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So I'm looking for the best grab and go planetary viewing (and maybe some DSOs) telescope that is relatively cheap (below 500$) that will also support some Astrophotography. I know the SkyMax 127 is a Maksutov and therefore has a high F number, but I'm okay with that because I'll just pop on a 0.5x focal reducer to bring it down to F/6 (still a bit high though.) With said Grab and Go I'm interested in viewing Saturn and Jupiter with high detail. What do you recommend?

 

Clear skies,

Leon.

Edit: I need one that'll fit into the Sky Watcher EQ5.

Edited by LR Watanabe
Forgot to mention which mount I'll be using
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm very pleased with the Skymax 127, it's lightweight, short and well made, the ideal grab and go scope in my book.

Of course it needs some time to cool down to ambient, but that should be an issue.

You always reed about how a Mak is best used for planetary observing, but in my experience it does a great job on the brighter DSO's, certainly most Messier objects are no problem.

As astrophotography goes, i've only used it for Lunar work, i wouldn't know if putting a 0,5 reducer on it would be pushing it too far.

 

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I don't know of any dedicated Mak focal reducers.  Those generic 0.5x FRs induce terrible field curvature, so I wouldn't use one for photography.  I have heard of folks using a 0.63x SCT reducer on a Mak, but only because they had one already.  I've not seen any photos proving it works well, though.

Used 127mm Maks are only $200 here in the states, so that leaves $300 for other stuff like a nice mount.  They are pretty close to bullet proof, so buy used with confidence.

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I think you'll be happy with Mak127 in intended role, except for AP.

What sort of camera are you planning to use it with? Thing with x0.5 reducer is that it is going to "squeeze" available field into smaller region. I think that Mak127 has about 20mm or so fully illuminated field - I'm not sure about that one. This means that any sensor larger than 10mm in diameter will start to vignette if you use it with x0.5 reducer. This is of course if you are happy with such reducer optical performance (which is questionable).

For this reason, I would consider Mak127 for planetary / lunar AP only (and obviously visual like mentioned).

If you are really keen on doing some AP - maybe start off with camera and simple lens on EQ5 and do some wide field shots first. Later on, you can switch to scope when funds allow - maybe something like 130PDS. That one will not be grab and go, probably inferior on planets than Mak - but will give you wider field DSO capability for viewing alongside AP.

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I do love Maks, they are pretty much bomb proof, lightweight and easy to mount and the views are jaw dropping at times on the right targets that suit its narrow field of view. I use a smaller version for lunar imaging and do like the secure way a heavy DSLR camera can be fixed to the visual back, I also find the Mak makes a decent long f/l telephoto lens for daytime use too.

Alan

Edited by Alien 13
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Everyone, thank you so so much for all your lovely replies! Just to clear things up, I’ll be using a Canon T3i (I know a CMOS Colour is better but alas). The Mak I’ll probably use for solely the photography of planets, and of course, the visual observation of planets like Saturn. Also, Vlaiv is right— I can’t find a focal reducer for the a Mak.

Anyways, other than the Skymax, what’s another good alternative that’ll feed my hunger for viewing planets?

Much love,

Leon.

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The Bresser 127 mak (or the Explore Scientific version) is an alternaive. A bit more expensive but a bit better as well. Also it’s a full 127mm aperture wheras the Skymax is actually 118mm. Not sure about the price in Japan thpugh. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/bresser-telescopes/bresser-messier-mc-127-1900-maksutov-cassegrain-ota.html

Edited by johninderby
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Good long focal length newtonian in same aperture is going to be very good planetary scope.

On the other hand in given budget, you'll be hard pressed to find better planetary scope than a decent 8" F/6 dob mounted newtonian. This will however be much removed from grab and go concept as it is fairly large scope at about 25Kg.

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The big plus of a Mak that all other scopes struggle with is the ability to hang any camera off the back regardless of weight without issues of loading and distorting the focusser tube or wondering if you have enough or too much back focus....

Alan

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13 hours ago, Alien 13 said:

The big plus of a Mak that all other scopes struggle with is the ability to hang any camera off the back regardless of weight without issues of loading and distorting the focusser tube or wondering if you have enough or too much back focus....

Alan

Pretty sure SCTs are in the same category.  One thing I haven't been able to get a definitive answer on is whether or not extending focus further back on Maks adds spherical aberration to the image as it does with SCTs.  Does anyone know if moving focus far off of the design focus point for Maks adds aberrations to the image?

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12 minutes ago, Louis D said:

Pretty sure SCTs are in the same category.  One thing I haven't been able to get a definitive answer on is whether or not extending focus further back on Maks adds spherical aberration to the image as it does with SCTs.  Does anyone know if moving focus far off of the design focus point for Maks adds aberrations to the image?

I agree SCT have the same strength when fitting cameras.

Would also love to know if changing focus position alters the performance, I can get focus with the DSLR screwed directly onto the built in M42 threads or still have plenty of adjustment to get focus with an additional 2 inch extension tube. My gut feel is that it must be beneficial to have the main mirror as far back as possible so presenting the smallest light cone to the secondary but I could be completely wrong.

Alan

Edited by Alien 13
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