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The Maksutov Cassegrain style of telescope has many advantages over other configurations of scopes such as the refractor or the reflector, namely it offers long focal lengths in a short tube, which makes them perfectly portable and ideal for transport to darker skies. The Skymax manages to cram 1500mm of focal length into a tube no bigger than my forearm.
It does this by combining a single mirror at the base of the tube and a lens covering the front borrowing elements from the refractor and the newtonian. This has the effect of providing highly magnified views perfectly suited to the moon and planets.
With a focal ratio of f11.8 the Skymax isn't really appropriate for deep sky observations where a low focal length producing brighter views of less magnification is desireable, but on the moon and planets it performs well for such a low cost telescope. So if you're after wide sweeping views of the night sky embedded with large distended galaxies you'd be better off elsewhere. The Skymax has a very small field of view (FOV) which is synonymous with high focal ratios.
Once collimated the Skymax does produce crisp and clean images, with a pleasing colour rendition. Jupiter at high powers is a magnificent thing and seeing the cassini division was no problem in Saturns beautiful ring system. The Maksutov design also keeps the optics clean as the tube is sealed like a refractor, anyone who's ever had to clean the primary of a reflector will know that it is not something you want to do often!
The focuser is basic and a bit small and fiddly, if you need a more precise focus at higher magnifications or for planetary imaging then it is a good idea to attach a small circle of plastic (something like a milk carton lid) to the focus knob. I was pleasantly suprised that the image shift (a movement of the object you are observing when adjusting focus) was not as significant in the Skymax as in some Schmidt/Maksutov Cassegrains I have used.
Unfortunately though my enjoyment of the Skymax was marred somewhat by the inclusion of a red dot finder over the more traditional mini telescope finders that are standard on most telescopes. The red dot finder is non magnified and so is of limited use in brighter suburaban skies such as mine. When light pollution is present you want a finder that will function like a telescope, enabling you to see fainter stars to help you navigate your telesocope, not just a red dot superimposed on a screen.
Finder scope aside (as it can always be replaced at a later date) the Skymax is a good performer, especially when you consider its sub £250 price tag.
.Excellent visual performance due to the multi coated lenses
.High magnifications with appropriate eyepieces which make it a perfect Lunar/Planetary performer
.Long focal length in a short tube makes it very transportable
.Short tube means light weight
.Closed optics means no cleaning
.Red dot finder is impractical in light polluted skies
.Does require collimation like a newtonian, but does hold collimation well
.Small field of view
.High focal ratio means dim images which is not a problem on bright objects like the moon and planets but no good for things like emission nebula or galaxies