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Sarblue Mak60 With Freestanding Tripod Telescope: Partially Recommended

The SarBlue Mak60 is a great telescope, though the ordinary photo tripod it’s sold with is far from a great astronomical mount for the job.

The SarBlue Mak60 comes in three versions: two tabletop mounts (a tiny tripod and a Dobsonian mount) as well as the freestanding tripod-mounted version reviewed here. The Dobsonian-mounted version of the Mak60 is preferable, though the tripod-mounted version is acceptable.

The SarBlue Mak60 offers excellent portability and delivers planetary views that compete favorably with 100mm f/4 tabletop Dobsonians. This is due in part to the Mak60’s lack of collimation requirements and the longer focal length, which makes it easier to achieve higher magnifications suitable for viewing the planets coupled with its sharp optics. The tripod-mounted Mak60 is alright if you really need a scope that can be set up anywhere without the constraints of a steady surface to put it on, though you could also just buy a higher-quality photo tripod for one of the other models and it’s far from an ideal setup with the stock unit, as well as being vastly inferior to the tabletop Dobsonian mounted version. The Mak60 is also inferior to even a pair of good 7×50 binoculars for most deep-sky viewing due to its narrow field of view and tiny aperture.

How It Stacks Up

Ranks #5 of 28 ~$150 telescopes

Rank 1
4.25
Rank 5
Sarblue Mak60 With Freestanding Tripod
3.8
What We Like

  • Great optics
  • Extremely compact optical tube
  • Easy to use


What We Don't Like

  • Tripod is low-quality, mostly plastic, and not very easy to aim
  • Compactness of the telescope is basically negated by the tripod
  • Narrow field of view & small aperture limit what you can see


Bottom Line
Partially Recommended

The tripod-mounted SarBlue Mak60 is okay, but the unsteady and jerky tripod limits the capabilities of the telescope’s sharp optics and steadier options exist at the same price range.

Shop Now

SarBlue telescopes, of the date of this writing, is sold as an Amazon exclusive.

The Mak60 Optical Tube

The SarBlue Mak60 is a 60mm f/12.5 Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope with a focal length of 800mm. While 800mm is not a particularly long focal length for a telescope, it results in magnifications that produce small exit pupils and a limited field of view when used with a small telescope like the Mak60. The field of view of the Mak60 is further constrained by the small baffle inside the telescope and the 0.965″ diameter fitting of the rear adapter (the included star diagonal can be used with standard 1.25″ eyepieces). This will cause vignetting with many wide-angle 1.25” eyepieces, limiting your achievable field of view to under 1.5 degrees, or about triple the angular diameter of the Moon in the sky. Telescopes ten times the size of the Mak60 can achieve a nearly equal field of view.

Sarblue Tabletop with Tripod in the box it came with

The Mak60 is made out of polycarbonate plastic, essentially the same stuff as a disposable water bottle, and is about the same size at only 8” (200mm) long and a bit under 3” (76mm) wide. The optics of the Mak60 are excellent, as evidenced by a perfect star test that rivaled premium telescopes costing thousands of dollars. 

As with most Maksutov-Cassegrain and other catadioptric telescopes, the Mak60 features a number of interior baffles and an internal, moving-mirror focuser. Focusing the Mak60 is achieved by turning a knob at the back of the telescope, which moves the primary mirror up and down the tube to adjust the position of the focal plane while the hardware attached to the rear of the telescope remains fixed. It’s also possible to view the optics and baffles within the Mak60 by removing the side panel of the telescope tube, which is a fun and educational bonus but also invites dust and debris inside whenever you pop it off.

Sarblue optical tube opened

To attach to its supplied tripod, the Mak60’s tube has ¼ 20 threaded inserts attached to the bottom for any standard tripod mounting screw.

Accessories

The SarBlue Mak60 includes a prism star diagonal, a single 1.25” 20mm eyepiece (40x), and a 5×24 finder scope. The 20mm eyepiece is made of polycarbonate plastic, like the telescope’s optical tube and prism star diagonal, though the optics are thankfully glass. It is labeled as a Kellner eyepiece but is actually a different optical design with three lens elements. It has an apparent field of view of about 50 degrees and is fairly sharp. However, 40x magnification does not provide the widest possible field of view with the Mak60, nor is it really sufficient for detailed planetary viewing, so additional 1.25” oculars are necessary.

The Mak60’s unusual prism star diagonal is also made of plastic and converts the telescope’s 0.965″ rear port to a regular 1.25″ eyepiece holder diameter. It is an Amici prism, which corrects left-right images so you can more easily use the scope for terrestrial viewing. The Amici prism diagonal is overall good and does not limit the Mak60’s optical performance if you can ignore the glare and diffraction spike produced by the Amici prism design on bright targets.

The tripod-mounted Mak60 package includes a 5×24 finder scope with plastic optics and a plastic body. It is not very sharp optically and doesn’t reveal faint stars or otherwise provide advantages over a red dot unit, but it works well enough for aiming the scope.

An extremely basic smartphone adapter is provided with the Mak60 and can fit onto the supplied 1.25” eyepiece and many others. However, it runs the risk of causing the telescope to move away from what you’re pointing at or even tip over the tripod from the weight of your smartphone, and you may not have much luck using it. The only purpose of a smartphone adapter is really for Moon photos anyway.

Tripod

The tripod-mounted Mak60 comes with a generic, mostly plastic photo tripod that has the usual pan-tilt head, ¼ 20 mounting screw, extendable legs, center column, and locks of any other cheap photo tripod. The Mak60 is so light that the typical balance issues that occur when the scope/tripod is aimed high in the sky are not as much of an issue as they are with larger and heavier instruments. However, the usual issues with such a tripod for astronomical use remain. The total lack of fine adjustments combined with the shakiness of such a lightweight tripod mean that aiming the Mak60 at even 40x with the stock eyepiece can be a bit annoying, as is making the frequent adjustments needed to keep a target in the field of view as the Earth rotates. Using higher magnifications worsens the issue.

Should I buy a Used SarBlue Mak60 w/Tripod?

If you can get one at a low price without damage to any of its plastic parts or corrosion to the optics, a used Mak60 should be fine. The tripod is probably the most fragile part of the setup, however.

Alternative Recommendations

The tripod-mounted SarBlue Mak60 is not one of our preferred picks in its price range; we’d recommend the tabletop Dobsonian mounted edition instead or going with a larger aperture Dobsonian telescope.

Under $200

  • The tabletop Dobsonian mounted SarBlue Mak60 offers the same optics and accessories but without the stability and fine adjustment issues of the tripod; you can easily attach the optical tube to your own high-quality photo tripod if you wish anyways.
  • The Zhumell Z100/Orion SkyScanner 100 offer significantly more light-gathering ability and resolving power than the tiny Mak60, as well as a much wider achievable field of view more suitable for viewing deep-sky objects. These telescopes do require a dedicated planetary eyepiece (not included) for high-power views, however, which can be harder to find and more expensive than a simpler ocular for the Mak60.

$200-$300

  • The Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P offers more than quadruple the light-gathering ability and twice the resolving power of the Mak60. Its collapsible tube and tabletop Dobsonian mount make it extremely compact and easy to transport, and the included accessories are decent too. A 150mm version, the Heritage 150P, is also available, as are GoTo versions of both telescopes under the Sky-Watcher Virtuoso GTi line.
  • The Zhumell Z114/Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro have slightly more aperture than the 100mm tabletop Dobsonian models and are slightly sharper optically, as well as a little easier to be collimated by the user. These telescopes significantly outperform the Mak60 for both deep-sky and planetary viewing.

Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations

If you are considering purchasing accessories for the SarBlue Mak60, it may be better to save your budget for a larger telescope instead. However, the addition of a higher-magnification planetary eyepiece in the 11–6.5mm focal length range (72–125x) will significantly improve your views of the Moon, planets, and double stars. The 9mm generic redline/goldline eyepiece (89x) is our top pick for such an eyepiece and is fairly sharp as well as affordable.

What can you see?

The Mak60’s small aperture, which limits its light-gathering power, combined with its narrow field of view, make it more suited for viewing the Moon and planets than deep-sky objects. It is capable of showing you the phases of Venus and Mercury (the latter requiring more than 40x magnification to resolve) and offers clear views of lunar features such as craters, mountains, and ridges as small as a few miles across. With a high-power eyepiece, you may be able to see some dark markings on Mars, along with its polar ice caps, when the planet is close to Earth. Jupiter’s four large moons, cloud belts, and the Great Red Spot are also visible through the Mak60. When the four Galilean moons of Jupiter transit, the Mak60 can resolve the disks and shadows of larger Ganymede and Callisto under good conditions, though Europa and Io are typically beyond its reach. You can also see the Cassini Division in Saturn’s rings, a few of Saturn’s moons, and the planet’s cloud belts. Uranus and Neptune are indiscernible from the stars, and their moons are too faint to see with only 60mm of aperture; Pluto requires a telescope with an aperture 3–4 times that of the Mak60 to be visible even under the best conditions.

Most deep-sky objects are fairly unremarkable in a 60mm telescope, even under dark skies, and those that are—the largest nebulae and star clusters—are too big to look good at the boxed-in field of view and high magnifications the Mak60 is stuck with. Galaxies, globular clusters, and planetary nebulae are invisible or faint smears at best. The Orion Nebula and Lagoon Nebula show their brightest gaseous regions, along with star clusters within. A few of the smaller but bright open star clusters are still nice to look at thanks to the pinpoint stars the Mak60 delivers, but a large scope shows fainter stars and reveals more vivid colors as well as delivering far more capability in viewing other deep-sky objects.

Performance Score Of Sarblue Mak60 With Freestanding Tripod

3.8

Quantitative measurements of how the telescope performs in various performance categories:

Optics

5/5

Focuser

5/5

Mount

3/5

Planetary

5/5

Rich Field

2/5

Accessories

4/5

Usability

4/5

Portability

5/5

Value

3/5

Partially Recommended

Where to Buy?

Other Choices:

An amateur astronomer and telescope maker from Connecticut who has been featured on TIME Magazine, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, La Vanguardia, and The Guardian.

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