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Sky-Watcher SkyMax 102S or 127 vs Sky-Watcher Classic 130/150p with limited space


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Hi all,

Firstly apologies for yet another "which telescope should I get?" post, but I'm having some real trouble deciding what I should go for next in terms of an upgrade.

So, a little about my situation: I purchased a Celestron Powerseeker 80AZS (I know, I know) last year and so far have been happy with the views I've gotten from it (the Moon, Jupiter and a very small Saturn) but have turned my thoughts to what kind of scope I should get as a future upgrade. The caveat to this is that I have a relatively small amount of space that I'm actually able to observer from at my own home - this space being a balcony as I live in a flat, I COULD go down onto the street but I have convinced myself that people are going to either think I'm trying to peep into other people's windows or just generally bother me while I'm trying to observe.

Now, onto the actual question: I know that with all other things being equal, a dob like the Sky-Watcher Classic 130/150p would be the best choice because dobs are very often the recommendation for beginners like myself. My concern, however is that given the railing on my balcony, I won't be able to comfortably use the eyepiece of a dobsonian because the railing will be in the way so I did some research and then came away with a mak like the SkyMax 102S or 127 being the better option for me because like my powerseeker it has the eyepiece at the back of the optical tube and would provide me with better options for both scope placement and viewing comfortability.

My main interests with the night sky are the planets and lunar observations, if I could see some DSOs that would be nice, but they aren't a priority for me. I would like to say that even though I have that small space to view from, I have been able to see Jupiter and the moon comfortably from it, the only thing I had to move to the street to see was Saturn.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I have flip-flopped between the dob or a mak for quite a while now and I'd like some more informed opinions before I make a proper decision.

Apologies for the washing being visible in the picture of the balcony, hopefully it still shows how much space I have.

PS: I hope this massive wall of text is coherent enough for my question to come through.

PXL_20240708_202713125_exported_1720470513411.jpg

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Hello IzzyStardust and welcome to the site. My vote is the skymax 127 mak. The mak telescope has a long focal length in a short tube meaning it will give you great views of solar system stuff in a shorter more manageable package. The skymax 127 has received very good reviews so well worth reading through them. Out of interest one member on here bolted their mount to their balcony railings so you may be able to think of a way of fixing a tripod to save a bit of space. All the best.

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I guess you are thinking of the Heritage dobs rather than a full size one ? A full size dob would be extremely awkward on a balcony, and a table top dob would be smaller but still quite awkward - and require a very steady table, box, or something to stand it on too. I love my 150 heritage dob, but agree with M40, a mak would be better.

The 127 mak is great for planetary & lunar, and crucially for you, the tube is only about 30cm long , so easy to use in a confined space. The main negative with maks is that they need to cool down from room to outdoor temperature to avoid internal air currents churning around and messing up your view, but a balcony is presumably a pretty secure place to leave one to cool ! Dew build up on the glass corrector plate can be a pain too, but on a balcony off the ground that might be less of a factor ... and dew shields are cheap and easy to make anyway.

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Hi, the 80AZ you already have if it's the short tube is great and similar to the kywatcher startravel 80mm also known as the ST80, if wanting to find more mentions on it. In the space for observing the mak would be a good choice for eyepiece position. The planetarium program stellarium can be set for your location so you could see when Saturn is in a favourable position for observing, you can even customise the landscape view for your balcony.

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Hi everyone,

First of all thank you very much for all of your replies, they are all greatly appreciated.

@happy-kat I do already use Stellarium to assist me with my viewing, its how I was able to identify where Saturn was and attempt to view it.

@Tiny Clanger I was actually thinking of the classic dobsonian as opposed to the heritage ones as I didn't want to have to create my own light shroud for it.

@M40 Thanks for the response, I will admit that I was starting to lean that way anyway as the need to collimate mirrors on the reflector style telescopes was starting to scare me a little bit 😅 lol

Anyway, thanks again all for the responses and taking the time out to help a confused novice, I really appreciate it. Thread can be locked/ closed now if needed.

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Don't let collimation put you off getting a reflector, there is so much info out there they have all points covered. Biggest challenge is a clear night for focusing on a bright star 😁 if your budget stretches, take a look at the skymax127 azgti. That will provide full goto using your smartphone. All the best.

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@M40 Yeah, I have been looking at that, it seems to be the one of the only models of the skymax127 that isn't on an equatorial mount which I have heard is not a good choice for beginners. The goto functionality is tempting, I'll admit, but I kind of want to be able to find stuff manually (at least eventually) before I start relying on a goto to do things for me.

Thanks again for the replies, I appreciate it.

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Some of skywatchers mount have 'freedom find' this means the mount can be used completely manually with your hands to move it with no goto or electronic movement, the azgti has freedom find though some mounts do appear to arrive with the clutches not being able to be loosened off and are some what sticky

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Posted (edited)

So it is only able to be used in equatorial mode? Apologies if I'm being a bit slow in understanding all of this, its still a bit confusing to me 😅

Also, if I cannot find a version with an alt-az mount, would this be a suitable alternative to it?

Edited by IzzyStardust
wanted to add more to the reply
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Posted (edited)

altaz mounts move in left right up down movements

equatorial move quite differently, though I've seen YT where some eq mount is set in such a way to mimic altaz, but this does place the finder scope in very weird/difficult position. 

I'm not sure a 102mm mak  will give much over your 80mm used with a barlow (edit: adding an aperture mask would help minimise the chromatic aberration that refractor likely has)

Edited by happy-kat
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Posted (edited)

@happy-kat gotcha, I'll save towards the 127 in that case, then.

 

Worth noting that  I am aware of what "alt-az" and "equatorial" mounts do and how they move. I've just heard in some places that EQ mounts are not the best for beginners because they can be kind of confusing to use - I'm not against learning to set them up and use them, but if I can get away with using an alt-az mount then I would prefer to do so. Sorry if my reply caused any confusion.

Edited by IzzyStardust
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The az gti is an alt az mount which only requires leveling. At a later date you can get the Equatorial wedge and do a software update to turn it into an eq or alt az mount. An eq type mount will require polar alignment which may be a challenge depending on which direction your balcony faces. Again, additional software can get around this but its adding to the learning curve all the time; this isn't too dramatic it's just how far you want to take it at this stage of the game.

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Posted (edited)

Hi am not going to tell you about the scope to get ,you have some great advice given already , just wondered if you know about Astro hopper it's a free programme on your smart phone that will show you were your target is all you have to do fit your phone to your telescope and away you go 

I have the 180 MAK I keep it out side so it's cool and ready to go your get amazing views from a MAK I like you love lunar and planets 

Edited by Neil H
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Hi @Neil H funny you mention that! I actually found a video about it the other day and it does seem to be quite an interesting piece of software.

I think all things considered and all the advice I've been given, I'm going to go for the 127 AZ GTi.

Once again, thanks to everyone who's replied and given me advice it is very much all appreciated.

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The manual movement on my az-gti is a bit sticky so at some point I'm going to open it up and needle which will likely void any warranty. Freedom find indicates the mount can be used with no power, but it also indicates when used with goto aligned if the telescope is moved in that season the mount still knows where it is pointing and can be goto again.

Skywatcher do the AZ5 Deluxe bundled with the 127mm mak which is fully manual I hadn't spotted that earlier. 

Enjoy your research.

 

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@happy-kat I had seen that AZ5 version before also, I guess I'll need to decide if I really want the goto functionality or want to stick with full manual controls.

Once again, thank you for all your replies and insight.

Clear skies.

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+1 for the 127mm Mak. I have 2, one at home and one at a friend's house in south-west France. Both came as part of the Skymax GoTo system with Synscan handsets. I have not had to touch the collimation on either optical tube.

Although you are not too interested in the full GoTo, the limited field-of-view of the Mak really benefits from the tracking capabilities of an electronic mount. Looking at Jupiter and Saturn, it is useful for the mount to track as you change eyepieces to get the best view.

Geoff

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Hi @Geoff Lister will the az gti mount perform the tracking for me or would I need something more substantial for that?

Thanks for the response, I think the overwhelming notion is that I should go for a 127mm mak I will be saving to get it as soon as I can!

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58 minutes ago, IzzyStardust said:

Will the az gti mount perform the tracking for me or would I need something more substantial for that?

With the skymax127 and azgti plus the app on your smart phone, that will be all you need to get on target and then track the target. Some, me included, also use the synscan handset which replaces the phone app, leaving the phone free to run stellarium or similar. If you have a second smart device that you can use for stellarium then the handset is not needed. Hope that helps.

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24 minutes ago, M40 said:

I've found this youtube video, have a watch it takes a lot of the mystery away...

 

 

 

Thanks! I think I know what this evening's viewing will be lol

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