Astrophotography gear lust alert

Orion 190mm f/5.3 Maksutov-Newtonian. Nom.

Would I ever like to lay my hands on one of Orion’s newly announced 190-mm f/5.3 Maksutov-Newtonian astrographs (an astrograph is a telescope specialized for photography). Of course, I’d need a fairly robust equatorial mount first, and a place to put it on a semi-permanent basis. Oh, and $1,300.

As usual, I gravitate towards the obscure and unique corners of my interests. Maksutov-Newtonians are weird telescopes: most Maksutovs on the market are Maksutov-Cassegrains; Mak-Newts combine the Maksutov corrector plate with a Newtonian reflector configuration. The upshot is that they have a reputation for superior image quality — certainly better than other catadioptric telescopes (e.g., Schmidt-Cassegrains), and approaching that of premium Dobs and apochromatic refractors, as this comparison demonstrates. In short, damn good for astrophotography, which seems to be Orion’s target lately — they’ve announced a six-megapixel CCD and a cheap autoguider, for example, while Celestron and Meade futz around with handheld planetariums.

Most Mak-Newts come from Russia, although Ottawa-based Ceravolo used to make them. Orion imported several from Intes a while back; I wonder where this new one comes from. Orion’s marketing copy highlights its component quality; earlier Russian imports apparently had first-rate optics but were a little unrefined otherwise. I look forward to reading the reviews. With any luck, it’ll still be on the market when I’m ready for one.