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The 127mm Synta Mak - a little scope that CAN!

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#26 tommy10

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 11:55 PM

I also have a new 127 Mak to go with my 8” dob. I will have a shoot out with these two later when the smoke clears literally. Last night , I had the Mak out and it showed superb views of the moon through the smoke. At 167x with the cheapo 9 mm I was able to sometimes spot the center cratorlet in Plato with hints of two others, this was past the ideal phase for finding Platos cratorlets. The scope easily split the double - double at 100x. The scope came collimated  as well as I’m able to tell , it’s good enough for me,. Saturn was fine with the Cassini division visible, Jupiter was low but also looked sharp with festoons and belts and  barges visible, I will post a more detailed post on this small , but capable scope.


Edited by tommy10, 20 July 2021 - 11:55 PM.


#27 maroubra_boy

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 02:35 AM

After a conversation with a friend about this scope, long focal length Ultra wide eyepieces & vignetting I decided to try these eyepieces with this 127 Mak as it comes with a 2" visual back (not the customary 1.25")

I tried 30mm 80° & 38mm 70° eyepieces with a 2" diagonal & to my great surprise I saw NO vignetting!

None, nada, zero, zip, zilch.

Evenly illuminated all the way across the whole field of view.

I had been led to believe that a bore of the size found in one of these scopes that these eyepieces would show vignetting. Well, this is another example of the popular/accepted notions being wrong. If I had not tried this out for myself I would have continued professing the misconception.

One case to be very glad to have proven myself wrong! :D

Alex.

Edited by maroubra_boy, 21 July 2021 - 08:33 AM.

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#28 MortonH

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 03:43 AM

This is an interesting read for me as I've had probably 3 of these Synta 127mm MCTs ( 1 Celestron & 2 Orion) over the years - all were quite good and the most recent one I sold was no exception. I think the 127mm model hits a sweet spot in terms of size, weight and capability. But I did sell the last one off a few months back and opted for an older white-bodied C5 - an object of desire for some time.

 

The C5 has charmed me - great form factor and build quality while being lighter and smaller than the 127mm MCT - and possibly a slightly larger aperture hmm.gif . My scope, with Starbright coatings, is quite good. It did need collimation when I received it and since that it has been very good. I had very impressive views of the moon at medium & high power soon after receiving it and its stellar views are very satisfying. I have it paired with an AT70ED and the two play very well together on a single mount. Super light, out the door, etc.

 

Regarding the C5 vs. the 127mm MCT, its very close possibly the edge going to the MCT on sharpness alone. But this older C5 is very impressive overall - and being 2-3 pounds lighter and a bit shorter, to me it's a worthy tradeoff.

 

Clear skies!

 

I was the previous owner of Alex's C5 - it was a black tube model from the '90s.  It was surprisingly sharp and I liked it a lot, especially on the Moon.  At one stage I acquired a Synta 5" Mak for comparison.  As expected the Mak was a bit sharper and brighter but I preferred the lighter weight and shorter tube of the C5.  Perhaps there was a touch of nostalgia in there as well. smile.gif


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#29 maroubra_boy

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 09:35 AM

Hey Morton,

Yes, it was a confounded situation for me with that C5 I got from you. You well remember how pleased I was with it & kept you updated on the insulating wrap I made for it.

For me it has to be optical quality and was fortunate that the manual alt az mount I have can handle a 127mm Mak.

But optical quality also needs to conform to fit-for-purpose and yes, even price. I also have a 4" f/5 achro - a modest refractor but it fits a niche in my observing stable as an RFT.

But in terms of a choice between these two Cassegrains, size & weight differences were not enough to overwhelm the preference of quality for the physical differences, filling its own niche as a grad'n'go & outreach/sidewalk astro scope.

Alex.


Edited by maroubra_boy, 22 July 2021 - 07:44 PM.

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#30 doug mc

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 07:21 PM

Alex sold the C5 to me I believe.  Both you guys are right.  This light small scope is a delight to use. The snap to focus is a little hard to get used to, as there is only one exact position for focus. I use a foam disc I cut out on the focusor shaft with a tooth pick stuck in it to dial in best focus. You just gently push the pick end. 


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#31 maroubra_boy

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Posted 15 August 2021 - 06:18 AM

 

The last test in the reckoning was to spot the trio of craters Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin.  The old orange tube C8 I had struggled to show them even under very good seeing conditions, the brand new Meade 8" SCT (brand new in 2017) I had totally failed to show them, the C5 just managed to show Armstrong, and this 127 Mak had no problem with the trio in just good seeing conditions.  WOOHOO!!  dancey.gif   Now here is a mass production scope that is really VERY good.

 

 

The usual adage is:  "unless there's a pic it didn't happen"

 

Well, last night I had this little scope out and seeing conditions were not too bad.  So I attached my Oppo phone to a Prostar 9mm 68° eyepiece and snapped away a bunch of single frames.  To my great surprise I managed to nab the Apollo 11 trio in the one frame, something I've only previously managed to do with my 9" Santel Mak.

 

Holy tamalies, Batman! dancey.gif   A single frame capture of the Apollo 11 trio with a 127mm Synta Mak using a smartphone grin.gif

 

So, yeah, I'm pretty happy with this little scope cool.gif

 

The first pic is the whole of the frame (reduced resolution for CN), and the second is a cropped section of the original.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Trio 127 Mak 14th Aug 2021-1.jpg
  • Trio 127 Mak 14th Aug 2021-1 - Copy.jpg

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#32 Bill Barlow

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Posted 15 August 2021 - 11:40 AM

Nice catch.  Looks like you were using a little less than 200X to see them.  Last night I had the C6 out and got to see Armstrong and Collins craters but couldn’t confirm Aldrin.  The best view was at 214X with a Pentax 7XW.  S+T says that the best time to see these craters is 5-6 days after the new moon where the slanted sun angle provides the best contrast.

 

Bill


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#33 grif 678

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Posted 15 August 2021 - 12:46 PM

I have the 127 SLT Celestron Mak on the astro tech voyager mount. The optics are outstanding, and with WO binoviewers, they are awesome. Several years an optician recommended that I get one of these SLT's if I could find one, he said they were the best kept secret in astronomy. Well, I have not been disappointed. My 90 ETX on my little unitron 114 mount for quick views ( but with great optics ), and when I want extra power and resolution, the 127 with the binos really bring the target up close. Using both eyes increases resolution because of using both  eyes, but I would swear that it makes the image larger.


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#34 Borodog

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Posted 16 August 2021 - 11:24 AM

It's cute, but you're throwing away half your R value with a non-reflective exterior. Still, if it works for you, I guess that is all that matters!



#35 Asbytec

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Posted 17 August 2021 - 07:44 AM

Great read, Alex. I picked up a Synta 150 MCT in 2011. It did not take long for me to realize I had a real gem on my hands. I pushed that scope to the edge of my own limits, star tested it (confusing at first), and it took magnification like a champ. I began to consider it my poor man's Questar and I argued it was as good as Intes standard models (an admitted bold claim).

Now, to be fair, I was observing in some of the best seeing I know of. Nights of Pickering 8/10 or better, sometimes near perfect, were not once in a lifetime, more like almost every night during our dry season. Still, great seeing allowed me to see what the scope can do. It did not disappoint, and it spurred a years long observing spree like no other. It became my longest owned and most used scope to date. Very minor focus shift, maybe a few arc seconds. I became a Mak fan.

Bang for the buck estimate is around a $1.00/night (not including eyepieces). :lol:

Edited by Asbytec, 17 August 2021 - 10:29 AM.

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#36 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 17 August 2021 - 12:50 PM

Comparing a 1250/127 (or 1250/125) SCT to a 1540/127 (or 1500/127) MCT doesn't seem fair.  A better test is to compare a 1540/127 (or 1500/127) MCT with a 1500/150 SCT.  I still think the MCT might win though I haven't actually ever used any of these 'scopes myself.  Mathematically, the difference in clear aperture between a 1500/150 SCT and a 1540/127 MCT is smaller than the difference in relative central obstruction.  So the 1540/127 MCT should have a larger improvement in contrast as compared to a 1500/150 SCT than any improvements due to clear aperture.  The 127-mm aperture could also be a benefit under poor to average seeing conditions, when the 150-mm aperture might not provide any additional resolution due to atmospheric seeing.



#37 Bill Barlow

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 10:40 AM

I have done a few side by side observing sessions with my C5 and C6 scopes and the C6 is brighter on every object since it has about 50% additional light gathering.  I assume the same would be true when comparing the 5” MAK to a 6” SCT.  Also, some of these 127mm MAK’s actually only have about 118mm of clear aperture since the primary mirror is not large enough and some of the light cone is cut off by the baffle tube.

 

Bill



#38 MarMax

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 11:29 AM

Love the graphics!

 

The only thing I can draw correctly is a straight line with a ruler.


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#39 maroubra_boy

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Posted 19 August 2021 - 04:19 AM

Nicole,

While the mathematics of "contrast" suggests a smaller obstruction offers better contrast, in practice there is often no difference as the mathematics ASSUMES perfect baffling & scatter control. In the real world this is far, far from the case.

I'll put it in an example exactly on this point:

I have a 9" f/13.5 Santel Mak. A friend of mine has a 10" f/12 APM-Wirth Mak. Both scopes use Deluxe Intes glass and have the same high quality coatings. The inside surface of both tubes are smooth, that is they do not have rows of rib baffles. Focusing with both scopes is via an external focuser The difference between them is the design of the baffle tube & how it is attached to the primary mirror, & the secondary obstruction of the Santel is %-wise a little smaller than the APM-Wirth - the Santel SHOULD have better contrast...

We compared both scopes side by side one night with the Moon. Through the Santel the black of space was a very dark grey. Through the APM-Wirth the black of space was BLACK! Not a dark shade of grey. Black. We used the same eyepiece & diagonal in both scopes to discount these as a factor.

An examination of both scopes by looking down the tubes with Moonlight shining down into them reveals the first part. The bushing holding the baffle tube of the Santel was more reflective as were the apex of the ridges along the outside the baffle tube. Looking up through the rear of the OTA, again the baffle tube of the Santel was more reflective than that of the APM-Wirth. The differences in how the baffle tube of the APM-Wirth made all the difference in the visible contrast in the eyepiece. The second obstruction had no impact here.

This in two high end instruments.

In run of the mill mass production instruments, there is not the same dedication to the design and manufacture of the baffle tube & how it is fixed on to the primary, & light scatter is far less well controlled.

So many people carry on about the size of the secondary obstruction but have no clue what is really impacting upon the contrast that they see. And it isn't just the baffle tube but also how the inside of the tube is treated, the type of black paint used (most are just too reflective at very shallow angles of incidence), the design and treatment of the baffle tube around the secondary mirror, the quality of final polish of the optics (most significant), on and on...

I have only ever seen two other scopes match the quality of contrast of my friend's APM-Wirth. One was a Takahashi 10" Mewlon, the other a Vixen MVC260L (the only good quality of this scope). My Santel & other Intes made Maks have better baffling control than most scopes, but there are a few that are just another thing altogether.

I have also seen significant differences in contrast between two mass production Newts, same size & f/ratio where the only difference is the source of the primary mirror and the resulting difference in the quality of the final polish (also mentioned above). Chalk and cheese. While both were mass production units, one is a little more expensive than the other, and the price difference is in the extra work that has gone into the final polish of the optics, everything else the same.

It is only if the quality of light scatter/baffling is perfect that differences in secondary obstruction can really be called upon.

After this side by side comparison of these two Maks I just about ignore all talk about relative secondary size. You will not read anything written by me about contrast other than the above example.

I strongly suggest you try to look through a scope that really has outstanding scatter control to see the black of space as BLACK while a very bright object is in the eyepiece in order to truly appreciate this aspect. You will then really understand when I same that the mathematics of contrast count for very little in the real world.

I also suggest you have a look down the aperture opening of your Mak (or SCT) while the scope is pointed at the Moon and have a careful look for reflections coming off surfaces that are not the mirrors. Move your head about to chase these reflections. You will be in for a surprise, just as I was with my 9" Mak.

Alex.
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#40 Asbytec

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Posted 19 August 2021 - 06:10 AM

Alex, as I'm sure you understand, those are two different types and sources of contrast. Diffraction effects are contrast transfer (aka MTF) and the latter is veiling glare (hat tip to Glenn LeDrew, et al). Yes, sources of glare near the exit pupil that can find their way into the eyepiece field lens can reduce contrast over larger scales. My mass produced MCT had a little of that. However, one of the first things I noticed (but didn't understand right away) is veiling glare appears to be a little better controlled in my sample MCT.

More so when I isolated sources of glare (extensive testing) in the optical train and deadened them after removing my secondary baffle to reduce obstruction and open full aperture. The stock baffles were too tight. I did notice some improvement in contrast transfer in defocused star images and maybe some improvement in diffraction artifacts on the lunar limb. But not significantly so on planetary detail due simply to a slightly smaller relative obstruction (38% to 31%).

Edited by Asbytec, 19 August 2021 - 06:19 AM.


#41 alnitak22

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Posted 19 August 2021 - 07:05 PM

The usual adage is:  "unless there's a pic it didn't happen"

 

Well, last night I had this little scope out and seeing conditions were not too bad.  So I attached my Oppo phone to a Prostar 9mm 68° eyepiece and snapped away a bunch of single frames.  To my great surprise I managed to nab the Apollo 11 trio in the one frame, something I've only previously managed to do with my 9" Santel Mak.

 

Holy tamalies, Batman! dancey.gif   A single frame capture of the Apollo 11 trio with a 127mm Synta Mak using a smartphone grin.gif

 

So, yeah, I'm pretty happy with this little scope cool.gif

 

The first pic is the whole of the frame (reduced resolution for CN), and the second is a cropped section of the original.

Those are really nice pictures! I’ll have to see if I can bag the trio in my TV85. I know my 6” f/8 reflector will show them as it’s a great lunar scope. I assume that’s the Sea of Tranquillity given the names?   Though I don’t need another scope in my situation, ive always wanted to try the 127 Mak that Orion sells on the EQ4. I have that mount already for the 85 so I could just get the scope. 


Edited by alnitak22, 19 August 2021 - 07:06 PM.


#42 doug mc

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Posted 20 August 2021 - 12:08 AM

I recently purchased a new Skywatcher 150 mak. Having owned a C6 in the past i was aware that the central baffle tubes on cassegrain scopes can be a source of scattered light. Was no different in the new mak. I had the job of inserting some Prostar flocking in it. Also diagonals can have reflective surfaces. I flock those as well. Alex convinced me a mak would be the best choice for my next scope. He was right on. His Skywatcher mak has impressive glass. If your into Luna,  planetary and can't afford a decent size apo, get a mak.



#43 maroubra_boy

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Posted 20 August 2021 - 03:21 AM

Alnitak22,

Yes, the Apollo 11 trio of craters is in the Sea of Tranquility. They are also very close to the landing site.

I am also most curious to know if your TV85 is able to show the trio. No harm throwing your 6" dob at them too to verify its cojones...

Doug, I am really pleased you are happy with your Mak.

Alex.
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#44 maroubra_boy

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Posted 20 August 2021 - 03:38 AM

One thing about all reflecting types of telescopes is the need to collimate them. Some scopes require more maintenance than others with this but not Maks & SCTs for that matter. If you are concerned about the "potential difficulties" this presents, don't be worried. It only means aligning the optics and with a Mak it is only adjusting one of the two mirrors.

And if you feel that your scope's collimation is "good enough", remember that you got a scope to get outstanding views from it, not mediocre views. So tweaking just that little touch will get your scope humming at its very best for you. Taking the time to give the scope the necessary TLC will also help make you more familiar with your scope & getting the very best out of it.

As I said in my first post in this thread, I checked the collimation on the second night & it needed a little tweak. If the first night's viewing was good, after spending some time tweaking it the second night's viewing was just astonishing.

Learning how to adjust the collimation will also help you become a more critical & productive observer because you will have eliminated that last shred of doubt & improved it's resolution power.

Alex.
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#45 Asbytec

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Posted 20 August 2021 - 04:56 AM

...remember that you got a scope to get outstanding views from it, not mediocre views. So tweaking just that little touch will get your scope humming at its very best for you. Taking the time to give the scope the necessary TLC will also help make you more familiar with your scope & getting the very best out of it.

As I said in my first post in this thread, I checked the collimation on the second night & it needed a little tweak. If the first night's viewing was good, after spending some time tweaking it the second night's viewing was just astonishing.

Learning how to adjust the collimation will also help you become a more critical & productive observer because you will have eliminated that last shred of doubt & improved it's resolution power.

Alex.

Collimate as close to perfect as seeing will allow. The idea is seeing should be the limiting factor of our scope, not our collimation or thermal stability.

 

I've seen the three astronauts, the Apollo 11 landing site, and tried to sketch some albedo, too. In the sketch below, I left off my floaters for clarity. smile.gif

 

cat paw Annotated.jpg


Edited by Asbytec, 20 August 2021 - 05:03 AM.

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#46 barbie

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Posted 20 August 2021 - 01:27 PM

I have the 90mm version of the Skywatcher Mak and it's excellent on the moon and planets. I didn't have to flock the main baffle because it's already painted flat black and doesn't show anything in the way of scattered light. Images are just as sharp and contrasty at high magnification as my 76mm apo refractor I recently sold. I also have a 1995 Meade ETX90 O.T.A., USA made which is also excellent and can't really tell a difference between the two. I've also had the 5", 6", and 7" Skywatcher Maks in the past(before my back problems) and they were all excellent too!!


Edited by barbie, 20 August 2021 - 01:30 PM.

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#47 alnitak22

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Posted 20 August 2021 - 01:58 PM

Alnitak22,

Yes, the Apollo 11 trio of craters is in the Sea of Tranquility. They are also very close to the landing site.

I am also most curious to know if your TV85 is able to show the trio. No harm throwing your 6" dob at them too to verify its cojones...

Doug, I am really pleased you are happy with your Mak.

Alex.

Looks like we’re going to be clouded out for a bit here in NY with this storm but I’ll definitely try with my TV85 and let you know.


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#48 sportsmed

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Posted 22 August 2021 - 04:04 PM

Yea I have the Celestron 127SLT and love that scope, I hope to never get rid of it. I did have a newer version C90 and it was a fun little scope which I might buy another at some point but the 127mm is a nice upgrade. And at some point I hope to get a 180mm Mak. I'm not much of a SCT person but love Maks and what they can do for their size. And it makes a nice mate to my 80mm ED, both being light and very grab n go.



#49 alnitak22

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Posted 22 August 2021 - 04:19 PM

Yea I have the Celestron 127SLT and love that scope, I hope to never get rid of it. I did have a newer version C90 and it was a fun little scope which I might buy another at some point but the 127mm is a nice upgrade. And at some point I hope to get a 180mm Mak. I'm not much of a SCT person but love Maks and what they can do for their size. And it makes a nice mate to my 80mm ED, both being light and very grab n go.

How do the lunar/planetary views compare between your ED80 and the 127 Mak? Curious as I have a TV85 and have often wondered if the Mak would be noticeably better for lunar/planetary. I have a 6” Newt which has bested 4” apos on lunar/planetary so I don’t need another scope. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t want one! And I have an EQ mount for the refractor and it would be nice to be able to switch back and forth from the Mak to the 85. I haven’t bought any Astro gear in several years and I think I deserve it! Ha!



#50 sportsmed

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Posted 22 August 2021 - 06:30 PM

How do the lunar/planetary views compare between your ED80 and the 127 Mak? Curious as I have a TV85 and have often wondered if the Mak would be noticeably better for lunar/planetary. I have a 6” Newt which has bested 4” apos on lunar/planetary so I don’t need another scope. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t want one! And I have an EQ mount for the refractor and it would be nice to be able to switch back and forth from the Mak to the 85. I haven’t bought any Astro gear in several years and I think I deserve it! Ha!

The AT80ED does a nice job but you are talking 80mm aperture with 560mm focal length compared to a Mak that is 127mm aperture minus the center meniscus but with 1500mm focal length. There is a reason Maks are dubbed "Planet Killers" and the 127mm does a great job for its size and is better then the 80mm in that respect, at least in my opinion. Now my 10" dob of course shows alittle more detail but its also a large scope and not really grab n go so it doesnt get used as much since I have to drive to my viewing spot and drive a crew cab truck. But yea a Mak is a nice companion to a small refractor. The Mak will do well with Lunar, Planetary, Doubles and certain Nebula while the refractor will give you the wide field views and frame open clusters nicely. But yea if I were you I would get the Mak and if you can afford a 150mm then even better haha.


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