Meade StarNavigator NG 90 Maksutov Review: “Budget” Motors

Meade StarNavigator NG 90 is a great planetary performer…but it has its flaws.

7.5

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Review

StarNavigator NG 90 is a strong planetary performer with an automatic mount. It will point to any object in the sky on command and keep it in the view. Of course, this feature comes with a price and not a small one. At the price range, there are 6″ Dobsonians available. The optical performance difference between a 90mm Maksutov and a 6″ Dobsonian will be vast. And you won’t encounter any motor or computer problems. I highly recommend you get a Dob if you are a beginner. 

A Dobsonian is simpler and more powerful.

If you are going for pure optical power and simplicity, a Dobsonian is the best choice. If not, Meade StarNavigator NG 90 is a decently-built computerized model. It will work well most of the time, but there is no guarantee that it won’t break for some reason, and you will need customer service in that case. You may not see your telescope for months, and the procedure might be painfully annoying.

Optics

Meade StarNavigator NG 90 is a 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain with a focal length of 1250mm. Such optical design will provide an f/13.8 focal ratio.

The optics easily gather detail from planets.

This design is incredibly easy to focus at high-magnifications, and will easily gather detail from the planets. Combined with the auto-tracking feature, this is delightful. You can get a gorgeous image of Jupiter, go inside and make coffee, come back, and Jupiter will still be in the vision. The same is true for Saturn or any other Solar System planet. 

The bad side of the f/13.8 focal ratio is the narrow field view. It will perform disappointingly with galaxies, star clusters, and nebulas. The brightness it can provide is low, and it will be hard to fit the object inside the field-view.

The field-view is narrow.

Overall, if you are going for planetary detail, StarNavigator NG 90 is an excellent choice. The Lunar Surface, Rings of Saturn, Mars, Venus will all show a significant amount of detail. But you will have sacrificed deep space performance in return.

Mount

The mount is built pretty well. It feels sturdy, and the motors work properly. 

Moving the optical tube by hand is not pleasing.

The locks feel stiff as well. But there is a major problem with the locks you should definitely know about before getting any computerized telescope. If the locks are “on”, you won’t be able to move the telescope freely. You have to unlock, point, and lock again. If the optical tube is free, the balance will be off, in contrast to manual telescopes. So using the optical tube freely is not pleasing.

Another problem is the tripod. It is aluminium, therefore, flimsy. A steel tripod would have been much better. 

GoTo and AudioStar

I still don’t understand how computerized telescopes work this well. The GoTo mount can locate thousands of objects in the night sky, and lock on it automatically. Nothing is required from the observer. But that doesn’t mean it won’t break on some occasions. In such a case, they are harder to repair than manual telescopes. You’ll almost definitely need customer service.

There is a unique feeling of finding an object in the night-sky by hand. It is probably the same feeling ancient sailors and astronomers felt thousands of years ago. Of course, it is a matter of preference. But as long as you are not keen on doing some astrophotography, I would suggest a manual mount with more optical power.

A GoTo mount is a matter of preference.

The “Audio” feature of the mount is completely unnecessary. You can ask Siri or Google Assistant about the space objects, and it would give around the same information. Or you can Google the object and not ruin the quiet atmosphere. I don’t understand why Meade wasted time on this. 

Accessories

The accessories are all average choices apart from the built-in focuser. 

The accessories are disappointingly bad.

The 26mm and 9mm eyepieces are Kellner models. They are basically better than the worst model(Huygens) in the market.

The finder is the usual red dot. It works well and is a cheap choice. I personally prefer it.

The diagonal is an amici model. It lowers the image quality quite a bit and should be changed with a star diagonal. 

The focuser is built inside the optical tube. It moves the primary mirror instead of the eyepiece. It is a great system that works well. 

Overall the eyepieces and diagonal are must-upgrades. The finder is absolutely OK for a motorized mount, and the focuser is built well.

Drawbacks

Computerized telescopes are always prone to errors, especially cheaper ones. Although they will work well %99 of the time, the %1 is frustrating.

The accessories are as cheap as they can be. Better eyepieces and a star diagonal are almost necessary.

The tripod wobbles. There is no way around it. Although it is usable, an f/13.8 telescope requires a sturdier tripod.

Conclusion

Meade StarNavigator NG 90 is a decent telescope, especially for planetary viewing. But making a computerized telescope is hard and expensive. At this price range, a manual telescope will perform vastly better. 

7.5

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