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Outstanding Optical Performer
for any serious astro-photographer or discerning visual observer.










Above: The Sky-Watcher MAKSUTOV - NEWTONIAN optical
tube mounted on a HEQ5 Pro equatorial mount for visual testing.

Above: Schott glass meniscus lens seals the optical tube from internal thermal currents while also highly correcting the field of view.

I recently had the opportunity to finally test the classic 190mm Sky-Watcher MAK-NEWTONIAN for optical and photographic performance and I have to say I was well impressed on many fronts. Having looked through many new and innovative telescope designs over the years, this scope had me gobsmacked straight out of the box. It is intended for more advanced amateur astronomers seeking a little perfection and nice flat field images for astrophotography so does not include (get you started accessories) like eyepieces but does include a handy right angle 8 X 50mm finderscope. Made by Synta in China (manufacturers of Celestron telescopes and re-branded Orion models), this leading manufacturer continue to be a major force in excellence. You may have heard of Schmidt-Newtonians (of U.S branded names and riddled with plastic components and inward focus limitations) however the Sky-Watcher Maksutov-Newt hybrid enjoys smaller central obstruction and is designed to accommodate visual and photographic needs.

Packaging is double boxed for extra shipping strength with moulded foam supports at either end of the scope. Having played with many 8-inch Newtonian's over the years, I was a little set back by how heavy this optical tube was. Weighing it without tube rings and dovetail mounting bar, this solid powder coasted steel optical tube came in at 11 kg. The solid tube rings pre-mounted on the unusual 33cm length dovetail bar weighed in at about 1.5 kg. Like any curious amateur, the first thing to check out was a look down the tube which had lovely XLT (high contrast coatings on the Japanese Schott glass corrector plate) and five well blackened baffles (as is the entire internal of the tube). 

Left: See here the well baffled inner of the optical tube specifically to ensure effective dampening of stray light and internal reflections that may interfere with high contrast views and more importantly, astro-photography.

The central obstruction size of the secondary mirror is 51mm and having no spider veins like classic Newtonian designs, images are free of diffraction spikes. Not that I don't like diffraction spikes in my shots (I personally find them quite appealing) however the system yields images one might expect from a refractor or Schmidt or Maksutov classic design. The sturdy front bezel housing (including corrector plate) is a little weighty so the telescope is a little front heavy in balance terms so requires shifting within the tube rings more so to the front end of the instrument.

Left: The next thing a discerning amateur looks for is a great focuser, afterall, there is nothing more frustrating than a focuser that shifts the image when making adjustments. Since the early days of cheap Chinese rack & pinion shockers that required many of us to seek a JMI, or Moonlite retrofit, Sky-Watcher have progressed commendably in this regard in all their telescope moving from not so good single speed Crayford style designs to far superior build dual speeds. This is no exception on the latest build MAK-NEWT optical tube. In fact, having fitted many of the aforementioned brands to customers telescopes over the years it was indeed a pleasure to find that these new stable focusers from (Synta / Sky-Watcher) are just as smooth and stable to the touch as the excellent U.S models.
It comes with a focuser locking screw, a 2 inch (50.8mm) compression ring clamping adaptor plus an unusual spliced 1.25 inch step down adaptor which I first thought might be made of plastic but to my delight is black anodised steel fabrication. The compression ring tightens in around it to maintain an evenly centred or rather collimated light path.
Left: Now the one thing that did initially throw me after fitting one of my eyepieces to the draw tube was that it wouldn't come to focus fully wound out. Ah ha! there is a built-in extension tube which retracts out to 55mm basically covering the focal point of most all oculars one might use. Off we go to the Moon and what a amazingly crisp sharp view! I then used a Vixen NLV10mm ocular to take a closer look and the crater contrast along the gibbous lunar terminator was superb! Absolutely no colour fringing along the lunar limb either. The collimation out of the box must be good so I shot over to a nice 3rd magnitude star for some in and out of focus testing. To my surprise, nice even concentric diffraction rings with even illumination. So, off to a nice open star cluster... something convenient like the Jewel Box in the Southern Cross nearby.
It was this view that made my jaw drop... pinpoint sharp stars with well defined orange /red hue of its massive red giant star. Switching back to my workhorse Vixen LVW 22 and moving my eye across the field, all stars appeared pinpoint right to the edges.

So what about looking at planets? The scope is noted as recommended for deep-sky lovers but I wanted to see how Saturn might look given the exceptional seeing conditions. I wasn't disappointed. Using a Vixen NLV6  the clarity was like using some large 5 inch triplet apochromatic refractor! All the brightest Saturnian moons stood out clearly without any need for strenuous protracted scrutiny.


I think this is an exceptional telescope but like any design there are plus and minus attributes. A standard SCT (Schmidt Cassegrain telescope has the benefit of viewing from the rear of the scope (not having to rotate the optical tube through tube rings for easiest viewing position). But, this scope is designed specifically for discerning visual observers and moreover, astro-imagers so we can live with that. It is on the heavy side (albeit understandably given its very solid all metal construction) but if Sky-Watcher made the main tube in carbon fibre like their classic CF200mm f/4, which is a marvellous telescope, it would better suited to a lower kg load baring rated mount. Must admit I had it set atop the HEQ5 head with a GP half extension pillar and using 2 x 5.1 kg and 1 x 3.2 kg counter-weights (fully extended to achieve balance) which possibly added some wobbliness. For visual this is ok but for long exposure astro-photography, it definitely needs to ride on a more solid mount to match its weight like the Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro.  


M20 Trifid nebula taken with Sky-Watcher 190mm MAK-NEWT and colour Moravian G2-8300 CCD camera

The above image was taken using the Sky-Watcher MAK-Newtonian 190mm telescope mounted on an NEQ6 Pro with Vixen side by side multi accessory plate fitted with Vixen X-Y guide mount and ProStar 80mm guide scope refractor.
(see image at left)

It was far too windy for long exposures so this is the sum of only 12 x 180 second exposures using a Moravian G2-8300C camera and LVI Smart Guider to see how well it performs.

Just like the amazing visual views I found with this scope, short exposures revealed a perfectly flat field across the image.

The image below of M8 Lagoon nebula was taken with the same gear and exposures 3 minutes x 12 stacked and dark frames subtracted using Deep Sky Stacker software.

This scope has everything for visual and astro-phtography in one optical tube. I am thoroughly impressed - SM


M8 Lagoon nebula taken with Sky-Watcher 190mm MAK-NEWT and colour Moravian G2-8300 CCD camera

BUY the Sky-Watcher 190mm MAK-NEWT now

Note: AstroShop reviews are only intended to provide prospective purchasers our own first hand impressions of performance and build as has been our long time policy.
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