Marana - Ultralight Telescope

Introducing Maranaan all Australian designed and built ultralight dobsonian telescope.

Marana, an Australian Aboriginal word meaning 'stars', is an individually handcrafted dobsonian that follows the very principles espoused by John Dobson - large bearing diameters, a balanced optical tube assembly, appropriate material selection and a rigid mount. 

The award winning Marana has been designed as an ultimate 'travel scope'.  A fine blend of minimum stowage size, and maximizing the qualities of a fine dob. Core to our design philosophy is that "ultralight" does not need to equate with 'fragile'.  A design that protects the very heart of the telescope, and makes the most of this protection to maximise working properties.  There is a balance that needs to be met between security of the instrument and minimalist design.  Strip down the instrument to a framework, and the instrument becomes excessively fragile.  Overdo the security, bulk becomes excessive and mechanical properties suffer.  These two extremes undermine what a 'travel scope' should provide.  Marana is a solid unit.  A deliberate design strategy that has evolved from using and transporting telescopes regularly over long distances, over all manner of roads, and with all manner of equipment packed around our instruments.

The components that have been used have been selected provide a minimum of bulk and the ultimate in quality.  Central to this is the new helical focuser co-designed with Kineoptics

Kineoptics' brilliant HC-2 focuser has been modified, exclusively to our request, to allow the use of a step-down ring onto the end of the focuser drawtube so 2" filters can be used.  This eliminates the constant refitting of the 2" filter to other 2" eyepieces.  It also allows 1.25" eyepieces to also make use of 2" filters.  Attaching filter slides or wheels to Marana is not only impractical, and in most cases impossible, and would add considerably to the top end weight of Marana.  This new modified HC-2 focuser offers some of the flexibility of filter slides without any of the additional weight. 

Marana stows away into its own mount, with all its standard components being housed within its own mount, and a set of carbon fibre poles.  The more rectangular mount, rather than more square, allows for larger altitude bearings to be utilised - no brake or clutch on this scope, so the action in altitude remains the same. 

An ultralight dobsonian telescope that boasts not just a robust mirror box, but also a detachable secondary mirror with its own incorporated dew heater, encoder couplings included as standard (just add your own Nexus system and encoders), and a gorgeous new helical focuser from Kineoptics with a new innovative development that overcomes the difficulties of using a weighty filter slide or filter wheel in a scope design that is inherently balance sensitive.

New addition to Gondwana Telescopes

We are now also able to offer the line of Digital Setting Circles and WiFi Nexus range from Astro Devices.

The dimensions of the 12" Marana when stowed are 20cm tall, 60cm wide by 40cm deep, plus the set of poles.  The weight of the stowed configuration is 21kg.  These dimensions and weight can vary according to the actual primary mirror being used as the entire telescope is built around the primary mirror.

There is an extensive range of options, such as two different ‘shroud’ solutions, a simple custom counter weight system to deal with the heaviest of eyepieces and visual accessories.  Even a ‘scope swag’ that not only protects the stowed instrument, but helps keep the assembly area clean while erecting the scope.


To allow for a maximum in optics selection, we can allow for three different sources of optics:

1,  donor optics from an existing telescope
2,  customer sourced new optics
3,  supply a set of optics ourselves

We have long been looking for a company that produces excellent optics at an affordable price.  While there are good cheaper optics, we now offer even better optics that do cost a little more, but we feel better compliment the quality instruments that we produce.  This quest for good optics is a relentless one from us.

You can find other suppliers of finished optics from the "Links" page.

Marana is availble only in 12" from us, ability to accomodate some variation in aperture size when using other optics.


The Marana design allows for some customising flexibility.  Note that Marana has been carefully designed to maximise portability.  Customising to, for example, a larger and heavier focuser will have a significant affect on the OTA's centre of gravity.  This in turn will influence the balance properties of the telescope.  Without changing significantly the size of the altitude bearings (and hence the size of the mount/box), additional counterweights will need to be used.

Customizing, changing the specifications and design of Marana will incurr additional fees.

Production time

Fabrication time for the 12" Marana is from 14 weeks from receipt of the optics.  This can increase depending on the level of customising that is involved.  There is also a 4 day drying out period for the paint before the final assembly takes place.  This drying out phase allows the paint and varnish to harden to an acceptable level, and it also reduces the strong smell of the paint volatiles.


Marana has a range of accessories offered to enhance transportation, stray light and dust control, and other innovative products.
Telescope Swag
At Gondwana Telescopes, our experience has taught us that when travelling, where one sets up a telescope may not be a totally level or clean situation.  This unique 'wrap' is designed to not only protect the stowed Marana during transport, but also provides a clean surface to set up Marana on.  Made of two layers of tough canvas and interanally padded.  The hook and loop straps securely hold the Swag in place.
Light Baffle and Cuff
The secondary cage light baffle and unique mirror box 'cuff' are made from black foam rubber.  The mirror box 'cuff' is a design developed by Gondwana Telescopes that offer not only a reduced profile shroud that reduces the 'sail' like effect that a full shroud is susceptible to.  It also works to reduce dust that is kicked at a dry and dusty observing site settling on the primary mirror.

Displays and Demonstrations by Gondwana Telescopes

Keep a look out in the News and Events page for where Gondwana Telescopes will be having displays and demonstrations of Marana and Karee!