Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass

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Brand and Model:Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
Price ($USD):$569.00
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
Aperture:127mm (5.0in)
f Ratio:12.1
Focal Length:1540mm
Electric Power:DC
Weight (lbs):36.2
Dimensions (w/h/d):OTA: 15 inches
Description:Cloudy Night's Review
Ed Ting's Review
Affordable Astronomy's Review

Vote Highlights Vote
Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
Very good optics, superb mount (for this scopes weight & size) that is smooth in motion and very stable with quick dampening time, and best of all is the price. I have a 31mm Nagler eyepiece which is excellent but when I think about the Starmax package and all that I got for less than the cost of the 31mm Nagler it truly amazes me. This is what I call great value.

I find the optics very good for a Mak of this size and price range. Shows good crisp images and much contrast on the moon and planets. Collimation has been excellent since I received it but it is nice to know that it can easily be adjusted (primary mirror) with push pull screws on the rear cell if needed. My scope shows NO IMAGE SHIFT even at high powers. Under good seeing the scope handles powers in excess of 200x quite well. The scope also does a respectable job on deepsky objects although is greatly limited with its f12.1 focal ratio and narrow field.

I use this scope as my quick setup and grab & go scope. When I say quick setup though I mean setup not including the 1-2 hours for the optics to aclimate. I have used this scope for public viewing such as our clubs moonwatch with a Astrovid Planet Cam and find its dual drive (an Orion upgrade) keeps the scope tracking quite well and allows easy low speed slewing in both axis. I have also used the scope for some afocal digital imaging with great results. All in all I think it is a great little scope at a very low price.

One other item I should mention is that though my scope arrived in excellent condition, these scopes are mass produced and occasionally a bad one gets by. If I were a potential buyer I would not worry as Orion is a great company for customer service and I have had very good experiences with them on other items both with returns and technical support.

Dennis B.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:9 Mount:10 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 20 (Notable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=85225

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
I posted a review on this scope after owning the scope for a couple of months.

Now two years on.
The optics remain the best one point about this scope. No colour. Some scattered light. pin point sharp views. You can check out some images here.

Its robust. I've had it in bits, knocked it, dropped it and generally abused it. But I havent broke it YET ! Collmination is not so difficult and once done it sticks I've only ever had to collminate the scope three times once when I bought it and twice when I took it apart. Focusing is smooth and accurate. I added a bigger section to the focus knob with a plastic lid with a whole cut in the middle so it could slip over the main knob. This has been a great success. Critical focus is easy nothing vauge about it.

Like most blackned surfaces in cheap telescopes there is some internal glare I might flock mine to see if it will make any difference. The glare is obvious if you look through the back of the scope with no eyepeace in.

Does not perform on visual deep sky. Globulars can be a bit of a dissapointment needs more resolving power. The objective as stated in S&T measure 120mm not 127mm.

Planets and moon are great, doubles and different coloured groupings of stars are fantastic colour correction wins through here again. Bright deep sky OK anything else forget it. I've taken some great shots of the moon and planets with a webcam and they just keep getting better the scope has never dissapointed in this area. see the link above. Deep sky Astrophotgraphy could be good with a guided mount.

Two years ago I wrote that my next upgrade would be a better quality mount. I've tried both an EQ3/2 and EQ5 with this tube. This is a high power scope with a small FOV with too much vibration when focusing with either the EQ3/2 or EQ5 with the new tubular legs. Personally I think an EQ3/2 on a pedastal will perform better than an EQ5 on a tripod. Without going totally over board on the mount a pedestal is the only solution left to solve the wiggles when focusing.

I keep the scope in my garden shed with no cool down time envolved. One of the best view I've ever had through this scope was one morning in winter when I woke up early about 5 oclock with an outside temprature around -3 degrees. I caught a stunning view of the Alpine valley on the moon ten minutes after getting out of bed. I was completely blown away with the view it brought a tear to my eye. That moment alone has justified the price of the scope for me. Cool down time can take a long time so forget quick looks unless temp difference between were you store the scope and use it are large. If it wasent for the fact that I keep the scope stored outside in a shed I would never have had that moment.

With deep sky being the outstanding issue here I'm looking at guiding the scope for long exposure coupled with a focal reducer which in the long term might be a more economical solution than replacing the scope with something of a higher quality or with a bigger collective and ending up guiding this bigger more expensive scope.

In the last year I moved out of London/uk I know have my own back garden with outside storage as mentioned I've considered a replacement for the scope. Newtonians, bigger SCT or a large refractor. The only sensible upgrade that makes sence to me is a 4inch apo or a 9.25inch sct. Neither of which I can afford. But with the good planetary views, colour correction, durabilty, cost of this scope and for me no cool down time I'm reluctant to actually get rid of my China Mak/Cass. If I can get some deepsky out of the scope, it might never need replacing.

For equal performace I would think you would have to look at an ED refractor or quality newtonian.

Kevin McCarthy Surrey/UK

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:7 Mount:4 Ease of Use:6 Value:8
Weight: 15 (Trustworthy Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=367424

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
I've had this for over a year now and have done some comparisons with my Celestron CR-150HD (6-inch Chinese refractor) and XT 6 Dob. I use it on a Celestron CG5 mount.

The Starmax does a decent split of the double-double with a small diffraction ring around each star except where the rings intersect. The Celestron does it better. Planetary detail on Jupiter and Saturn is substantially better with the Celestron. However, Starmax has no purple halo as with the Celestron (most of which can be removed with a v-block filter). I should add that I was lucky and got what has proven to be one of the better CR150's that have come off the assembly line. Planetary detail on the Starmax is sharpest at about 120 - 140 power while the Celestron can usually go to about 170 - 200 power before no further improvement is seen and detail starts to soften up. On double stars, the Starmax will support up to about 250 power yielding a decent image encircled by a small diffraction ring. The inside / outside focus images are comparable.

My general impression of the Starmax is that optics are OK, but nothing remarkable.

Starmax focuser is smooth with negligible (if any) image shift. The knob is located upper left on the back -- not the ideal place I think. The dinky finder scope is of limited usefulness.

The mediocre overall light transmission combined with the 5-inch aperture limit its usefulness for deep space objects. Every time I try it for this purpose, It seems that it is always starving for light.

One must exercise some care when collimating the Starmax because there is a rubber band that will easily fall out -- the work of a mentally retarded designer. I originally thought this was a defect in the scope. When I contacted Orion about this, I found their customer service to be almost hostile.

In comparison with Celestron CR150 refractor, the Starmax is soundly beaten on all points but chromatic aberration. It is fairly close to the XT 6 for showing detail, but the XT 6 wins out on deep space objects. For what it's worth, The Starmax beats the pants off an ETX90 (as one would expect).

The Starmax is an OK, but not outstanding, scope and represents a reasonable value for the money. If we are to call the likes of TMB, Televue, etc. a 10, then I think a rating of 6 is fair for this scope. It does a decent job of providing a portable and modestly priced scope for planets and double stars. I find it unsatisfactory for deep space objects. If nothing else, it will give you something to put on your CG5 mount after you buy a GOOD mount for your Celestron CR150.

Overall Rating: 6
Optics:6 Value:7
Weight: 13 (Trustworthy Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=244646

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
I received my StarMax 127 complete with dew shield and R.A. axis drive about a month ago. It arrived nicely packaged (double boxed) and in good shape. Assembly was a cinch with the well written instructions. The only items the instructions didn't cover were the use of the vernier scale on the R.A. axis or collimation instructions, which would have made them perfect.

The scope has sharp optics but was a bit out on collimation. I guess FedEx decided to re-collimate it on the way here. Cured that with a few tweaks on the collimating screws. I also noticed different variations of the same ghost image (faint doughnut image) while viewing Jupiter through three different eyepieces, so I ordered a replacement scope - the Apex 127 (OTA). I have found Orion to be excellent to deal with. Now get this. I was using the 25mm Sirius Plossl that came with the scope and two others I had on hand (9mm Kellner and 6mm Plossl). It turned out that the coatings on all three of these eyepieces were the cause of the ghost image, so I really didn't have to get the second scope. I'm glad I did, though, because the optics on the second scope are even sharper than the first. The 25mm Sirius Plossl that came with the second scope had no ghost image. By the way the second scope was received with perfect collimation. I will be shipping the original OTA back today.

Views through this scope are awesome. Tack sharp with virtually no false color. Planetary is awesome up to 180X and even 250X with very good seeing. Starsplitting is a cinch. The other night I resolved Eta Orionis (1.6" separation) as two perfect airy discs from 180X all the way up to the nutty power of 750X with very good seeing.

I'm very happy with all aspects of the Starmax 127. The scope is compact, all metal, and has sharp optics. The EQ mount is lightweight and plenty stable for my tastes. It even comes with a Polar alignment scope (not mentioned in the ad). The setting circles are a bit crude, but for $140 (price of EQ3 mount) I'm definitely not complaining. The tracking drive is very smooth and has 8X speed to center on the R.A. axis.

I ordered the two hand knob screws for the main tube and the two thumbscrews for the drive from Scopestuff.com prior to receiving my scope. They are very inexpensive and well worth having.

In summary, I really don't see how you can beat this high quality, all metal, compact, lightweight, complete outfit for $539. There is a lot of very good equipment sitting in front of you for this price.

Two things to consider with this scope, though.

If you are after rich field views, look elsewhere. This f/12 scope has a narrow one degree FOV.

If you can't tolerate one to two hour cool downs, look elsewhere. I store the scope in the garage. Most days, I get good views in half an hour, but on colder days it can take a couple.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:10 Mount:9 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 13 (Trustworthy Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=71542

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
I purchased this telescope about 6 months
ago. I gave my initial impressions then but
intentionally left out a rating. Now that
I have had it for some time now I can give
a more thorough and accurate review.

The scope has very good optics and performs
very well, but there are better images to be
had for the same money or less. The scopes
compact size and decent aperture is what gives
it its appeal. I have been on many camping and
fishing trips when I left my telescopes behind
just because I hade to much gear. When nighttime
rolled around I regretted that decision. Never
again, the starmax will be in a little corner of
the car waiting for me from now on.

The views through the starmax are very good
but are quite a bit dimmer than those through
my 6" Newt, more so than I would have expected
with just an inch of difference in aperture.
According to March 2002 S&T magazine, they
measured the actual aperture at around 120mm
or about 4 3/4" not 127 mm, which may account
for some of the loss in brightness. They also
measured the focal length to be about 100mm
longer than the advertised length. If this is
correct then the smaller aperture and the longer
focal length would make this an f/13 telescope
not an f/12. Keep that F/L in mind when
calculating magnifications.

I do a lot of observing from my home and when
I do the "Starmax" usually stays in its carrying
case. I will get it out if I am trying to split
some close doubles from some S&T article. The
lack of diffraction spikes makes it easier to
slit doubles than with a Newt. If it is a little
breezy the smaller tube is less affected by the
wind and the images will be more stable as well.
For the planets, under calm observing conditions,
I prefer the views that I get with my homebuilt,
equatorial mounted, 6" f/8 Newt. For comparison
sake the Newt has a "Discovery" premium primary
mirror and a 1" secondary. It only cost me about
$250 to make.

The planets are very sharp through the "Starmax"
if you don't try to push the power to far. Speaking
of magnification, It dose top out around 240x or
so, that is if you use the advertised F/L of 1540mm
to do your calculations, 300x if you use S&T's
measured F/L. Many cloud bands are visible on Jupiter
and some detail within them as well. Shadows of
Jupiter's moons are jet black and occasionally
you can see the disk of a moon against the backdrop
of the planet. Saturn is quite pleasant to look at
and the Cassini division is routinely observed.
Some slight changes in shading on the disk of Saturn
are also visible. If you are into deep sky, under
dark skies the starmax is a beautiful thing. The
contrast is excellent. The Orion nebula just seems
to go on and on, it doesn't just fade away there
is an abrupt darkening where the nebula ends and
the background sky takes over. You can glimpse
faint galaxies and nebula with it as well, but
there is not much detail. A good dark sky location
is the key in the deep sky department and the
larger aperture the better.

So I guess the short review would be if you
need compactness, portability and no fuss
equipment the "Starmax" is an excellent choice
and an excellent value.
If you can handle a bulkier scope and don't
mind tinkering with collimation, for about the
same money a 6" EQ mounted Newt might be the
way to go. For even less money a Dobson mounted

I purchased the "Apex" version of this scope
which does not come with a mount. I use Orions
SVD Mount which does a good job and I am sure
it is comperable to the EQ3.

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Ease of Use:9 Value:9
Weight: 8 (Veritable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=68730

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
I just recently got the starmax 127 and I love it. There are a couple of things that I belive could have been done diffrently. Mounting of the main tube to the mount is a little difficult under dark skys and tring to hold my red light and put the bolts in without stripping the threads is a little difficult. The second is the plastic cover over the polar allignment scope falls off with a little bump and im affraid to lose it in the night. Other than that it deffently out preforms any other scope I have ever owned if any one has any sugestions with these problems of mine please feel free to email me


Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 6 (Veritable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=41324

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
I am amazed!! My Thanks to ORION. I had almost given up on the possibility of having a high quality, inexpensive telescope. Near perfect star test and collimation. Images are suprisingly bright. Mount is good, takes about three seconds to dampen--but I probably extend the legs a bit furthe than the average person.
Planetary performance is exceptional--a wealth of detail viewing Jupiter and Saturn. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to scan the moon. No real detail on Mars.
Deep sky performance is suprisingly good--easily surpasses a 4.5 inch Newtonian I had years ago.
Diagonal is very good but I purchased Televue Everbrite. I also like the supplied Plossl but my wide field lens of choice is Orion's 30mm Ultrascopic. For higher power I'm using Televue 14mm Radian, and Pentax 7mm SMC XL.
This scope and the lenses I am using is ideal for ME.
Excellent optics, very good mount, easy to use, very portable--all at an exceptional price.
Orion's service has also been outstanding.
Content in Oklahoma.

Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 6 (Veritable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=41319

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
Based on three months of use.

Having spent an evening collminating the scope I can only say that there are wonderful sharp views with this scope at all powers. Fov is small. A little scattered light on bright objects is about the worst of it. The scope takes power very well. I've had it up to 490x on the moon and was shocked. I did loose a load of detail so whats the point? It does however get you in real close on the terminator which I found interesting. The optics are by a long way the best thing about this scope.

(Scores 8)

RA setting circles are broken RA ring is split inside the mount and jams the RA motion if locked down. When DEC axis is locked obvious rocking movement shows way to much play in the worm gear.
A middle weight mount for a light weight scope which is always good.
Hinged leg restraints are great I love them !

(Scores 5 mount needs stripping down and cleaning up and fixing)

Ease of use.
The optical tube is very SOLID and a pleasure to handle. Fixing to the mount can be a bit tricky even with the supplied rosette style fixing screws. Mounting rail on tube was not completely screwed into the optical tube causing some flexure.
Focus knob became completely loose on third day of use. (you can imagine how far my face dropped)
Loose black chips of paint internally on the Primary mirror.
The scope has held collmination since I adjusted it.
No shift of image is noticed during focus.
No mirror flop noticed whilst changing the tube orientation.
Out of the box there were to many things that needed to be addressed before the scope actually became predictable in its use. However none of them stopped me pointing the scope the first night and getting some views.
I'm six foot one and seventeen stone I can pick the whole scope up with one hand long enough to retract one of the legs. The scope is easy to handle, move about and set up it stays assembled all of the time. All of the adjustments you might need to make to the mount or scope are there you just need a selection of quality spanners and screw drivers to get the best out of them. dump the supplied tools.

(I've scored it 6 for ease of use because of having to finish the assembly myself. "Loose focus knobs and mounting rail" The paint flecks were moved buy carful rotation of the tube untill they fell behind the primary mirror. Issues with the mount really lower this score.)

With respect to optical performace its great value for money no doubt about it. The fit and finish however are not of the same standard.

(scores 7)

The views are excellent. Portabilty is excellent. I really like using this scope it obvious to me that a refractor of reflector of similar collective size might not be so easy to live with considering this scopes small size.

(scores 7)

If I was to ponder my next upgrade right now ! as we all do from time to time I would say I dont really think I need a new scope what I need is a higher quality mount. Not a bigger mount just one with a much better build quality.


Overall Rating: 7
Optics:8 Mount:5 Ease of Use:6 Value:7
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=164094

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
This is an amazing scope for the money. The images are tack sharp. I had mine up to 277x on two different nights, and the images were razor sharp. Very surprising for such a mass produced scope. The focus is very nice - slow enough to hit the "sweet spot" every time. Compared it directly to an 8 inch SCT and an 8 inch dob on the same night - it provided very similar views of Saturn and the Moon at 200x plus but had higher contrast than either of the 8 inch units. I'm sure on deep sky stuff, the 8 inchers would pull away, though. The mount is solid and the RA drive tracks very smoothly. Even the 6x30 finder is quite useful - love the quick release knob and 2 knob alignment - very easy! The Orion dew cap has kept my corrector dew free on three sub-zero sessions thus far. In summary, this is about as close as you can get to an all purpose portable scope. It gobbles up power like an APO, and gives awesome, contrasty views.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:8 Value:9
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=152319

Orion StarMax 127mm Mak-Cass
Wow! I am very impressed with the Apex/Starmax 127. Actually, I purchased the Apex version which is identical to the Starmax versions optical tube except that it comes with a 45 degree diagonal as opposed to a 90 degree one.

The views of the moon through this scope are absolutely stunning! In addition, I have viewed Saturn and it is the best view of Saturn that I have seen through a telescope to date. The Cassini division was clearly visible with much contrast and good color on the planet. No false color was visible at all. I also have a Celestron CR150-HD and I have to say that the view of Saturn in the Apex beat the CR150 by a close margin. The main difference here being a tad of false color in the CR150 and none in the Apex/Starmax. This being the case, I must have received one with excellent, first rate optics! I can't wait to turn this scope on Jupiter next.

This telescope is great for viewing planets, the moon and terrestrial delights, but not so great viewing deep sky objects due to its 1540mm f/12.1 focal length/ratio.

I added my Apex to an Orion SVD mount which seems to suit this telescope very well. All in all a very classy looking setup indeed.

It is true that you need to allow the telescope to cool off before viewing through it. More time is needed the colder it is outside.

Definitely, this telescope is well worth the money paid for it and I would recommend it hands down.

Frank C.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:10 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=150329

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