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Considering buying a Mak

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#1 stargazer32864

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 01:45 AM

I have my Orion 10" dob on order. I'm planning on buying a couple of refractors. But I'm on the fence about a Mak. I'm thinking about getting the Orion 180mm. I want the scope to show me details of the planets. I attended a star party a few years ago the Schmitt-Cass, I'm guessing 10" or higher, they had blew me away. The image of Saturn was clear and crisp with lots of detail. I could even see the Cassini division. Something I couldn't see in my Celestron 80mm ED. Should I get a Mak ?


Edited by stargazer32864, 06 July 2020 - 01:46 AM.

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#2 deepwoods1

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 02:22 AM

That you couldn’t see the Cassini division is surprising with your 80mm ED. It resolves in my 80mm F/11.4. That being said, I have had nice views from my 150Mak when seeing allows. I would think the 180 would be better. Good luck!



#3 sg6

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 03:31 AM

Have a Mak - never use it. Tends to be too much trouble to get it all aligned and going. The big problem is the inherent narrow field of view. Until I had one I never realised what that added to the chaos.

 

As to planetary views, have had the opposite to you - every SCT has been disappointing. My 70mm achro was way better then a 14" SCT. Best Saturn was a 4" f/10 Achro with an 8mm eyepiece. Seems odd that an 80ED failed. Have seen the Cassini division in a 102/600 achro that can be described as "colorful" and at f/6 not overly sharp. Will better say 3 minutes earlier the scope had been in a nice warm house. Maybe 40 minutes later the view may have been better (I don't wait) and Saturn was low.

 

My thought would be I would not buy a scope for what amounts to mainly 4 objects = 3 planets and a moon.

 

The plus side of a Mak is the compactness of it. Not sure of the weight 180 as that would be a fair chunk of equipment. But the size would make it easier then my intended Saturn scope a Tal 100RS for transporting.

 

From my past experience I would not add one, although I have some good apo refractors that likely do the same job on planets (except not at 180mm focal length size).

 

I don't intend to get rid of my Mak, it could be useful one day. Maybe soon for Jupiter and Saturn viewing. But it would not be my first or second scope of choice for such. More a case of "I have it, now lets work out how to get it all going and use it." Didn't help that the thing swapped mount types the night I was using it - had always been Alt/Az but it swapped itself to Eq and tried hitting the base unit, twice. Suppose that put me off most.

 

Other use is of course planetary imaging.

 

So to me: Negative side: Not user friendly, narrow fields. Plus side compact, planetary imaging option. The 2 plus aspects for me do not outweigh the negatives.



#4 MikeTahtib

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 03:38 AM

I would wait and see what your 10" dob and refractors do.  That's a lot of telescopes to buy all at once.  The best view I ever had of Saturn was through a10" dob with an OWL mirror.



#5 luxo II

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 04:33 AM

Stargazer, as above I'd wait and see what your 10" dob can do, it may be a good one.

 

As maks go, the Skywatcher/Orion 180mm maks are IMHO a bargain, and they're a very nice compromise in terms of size & weight yet have enough aperture to be interesting in dark skies. The downside is having to choose a mount and tripod to put under it, which could be anything from really basic (SkyTee) to a top-notch altaz push-to setup (Rowan AZ100 with encoders and Nexus DSC) or equatorial if you want it to track. Whether you want to go that route is for you to decide.

 

FWIW I'm exclusively a visual observer, and all my scopes are f/12 maks; I'm not particularly interested in low-power wide views.


Edited by luxo II, 06 July 2020 - 04:33 AM.

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#6 cookjaiii

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 05:16 AM

One other aspect of Maks is the long cool-down time.  Unless you have a way to store it at ambient temperature, you will have a long wait before the view becomes steady.  If you set up a warm Mak and the temperature drops during the course of an evening, your Mak may not reach thermal equilibrium for hours


Edited by cookjaiii, 06 July 2020 - 05:17 AM.


#7 Sandy Swede

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 05:23 AM

Stargazer, as above I'd wait and see what your 10" dob can do, it may be a good one.

 

As maks go, the Skywatcher/Orion 180mm maks are IMHO a bargain, and they're a very nice compromise in terms of size & weight yet have enough aperture to be interesting in dark skies. The downside is having to choose a mount and tripod to put under it, which could be anything from really basic (SkyTee) to a top-notch altaz push-to setup (Rowan AZ100 with encoders and Nexus DSC) or equatorial if you want it to track. Whether you want to go that route is for you to decide.

 

FWIW I'm exclusively a visual observer, and all my scopes are f/12 maks; I'm not particularly interested in low-power wide views.

I see in your sig that you own at least two Intes Maks.  Is it correct that these are no longer made?  From my limited reading on those in CN, they seem to be the 'gold standard' for Maks, but rarely come up for sale used.  Since you mentioned the SW/Orion 180, have you been able to compare with your Intes?  I think the OP and I could benefit from your experience.



#8 Hesiod

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 05:25 AM

The Cassini division is already an obvious feature in lowly 60mm achros, so there is something very wrong about your 80ED.
Since have already ordered the 10" Dob I suggest to wait for it and evaluate it for at least a couple of months before rushing to purchase another telescope

#9 HellsKitchen

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 06:20 AM

Yes, Cassini should be easy in an 80mm scope. A 10" mass-produced dob like the Orion will very likely have good optics, and should give you great views of Saturn and other planets. A 180mm Mak OTA is twice the price, 3" less aperture, takes longer to cool, must have a beefy mount which is easily the cost of the OTA again, and thus an effort to set up. For all that, you may not gain anything. Only way to tell for sure is heading out to star parties and viewing nights where such Maks are present, if possible, and comparing the views in your 10" to them, over multiple nights if possible. Alternatively, put a wanted ad out, try the scope, and if the scope doesn't work out, you can resell for no financial loss.

 

And sg6 geez if a 70mm achro was "way better" than a 14" SCT on the planets, well that particular SCT must've had a paper plate for a mirror. 


Edited by HellsKitchen, 06 July 2020 - 06:25 AM.


#10 mac57

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 06:30 AM

I got my 5" Mak to chase doubles and the planets after becoming frustrated with my poor sky conditions for DSO observing with my Dob.  Maks are different animals, and I suggest you wait a while.  Learn how to use your reflector, and go from there.  Mark


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#11 chuckscap

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 06:34 AM

If you're getting a Dob I wouldn't bother with the Mak.  As far as SCT's being disappointing, I'm sure there are plenty of mediocre ones out there, most probably were out of collimation (which is absolutely critical with SCTs) and not cooled down.  I have had two very good SCTs and one exquisite one (an Orange C14 which I still have).   The Orange C14 outperfomed my Mewlon 250 which is incredible.  I've looked through an AP180 Starfire side by side with my C14, even the owner of the Starfire gave "Bertha" rave reviews.   If I had an AP 155 EDFS I probably would part with Bertha, because it would be a one stop widefield viewer, imager and planetary scope all in one.   On DSOs the C14 crushes, I'm sure a Starmaster 18 with a Zambuto mirror would be even better.   I've also owned a TEC 7 Mak that was unbelievable on planets.  I mounted it on my Evolution mount, it worked great.  Anyway, my two cents



#12 luxo II

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 07:32 AM

I see in your sig that you own at least two Intes Maks.  Is it correct that these are no longer made?  From my limited reading on those in CN, they seem to be the 'gold standard' for Maks, but rarely come up for sale used.  Since you mentioned the SW/Orion 180, have you been able to compare with your Intes?  I think the OP and I could benefit from your experience.

Ok...

 

Bought my first SW 180mm Mak circa 2007, good but not perfect optically, sold and bought a few scopes in between, then in 2016 I bought a second SW 180mm Mak secondhand - a friend was selling it for a crazy price and it turned out to be optically perfect.

 

I've seen a few more of the 180mm maks in the field as well.

 

From these it appears the early ones (circa 2006-2010) had a few quality issues - some of the mirrors weren't as well polished as they should have been (a bit "grey" near the edge), and optically OK but not perfect if you are really critical at high power.

 

But the second one I had was optically as perfect as one could wish and I've seen other recent ones that suggest Skywatcher has resolved the quality issues.

 

The Intes M715 (or M715D) at f/15 appear very similar to the SW maks, but there are some slight differences:

 

1. Guaranteed optical quality. Intes supplied an interferometric test report with the 6" and larger scopes, and their standard quality was 1/6 wave P-V (or better) while the deluxe ones (the D suffix) were 1/8 wave P-V. Each scope has a serial number and this is shown on the test report. So buyers had a reasonable expectation of quality, which was not unreasonable considering what they originally cost (a lot more than the equivalent SCT).

 

SW/Orion/Celestron do not offer a guaranteed minimum quality, nor a test report, so you take what comes, though it appears in recent years they are consistently quite good.

 

2. The SW 180 is a Gregory Mak with an aluminised spot on the corrector. In star tests with a 7mm eyepiece, the SW mak shows some spherochromatism and the out-of-focus star images inside/outside are slightly dis-similar. Don't panic if you see this, it is normal - AT FOCUS it should be perfectly corrected.

 

The Intes maks are Rumaks, and have symmetric out-of-focus star images inside/outside focus and don't show noticable spherochromatism.

 

The Rumaks also have a flat focal plane, whereas in Gregory Maks it is curved, much like SCT's.

 

3. Some of the later Intes scopes had cooling fans added, SW maks do not. If you use insulation the cooling fans are not necessary.

 

4. Collimation on the SW maks is achieved with 3 pairs of push-pull screws tilting the primary mirror; the corrector and secondary mirror remain fixed. In the Intes Rumaks, collimation is by adjusting the secondary mirror (3 screws) much like an SCT.

 

5. Finderscopes. The SW maks have the usual finder shoe and an 8x50 supplied. Intes on the other hand used at least 3 different proprietary finder shoes - all incompatible - and supplied either a 6x30 or 8x50 finderscope with an engraved glass graticule, though the eyepieces were fairly poor.

 

6. Backend. The earlier Orion-branded 180mm maks with metallic gold tubes had a smaller rear aperture effectively limiting them to 1.25" eyepieces, while the Skywatcher "Black Diamond" ones (metallic black OTA) had a standard SCT back and could usefully take 2" accessories. The current Orion and Celestron ones are now the same as the Skywatcher version.

 

7. Weight and cosmetics. In this respect the SW/Orion/Celestron maks are distinctly more attractive being quite a bit lighter and more attractive than the Intes scopes. The only unfortunate aspect is the tube metal is so thin that bolted onto a Vixen rail they still can flex and you might consider retrofitting a rail with curved radius blocks.

 

8. Focusing. The SW maks are like an SCT - micrometer screw moves the primary and its smooth and easy to use. A little mirror slop may be evident, though not serious. The later Intes scopes (M615, M715, M815 etc) also have moving mirror focusing with a very different mechanism internally which is usually stiffer, but also has no slop. Some like it, some don't.

 

The larger aperture of the Santel MK91 scopes counts of course, on DSO's, and being a bit bigger mechanically, Santel were able to use a baffle affording a full unobstructed light-path to fill the 50mm focal plane. They also had deluxe-grade optical sets and I can see why Intes used the Rumak design - tight, perfect stars very similar to what you see in a premium APO. Fainter stars are pinpoints, edge to edge across the field. Visually in star tests in good seeing both the MK91 and the 10" APM appear perfect, as one would expect from optics at 1/10 P-V.

 

Observing wise... IMHO the novelty of wide-field low-power stuff wears off  at some point and you begin to find there's no real issue with starting at 70X (the 180mm maks) or 90X (MK91 and my APM) and working up from there - provided you have a decent mount which tracks, and ideally either encoders (push-to) or a GOTO mount. The real bonus is finding what they can really do in excellent seeing which sets them apart. Aside from the planets, on close double stars, planetary nebulae and globular clusters they do not disappoint, and quite a few galaxies are within reach in dark skies, though obviously limited compared to a larger aperture newtonians.

 

With all of these maks I found effectively insulating the OTA is important to kill the internal thermal plume, and reducing the cooling rate means they also stay dew-free for quite a long time - in 10 years I might have used a warm hairdryer 3-4 times.


Edited by luxo II, 06 July 2020 - 08:07 AM.

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#13 Sandy Swede

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 08:47 AM

Great post, luxo II.  Thanks.  Just what I was looking for.  I'm sure the OP found it helpful too.  I have an Orion 127mm Mak and have a line on a used SW 180.  After reading your post, I may spring for a new one.



#14 Winks

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 03:00 PM

Echo that on the great post luxo II. I have a dob - and it sits in my storage shed - Royce primary and all. I simply cannot cotton up to a DOB - just me, I know. I also have a couple SCTs - including an Edge. The SW 180 overrules them all. It nicely complements my 4" Tak refractor. Narrow field of view or not, it is the best so far in my many years of scopes for planets, lunar and double stars - which in my locale is what I have. Don't let the naysayers hold you back. The Mak is super for urban observing.



#15 nerich

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 03:34 PM

I'd agree that you should use the dob for a while and see what it does for you. And this is coming from a Mak lover (I'm on my second one now). If the optics are reasonably good, 10" will show you more than 7", and you'll worry more about your sky and your own eye than your telescope (which is a good place to be).

That said: if you decide, like I did, that 6" or 7" is enough aperture for what you want to observe, it's really hard to beat the Synta Maks. They can't overcome the laws of physics, but they will resolve to the limits of their aperture. They soak up power effortlessly.

#16 stargazer32864

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 05:06 PM

Thanks guys. I had a 8" Dob before and Jupiter and Saturn looked out of focus and tiny. Not even the size of the happy face emoji. I think it might have had something to do with the eyepieces I was using. Plan old standard ploosl that came with the scope. 25mm and 10mm. That's the highest magnification I could get out of the eyepieces. I'm going to get better eyepieces this time around and make sure the mirrors are aligned. Check the skies first to see how the weather and seeing is. Believe me, I could tell a difference between the 80mm ED and the 8" Dob. The moon in the 80mm was so big and I could see so much detail even without a moon filter. In the Dob, the moon was big, but washed out because I didn't have a moon filter on it. It was a big, bright blob. But the Dob did do good on the Orion nebula. It filled half the FOV and even though it was in gray coloring, it did show some detail. So that's why I asked about the Mak. I figured to have different scopes for different things. Dobs for DSOs, Refractors for moon and planets with short focal lengths for imaging. And Mak or SCT with long focal lengths for high magnification that I hope would get me up close and personal with the moon and planets.

 

~Robin



#17 KLWalsh

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 05:46 PM

Have a Mak - never use it. Tends to be too much trouble to get it all aligned and going. The big problem is the inherent narrow field of view. Until I had one I never realised what that added to the chaos.


This seems odd to me. I have an Ioptron 150 mm f/12 Mak.
With a 32 mm eyepiece that has a 55 degree FOV I get a magnification of 56X and an effective FOV of over a degree, more than twice the size of the Moon.
I don’t find it very difficult to align on the Moon or a bright star and then make sure my finder scope is aligned to the Mak.

#18 luxo II

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 07:24 PM

The big problem is the inherent narrow field of view. Until I had one I never realised what that added to the chaos.

This is not confined to maks - it applies to any telescope with a long focal length, which is the pre-requisite for quality images at high-magnification - big long refractors, SCT's and even large newtonians.

 

It is also why observatory grade instruments are mechanically robust, to ensure the finder remains aligned with the scope, and that whatever is used for tracking and positioning (encoders, GOTO etc) remained accurate - any flexure in the scope, OTA, mount, the tripod/pier - even the ground it is sitting on - will affect positioning accordingly.


Edited by luxo II, 06 July 2020 - 07:25 PM.

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#19 Bataleon

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 08:10 PM

Just my two cents, but I think light pollution and atmospheric conditions have a lot more to do with this argument than the configuration of telescopes. I've had near observatory grade views through all of my scopes as well as really crappy views. I have a 90 mak, 127 mak, 102 refractor, had an 8" SCT and now a 9.25" SCT. I've had nights of jaw dropping clarity and crystal clear detail on planets, nebulae, globs etc, and I've also had nights where even bright targets like Jupiter and Saturn looked like utter rubbish. When and where you view are the cornerstones of any viewing experience. That being said, I won't tell you not to get a 180 Mak. I think for its intended purpose, planets and lunar, it'd be a real workhorse for you. Just understand the nature of a maksutov, be realistic with your expectations and pick your battles. Some nights, the sky just sucks.

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#20 luxo II

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Posted 07 July 2020 - 02:52 AM

Just my two cents, but I think light pollution and atmospheric conditions have a lot more to do with this argument than the configuration of telescopes. I've had near observatory grade views through all of my scopes as well as really crappy views. I have a 90 mak, 127 mak, 102 refractor, had an 8" SCT and now a 9.25" SCT. I've had nights of jaw dropping clarity and crystal clear detail on planets, nebulae, globs etc, and I've also had nights where even bright targets like Jupiter and Saturn looked like utter rubbish. When and where you view are the cornerstones of any viewing experience. That being said, I won't tell you not to get a 180 Mak. I think for its intended purpose, planets and lunar, it'd be a real workhorse for you. Just understand the nature of a maksutov, be realistic with your expectations and pick your battles. Some nights, the sky just sucks.

Sent from my SM-N960F using Tapatalk

Also applies to all scopes - not just maks. This thread is about maks..

It never ceases to amaze me how many fail to think about the effects of the upwind terrain on seeing, and the relationships between soil types, microclimate and dew.

 

And yes, some nights the seeing is just plain terrible.


Edited by luxo II, 07 July 2020 - 08:07 PM.



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