Maksutov-Cassegrain Catadioptric Telescopes
- Optical Design: Maksutov-Cassegrain
- Telescope Aperture: 179mm (7")
- Focal Ratio: f/15
- Telescope Mount Type: Equatorial
- Type of Electronics: Computerized GoTo
Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes are very popular, especially in smaller apertures, due to their super portability and beautiful high-contrast views. A Maksutov-Cassegrain, also referred to as a Mak-Cass or more simply, a "Mak" telescope, is a member of the catadioptric telescope family and uses both mirrors and lenses in its folded optical design. One of the most popular Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes on the market today is the Meade ETX. This very compact telescope comes in two apertures (90mm & 125mm) with optical tube assemblies that are very short when compared to other telescope designs. This means you can pack a Mak-Cass telescope in a small case that can travel with you, even on an airplane!
A Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, or SCT, is very similar to a Maksutov-Cassegrain in their optics-to-tube-size ratio, but there are a few differences that a savvy consumer should know about before choosing between the two. The most important difference is the focal length, or the distance that starlight must travel once it enters the telescope before it comes to focus. A Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope has a longer focal length than a SCT. In fact, Mak-Cass telescopes have a focal length that is usually 5-7 times the length of their tube assembly!
Longer focal length telescopes, like Maksutov-Cassegrain's and classic refractors, produce more magnification than faster telescope designs, either through an eyepiece or all on their own, and therefore reveal a narrower field of view. You will also enjoy a darker background sky through a Mak telescope due to its longer focal length. This makes planetary viewing and observations of bright deep sky objects like tightly packed globular clusters or planetary nebulae a real pleasure. A Maksutov-Cassegrain also makes the perfect terrestrial spotting scope and can easily become a long lens when coupled with a DSLR for high magnification photography.