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Picking a scope for observing Skymax 127 80mm refractor


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I'm having a bit of a moral quandary.  I'm looking to get into astrophotography.  My plan is to go for a Star Adventurer Gti when it launches and I'm going to use a takumar 200mm and DSLR for that.  There will be plenty to learn and do with that for quite some time.  I'm pretty set on one of the small portable mounts since if I do get into astronomy, it will remain useful as it will be portable and it carries less financial risk vs getting a big mount and finding it is not for me.

However, I want to do some observation.  Reading the observation reports has really got me fired up for actually looking at stuff.  I can remember looking at Saturn years ago (you could just make out the rings and see some dots of lights for moons) and it blew me away. 

I was thinking about getting a Skymax 127 but I'm not sure if this is the best thing for 'general' observation.  I've played around with some combinations in stellarium and the long focal length doesn't seem ideal for viewing some DSO's.

A recent post on the WO73 heaps praise on the scope on the observation side.  My eye is now turning towards refractors.  I could get the WO73, or for similar money I could get an ED80mm Skywatcher.  I'm looking at the ED/APO route as they present a potential upgrade route for astrophotography down the line.

So yeah, for a first scope would you recommend a skymax 127 or 70-80mm refractor to get a real wow factor from observational astronomy.  I know the correct answer is a 8" Dobsonian but weight is a consideration (hernia and several flights of stairs).

Many thanks

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To my mind the 2 scopes are different animals completely, I love my Maksutov 127 for what it gives me. I can observe the planets and the moon in some detail and also use the 127 for lunar and planetary imaging. However much I wish I cannot use it for wide field observation. For that I have my Startravel 102t or my 130pds.

Your WO73 will knock spots off my 102t and so it should, it's a lovely refractor and I'd get one in a heartbeat but my manager would kill me 🤣.

I suppose that you really have to decide where you're interests lie in the immediate future, you could always get both telescopes!

These are the words of an absolute beginner so it might be better for you to listen to someone who knows what they are talking about 🙂.

 

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1 minute ago, LaurenceT said:

To my mind the 2 scopes are different animals completely, I love my Maksutov 127 for what it gives me. I can observe the planets and the moon in some detail and also use the 127 for lunar and planetary imaging. However much I wish I cannot use it for wide field observation. For that I have my Startravel 102t or my 130pds.

Your WO73 will knock spots off my 102t and so it should, it's a lovely refractor and I'd get one in a heartbeat but my manager would kill me 🤣.

I suppose that you really have to decide where you're interests lie in the immediate future, you could always get both telescopes!

These are the words of an absolute beginner so it might be better for you to listen to someone who knows what they are talking about 🙂.

 

I think a beginner has probably as valid a view point as anyone.  You've got a beginners experience of trying the 127 for Deepsky observing.  Having looked at the information online, the Mak is an absolute weapon for planets and the moon, but there is an awful lot to look at in the sky.  Part of my selection of the potential scopes is to try and feel my way into things.  If I'm going to buy a refractor I might as well get one that could do for imaging if my path takes me there. 

I know no scope can do everything, and for any scope there will be limitations.  I'm thinking that perhaps for getting a full flavour experience of looking at things, the Mak might be restrictive and that the refractor might be a better option.  Like you say, I can always get a Mak later if I want a better look at our neighbours (plus the wife will be more receptive since it'll cost less than the scope I just bought lol).

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I cannot comment on the Skymax 127, ( though have been considering the Bresser variant... ) but I can on the Skywatcher 80ED. Mine is an excellent scope, gave me the best view of Jupiter last year that I have had for ages. Thing is it may be going, because I also have a Altair 72EDF, which is perhaps an even better scope, high quality with a good test report, maybe worth considering. I will have to have both side by side soon, to see which is better, because I am not sure I can justify both.

I also have a Celestron C5, which may also be worth considering, because mine is an excellent scope. ( Though some claim there are bad examples out there. ) It is very versatile too, with the F6.3 reducer flattener, giving virtually two scopes in one.

All the above are very light easy to manage scopes too, though I feel the ED80 is a bit much for my AZGTi. I too have a hernia, so know where you are coming from there, as well as several other health issues. Part of the reason I have been considering getting rid of several scopes. I just have too many now. ( :shocked: ) Getting older and falling apart now, which sucks bad.

Got to say I use my C5 the most now, it is just so light and easy to use. :smiley:

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Aperture counts for general observing, so that points to the 127mm Mak you have shortlisted.  The only notable thing it won't do well is show wide star clusters.  Some of the nearer galaxies are also wide, but in practice they are a disappointment visually.  Unless you live in a dark skies area and have a bigger scope, all you will see is a dim glow representing the central nucleus, fitting easily into the Mak's FOV

If you want to see galaxies, take a big scope to a dark skies area. Or try imaging them - with modest kit you can get a better result from a town than you'll get visually with a big scope at a dark skies site.

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I think the choice all depends on your priorities. If you want to view the moon or planets the Mak is probably the best choice. For general observing with a nod towards astro photography I would say the ED80. It's a good all rounder which is better than the price suggests. I have one and I use it for visual and AP.

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Cheers for the advice guys.

I really appreciate the input.

I have considered the sct.  I really like the idea to be honest because you're basically forced to get a mount with it so I could observe whilst the camera does its thing, but I doubt I could stretch to much more than an astro fi mount and I've heard horror stories about it.

My skies are pretty dark, bortle 4, but I'm rural Scotland so not too far from dark skies.

I think for why I'm trying to achieve, the 80ed represents a decent compromise. That being said the mount I'm planning isn't even out yet.  The whole plan might end up sunk if it it ends up being as expensive as some fear.  Still some time till it arrives here too so plenty of time to think.

 

 

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I honestly would go for the Mak 127 between the two. In your case, you're not far from dark skies and you suggest you're quite happy travelling to them. As said already, it's very very good on the moon and planets (but not in my experience as haven't seen them myself with this yet!), however it will still perform very respectably on fainter deep sky objects, more so than the 80ED would. I drive to Bortle 4 skies and on a night of excellent transparency and seeing, I caught the spiral structure of M51 with the Skymax 127. I've had great views of M81, M82, M13, M57 to name a few. Out of the two, the 80ED will be best for open clusters, but you can still enjoy a rich field through the Mak - just about fit the double cluster in. I recommend this scope a lot in these types of threads 😅 - it really is good! 

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