Author Topic: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?  (Read 87 times)

John Newsom

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Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« on: December 28, 2017, 07:34:23 PM »
I just bought a NexStar 127SLT, and am as happy as a clam. This little jewel of a scope has shown me over 100 objects in the past 2 weeks: open clusters, globs, and double stars. I spent a couple of hours - yes, a couple of hours - just observing the moon two weeks ago, when it was a waning gibbous. It was as if I was flying over the surface in Apollo 10. And Jupiter gets higher in the sky in a few weeks.

I bought this scope for $429 from Amazon, and it is Amazing. The optics are (ahem) stellar, the Goto is very accurate, the tracking is good, even the supposedly undersized and vibration-prone mount is just fine. This little precious cools down in just a half hour to 45 minutes.

So why do people denigrate Maks so much? Why do they always get the short end of the stick, or as Marilyn Monroe once said, "the fuzzy end of the lollipop"?

Why is it that whenever someone is looking for advice on a new scope, it's always a dob. "Get an 8-inch." "No, get a 10-inch." Well, I live smack dab in the light pollution capital of the universe, Manhattan, just 3 miles from Times Square and neither an 8-inch nor a 10-inch are ever going to show me anything special in galaxies or nebulas anyway. And I daresay that will be true for a huge slice of the astronomy-loving population living under light polluted skies, both in cities and in suburbs.

Sure, this baby is only 5 inches. "It's too small. You'll never see anything." But I've never, ever heard anyone denigrating a refractor of that size. It never happens. A 5-inch APO refractor costs $1600 at Explore Scientific. And, okay, because the Mak has a central obstruction, then the comparison should be to a 4-inch - which is still $1050.

And if you want to get super-annoying about it, if in your opinion Maks are only as good as the AR series, even though a Mak doesn't have any chromatic aberration at all, fine, the 4-inch AR is still $500 - and that's without a mount, without a goto, and without a motor.

So what gives? Why all the hate?



pesorramidd

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 11:38:14 PM »
I really haven't seen the "hatred" that you're referring to. Remember the venerable Questar Mak, beloved by all its owners, and drooled over by most of us non-owners?

John Newsom

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2018, 03:27:40 AM »
I haven't encountered this hatred either, and I purchased one of the first Orion Starmax 127's back in the early 2000's when it was on an even less (ahem) "stellar" mount than it is today ... and it was merely equatorial with slo-mo controls. I loved mine, except for one little quirk ... the focuser knob got really hard to turn as the ambient temperature got colder. This is true for many scopes, but the Starmax started exhibiting it when it wasn't really that cold -- say, in the 50s. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the scope and got lots of interested questions about it.

But who cares what others say anyway? I don't need a peanut gallery full of cheerleaders to make me feel good about my scope when I know I've done my homework and -- more importantly -- it performs well for me. And yes, there is something to be said for having too much light-gathering power in a heavily light-polluted area. So go enjoy that little light bucket!

Paul Woodrow

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 06:51:27 AM »
I've never heard anything really negative about MCTs other than an occassion comment about cool-down times, most comments are very positive. I own 6 of them myself, 4 90mm, a 105mm, and a 125mm. All of them are excellent performers.

Enjoy.

renjaysunsdis

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 10:41:54 AM »
Actually Maks were very common starting scopes when I started out (ETX 90, 105,125). And they give rather good images as well! I don't think they have a bad rap per se.

The downsides are 1) cool down 2) dew (dew shields are easy though) 3) narrow field of view because of long focal length.

Upsides are they are easy on eyepieces, sharp images, great on planets, etc.

There are really good Maks out there with cooling vents and high end optics. Those unfortunately are not sold in stores like they used to be. I've seen quite a few good ones on the used market lately.

For a beginner I think maks are relevant in the 5 inch and under range. Above that folks usually go toward the SCT design. Maybe because of weight or cost?

But for beginners you can get more aperture for less with a newt on a dob...which is why those are suggested most of the time. Refractors have very little cool down time...but in the 5 inch range are not compact and easy to mount like a Mak cass.

Stephen Gupta

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 08:14:22 PM »
Quote
I really haven't seen the "hatred" that you're referring to. Remember the venerable Questar Mak, beloved by all its owners, and drooled over by most of us non-owners?

Yeah, sure, you've got me pegged exactly on what I used to call "the Rolls Royce of telescopes." Of course, mind you, I didn't know it was a Mak until I got back into the hobby this summer, but that's neither here nor there.

But why is the Mak overlooked? Here's not only a perfectly good scope, but an excellent scope. A great design. Cheaper than other similar quality scopes.

olchakisur

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2018, 08:30:39 PM »
Quote
Actually Maks were very common starting scopes when I started out (ETX 90, 105,125). And they give rather good images as well! I don't think they have a bad rap per se.

The downsides are 1) cool down 2) dew (dew shields are easy though) 3) narrow field of view because of long focal length.

Upsides are they are easy on eyepieces, sharp images, great on planets, etc.

There are really good Maks out there with cooling vents and high end optics. Those unfortunately are not sold in stores like they used to be. I've seen quite a few good ones on the used market lately.

For a beginner I think maks are relevant in the 5 inch and under range. Above that folks usually go toward the SCT design. Maybe because of weight or cost?

But for beginners you can get more aperture for less with a newt on a dob...which is why those are suggested most of the time. Refractors have very little cool down time...but in the 5 inch range are not compact and easy to mount like a Mak cass.

GOLGO, I agree with everything you wrote, especially at the end there about the refractors.

But so what if you can get more aperture for less? This scope shows me everything that I can see from Manhattan. A dob ain't really gonna show me much more, plus, like you said about the refractors, it's not as compact or easy to mount like a Mak, and they have to be collimated frequently, where the Mak almost never does. I'm sure there are plenty of people in my situation, or similar, in terms of terrible LP, who would love to do astronomy, but don't. This scope is perfect for people in that situation, like me. Why buy a 70, 80, 90, or even a 102mm achro refractor when you can get this instead?

I'm not trying to pick a fight, I just don't get why this isn't a more popular scope. It's terrific! Where is the love?

tamamatte

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 03:39:14 AM »
Quote
But who cares what others say anyway? I don't need a peanut gallery full of cheerleaders to make me feel good about my scope when I know I've done my homework and -- more importantly -- it performs well for me. And yes, there is something to be said for having too much light-gathering power in a heavily light-polluted area. So go enjoy that little light bucket!

Heh, heh, well it's just that I want to share the wealth, y'know? This is a terrific scope for people in my situation: in a big city, or nearby to one, with terrible light pollution that only a 14-inch scope will be able to penetrate. I push a few buttons and off it goes. It's great! It should be right up there with all the other recommendations that get made.

And hell yeah, I will enjoy this beautiful little thing!

ryarejalo

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 07:48:26 AM »
I too haven't seen any general Maksutov bashing.

Every design has strengths and weaknesses. The Maksutov is no exception.

I have seen occasional complaints about particular models because, sometimes, people might have had bad luck with that model. That, however, is true of anything. I have also seen people express some frustration because Maksutovs have long focal lengths so the views are narrower and "darker" than a wider-field telescope. Again, that's not a fault of the design - it's a misunderstanding of the design's purpose.

On the other hand, things come and go in fashion. When I started around 1999 or 2000, Maksutovs were very trendy. They are less trendy today. Give them a few years.

inovilmei

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 03:10:14 PM »
After making my comment a while ago and then reading what's been posted since then, I just remembered why ... maybe ... Maks used to get a little rubbing, but this was back when I was starting out in the hobby in the 1970s. Back then, "affordability" and "Maksutov" weren't ever found in the same sentence. The only real Mak your average amateur had ever seen -- and that was usually in the form of a drooled-over photograph in a full-page magazine ad -- was the Questar 3.5 (or 7 -- yep, they made a bigger one too!). Meade really turned the Mak world upside-down when it introduced the ETX in the late 90s ... and yep, I had one too. (Er, make that two ...) Anyway, Maks might have received some negative feelings before the advent of the ETX because anyone that owned one was often labeled a guy who ... let's see here ... "thinks he can buy his way into the hobby" ... "wallet is bigger than his brain" ... "only a fool would pay that much for a 3.5-inch telescope on a table tripod" ... etc. Kind of more snobbery mixed with jealousness than sheer hatred, like we all like to hate the guy who owns the AMG Mercedes or the Porsche 911 -- but would give one earlobe and a finger or two to be him. Or at least to have his bank account.

You know, way back in the early 90s, when Meade came out with its initial line of LX-200 series SCTs, they offered a 7-inch Mak in addition to the 8-, 10-, and 12-inch SCTs. It was a little more expensive -- IIRC its price fell somewhere between the 10- and 12-inch SCT -- and I don't know why they discontinued it (probably for the price vs. aperture/complexity reason alone), but it disappeared about 10 years later. I used to drool over that scope -- it was a very handsome piece of equipment. I wonder if I can dig up a photo ... here we go. Note how the OTA was a little longer than your standard SCT (also note the cooling fan vents on the back of the rear cell in the first photo) ...

http://www.ensoptica...434607-1302.jpg

http://www.ensoptica...434602-1300.jpg

http://www.ensoptica...434612-1303.jpg

Now there was a bootiful scope. I'd still love to spend a few hours observing with one of 'em.

Ryan Fletcher

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 02:25:58 AM »
Quote
You know, way back in the early 90s (or somewhere around then) when Meade came out with its initial line of LX-series SCTs, they offered a 7-inch Mak in addition to the 8-, 10-, and 12-inch SCTs. It was a little more expensive -- IIRC its price fell between the 10- and 12-inch SCT -- and I don't know why they discontinued it, but it disappeared about 10 years later. I used to drool over that scope -- it was a very handsome piece of equipment. Wonder if I can dig up a photo ... here we go. Note how the OTA was a little longer than your standard SCT (also note the cooling fan vents on the back of the rear cell in the first photo) ...

http://www.ensoptica...434607-1302.jpg

http://www.ensoptica...434602-1300.jpg

http://www.ensoptica...434612-1303.jpg

Now there was a bootiful scope.

Oooh, that shore is purty. Too bad they don't still make Maks with those vents like that.

brunenrizap

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 08:47:49 AM »
Might you be thinking of the Schmidt-Cassegrain? Roundly denigrated. I have two, love em both. . .

I am tempted to get a big mac one of these days. . . perhaps a Russian. . .

moiquadachus

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 12:55:04 PM »
Wow. You've gotten me on a Maksutov-Cassegrain learning quest tonight! Here's a very informative article.

http://telescopesinh...m/maksutov.html

Hmmm, it appears the development of what we call today's Maksutov telescope coincided nicely with the Cold War. Maybe folks of our last generation were less than fanatic about embracing a scope designed in the former Soviet Union?

At any rate, I found the article enlightening in the fact that the design as we know it today has only been around since the 1950s ... and I never would've guessed that Questar was the first manufacturer to offer the design commercially. Think I want this one ... I once had a car that color ... http://telescopesinh...om/questar.html

Tommy Evans

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 02:53:13 AM »
I started my hobby with a 90mm Tabletop Mak. It was a good starter scope. My best views of Mercury have come through that tiny little Mak. I sold it due to cool down issues, dew, narrow FOV and aperture 90mm was little weak with CO. It went out of collimation once and recollimating was a pain. I had to send it back to Orion for that. They recollimated it and from that point onwards the collimation stayed good for a long time.

Now I own an inexpensive 4" F/10 refractor and love it. It kills Mak in every department except portability. I doubt I will ever buy a Mak again. This is just my opinion. No intention of offending existing Mak lovers.

Justin Prasad

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Re: Why do Maks have such a bad rep?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 06:21:38 AM »
Quote
So what if you can get more aperture for less? This scope shows me everything that I can see from Manhattan.
As others have said, this simply isn't true. An 8-inch scope will show much more than a 5-inch scope regardless of where you live. On the other hand, your circumstances may well preclude using an 8-inch scope.<p class="citation">QuoteA dob ain't really gonna show me much more, plus, like you said about the refractors, it's not as compact or easy to mount like a Mak, and they have to be collimated frequently, where the Mak almost never does.[/quote]Eh? Most refractors are collimated once, at the factory, and never again.<p class="citation">QuoteThis scope is perfect for people in that situation, like me. Why buy a 70, 80, 90, or even a 102mm achro refractor when you can get this instead?[/quote]I don't know the details of your situation, but I also do much or most of my observing from a city, and I can tell you exactly why a 4-inch achro is better for my situation than a 5-inch Mak.Cooldown is the single biggest reason. Maks have the worst cooldown performance of any of the major designs, and many of my observing sessions are fairly short -- just an hour or two. In the winter, a 5-inch Mak takes more than an hour to achieve reasonable high-power performance. My 4-inch achro, by contrast, delivers excellent images within 15 or 20 minutes.Field of view is the second reason. I am primarily a deep-sky observer, and many of my favorite targets don't fit in the field of view of a 5-inch Mak with a 1.25-inch focuser. With a focal length half that of a 5-inch Mak and a 2-inch focuser, the FOV of my achro is 3 times that of the Mak as measured by diameter, and ten times as measured by area.Moreover, the huge field of view makes it easy to star-hop, which is always a challenge in the city.Having said that, a 5-inch Mak is indeed a fine planetary and lunar scope (once cooled) and does fine on most deep-sky objects as well. Its performance and price and closely comparable to a 4-inch achro. And although it weighs nearly as much as a 4-inch achro, it is somewhat easier to mount because it's so short.I borrowed a 5-inch Mak for a few weeks and enjoyed it greatly. I would consider buying one except for the cooldown problem. Also, it seems to me that a 5-inch SCT has all the benefits of a 5-inch Mak in a lighter and more versatile package.