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I am new to telescopes and need help, I just bought a Mak 180

Beginner Equipment Planet Observing Maksutov Imaging Eyepieces
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#1 ddahan47


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Posted 01 March 2021 - 09:31 PM

Hiya Cloudy Nights!


I am very new to astrophotography and observing and using telescopes in general. I just bought a Skywatcher Mak 180. Here is a complete list of all the equipment I bought so far for my setup:


Skywatcher Mak 180


AstroZap heated dewshield

Tele-Vue ACC-003 2 inch SCT adapter


Generic T-adapter with SCT attachment threads


Celestron AVX Mount with 2 counterweights


STANLEY J5C09 JUMPiT Portable Power Station Jump Starter


ZWO ASI 174 camera


ZWO Electronic 8 Position Filter Wheel - 1.25"/31 mm Sized


Antares F/6.3 SCT Focal Reducer


Hubble Optics Hubble 5-Star Artificial Star (for collimating)


Baader UV-IR Cut Filter - 1.25" Round Mounted


Celestron Universal T-Adapter with Barlow - 1.25-inch


Baader Moon and SkyGlow Filter - 1.25" Round Mounted


ZWO 1.25" Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector


ZWO 1.25" LRGB Filters Optimized for ASI1600


I still want to buy a diagonal and eyepieces for the Mak 180, and a focuser for the Mak 180 too (maybe a feathertouch or moonlite focuser). I was thinking of getting a used 35mm Panoptic and maybe a couple more, but maybe a zoom one would be better? I would like to ideally spend less than 1-2k on all the rest of the equipment I need. 


I primarily want to use this scope for planetary astrophotography and observing, is there anything else I am missing? For planetary do I need anything for polar alignment and autoguiding?


Also, I have a Macbook Pro and installed Firecapture on it, and was thinking of installing Pixinsight eventually and learning that too. I know registax and autostakkert are only on pc, should I buy a pc and if so, which one? I would want one that does it all, I do not want to use bootcamp or parallels or anything on my macbook pro.



Edited by ddahan47, 01 March 2021 - 09:33 PM.

#2 Cali



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Posted 01 March 2021 - 09:58 PM

You're new to astrophotography/observing and using telescopes in general but just bought a Skywatcher Mak 180?


Nice problem to have. Now listen to your elders and DON'T buy a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g else for the next 30 days. Just go out there and get acquainted with what you are looking at and how to use your equipment. 


Come back to us in May. We will be eager to know what you learned or fumbled about with (like all of us have).


- Cal

Edited by Cali, 01 March 2021 - 10:43 PM.

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#3 Bean614


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Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:02 PM

"I am new to telescopes and need help, I just bought a Mak 180".....?????????


It would appear that you also purchased a not insubstantial amount of other things too.  Perhaps the "Help" part should have come a bit sooner?  Cart before the horse?


I'm not usually at a loss for words, but you got me!  I haven't the foggiest idea what help you need---- just keep buying stuff, and if it works fine.  If not, sell it and try again!

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#4 Sandy Swede

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:12 PM

It would have been nice to acquire this first, but I suggest that you now acquire some knowledge and practical experience of the night sky.  "Turn Left at Orion" comes to mind.

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#5 ddahan47


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Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:34 PM

I should specify the Mak 180 I bought came used so it does not include a diagonal or eyepiece, those are literally the only things I need help with. I do have some experience with astronomy as I studied it in college and high school and want to get back into it, but when I say I'm new at telescopes I mean I have never owned my own planetary setup before so it would really be great to know what would be a great eyepiece and diagonal to go with this set up, thats all. I bought this setup after careful research but still obviously need something to actually look out of to use a telescope (like, I literally have NO eyepieces right now or diagonals). I also don't know the backfocus of the mak 180 so it would be great to know if I need any spacers and which specific ones to get. I also have no experience with planetary astrophotography, which is why I asked about what would be an ideal PC setup to use, and which programs. If you are going to respond to this thread please keep it constructive, I do appreciate any help I can find here though. Thanks!


Turn Left At Orion looks great though, I appreciate that resource!

Edited by ddahan47, 01 March 2021 - 10:37 PM.

#6 JosephATL


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Posted 01 March 2021 - 11:30 PM

Sounds like you've got most of the major astronomy-specific stuff down.


Don't forget about the more general stuff like warm clothes, red light head-lamp, some cases to organize and transport your stuff.


With the long focal length on that MAK, you need to have a good finder.  I've used the both the telrad (reflex type) and the refractor finder scopes.  Both have their pros and cons, but the bottom line is: you need one.


A bahtinov mask is also really nice, but not a must have.

#7 Sacred Heart

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 06:18 AM

First up,  congratulations on your purchases.  I agree with the above posts, you will need a finder scope of some sort, atleast until you have a good repeatable, if a portable set up, polar alignment coupled with repeatable accurate pointing. 

A bahtinov mask is something I live and die on.  You can print one from online, and make one out of foam or cardboard.


 I own a 7" mak, I cannot speak for yours but I have about 6" of focus. I can image with my QHY 5III 462 straight out the back with no problem.  I have had the camera anywhere from 2' to 4" away from the back.  My diagonal is an Astro Physics Max Bright, about 15 years old as is most of my equipment.  My eyepieces came with the scopes, I have 5 maybe 6 eyepieces, ranging from 6MM planetary that I won as a door prize to a set of 4 Brandons 12MM to 32MM and a Meade 26MM. 


If you are asking to recommend brands or styles of eyepieces, forget it - I'm as dumb as a doorknob when it comes to that. I just know if it looks sharp and clear when I look through it.    Why the AP diagonal, I have read they were of a good quality and I could afford it at the time so why not.  It worked out good so far.


When imaging planets, I have Sharpcap for capture - came with the camera. I use the bahtinov mask, to focus on the planet - I set the exposure long and gain some where in the middle 200 - 300.  I set it long enough and high enough to see the spikes from the mask. Adjust the straight line to the middle of the X and done. Lower the gain to 100 or so adjust exposure to eye and shoot. USB traffic I keep around 0. Use USB 3.0 cords and USB 3.0 port on computer,  you should be shooting anywhere from 20 something to 60 something frames a second.  At F15.


   My PC is refurb Dell laptop, I5, 8GB ram, 128SSD,  The bigger the better,  that 128 gigs goes by fast.  2 minute videos, 5 or 6 videos,  you get the picture.  I download every night to an external SSD.


 There is a rule out there for planetary imaging,  5 times your camera pixel size = your F ratio.  Me 5 X 2.9 = F15 close enough. Works pretty good I might add.   The other half of the story is, not every night is a photographic night.  Shoot every chance you get,   I also look through the eyepiece.  You will be pleased at what you see, planets, Moon, double stars.   I have not tried it yet, but you may be able to get some of the smaller DSO's imaged.  M57, Blue Snowball, Eskimo, M82 the list goes on.  Never, and I mean never give up trying.


   Polar aligning, Sharpcap works pretty good for planetary, need pro license $15.  For deep sky,  the more stars you have in your model, from both sides of meridian,  the better.   Planetary you are taking alot of  short exposures,  deep sky, you are taking longer exposures  2 -5 minute shots. You may be guiding.  And quite a few of those too.   The more info you have, the more good info you hopefully have, the better the end picture. There is a cutoff point in planetary though up to 2 minutes or so.  Due to rotation of planet.


   Get out there and give it your best,  the first few rounds you may have to take a few punches, by the 5 & 6th rounds you should begin to realize what is going on,  and if you are still standing by the 15th round you might have a shot. 


  Hope this helps, I do not mean to confuse you, and good luck,   Joe

#8 Bean614


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Posted 02 March 2021 - 06:43 AM

"...my own planetary setup"      By the way, are you aware that, unless you wish to get up at 3am, the 'major' bright planets (Jupiter & Saturn) won't be visible in the night sky before late Spring/early Summer?  And Mars won't be at 'opposition' again for another 18 months.   

#9 ddahan47


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Posted 04 March 2021 - 08:24 PM

Thank you all, this has been insanely helpful!

#10 TareqPhoto


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Posted 06 March 2021 - 07:28 PM

Oh, another Mak 180 user, congratulations!


This scope is getting popular day after day or year after year, when i started in 2017 i asked about scopes and i didn't hear so much recommendations about this scope, but i heard about Maks, and i wasn't sure at all about a Mak because i didn't see many users here and there using a Mak, one person changed my mind after i saw his results, and it became my best scope for the moon, and i tied it for planets but i wasn't satisfied, so it gave me what i need anyway and i won't give it up.

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