I have spent years looking at the ITE website with its exotic Russian
Mak-Cass and Mak-Newt scopes.
I have never seen one in person and dont know anyone who owns one. I
decided to try it. The MN65 is a Maksutov-Newtonian, basically a
Newtonian with a corrector plate that holds the secondary.
I ordered a the MN65 on a Monday and it arrived on a Wed. (!!!)
The scope comes with a nice black nylon padded carry case with some
room for accessories. Grade: A
Everything on the scope is metal, even the focuser plug. There are two
finder brackets on either side of the focuser. A small camera mount
fits into either finder base. The rear of the scope has a removable
plate to allow air circulation. The primary mirror is center marked.
The scope rings/cradle is thin and flat, with felt inside. One large
center knob tightens the rings. Inside tube is well baffled. Grade: A
The Crayford focuser has an inside diameter of 2-3/16 inches or 55mm.
Inside this is a removeable 2" drawtube that holds a 1.25" drawtube.
The focuser barrel never intrudes on the light path. The two drawtubes
are clumsy and aggravating to extend to the proper length, especially
when non-parfocal oculars are used. On the plus side all the adapters
are compression-ring, not set-screw. The in-out motion is smooth. This
is the least user-friendly focuser I've ever seen. (Im used to the JMI DX crayford). Grade: D minus
The finder scope contains the only plastic parts, the eyepiece cap and
the tips of the holding screws.(A nice touch) Its a 50mm straight-thru
finder with etched crosshairs. Optically its very sharp, but the
crosshairs are invisible at night. The body is thick metal, also the
objective cap. The eyepiece rotates to focus. The entire thing is heavy
like a 4-D cell Maglite. Mechanically and optically sound but poor
functionality. Grade: C
Field test. Wed night was the first good clear night in two weeks. Very
cold and dry. Transparent but turbulent skies. The Zodiacal light was
brighter than the Milky Way and extended almost to the meridian. I
allowed the scope to cool for 30 minutes before using. Eyepieces: TV Plossls and various orthoscopics.
Optically the views are stunning. STUNNING! With a 32mm plossl ep the
entire Orions's sword was visible. With a 20mm plossl 4 trapezium stars
were seen. Detail was visible in the nebulosity, the stars focused to
nice round points against a black background. There is still some coma
or field curvature seen at the very edges for the fov, but you have to
look for it (18mm Ortho). Very minimal, say the outer 3% of the fov.
With a 6mm Orthoscopic, concentric rings were seen inside and outside
of focus. Im no optical expert but the star test looked good. Sirius at
150x was a blur(poor seeing + low altitude), but notably absent were spikes from spider vanes as
seen in a regular Newtonian. No false color noted on any bright stars.
Many faint field stars were seen. Back in Orion, NGC 2024 was spotted
next to Zeta Ori, with that luminary in the field. The last target was
M35. With a 20mm plossl it appeared as a bright sprinkling of stars,
one notably orange. Smaller and fainter NGC 2158 was easily seen and
distinct next to M35. Optical Grade: A++
My observing was very limited due to the cold. I was sweating under my
winter clothes, but my ep's sat in the cold car all day. The moisture from
my breath frose instantly on the eyelens of each ocular. Temperature
was in the low 20's.
Overall Impression: I have very mixed feelings about this scope. Its
wonderfull to look thru, but the focuser is a pain. When moving the
scope the eyepiece always seemed to be at an inconvenient location, due
to the equatorial mounting. This made the finder awkward to use also.
With an equatorially mounted refractor, its simple to rotate the
diagonal for eyepiece adjustment. This scope is optimal for imaging due
to its wide field, large focuser and mirror placement. Im a visual
observer only, these features dont help me much. Im not used to
fumbling with the focuser drawtube when changing ep's. I also dont like the corrector plate so exposed. I find myself almost grabbing the front lip of the scope like my old dob.
I'll give this scope a few more nights before I decide if the optics
outweigh the awkward functionality. You may see this scope in the classifieds soon. Im terribly used to alt-az scopes. This is my first non-refractor on an Eq mount.