Meade StarNavigator NG 125 is the most powerful of the StarNavigator line, and the best one.
At this price range, it is hard to find “good” computerized telescopes. They are usually unstable, expensive, and prone to error. StarNavigator NG 125 still has some of those weaknesses, but this time, the pros outweigh the cons. Let me try to explain briefly.
StarNavigator is a heavy planetary performer with a 125mm aperture. It will gather detail from Solar System objects in a breeze and will track them automatically. This feature saves you from so much frustrating relocating; it is indescribable.
This the main reason why NG 125 Maksutov is vastly better than other StarNavigator’s. The GoTo mount and auto-tracking becomes worthy of the extra cost, and the aperture is much wider.
Major details such as moons of Jupiter, The Great Red Spot, surface detail on Mars, Rings of Saturn are all piece of cake for NG 125. You can also locate Neptune and Uranus as tiny blueish dots and observe phases of Venus.
NG 125 Mak. is made for Solar System observations.
It gathers %92 more light compared to a 90mm Maksutov telescope. It is almost two times more light. This difference alone lifts the StarNavigator 125 NG Maksutov to another level. The stripes of Jupiter become clear lines instead of fuzzy colors, the moons become disks instead of dots, and the Cassini Division starts to shot itself. 125mm much more powerful and future-proof.
Disappointing Deep Space Performance
StarNavigator NG 125 has an f/14.4 focal ratio, and this is as much as “Planetary” oriented as it gets. The field view is so narrow it is hard to fit the Andromeda Galaxy. You will be able to resolve star clusters, but you won’t be able to make out the whole object most of the time.
NG 125 Maksutov is not for deep space, and it won’t become a deep space performer with the most expensive of deep space eyepieces. The focal ratio is simply too high.
The mount is sturdy enough for a 125mm Maksutov optical tube. The locks are well-made, and the connections feel hard-to-break.
The sacrifice you are making with a motorized mount is the ability to move manually. Of course, you can use the optical tube freely, but it won’t balance. So you have to unlock the tube, point to an object, and lock the tube every time you use it by hand. It is not the most efficient way of doing things.
The Tripod Problem
The major problem is the tripod. It is too weak for a 125mm Maksutov connected to a motorized mount. It is made of aluminum, which at this point should have been steel. A thin aluminum tripod barely carries the 100$ refractors.
This is the most problematic part of the scope, and considering the high-magnification optical design, it is more troublesome. I recommend changing the tripod as soon as possible with a steel version, or maybe a wooden tripod.
It is sad to see such a great telescope pulled down by its tripod. If Meade decides to send a better version in the future, StarNavigator NG 125 has the potential to become one of the most recommended Maksutov’s.
GoTo and AudioStar
The GoTo computerized system works surprisingly well. You enter some information about the location you are in, you align the telescope, and you are done. It can point to thousands of space objects on command and track it by itself. It is incredibly easy to use, and I think it is the future of astronomy at this point.
If you are a beginner, I would suggest starting out with a manual mount. There is something about finding space objects by hand that is delightfully pleasing. You have to learn the night-sky and go through the same procedures Galileo, or ancient sailors went ages ago.
The “Audio” feature is one of the most unnecessary features any company has ever built. No one attempts to use it after a while and instead use their iPhones and Androids. It also has the potential to ruin a quiet night. I don’t understand why Meade wasted time with this.
In contrast to other StarNavigator’s, Meade sends better eyepieces with NG 125 Maksutov, finally. The 26mm and 9mm Plössl eyepieces are so much better than Kellner’s; they are not even comparable. These eyepieces are of average quality, but at least they will prove adequate for the beginning and won’t create the temptation for running to the nearest Astronomy store as soon as possible.
The finder is not that important with a GoTo telescope, so the fact that it is a budget red dot is completely OK. You will probably only use it while aligning at the beginning.
The amici diagonal is just disappointing at this point. It lowers the quality of the image and a must-upgrade. A star diagonal would be a great replacement.
The focuser built into the optical tube, and it is a single-speed. You won’t get fine-tuning at high magnifications with this, but it works well.
Overall the accessories are a huge improvement over other StarNavigator telescopes, except the amici diagonal.
The worst part of the package is the aluminum tripod. It is flimsy, thin, wobbly. It is everything you don’t want from a tripod.
The images are too narrow for deep space objects.
The amici diagonal should have been a star diagonal, but this is a relatively cheap accessory.
Despite its weaknesses, Meade StarNavigator NG 125 is a robust planetary performer. The auto-tracking goes so well with the Maksutov optical design; it is easy to overlook the weak tripod and the amici diagonal.
StarNavigator NG 125 is absolutely recommended for planetary performance seekers that require a GoTo.