Sky-Watcher SkyMax 102 Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope

I bought my 4″ Mak in July 2003 from Sherwoods Photo Ltd. I got it in order to have something more transportable than my 8″ Dob to take on holiday, but it’s turned out to be just as useful at home.

I bought the scope without a mount (i.e. just the OTA), intending to use it with the mount that came with my “Lidlscope” (after adding an extra counterweight made by pouring concrete into a tin can). However that mount is just not solid enough for comfortable planetary viewing (which is what a Mak is good at). Subsequently I bought a second hand Sky-Watcher EQ-6 mount (to use with my 8″ Newt). This is rated for scopes up to 25kg in weight, so the little Mak is no problem for it. In fact, the supplied counterweights are almost too heavy. The scope’s ease of use is greatly enhanced by this mount. I can change eyepieces or adjust focus without losing the target, and the mount’s hand controls are great for “flying” over the moon’s surface.

I also use the Mak with my Celestron NexStar GT alt-az goto mount. This is a bit shaky, compared with the EQ-6, but is a great “grab and go” set up. The photograph shows this combination being used for solar viewing with a Baader filter and my binoviewer. I’ve fitted a Baader dovetail bar to the side of the scope to make it easier to use with this mount. To do this I removed the Mak’s front and rear cells (both simply unscrew from the tube) then drilled and tapped two holes in the tube. After reassembly it was still collimated!

The Mak’s focuser has a small amount of image shift, so I’ve experimented with a Borg helical focuser. This simply screws on in place of the stock “visual back”. Unfortunately it’s not up to supporting heavy cameras or a binoviewer. The stock visual back also has a T-thread, which is ideal for my Baader Maxbright diagonal. This gives a very secure connection, easily capable of holding the binoviewer.

In 2007 I finally got round to buying a case for the 4″ Mak. It’s not a dedicated scope case, but it did cost very little. It’s a toolbox that was being sold for £9 by Lidl as one of their weekly specials. It has removable dividers that provide compartments just the right size for the scope, my home made foam dew shield, and a red dot finder.