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Thread: Can a 127 mm matsukov cassegrain telescope be used for deep sky viewing?

  1. #1
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    Question Can a 127 mm matsukov cassegrain telescope be used for deep sky viewing?

    I have this telescope http://www.celestron.com/astronomy/t...ar-127slt.html and I
    wondered if there are any deep sky objects that can be view clearly with it? I just bought it and I have been
    using it to view the moon and planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Can any other planets or nebula or stars be seen with it? Also, do you think it is worth buying the GPS unit for this size telescope? thanks for you input.

  2. #2
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    sorry that should be Maksutov-Cassegrain - becoming dyslexic lately.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by nitelitegirl View Post
    I have this telescope http://www.celestron.com/astronomy/t...ar-127slt.html and I
    wondered if there are any deep sky objects that can be view clearly with it? I just bought it and I have been
    using it to view the moon and planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Can any other planets or nebula or stars be seen with it? Also, do you think it is worth buying the GPS unit for this size telescope? thanks for you input.
    You should be able to see most Messier objects and a decent # of NGC objects with that scope. A dark sky will help a lot, and will probably be required for good DSO viewing. You ought to be able to see all the stars you want with that scope, esp. from a dark sky location.

    Is this your first scope? What made you buy this particular scope? Did you spend time evaluating the various types of scopes, or was this somewhat of an 'impulse' buy? I ask because your post implies you are a beginner in this hobby. Nothing at all wrong with that, but if you are a beginner, I'd take the time to:

    1) Learn the sky -- be able to identify constellations and brighter stars in the sky with your naked eye. It will be an immense help to you.
    2) Get out to a star party! Lots of advanced users will be available to help you get the most out of your scope, and you'll be able to try out other types of scopes.
    3) Take the time to learn your scope and what it can and cannot do - every scope is a compromise.
    4) Learn how to observe -- that statement might not mean much to you now, but in a year or so it will
    5) Consider a decent pair of 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars. They will help a great deal in learning the sky, and some objects are best seen through binocs.

    Once you've done the above, then start considering upgrades or other accessories for your scope. You should take a good 6 mos. to a year to accomplish the points above.

  4. #4
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    hi,

    thanks for the input. No, it was not an impulse buy. Why? Do you think I chose poorly? I bought the 4th edition of Star Ware to help me evaluate the various telescopes and their virtues and faults. I wasn't ready to spend a lot of money on a telescope and I needed one that was small enough to be carried in my car.

    That book recommended the M-C design as a good design and I thought the aperture width and focal length compared to resolution and magnification was a decent first choice scope. I have already a couple moderately high magnification binoculars - enough to just resolve the rings of Saturn barely.

    I was advised to buy a Dobsonian or Schmidt Cassegrain and I have my eye on a couple but am not ready to spend that kind of money yet. I have not yet participated in a sky party but I attended a nearby astronomy club though I might attend again. I bought several children's and professional books to learn the constellations but sadly I live in an area with much light pollution though there are a few somewhat dark places I can go for viewing. thanks again for the advice.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nitelitegirl View Post
    hi,

    thanks for the input. No, it was not an impulse buy. Why? Do you think I chose poorly? I bought the 4th edition of Star Ware to help me evaluate the various telescopes and their virtues and faults. I wasn't ready to spend a lot of money on a telescope and I needed one that was small enough to be carried in my car.

    That book recommended the M-C design as a good design and I thought the aperture width and focal length compared to resolution and magnification was a decent first choice scope. I have already a couple moderately high magnification binoculars - enough to just resolve the rings of Saturn barely.

    I was advised to buy a Dobsonian or Schmidt Cassegrain and I have my eye on a couple but am not ready to spend that kind of money yet. I have not yet participated in a sky party but I attended a nearby astronomy club though I might attend again. I bought several children's and professional books to learn the constellations but sadly I live in an area with much light pollution though there are a few somewhat dark places I can go for viewing. thanks again for the advice.
    A good dob should cost significantly less that either a Cassegrain or a Mak, and will likely have a more stable mount to boot. There is no substitute for analyzing the types of scopes in the field; a peice of software won't show you the pros and cons of each type of scope nearly as well as personal experience. This is why it's imperative to get out to a star party and learn from experienced users. Not that your Mak is 'bad' or 'wrong', just that to find out what scope is right for you, you have to get out and try them. That includes setup and teardown. I've seen people spend 1 - 1.5 hours in the field setting up their whiz-bang scopes and getting frustrated. In that time, I've set up my dob (5 - 10 min max) and gotten in an hour of observing.

    Another issue with your Mak is that with the longer focal length, lower powers can be harder to achieve, and many objects look better at lower power than high power. In fact, 75% of my observing is done at either 40 or 70 power. It's a pretty rare night in my area where the air is stable enough to allow more than about 125 power. Also, with 127mm of aperature, higher powers will get dim pretty quickly -- doubling the magnification results in 1/4 the brightness, so it's pretty easy to ask your scope to gather more light that it's capable of gathering. Still, the best scope is the one you use most often.

    I definitely recommend attending a star party or two, and I definitely recommend getting out to a dark sky site. Both of those will allow you to maximize enjoyment of your scope, plus you'll learn what accessories you need, and what accessories are junk.

    I don't want to steer you away from your Mak or give you the idea that it's a 'bad' scope, lots of people use them. I'm just trying to encourage you to try every type of scope you can. You may find your Mak works great for you and is all the scope you'll ever need/want, or you may find you like some other type of scope you never even heard of before attending a star party. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    Keep an eye on your local flea market and similar. I own 5 scopes of various types and sizes up to a superb 6 inch reflector with goto and have spent less than $100 total for all five.

    Regards, John M.

  7. #7
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    Well, I was told about a website to buy used telescopes but I chose not to go that route because no seller lived near me that had a scope I was interested in - also I felt I should buy new for warranty reasons as well as defective/refund concerns and because I expect the telescope to be a lifetime property for me;

    as far as magnification - I used the telescope near its' maximum useful magnification of 240x and did not discover any brightness issues though resolution degrades near that max value. The views seem great though I must adjust carefully the telescope. 40x to 70x does not show much on my telescope.

    I hope to attend a star party this summer and have the opportunity to use the other scopes but I think for my living arrangements that a Dobsonian would be awkward though it is a desirable scope for me to have. I am tempted to save for a wide aperture apochromatic refractor or a wide aperture schmidt cassegrain with acf.

    I will watch for a good deal on a used telescope though.

  8. #8
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    I haven't noticed any dimming though the resolution does start to degrade near the 240x magnification. At 40-70x power I don't see much of interest. I am looking at an apochromat refractor, a large aperture dobsonian and a large aperture SCT as my next telescope. I plan to attend a local star party sometime this summer. I might be interested in buying a used scope from someone local but I am leery of any problems - also because with a new telescope it's warrantied by the manufacturer, seller and credit card company it seemed a good idea to buy a new one for my first one.

  9. #9
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    Those three scopes are very different, each makes different compromises most of which you appear not to understand or are you planning any of three future route through amateur astronomy? Before going further you must attend some star parties and get hands on experience with these very very different scopes. Their prices are very different as well. So are their ease of setup, ease of use, areas they are best suited for and many other factors.

    A large SCT is very difficult to manage due to its weight. Getting one set up in the dark is a challenge for a man. It also is very similar in its compromises to the scope you now own, limiting you to about the same range of observing. For a second scope I'd want something very different to open up new areas.

    You say you don't see dimming with magnification until you reach the maximum. That tells me you have a long way to go in honing you observing skills.

    Get help from a club with the scope you own and learn the CORRECT way to use it. I see lots of signs you have a long way to go just to master the present scope. With a club you will get hands on help and greatly improve your skills and enjoyment of the present scope. Then, after attending many star parties, you will have a much better idea of where you want to go in the hobby and what scopes will best fit your goals and budget.

    Rick

  10. #10
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    I understand each telescope just fine enough to decide where I want to spend my money. You don't need to worry about the routes I might go. Really, I hope to own one of each type at some point. I might be a novice but I know the difference in resolution and dimming - my eyesight is very good. I don't need to join a club and don't plan to do so though I might attend some club's open to public star parties. I'm not a club type of person really.

  11. #11
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    A medium focal length apochromatic refractor of the same aperture as your scope will outperform it in revealing low-contrast details on the planets to a skilled, experienced observer under good seeing. For other routine observing it will give similar results. The tradeoff is that it is less compact and very expensive.

    A long-focus doublet refractor of the same aperture will be somewhat less expensive than the apochromat but will be heavy, cumbersome, and not readily transportable in your car. It really needs a permanent observatory.

    A Dob-mounted Newtonian can give you more aperture for the same price as your scope and has the virtue of simplicity. It will show fainter deep sky fuzzies and in fleeting moments of good seeing it might marginally outperform your scope on the planets, provided its mirror is superlatively figured, a big if for commercially made scopes. The tradeoff is that it might be too big to carry in your car easily.

    Your scope should be rugged and easily transportable and will serve you well in getting acquainted with numerous interesting objects in the sky. You can grab it and go to a dark club site quickly and easily. As Rick and others have pointed out, you can learn at club star parties what types and sizes may be desirable as a second scope for observing things that are beyond the capabilities of yours. Rick has accumulated ten scopes over several decades as an avid, skilled observer, for the purpose of being able to do anything he wishes at a particular time. That would be overkill for a novice to do immediately.

  12. #12
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    Over my more than 50 years of experience with beginners I've seen many who have tried throwing money at the hobby before learning the skills needed to use the equipment. You show all the signs of fitting this skill level even if you are sure your don't. It is so common that Richard Berry, editor of Astronomy Magazine at the time, wrote an editorial about it. The conclusion of his editorial and my experience is that these folks almost always fail. Berry's term for them is 90 Day Wonders. The idea being after throwing all this money at the hobby then discovering they see little more than they did with a simple, far smaller and cheaper scope they leave the hobby selling their new gear at bargain basement prices to those with the experience to use it effectively, often very bitter about the hobby. It isn't just an opinion, I've seen it happen many times over. I was supervisor of a public observatory for 27 years. I saw these folks many times at the observatory. Only one of about 50 of these folks survived the experience that I can recall.

    Please wait to spend that money until you have the experience to do so successfully. Most clubs star parties are open to all at least once a month. Mine has two. Another interesting fact is most club members feel the same as you, they aren't joiners! But they've discovered that banding together is a necessity to make much progress in the hobby. I didn't join one for my first 7 years and got nowhere but ever more confused. Not having one to join I and a few others who also had rejected the idea of joining a club, formed one. We all made more progress in the next year than in all the years before doing so. Suddenly the hobby became a joy again much to our surprise. One of us went on to a highly successful professional career after years of being a camera store clerk. You've likely seen him on many science shows and was a prime investigator on several space probes. He admits he'd likely still be a store clerk or equivalent but for the club.

    Some clubs will have loaner scopes you can take home and use to see if it is a reasonable choice for you and give you access to such a scope while you save up to buy one. Ours has a couple good refractors and a large Dob that cover two of your three choices. We don't loan out a large SCT because of the difficulties they entail for a beginner. A beginner in the club who did buy such a scope (12" LX200 GPS) came to grief severely damaging the scope trying to set it up alone in the dark. We didn't want to risk club money this way. I do own one (14" LX200R) but I rely on the help of others when moving it. No way I can do it alone. Our 13.5" Dob is easy for one person to handle and well loved by some beginners. But it is ill suited for the use I have for my 14" SCT type scope, astrophotography. None of our loaners are good for that as it isn't a beginners field.

    You have not begun to explore the capabilities of the scope you now own nor have the experience needed to make an intelligent choice on your next scope. Do the homework or likely waste your money. The latter makes for bargain for those of us who have done our homework but is a sad day for the hobby itself.

    While, as Redshifter says, I have 10 scopes picked for specific purposes (grab and go, deep sky, solar, planetary, photometric and spectroscopic work, general viewing, low power wide field visual, etc.) that is still nearly 6 years between scopes. I do spend years learning each before buying another. And then only when I have spent time actually using the scope or its equivalent many times before buying. A couple have been designed from the ground up and aren't off the shelf scopes because none existed to fit what I was after. And while I participate in no clubs but the astronomy club I helped form over 50 years ago none of what I do would have been possible without the help of that club. So yes, I am a strong believer in what a good club can do for its members much of which is nearly impossible to do alone.

    Rick

  13. #13
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    Hi Nitelitegirl, and welcome

    I have a 8" Orion dob (bought back in the 1990s when they first came out) and a 127mm Mak-Cas (bought around 2002, also by Orion). I use them about equally. Actually, because it's easier to set up I may use the Mak-Cas a little more. I bought the Mak-Cas because lugging that big metal tube (i.e. the Orion) around when camping was getting to be a chore. It's a perfectly fine scope to have as your first, IMHO.

    I do use the Mak-Cas more for planetary observing, simply because the planets are that much brighter. However I've been able to see most of the brighter Messier objects from my location (downtown morgantown, WV). I'm basically in a small city, so its hard to see things like the Andromeda Galaxy or the Orion nebula with the unaided eye. (truthfully, its downright impossible).

    Looking back at my notes, most of my observation is done at either 61x or 154x. At 154x I start running into some blurriness due to atmospheric turbulence. (Morgantown is in a valley, and I suspect I'm getting some "bad air".) On a whim I bought a 3.5mm eyepiece once, which would have given me more than 400x magnification. Yeah, that didn't work. lol. Live and learn!

    I agree with everyone else that the scope that's best for you is the scope you use the most. I've had particular fun with the Mak this spring showing my gf and her 6 year old son some of the astronomical sights. He, in particular has been very excited by Venus' phases, viewed over successive nights and weeks. He also likes looking at binary stars, especially ones with color contrast. And he likes the Mak more than the dob because I can lock the telescope in place. He often inadvertently touched the dob tube and moved it. He is only 6 after all.

    So, in short - it's portable, a good buy and there's enough out there to see with it.

    John

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