Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass


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Brand and Model:Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
Price ($USD):1069
Type:Maksutov-Cassegrain
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
Aperture:150mm (5.9")
f Ratio:f/12
Focal Length:1800mm
Finder:7x35
Electric Power:optional
Mount:SkyView Deluxe
Tripod:aluminum
Weight (lbs):37 lbs.
Dimensions (w/h/d):
Description:Polar-alignment scope included

Vote Highlights Vote
Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
I only just got my Argonaut, so these comments are based on two observing sessions.

My scope star-tested really well (as far as I can tell), but I have found the views to be only slightly better than with my 8" Orion Dob. I can see slightly more detail on planets, and can resolve four of Saturn's moons where I could only see two or three with the Dob.

The construction of the OTA is superb. This thing is built like a tank, and looks as though it could withstand a sustained mortar attack. The Russians know how to make stuff sturdy!

The focuser, however, is truly funky. I have to reposition two of my three eyepieces in the diagonal in order to get the focal length I need.

As for the Chinese parts, ... I'm not thrilled with the SVD mount. But I don't have a lot of experience with portable GEM mounts so I'm not really the best person to comment on that. Generally it seems adequate for the OTA, but I'm still learning how to use it.

The quality of the mount's construction is mediocre. For example, the R.A. lock lever snapped off in my hand; the levers are made of really cheap cast pot-metal, and won't withstand much torquing at all.

The quality of the finder isn't bad, but a right-angle version would be much easier to use. Pointing at things much above treeline is a literal pain in the neck. My Rigel Quikfinder works better since it's further extended from the OTA.

I also put on an SVD dual-drive system. The Dec motor is dysfunctional, but the R.A. clock drive works great. However, beware that the motor is painfully slow for maneuvering the telescope. So you'll want to keep the slo-mo knobs attached -- and there's the rub. You need to back out the set screw on the motor-connector-thingy in order to use the slo-mo knob, and then re-tighten the screw after you make your adjustment, hoping the divot is in the right place, ... which it won't be, so you need to use the painfully slow motor to turn the connector collar around to the right place. It's a real pain in the a%%, and a clear deficiency of the SVD mount/drive system.

Overall, it's a beautiful telescope with some quirks. I'm looking forward to learning more about how to best use it.

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Mount:6 Ease of Use:7 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.91.216)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=74478


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
I really like my Orion Mak. Great Russian Optics at an affordable price. It does have some quirks, (1) short focus (2) finder to close to OTA (3)long cool down time. None of these are a major issue. All of my Tel vue eyepieces, panoptic, nagler, plossl, and radian have no trouble reaching focus. Keep the scope in an unheated garage and you can use it right away on cold winter nights. Buy a flexible felt lined Dew shield and lengthen you stay outside. I have not had a corrector dew issue, but others have mentioned problems. I like the flexible dew shield because it also blocks off axis light. Scope star test pretty well, slight difference inside focus versus outside focus. Came pretty well aligned, razor sharp images, no false color. Sky view deluxe mount more than adequate for this nine pound portable. I live on the very edge of downtown so I have sky glow big time, however the scope still does a magnificent job on bright planetary objects, juptier, saturn, venus. Detail varies with conditions, however have had some great lunar transits on Jupiter with a crisp black moon shadow on the planet, and well as a number of bands, and red spot when present. The moons can almost be resolved into balls. Cassini Division in Saturn is a piece of cake at even low power, number of moons varies on their position, have seen up to 5. Our moon is absolutely fantastic with a 9mm nagler at 200x or at the lowest power. This is detail using an erect image prism which robs some light. A mirror diagonal gives better imagery and only slightly brighter views. Scope seems to take power real well, however I seldom use over 300x, normally half that amount. Due to long focal length recommend using wide field ep's like meades ultrawides or televues panoptics, or naglers or radians. It is nice to look at jupiter at 200x (9mm nagler) in an 1800 mm focal length and still be able to see the planet and all the moons. Deep sky is difficult from my location, but can see no reason why it won't do well in dark skies. Is this the best scope out there? NO, but it definitely provides the best of two worlds. Image quality of at least a 4" high quality $2k or more refractor on planets, (maybe better) and almost the same deep sky as an 8" dob except it loses out slightly due to long focal length, narrow field. Don't waste money on meade etx, or 125mm get a real MAK with adjustable secondary, not some aluminized spot. I bet the Orion Argonaut/Intes MK67 outperforms meades 7" MAK for a third the price. If you want a go to function buy a NEXTSTAR 8. The computer may be able to find it, but it won't look as good as it will in the Argonaut.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.240.79)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39740


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
Very, very portable. Higher end units provide better views, but you can't beat the price of the Argonaut. (Orion's recommended mount is quite adequate, but consider upgrading to a less flimsy tripod.) A fun telescope.

Overall Rating: 8
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.27.245)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39738


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
Stellar "Jason" and the Argonaut

As a youth I had had a puppy-love affair with all things astronomical. Now some 30 years later, I felt a re-kindling of that same spark. I knew, based on the unformulated experiences of the time, that image-quality and light-collection were the two "top dogs" of observational astronomy. I also knew, as a reasonably mature adult, that "puppy-love" was not going to cut it, and that I'd better get a scope that I could live with well. Based on my budget limitations (<1.5K), I reasoned that a small refractor (90mm) wouldn't meet my light collection needs, and that a large (cheap) reflector would probably fall flat when it came to image quality.

The Watsonville outlet of the Orion Telescope and Binocular Center lies within easy striking distance of my home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This particular outlet has an annual "parking lot sale" of "seconds" and general astronomical paraphernalia. I attended the annual sale and poked arround for a while. Among the scopes I was interested in was the 120mm (4.7") achromatic refractor and the 150mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Argonaut. Both scopes were mounted on the $300 Skyview Deluxe mount. The 4.7 was slightly cheaper than the Argonaut but I new that the additional color correction and 5.5" clear aperture of the Argonaut would better fulfill my expectations -- or so I thought.

As it turned out, the particular Argonaut I purchased was sadly deficient in mechanical alignment. In fact the tube itself was 1/16" of an inch shorter on one side than the other. This made collimation impossible. I ended up damaging the secondary mount while adjusting its position. The folks at Orion were quite wonderful about this and took a return on the OTA for repair. As it turned out, the technician straightforwardly told me that true collimation of this particular scope would be impossible and rounded up another OTA second for me to try out. A quick bench test confirmed that the second OTA was much superior to the first. The tech performed a laser alignment and I took it home in exchange.

The coma I had seen in the original OTA was not apparent. In/out focus tests did show some ellipticity. I began a systematically detailed job of re-collimating the optics. This involved the use of mechanical shims in the focuser and the star diagonal. The process of aligning the scope to perfection took about a month. To be honest, I actually enjoyed making the adjustments. It's amazing how much you can get out of dealing with such problems intelligently.

Last week I took the completely aligned scope to a star party hosted by the Santa Cruz Astronomy club. A wide variety of scopes were available for views. As it turned out, the two best scopes were neighbors to one another. The gent next to me had a fine 10" Dob. It gave exquisite views of deep fuzzies and extended nebularities. Equipped with an OIII filter, it's view of the Veil nebula was exquisite with delicate detail. I was also blown away by its views of M22 and other deep-sky wonders. After seeing this could I possibly be happy with the "deep-sky" performance of the 150mm Argonaut?

In the Argonaut, M22 looked like a dull hazy patch. Visitors to my scope could barely find it in the FOV. Something clearly was wrong...

As it turned out, the particular eyepiece installed in the Argonaut was a 25mm Plossl -- complete with moon filter attachement! Removing the filter quickly restored my faith in the excellence of this scope. To be honest, the 250mm Dob gave brighter, higher contrast views of "M" class objects (you know M13, M57 etc.) but when it came to splitting double-stars and views of the planets, the 150 was unsurpassed. The combination of long focal ratio and excellent optical surfaces, properly aligned and collimated could not be bested.

So, if you are looking for a highly portable scope with razor-sharp imaging capability. You can spend 3K for a 4.5" apochromatic refractor, or half that for a larger Maksutov-Cassegrain. (Don't let them sell you an SCT -- they are simply not in the same class.)

No matter how good the scope you end up getting, there are a few factors completely out of your control - the weather, sky conditions, and the elevation of a particular object above the horizon. So, if for some reason you are not happy with the views you are getting through your new scope, take the time to ensure that it is completely collimated - then pray that the sky clears, the air steadies, and that the power goes out in local community for a couple hours at a time when Sagittarius is on the celestial meridian, or Saturn is high on the ecliptic...

And oh yes, take my wife's excellent advice, do what it takes to buy your last scope first. If you are into deep sky stuff get the largest Dob of excellent optics you can safely break down and transport personally. If you are into lunar & planetary views get a fully apochromatic 100+ mm refractor. If you want the best of both worlds, purchase a Maksutov - Cassegrain or (Newt) of at least 150mm aperture. Then, from that date on, spend your loose change improving your eyepiece and filter collection. Add a decent clock drive, maybe electronic setting circles then find some kind of engaging astronomical project to set off on. Finally, be sure to attend lots of Star Parties. Share the Experience!

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.86.112)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39737


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
I bought this scope with the intention to use it as my more "portable"
scope as opposed to my large set up. I've had it for two weeks and am
very pleased with it. For the price range, this is a good package. I do
agree with the previous reviewer in that the only negatives I can think of
are with the SkyView mount being not quite up to the standard of the
ota. This is ok for me since I only need it for observing and I have a G-11
mount that I can put it on for anything serious. The contrast is very high
and is an excellent planetary scope at 1800mm and f/12. One thing I
seemed to notice about looking throught it, and it may be just me, is that
this scope seems to really produce colors well. In looking at Jupiter and
Aldeberan under it (at this time) the reds really punch through. Anyway,
to wrap up, this scope has quality Russian optics, is nicely portable with
a handle on the ota to boot, and the finder is suprisingly nice for stock.
For the money, you should be very pleased; but if your buying this scope
for a serious set up and/or with plans for astrophotography you may want
to consider a more serious mount to go with it like a Losmandy GM-8 or
even Orion's GP series mounts would make this a top notch system.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.36.80)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39736


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
I had the opportunity to use this scope under some very dark skies with very goo seeing. The images were surprisingly bright considering it is only a 6" scope. M22, M33 resolved beautifully. Contrast was very good. I did not totally like the SkyView deluxe mounting, but aside from that this telescope is a dream travelscope w/ 1800 mm focal length. Planets were extremely sharp. Much detail was visibile on Jupiter including a line separating the NEB lengthwise. Also detail within the GRS was visible. Very nice scope.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.34.1)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39735


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
Comment to above post...

The secondary mirror can easily be "popped off" the aluminum backing plate if longer screws are installed. I know, I've done it - so many times in fact, that I ended up completely re-designing the secondary adjustment mechanism. (The original uses a leadscrew approach - this requires that adjustment screws move in and out of the backing plate. A better design uses fixed screws with wingnuts on the outside that spin around the fixed screws and compress/relax the internal springs. These in turn reposition the backing plate and ultimately the secondary.)

As you might guess the secondary adjustment mechanism on this model is its weakest link. Fortunately, once the secondary is collimated it holds rather well...

Unless of course your primary is off - in which case you will spend months going back and forth between primary and secondary until you get everything right. Then the scope will knock your socks off - even on low contrast studies such as Jupiter - which absolutely demands extremely fine collimation. (Saturn is much more forgiving.)

Finally here's a good test of your MK-67/Argonaut collimation - if you can not consistently and cleanly resolve Delta Cygni you aren't there yet...

(The Delta Cygni test holds for any scope 3 inches on up by the way, since a less than perfectly collimated scope throws photons around in such a chaotic manner that the stray light obscures Delta's secondary.)

Hope this helps,

jeff

PS: Those interested in this scope may wish to visit:

http://astro.geekjoy.com/argo.html

Overall Rating: No Vote
Weight: <none>
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.86.107)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39746


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
Very good bargain and views for the money. Recommend that you not buy the Orion version as they cannot provide any replacement parts. Go to Intes, the price difference will be marginal, and at least the product can be supported in the future. Also recommend that you completely ignore Orions instructions for collimation. The secondary screws are very short, and may only be barely threaded. If you back them out you will catch hell trying to rethread the screws, because you will not be able to compress the springs behind the screws enough to start the threads. Recommend you buy longer metric screws at the hardware store and replace those provided with the scope if you ever attempt collimation, or start by tightening the screws vs loosening.

Overall Rating: No Vote
Weight: <none>
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.201.48)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39745


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
Greetings MakScope Afficionados,

Been regularly observing with this model scope now for almost a year. (Please see reports at http://astro.geekjoy.com/)

Some things to consider: Since this could be the last modestly apertured scope you will ever purchase, seriously consider getting the deluxe version.

Why? Not so much for the improved optical quality (1/8th wave rather than 1/6th) but for the improved coatings.

The standard model peaks out at magnitude 13.0 (direct visual stellar acquisition at 180X under a 6.0 ULTM sky). With improved coatings, it is thought that a .4 - .5 magnitudinal improvement is seen.

My experience has been that the difference between a 5.5 and a 6.0 sky is staggering!

Want to really see the Flame Nebula near Zeta Orionis? Improved coatings could make all the difference...

Those of us who have the standard model might do well to consider some of the high-reflectivity mirror coatings available through organizations like Sirius Optics (http://siriusoptics.com/).

Enjoy,

jeff barbour

NOTE: Just contacted Orion Binocular and Telescope and talked with a technical representative. Although there are a few Argonauts left, Orion has elected to no longer resell this (or related) Intes models. None of these Argonauts include the advanced coatings or optics.

Overall Rating: No Vote
Weight: <none>
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.246.179)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39744


Orion Argonaut 150mm EQ Mak-Cass
Very good instrument at very low price. Cool!!!!

Overall Rating: No Vote
Weight: <none>
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.231.99)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39743

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