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Skymax 127 questions

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First, many thanks to those who helped/advised on my choice of telescope. I went for the Skymax 127 autotrak. What a difference compared to my long lost telescope from 40 years ago!! More than happy. My 9 year old son is also excited – which was half the purpose of getting a telescope in the first place: he was *amazed* to be able to identify people going into Tesco’s in Dundee ~1 mile across the Tay.

I have 6 specific questions (I know it’s a lot, but advice on any would be very helpful).

Setting the autotrak:

Q1) Can I center on polaris, turn the power off and back on (to set North) rather than using the (imprecise) compass approach and the imprecise 0 latitude using the scale on the mount?

Q2) Once I’ve turned the power back on, can I use polaris to set the latitude (i.e. center, then press the two buttons to set the latitude)?

When I was looking into getting the Skymax, I was a little worried about long focal length (1500mm) and the FOV, so I also got a 32mm Skywatcher SP (52 degree AFOV). Even so, viewing M35 seemed to take up my whole FOV – I had to “nudge” the telescope to check that I was looking at a cluster.

Q3) Is it worth trying a longer FL eyepiece? Any other suggestions (other than getting another telescope as wife would not be happy) – would a focal reducer help?

Image dimming. Saturn was stunning last night – even with the 32mm eyepiece (the rings were easily seen even though they are edge on, Titan & Rhea(?) were nice pinpricks, Iapetus was just visible and Tethys could be spotted with averted gaze. Using a 7.5mm Plossl, the images were noticeable bigger – and not surprisingly, noticeably dimmer. The 10mm eyepiece supplied with the telescope was no brighter – but the images were smaller.

Q4) Is it worth trying, say a 15mm eyepiece, as a happy compromise or does madness lie down this route?

Q5) How much light am I loosing by using the supplied star diagonal – would it be worth investing in a higher quality one?

I have a lot of light pollution, particularly from the north (Dundee lights). For instance, M35 was no more than the faintest of smudges through 10X50 binoculars last night (as a novice I was pleased for finding it at all).

Q6) With a 5” Mak, is it worth the loss in light transmission to use a LP filter on the star diagonal (see also Q5)?

Apolgiers for the length and number of questions in this post...

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Q4. You may want to look at an EP specifically designed for planetary, like a ortho in your high magnification range 10mm to 7mm rather than buy a cheap 15mm. Orthos have tight eye relief and a narrower field of view. For your widefield the best you can do is to buy a quality EP in the range you want 20mm+. It will give you a better view but no wider than the 32mm. A wide angle lens in a lower FL will give you the same view, but at higher mag The Paradigm range of EPs are highly thought of and less than 40 quid new on Ebay.

Q5. Not much. A new diagonal is pretty much a luxury item for this size scope. Nice if you really want it, but it won't improve your view very much. Money would be better spent else where.

Q6. Yes it's always worth trying an LP filter they can help with the brighter DSOs and star clusters. A skywatcher LP filter is about 20 quid

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Q.4 - My Skymax 127 came with a 16.8mm Kson ortho and a deluxe SW 2x barlow as part of the deal. This EP works well both on it's own and with the Barlow. With the barlow and good seeing I can begin to see banding on Saturn.

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I have the same scope and waited for my freebie LP filter from the sky at night magazine with great apprehension. For me, at least, it wasnt worth while(so far)... no noticeable difference maybe slightly dimmer view of stars and a slightly darkened background. I was hoping the stars where going to jump out a little more for me. As for diagonal i here a few peeps saying it is worth while and at £65 im taking the plunge so i will let you know next week some time(weather permitting). Im going for Williams optic dielectic 99% reflective. As for lense i have 8-24mm Seben Zoom and the more i use it the more i love it. Has better view than the boxed lens and great for splitting stars in motion. Ive decided to keep this lens for mid and possibly main use but buy a decent high mag planetry and a 32mm wide view eyepiece. i dont like using the barlow although it hasnt performed to badly to be honest. how do you rate your 32??

oh yeah forgot to mention when viewing saturn i have tried all my eyepieces and noted yes at 25mm it is VERY bright... imho too bright to make out any detailing. at 8mm its a beige/browny grey with noticeable banding or shading rather than distinct banding... I cant get the picture out of my head... I double checked the night after to make sure i wasnt remebering images i had seen elsewhere and getting confused and happily i deffo see colour/shading differences like subtle banding. I cant wait for jupiter. I will quickly point out though Mars for me is a red/orange disc with NO detail... like a smouldering ember almost. not much bigger than a large freckle or 1 of them balls on the end of a dress makers pin(larger plastic bobble ended type pin).

Edited by sn00p
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Hi SnOOp,

Thanks for the info about the LPR filter, but Rob pointed out that at £20, it's worth a go.

I was also thinking of the Williams dielectric, so do post if it makes a difference. On paper, it might be detectable - but viewing beats paper everytime.

I'm glad that you like the zoom lens - but for some reason I just don't fancy the idea. Although I'm new to astronomy, I have experience with microscopy and just believe that simple means less glass to mess with the image. [if I was 5ft tall, I'd take the star diagonal off for star watching, but at 6'2" forget it: At some point I'm going to get a 90 degree finder so I don't have to keep kneeling down to find high up sights]

Like you, I'm not keen on using the Barlow - why go through more glass when another EP should be able to do the job. I got a Skywatcher 7.5mm SP Plossl for exactly this reason and seems it fine. I don't have the experience to compare to other EPs but the 7.5 seems as bright/clear as the 10mm supplied so there is sometihng about getting better EPs.

I'm toying with the idea of a good planetary EP - the Baader Hyperion was mentioned by someone on SGL, so something in the 7-8mm range seems sensible (but at £100, I want to find more opinions).

My 32mm EP is also the Skywatcher SP Plossl. I like it but remember that I'm a noobie so have nothing to compare it to other than the supplied 25mm. But I would say that it is noticably brighter/clearer than the 25mm. Given that I can't detect a drop in brightness/clarity moving from the supplied 10mm to the Plossl 7.5, my guess is that somehow the SP Plossls are a better EP than the ones supplied with the 127.

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At some point I'm going to get a 90 degree finder so I don't have to keep kneeling down to find high up sights

I've just purchased the Orion 9x50 right angle finderscope from Harrison Telescopes. Well worth it for the Skymax in my view. I found myself on my knees more than once, and then in getting back up I'd knock the tripod legs and have to realign the scope.

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