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:54 PM

Here is a great deal.  This is the same scope as the C-90, Orion 90 (Synta made).

 

https://astromart.co...-wcarrying-case

 

FC


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#40 Binojunky

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 12:08 PM

My solution, Vixen Porta fitted with a Agena Astro sourced pan handle, longer dovetail piggy backed onto the existing C90 one, works fine and allows use of the slow motions and ample balance adjustment, finder is on the bottom position so I use a Red Dot on top with a double sided tape,D.



#41 photoracer18

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 04:15 PM

If you can find one on the used market then the LOMO Astele 95 Mak is the One. Advantages over Meade and Celestron: Its an F12.6 Rumak, it has a standard SCT VB thread, it has a micrometer focuser, its all metal no plastic, and has a "cute" little 5x24 finder also all metal. The astro and spotting scope versions are identical except for a cheap Questar type star map on the body of the astro version. Its available in any color as long as its black. Its possible to use the rare Intes 0.6x focal reducer on it as, like its bigger Russian cousins, it uses that Celestron VB thread. Only con is the factory dewshield is also like the Intes/Intes Micro, a heavy steel screw on metal dewshield. But its rare so easier to just use a wrap around one for the Nexstar4 or Meade. I used to work for a dealer for all three. The only one I own is the LOMO, for over 20 years. Have not compared it to a Questar or any of the new Chinese Maks. Questar is in a different price bracket than all the rest and I will leave it at that.



#42 Don Taylor

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 08:04 PM

My solution, Vixen Porta fitted with a Agena Astro sourced pan handle, longer dovetail piggy backed onto the existing C90 one, works fine and allows use of the slow motions and ample balance adjustment, finder is on the bottom position so I use a Red Dot on top with a double sided tape,D.

My de-forked etx90. I can mount an RDF instead of the SV50 finder and often use a Baader T2 prism with microfocuser. Very flexible setup. Can be used on the Porta, or Duo-T alt-az, or one of several equatorial mounts.

850 4454 4004 4022
850 4458 4008 4023

Edited by Don Taylor, 29 August 2019 - 08:07 PM.


#43 2696

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 08:14 PM

My de-forked etx90. I can mount an RDF instead of the SV50 finder and often use a Baader T2 prism with microfocuser. Very flexible setup. Can be used on the Porta, or Duo-T alt-az, or one of several equatorial mounts.


Very nice setup. Seems fun to use.

#44 dobro

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 08:17 AM

Well the was the Criterion Dynamax 4000.

I had one of those new back in the day...my first scope of my own. It was, per its reputation, not a great scope. But it wasn't as horrible as some say either. I remember my first view of the ring nebula was through that scope.

I'd get one for nostalgic reasons if I had unlimited space for "stuff".

#45 Bataleon

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 08:26 AM

To my knowledge, the smallest SCT on the market is a 5". There have been some oddballs in the past, but generally speaking any smaller than that and the physical parts necessary to mount a secondary mirror would obstruct too much aperture to be practical. With the Maksutov design, the secondary is painted or mounted on the inside of meniscus itself, so the need for physical obstruction is reduced vs the Schmidt design. With that said, most if not all of the commercially available cassegrains under 5" currently on the market are actually going to be Maks.

Buuuuut to answer your question @OP, most of the widely available 90mm Maks are going to be pretty similar. I have a Skywatcher myself and it's very well made, good contrast and a nice robust focuser. The Meades also seem to receive generally favorable reviews. If you want to spend up a bit, Levenhuk and Explore Scientific make a great 90mm mak. If you're looking for goto, I'd probably go with the Meade or Celestron.

Edited by Bataleon, 01 September 2019 - 08:29 AM.


#46 2696

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 10:18 AM

To my knowledge, the smallest SCT on the market is a 5". There have been some oddballs in the past, but generally speaking any smaller than that and the physical parts necessary to mount a secondary mirror would obstruct too much aperture to be practical. With the Maksutov design, the secondary is painted or mounted on the inside of meniscus itself, so the need for physical obstruction is reduced vs the Schmidt design. With that said, most if not all of the commercially available cassegrains under 5" currently on the market are actually going to be Maks.

Buuuuut to answer your question @OP, most of the widely available 90mm Maks are going to be pretty similar. I have a Skywatcher myself and it's very well made, good contrast and a nice robust focuser. The Meades also seem to receive generally favorable reviews. If you want to spend up a bit, Levenhuk and Explore Scientific make a great 90mm mak. If you're looking for goto, I'd probably go with the Meade or Celestron.


Yeah I made a mistake in the title of this, I did mean 90mm Maks. I have been between the Skywatcher 90 and 102mm (or 100mm, not sure what Skywatcher makes) and also the Orion Apex 90 and 102mm. I'm honestly leaning towards the Orion Maks but a lot of people recommend the Skywatcher versions.

#47 Jaimo!

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 10:27 AM

Celestron, Skywatcher and Orion are all the same, all are produced in China by Synta.  Find the color and package you like best, optically they are the same.

 

Currently the Celestron C90 is on sale for $155 at Optics Planet, this includes a low quality tripod, couple of eyepieces, 45 degree diagonal, and a case.  That ~$50 less than the Orion or SkyWatcher...

 

Check out this thread on the C90, it is huge, but there is a vast amount of information and happy users.

 

Jaimo!



#48 Bataleon

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 10:58 AM

Yeah I made a mistake in the title of this, I did mean 90mm Maks. I have been between the Skywatcher 90 and 102mm (or 100mm, not sure what Skywatcher makes) and also the Orion Apex 90 and 102mm. I'm honestly leaning towards the Orion Maks but a lot of people recommend the Skywatcher versions.

I would go with the 102 if you can find a good price on it. Aperture is always better. Main reason I specifically got the 90 is because I wanted a quick grab and go scope for times I don't feel like lugging out my big guns. The nice thing about these small to medium maks is that they're so modular and just about anything you can use with one you can use with another, including mounts. Most setups that are made for a 90 or 102 can also support a 127 so the possibilities are endless. And yeah, all those brands are identical lol

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#49 2696

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 12:17 PM

Celestron, Skywatcher and Orion are all the same, all are produced in China by Synta. Find the color and package you like best, optically they are the same.

Currently the Celestron C90 is on sale for $155 at Optics Planet, this includes a low quality tripod, couple of eyepieces, 45 degree diagonal, and a case. That ~$50 less than the Orion or SkyWatcher...

Check out this thread on the C90, it is huge, but there is a vast amount of information and happy users.

Jaimo!


That's a pretty good deal, I've been seeing a lot of deals for celestron scopes recently. But what attracts me to the Orion Maks is their finders, I'd prefer theirs over a red dot finder on the Skywatchers of equal size.

#50 Bataleon

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 01:54 PM

That's a pretty good deal, I've been seeing a lot of deals for celestron scopes recently. But what attracts me to the Orion Maks is their finders, I'd prefer theirs over a red dot finder on the Skywatchers of equal size.

To which Orion are you referring? Most of their 90mm mak packages have the same red dot as the Celestrons, albeit just rebadged. This is actually a preferable finder for these scopes since you're generally going to be observing singular targets like planets, the moon, double stars etc. I have a 6x30 RACI finder on my mak, but that's because I use it for terrestrial viewing as well. Magnified finders are actually more difficult to use for astronomy because you can't just point at a naked eye object and home in on it in the eyepiece. You have to actually find it in the eyepiece of the finder and this can be time consuming because there's no way to "rough aim" the scope short of guessing. As you can imagine, guessing with high magnification is far from accurate so unless you have a sixth sense for manually aiming telescopes, I'd probably go the laser finder route. I generally swap out the RACI for my Celestron star pointer pro when observing the sky with my mak. Whatever you end up getting, I would stay with some sort of laser finder for astronomical use, though an upgrade from the stock red dot is recommended. Anything with a multi reticle such as a telrad or star pointer pro is going to be good.

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