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Sky-Watcher ViewMax 127mm EQ-3 Mak ???

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 02 May 2004 - 02:37 PM

I´m getting ready to embrace this new hobby, and after reading several posts, books, and telescopes reviews I decided to buy an Orion SkyView Pro 127mm Mak-Cass. The problem is that where I live (Portugal) this model is in backorder in all major retailers. Instead, it´s fairy easy to get the Sky-Watcher 127mmm, but there isn't much information on this one.
I would appreciate any input on this subject. Thanks

#2 pollux

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Posted 02 May 2004 - 03:56 PM

At least on refractor and reflector both Skywatcher and Orion are from the same source - Synta.

Maks aren't made by Synta. However I believe both SW and Orion are getting their Maks from the same factory even it's not Synta

To me I like SW's metallic silver-blue tube a lot better than Orion's bordeaux red ;-)

#3 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 02 May 2004 - 05:27 PM

You maybe right.
They are not the exact same model because the SW as a tiny bit faster focal ratio of 11.8 and the Orion is f/12.1.
Their optical quality must be about the same, but I'm a bit concerned with the overall quality assurance of the SW products. (i.e proper colimation, defective optics and others)

#4 Mogster

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 06:27 AM

I've had the Orion 127 on the EQ-3 for a few months, its a quality product I like it a lot.

Living in England I could have got the Skywatcher 127Mak for a bit less but I went for the Orion version in the end. The fittings on the Orion just looked better. All the knobs on the Orion EQ3 mount are metal and the OTA is attatched with easy remove fastenings rather than allen bolts. Then there's the QC issue, Orion seem to have a rep, for quality. That sort of stuff was important to me. Being a first time scope customer, I woudn't easilly be able to tell if things were wrong. Buting the Orion gave me a bit more peace of mind.

I do prefer Orions burgandy OTA, the shiny blue Skywatcher one looks a bit Toys R' Us IMO. Not that the colour of your OTA makes a difference in the dark :)

On another note if you can stretch to it get an RA drive and a 50mm finder, maybe a red dot finder as well. I use the Orion 50mm RA finder and the red dot finder in conjunction. These 3 items have improved my finding of objects and ease of observing. They are almost essential.

MOG




#5 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 04:38 PM

That's exactly my problem with the SW. QC is essencial to minimize the risk of getting a "lemon".
And being new to this, it all becomes more important.
I didn't read any posts regarding serious problems with Orion Maks. It must be a good indication of the overall quality of the scope.

Thanks pollux and Mogster for the feedback.

#6 PJF

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 05:54 PM

Some belated input:
I've just purchased the Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 (EQ3-2), and it seems fine. As with the Orion version, some small revisions appear to have occurred with the package in comparison to earlier reports. The tube assembly on mine is attached with easy remove (finger tighten) fastenings; and the axes release levers are metal.

I don't know anything specific about the quality control of the Orion being better than the Sky-Watcher, but my suspicion (based on general life experience) is that the notion is a product of successful marketing...

It's early days, but so far I'm impressed with the scope. I had three consecutive clear evenings of reasonable seeing from the day of purchase (made no pact with the devil or anything, honest) and had fine views of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn under the circumstances - and this was with the included no-name eyepieces.

Although Saturn was low and in the unstable evening twilight, I was easily able to make out the Cassini Division and an equatorial band.

Jupiter was near the meridian (and close to the Moon on the first evening). With the 10mm EP, the equatorial bands clearly had whirly structure, and the great 'red' (grey) spot was prominent. On the third evening the atmosphere was quite steady (but somewhat hazy and light) and it was possible to tell that the darker polar regions were not uniform (I'm not saying that any specific mottling was visible, only that it was evident that the polar regions were not just a consistent tone).

I didn't spend much time on the Moon (I knew the weather was closing in on each night and wanted to make the most of the planets) but it was splendid. Quite a '3D' feel to it.

Terrestrially the scope gave me a lot of joy, despite using it on the EQ mount and with no lens hood. I was spending the weekend with my parents who live by a river, and I had amazing views of the birdlife. Watching a cormorant trying (and failing) to swallow a ridiculously large eel was pretty entertaining. This was many hundreds of metres away (10x50 binocs could only show that the bird had caught 'something') and was very sharp and contrasty in the 25mm EP. The magnification/narrow field the scope provides is too much for 'normal' terrestrial use really, and the focus is very shallow. But it's all very clear and with only the colours nature intended.

The cheapie eyepieces are good value, and the presence of the 10mm makes the package more useful than the Orion effort from a beginner's point of view. They have some lateral false colour but ironically not as much a 'quality' Russian 17mm Super Plossl I have (my only other 'serious' EP at present).

The tube assembly is well finished, and the focussing is very smooth with no image shift. There is a tiny foreign body on the inside of the corrector lens on my example, but it's not enough to make me want to exchange. The mount is not nearly as well presented, but it all seems pretty sturdy and basically functional for the money.

I'm very much looking forward to further use of the scope, under better skies and with better eyepieces. Over a decade ago in my last bout with astronomy I owned a Vixen 102mm APO. I've a strong feeling that the little Sky-Watcher Mak isn't going to leave me wanting for much.

#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 03:45 PM

THX.

Your "little" report was very informative.
Now I'm a bit more confident in buying one of this Mak's.
I read a post on the Meade ETX forum about the University Optics König-II (12, 16 and 32mm) and a 20 mm UO Super Erfle. I seems that the slow f ratio of the Mak' is well suited for this type of EPs.
Do you know if the f/11.8 ratio of the ViewMax 127mm is long enought to accommodate them ? Are they more adapted to use in the longer f/15 ratio of the ETX-125 ?

#8 PJF

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 03:56 PM

I've been googling on the Sky-Watcher Viewmax/Skymax, and found a few items of interest:

A couple of planet snaps:
Solent

A brief review:
Excelsis

The next two are fairly substantial reviews from Italian astronomers. These are Google translation pages, and the translation is a bit hit and miss. You can get the basis of what's being said, though. With the assistance of beer, the misses become delightful. Reading about commandos, automatic rifles and the putting to fire of the head physician, brings a whole new angle to astronomy you might not have considered before:

IT1

IT2

Overall, pretty favourable.

.

#9 PJF

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 04:02 PM

Oops, I can't get the first Italian link to go straight to the translated page. However, the relevant link is fairly obvious on that index page.

#10 PJF

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 04:42 PM

Pedro, I'm not familiar with current eyepieces (I'm ten years out of date!), so I'm trying to read up as much as possible. There is a brief review of the Konigs here on CloudyNights:

http://www.cloudynig...eces/Konigs.htm

The author mentions this supposed long focal ratio favourability with the Konigs, but his experience didn't support it.

The 12mm Konig will only provide 125x on the Viewmax. This would leave the planets quite small still. Even at 150x Jupiter isn't exactly big.

I'm seriously considering a 6mm TMB "Super Monocentric" for next payday. That'll give 250x of reportedly superb planetary viewing on a good night.

.

#11 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 12:56 PM

Hello Pedro,

To my knowledge, Sky-watcher and Orion maks are the same (the focal ratio difference is due to the fact that skywatcher make a "viewMAX" and "travelMAX"...with slightly different focal ratios... F/11.8 and f/12.1). They are both made by Synta....synta makes Maks, but doesn't make SCTs.

here in Portugal, Orion is sold exclusively by Galáctica (www.gem51.com), so if they are on backorder there, you won't find them anywhere else locally. However, the Skywatcher version is available from various sources (besides galáctica):

www.perseu.pt
and, I believe,
www.astrofotoportugal.com

I've heard nothing but good things from Rui Tripa, of Perseu, regarding the sky-watcher Maks. Perseu also sells the Konigs and Super Monocentric eyepieces...I'd look into the Kasai Ortho's they have too (same company that makes the UO orthos).

Whereabouts are you located in portugal, btw?

Carlos Andrade.

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 02:20 PM

Hello Carlos,

I didn't noticed that there where two slightly diferent SW Mak´s. I assumed that the TravelMax was the same model as the ViewMAX. So, indeed, the TravelMAX must be an Orion clone(or as a matter of fact, both are Synta clones).

I was about to place an order on the Galáctica site, because they also have the UO Konigs and Erfles. At Perseu website I couldn´t find those UO.

The TMB Monocentrics are way to expensive (€ 225) and as I use glasses, I'm concerned with the eye relief of this EPs.
UO or Kasai orthos of 18 and 12,5 mm barlowed (Televue 2x or Orion Shorty plus) must be better for me.

I live in the suburban area of Porto (city of Ermesinde)

It´s always good to find a fellow citizen in this "farway" forum. :cool:
This is a great place to learn and to get help :bow:


Pedro del Rio

#13 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 03:28 PM

Pedro,

UO and Kasai Ortho's are the same (both made by the same company). My mistake, Perseu don't have the Konig...they have the widescan II and III (kasai) which are similar.

Galáctica is somewhat closer to you than the other two stores, but I always end up comparing prices at all of them before ordering anything.

It's good to see more portuguese people on forums like CN...it's a sign our amateur astronomy community is growing :) and you're right...this is a great place to learn and get help!

Do you get to observe at any dark sites in the Porto area? last time I was there (a couple of weeks ago...in V. Nova de Gaia) it seemed as if there was less overall light pollution from the city than we get here in Lisbon.

There's a considerably sized group of amateurs here (for portugal) and we observe at a local semi-dark site every clear saturday (there's usually around 15 of us on good nights) ...if you're ever around, feel free to join us.

regards,

Carlos Andrade.

#14 PJF

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 05:40 PM

You guys are making me jealous!

I've been to Portugal a couple of times (only the Algarve unfortunately) and loved it so much that I went to evening classes here to learn Portuguese. Circumstances changed and I haven't had the chance to go back. Rest assured your English is way better than my Portuguese ever was (and I've just about forgotten everything now).

One day I drove a long way north into the hills to get away from the built up areas of the coast, and waited 'till dark. I've never seen a sky like it, before or since. Fantastic! I only had binoculars but I didn't care. I lay on the front of the car until I was shivering - and then some.



The naming conventions used for the Maksutovs by Sky-Watcher/Synta are intriguing. In the UK they are now marketed as "Skymax":
http://www.opticalvi...oducts.asp?D=22
But the packaging and instructions on mine refer to it simply as "MAK127EQ3-2". Nowhere are the names "Skymax", "Viewmax", or "Travelmax" mentioned. I suspect the packaging will be the same for all of them, and the promotional naming is down to national distributors.

Now I'm really going to go out on a limb here with the suggestion that all the various Skywatcher/Orion MAK 127s are actually identical in design. I suspect that they are all either f/12.1 or f/11.8, but not both. There is no substantial significance between the two figures from a technical point of view, and it makes no sense for a company to make two such closely specified models. I suspect the different figures quoted may be due to some hangover from a change in specification earlier on, or perhaps to whether they were quoting a focal ratio of the mirror or the clear aperture (which may be different). Note that AstrofotoPortugal describes the TravelMax as:
•diametro:127 mm (5")
•focal:1500 mmF/12.1
Best of both worlds? ;)

I'm prepared to be slapped about for my presumption, but I'd place a small wager on an Orion example measuring the same as a Skywatcher one...



Pedro, you make a good point about the cost of eyepieces, but I'd caution against buying two cheaper eyepieces instead of one more expensive - especially if you buy the Skywatcher with the 25mm and 10mm included (they are quite useable until you replace them with better). It's something I learned in my previous astronomical experience (and life in general) - cheap tools are often worse than useless.

As for eye relief and wearing glasses, hopefully these CloudyNights articles will assist you:

http://www.cloudynig...2/eyerelief.htm
http://www.cloudynig...ieces2/tmb4.htm

And remember, if you're buying a Mak it's not for widefield/deepsky. You can use a short eye relief eyepiece with glasses on double stars and planets just fine.

#15 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 02:36 AM

Heh...I hadn't noticed that Astrofoto lists the focal length at 1500mm and ratio at f/12.1...must be fuzzy logic ;) You may be right though...they probably measure the same...

I have an advantage regarding my english...I was born in the UK and lived there until I was 13 :)

I've never observed in the Algarve, but from what I remember there are places there with absolutely fantastic skies. I've taken binoculars to Southern Alentejo (just north of the Algarve), and the sky is truly dark.
This summer I'll probably take my 8" dob to Madeira Island, and can't wait to try it out at a dark site 1800m above sea level :)

Carlos.

#16 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 02:42 AM

Pedro, btw...if you're interested in the orthos, check the used section on Galáctica's page... Luís Evangelista is selling a 7mm Kasai ortho for €30 (less than half the price new). That would give you about 220x...which would almost max out the magnification for a 127mm mak (and even if you don't use it, or find that it doesn't have enough eye relief, at that price you can always sell it without losing $$).

I bought a TV plossl and 9mm ortho from him a couple of weeks ago, and they were both in excellent shape.

Carlos.

#17 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 12:41 PM

Peter,

It's hard to make a good choice of EPs without declaring bankruptcy. Those UO Konigs and Erfles are mid priced (about 120 €) and hopefully shall perform well with the slow f/ratio of the SW.

Carlos,

Where I live the light pollution is severe. So goodbye to
"lazzy" stargazing. THX to your offer, I may just stop by one of this days.
That 7mm Kasai ortho for €30 is indeed a good deal. Although
orthos have a small FOV, they are always a good bet for double stars and planets.

#18 PJF

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 06:07 PM

Bankruptcy, now there's an idea... ;)

I look at it like this: :silly:

The planets are rapidly disappearing now, so a full eyepiece complement is not needed straight away. What I have now is good enough for the Venus transit (the laughable reason I bought a scope now <over 60% chance of cloud here>). Buying one high quality eyepiece soon (instead of average set) will provide me with good views of Jupiter and the Moon, and the chance to investigate the scope on double stars, etc. That eyepiece will stay with me for a long time, and be suitable for any better scope should I sustain the interest. More quality eyepieces can follow as Gordon Brown permits.

I appreciate your mileage may differ.

Tell you what though, I think I'll chicken out and buy the 8mm TMB instead of the 6mm. It looks like a paltry 175x is all I should reasonably expect from the 127 Mak. :bawling:

#19 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:37 PM

Going with the 6mm is very risky (you're at the limit of the 250X).
The 8 mmm is a better choice. Also, do you think that it justifies spending €225 (£151) on this EP ? Is it much better than a simple ortho ? (7 mm for example)
For that price I can buy a Vixen LV Superwide 8 mm.
It has better FOV without the reported light dimming of the regular Lanthanums, and the 20mm eye-relief can be a godsend
to guys like me (kind of Mr. Magoo).
But if your eyesight is good (no glasses) your options can be more "widefield" than mines.

#20 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 05:15 AM

The TMBs are reported to be slightly better than the Orthos, but the price difference is pretty large. With most astro equipment, you get to a point where you spend a huge amount of money to get a marginally better view... sure, if you have the cash, go for it...but if you don't, and can handle the short eye relief (and small FOV) of the orthos...they're the best bang for the buck for planetary and double star viewing (I like them on globular clusters too).

Since you can get one second hand for €30...I'd say that's a great deal, since you won't lose any cash if you find you don't like it and sell it to somebody else.

Carlos.

#21 Mogster

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 11:33 AM

Using my Orion 127Mak in NW England I hardly get any use from a 6mm Atares W70 eyepiece that I bought. It gives 256x with the 1500mm 127, too much for the usuall skys that I get. On Jupiter the image gets larger but I dont see any more detail beyond around 200x.

I bought the 14mm and the 6mm, the 9 mm W70 would have been much more usefull than the 6mm.


http://www.robertvin...o.uk/page4.html

For the price the W70's are decent ep's IMO. Not everyone can afford Televue or Pentax's

I really wish the 127 had been designed to take 2inch ep's though.

MOG



#22 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 17 May 2004 - 05:17 PM

They look rather nice.
Priced at £49 (€73) and with that FOV they are indeed a great value.
Do you know if they ship to other countries of the European Union ?

#23 Mogster

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Posted 19 May 2004 - 06:41 AM

I actually got mine from Scopestuff in the US. At this price you really can't go wrong.

http://www.scopestuff.com/ss_ew7p.htm

I can recommend Scopestuff, Jim's service was excellent.

Edit..........

There's a thread on the W70's in the eyepiece section.

http://www.cloudynig...sb=5&o=&fpart=1

MOG

#24 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 05:22 PM

Hello ALL,

The 127 Mak that I picked up from Orion was to be the more portable instrument. My main device is an xt10 on an Atlas mount. I picked up the Mak so I would have something to use when I was alone or did not wan to invest an entire evening

The scope is great but due to the design it has narrow fields of view (compared to what I'm used to)...I have been using a 24mm panotic that helps this field of view out...

It is a great scope. You will love it and it wont break the bank. The scope, tripod, and a few EP's weigh less then just the counter weights for the big monster.

The scope you can use easy for short trips is the one that will get used.

Enjoy.

The 25mm EP that comes with the unit is great.

Tim

#25 PJF

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 07:49 PM

I've had the chance to do some more observing, and to briefly compare the scope with other types. The other types were a couple of Meade SCTs (one a ten inch) and a Celestron six-inch fast refractor. On the planets, the Skywatcher trounced all of them. On deep sky the Skywatcher could hardly see a thing. On double stars they all seemed to be about matched. Since I got the Mak to look at solar system objects, I have to say I'm fairly pleased with my choice.

And this was with just the standard Skywatcher eyepieces, against Meade special plossls and a Nagler in the Celestron. The fast refractor just had way too much chromatic aberration - Jupiter was just an over bright disk flaring wildly with violet and yellow. In the Meades, Jupiter was a soft, pale blob with little sharpness, contrast or detail. In the 127 Mak, Jupiter may have been small, but it was much sharper with loads more going on. Io's shadow was a pointy little stab mark. Clear mottling was visible in the lower polar region that was just a monotone blur in the Meades (Celestron showed no polar region!). The Meades offered a 'bigger' picture that might have illustrated that size isn't all-important. ;)

With my no-name Russian 17mm plossl (88x) in quite wobbly seeing, a low Saturn offered Cassini's, an equatorial belt, shadow of planet on rings, and hints of polar region. In the Meades it was, well, Saturn. (no observation through Celestron).

The consensus of those with wider experience of Synta scopes was that my Skywatcher was an extra-good example of the Synta Mak production. This pretty much alleviated my concerns about reports of Orion vs Skywatcher quality control. I suspect that they are all mostly very good, with a few extra-goodies and a few not-so-goodies.

Playing, very briefly, with better eyepieces has convinced me to really push the boat out and buy some quality stuff to go with this scope. I have a TeleVue star diagonal on the way (the included star diagonal is apparently a weak point on these scopes) and I shall be picking up a TMB monocentric next week (stocks of 7mm permitting). This month's other indulgence will be an RA drive. It's driving me crazy turning that wheel!


Here's something I noticed about the package. With the tripod in its lowest setting (legs retracted) the whole thing is very stable - without the silly 'tray'. At 300x, it takes just a second for vibrations from a sharp tap on the OTA to settle. Focussing at lower powers (150x and down) is fairly easy. An offshoot of this is that you really have to observe seated. Tough, eh? ;)


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