Last updated: 31 October 1999

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to the original ETX model, ETX-90EC, and the ETX-125EC are posted on other pages as appropriate. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	Meade Site
Sent:	Saturday, October 30, 1999 18:15:40
From:	GrumpaBob@aol.com
Meade has finally added the ETX-125EC to their product information list
on their site, www.meade.com

Bob Fandrich

Subject:	 ETX-125 central obstruction question, yet again
Sent:	Saturday, October 30, 1999 17:16:43
From:	jks@saggese.net (JK Saggese)
Regarding the significance of the ETX-125's central obstruction, and the
ongoing debate surrounding it, I can't help noticing that Mr. Gibbons
and Mr. Kretsch seem to disagree on a point of fact in a few of their
posts.  "...[A]s the Maksutov corrector 'flares' the incoming light
outward, the oversized mirror only prevents a ~10% loss of light missing
the edge of the primary mirror, if it was the same diameter as the
corrector aperture."  (Mr. Kretsch).

"The corrector lens of the ETX-125 is a *very* weak meniscus element,
which diverges light by a slight amount.  This divergence is nowhere
near the angle displayed by the conical secondary baffle tube.... The
secondary baffle of the ETX-125 does indeed increase the scope's true
obstruction. This blockage is nearly 2" in size, of which the spot
secondary mirror contributes the stated (by Meade) 1.55 [inches]" (Mr.

These both sound quite logical but contradictory to each other.  Does
the Maksutov corrector lens significantly alter the incoming light path
or doesn't it?  It's quite possible I'm misreading one or both of the
above quotes or not understanding them in context, but they seem to me
to disagree on a point of fact.  As such I would think it could be
objectively resolved pretty easily, though I have no idea where or how,
short of performing a little experiment in wave physics, which I'm not
equipped to do.

I should point out that I'm not trying to criticize either of these
gentlemen, both of whom are regular posters to this forum who I will
credit with knowing a whole bunch more about optics than I do.  I'm just
curious about some of the physical properties of the Mak design we all
like so much.

JK Saggese

Subject:	 ETX/Nexstar Spec Page & some other things
Sent:	Wednesday, October 27, 1999 19:46:26
From:	ka8wtk@raex.com (Bill Ramsey)
Like you, I think accuracy in the spec listing is important. The listing
of specs is growing and this makes for a more informed consumer. There
are, however, some things contained in the listing that are not specs or
are in the subjective realm. I know you state in your header that these
things are there, but I hope they could be addressed. In my opinion
these would be:
1:  The added section on the Focuser. Both the ETX and NexStar sides
contain subjective information better contained in a comparison review.
2:  "Positioned to hit your nose when observing through main optics" I
have had my ETX out a couple of times where the public has had a chance
to look through the scope and have not seen anyone hit their nose on the
finder yet. I haven't had the problem my self. This appears to be a
matter of fit for the individual and not a spec or necessarily a fact.
3:  "Cheap insubstantial feel. Too Flexible" Again, not a spec but based
on a subjective opinion. Again, reviews are the place for comments like
4:  " Deep Space: not recommended by manufacture" should be amended to
say "Deep Space: not recommended by manufacture due to lack of special
electronic and optical guiding devices not available for this telescope"
as the manual states. I would think that Meade will some day offer these
for the 125 or some after market shop will do it for them.
5: IMO the line "Deep Sky Photography: no" and the corresponding line on
the NexStar side should be deleted as superseded by the #4 above on both
sides of the list.

OK, spoke my piece on that....time to move on.

I have just received a new top plate for my Megapod that will allow the
125 to be polar aligned properly. The original plate did not allow the
correct orientation of the scope. I will now begin working on an article
for your page about this tripod. So far, I am impressed. It looks like a
good buy.

Mine is a repaired/rebuilt unit from the first batch and I have no
complaints about the job Meade did. The only concern I had was the
length of time it took. Knowing now what was done to correct the
problems, I can understand the delay. I won't get all gushy and
emotional about the scope. It should be enough to say that I have
basically put it through the same paces that S&T did and can find no
fault in the unit. I am learning how to properly align the scope and am
finding the Autostar capable of putting objects in the FOV about 90% of
the time with the standard 26mm eyepiece. I think I can increase this by
being more careful in alignment and leveling. I am waiting to see if
this improves in polar mode.

Keep up the good work Mike. I have enjoyed your page for some time now.
You do a valuable service to the astronomical community. Don't let the
"noise" generated by a few rob you of the enjoyment you get helping the
rest of us.


Subject:	 ETX-125 central obstruction
Sent:	Wednesday, October 27, 1999 04:44:13
From:	kretschk@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
Re: Philippe Subra's ETX-125 secondary baffle question. (25th October,

The contrast performance is limited not by the light rays at the mirror
but by the light rays at the corrector. The Maksutov corrector affects
rays strongly at the edges (to correct for spherical abberation of the
primary mirror) and very little towards the centre. For the ETX-125, the
central obstruction IS very close to 40% as the deviation of the rays
near the secondary mirror and baffle is practically zero. The baffle
will 'get in the way'.

In practice this affects the contrast performance of the telescope, and
as the S&T review points out, the system is similar in contrast
performance to an optically perfect, unobstructed 3" scope. This is
however only a rough approximation. For small details approaching the
diffraction limit, and for large extended objects, the ETX-125 (and
Nexstar) will perform similar to a 5" refractor and win a comparison
with a 3". Planetary details, often  in the middle of the range, are
affected somewhat in contrast. Visually, the brain will tend to average
all this out. Compared to 5" refractor, no Schmidt- or
Maksutov-Cassegrain scope will win!

A discussion of contrast ratios and modulation transfer functions (which
determines the telescope's contrast performance) can be found at
perso.club-internet.fr/legault/obstruction.html with thanks to
Wayne Gatschet for this link (21st September, ETX-125 archive).

Also, as the Maksutov corrector 'flares' the incoming light outward, the
oversized mirror only prevents a ~10% loss of light missing the edge of
the primary mirror, if it was the same diameter as the corrector
aperture. The ETX-125 and NexStar should be very similar in performance,
as they have the same clear aperture and same central obstruction. By
all accounts, they are indeed similar, though both Mike and Jordan
Blessing give the ETX the edge for planetary viewing. Will Meade change
the central baffle? They probably don't have to, and I'm sure they had
good reason to make it the way it is.

Best regards, and clear skies,


- - - - -
Kevin P. Kretsch
Photonic Materials Group,
Department of Physics,
Trinity College, Dublin 2, IRELAND.

Tel:  +353 1 608 1324
Fax:  +353 1 671 1759
E-Mail:  kretschk@tcd.ie

Some day I'll write a short scentence.

Subject:	 ETX 125 #2
Sent:	Tuesday, October 26, 1999 22:07:19
From:	tcoatanzo@netway.com (tony costanzo)
Haven't emailed you in a while, I had received one of the first 125etx's
but sent it back for collimation and focus shift problems. Meade finally
sent a scope back about a week ago. Here is an updated report.

Out of the box, I immediately noticed a rattling in the forkmount right
arm, (the arm that contains the dec motor). It sounds like a screw or
another foreign object .The scope was received with extra packing, two
pieces of stiff foam that were difficult to remove.

Here is the bad news, the focus binds on the half turn and the
collimation is still off. An out of focus test shows that the central
obstruction is positioned slightly toward 2:00. However, this unit seems
to have other optical problems as well. Diffraction rings are only
visable from 5:00 to 11:00. Ronchi test reveal that at least one of the
optical componets has a slight turned down edge, probably the primary.

I called Meade and was told to send the unit back for repair. I told the
customer service rep not to send me the same telescope or one with
problems and he assured me he would personally qc the unit before it was
sent back to me, lets see what happens next.

The unit that I received was not the original one that I sent in, my
first unit did not have any optical flaws, just bad collimation and
image shift . Anyway, I am hoping that what I recieved was a fluke, I
have read many positive reviews of the new updated units. Have you
received any other negative comments or reports??
Tony C   tcostanzo@netway.com

Subject:	 125
Sent:	Tuesday, October 26, 1999 20:15:29
From:	vangundy@hoosierlink.net (jefferson vangundy)
Is there an operating tempture for the ETX 125 and if there is what is
it.  Thanks for the great site.
Mike here: Not that I've seen documented. I've used the ETX-90RA on days above 90 degrees and I've seen reports of it being used in cold weather.

Subject:	 Responses from Meade
Sent:	Tuesday, October 26, 1999 17:27:11
From:	drdano@sprynet.com (Dan Odom)
I really appreciate Meade making comments and clarifications on your
site.  That is both gutsy and classy... having said that I would add
that Meade should stick to giving facts about their own product and not
take potshots at Celestron.  It makes you wonder why they are being so
defensive.  You have in my mind completely redeemed yourself (if you
needed to) by your honest candor about the comparisons and posting
everything, including the cuts at you personally.

Both scopes are really pretty amazing, one may be better in one area the
other better in another.  I selected first the 125, then with problems
occuring traded it in for a N5.  I am pleased with the N5, but then, I
probably would have been pleased with the 125 if it didn't have the
problems mine had.

Hopefully you will make this a small scope site.  It almost is anyway.
Your site is far and away the best telescope site on the Net.  It would
be really neat for us N5ers, and the lucky Questar people, and other
small scope people to have the kind of resource you provide for the
ETXs. Imagine the discussions that we could all have, and the help we
could give each other in our hobby.  Maybe then Celestron would feel
welcome to add comments and respond to questions from users (spell that
paying customers) as well.  Perhaps we could organize a small scope star
party one of these days to attach faces with the names we see sending in
e-mails and do all those side by side comparisons everyone keeps saying
they would like to do. (Or maybe a plan for a small scope (5" and under)
set up area at the Texas Star Party.

  Thanks again for your site.

Subject:	 Re. advice to Philippe Subra (ETX-125/EC)
Sent:	Tuesday, October 26, 1999 12:12:57
From:	gibbonsc@mcmail.cis.McMaster.CA (Clive Gibbons)
A few points re. your response to Mr. Subra's questions about the
ETX-125 central obstruction. The corrector lens of the ETX-125 is a
*very* weak meniscus element, which diverges light by a slight amount.
This divergence is nowhere near the angle displayed by the conical
secondary baffle tube. The ETX's oversized primary mirror is such to
allow full on-axis illumination and to improve off-axis illumination. A
5" Mak of the ETX's design needs only a small amount of primary mirror
"oversize" to deliver full illumination on-axis. The secondary baffle of
the ETX-125 does indeed increase the scope's true obstruction. This
blockage is nearly 2" in size, of which the spot secondary mirror
contributes the stated (by Meade) 1.55".

Further to Mr. Subra's comments; the ETX-90 secondary baffle does
increase the scope's obstruction beyond what the secondary mirror
measures, but not by much. It adds approx. 0.1", which is proportionally
smaller than what's found in the ETX-125 and 7" Maks. This is largely
due to the 90's more truncated secondary baffle cone.


	Clive Gibbons                                           
	Technician, McMaster University, 
	School of Geography and Geology.         

Subject:	 ETX-125 Questions and Problems
Sent:	Tuesday, October 26, 1999 11:21:36
From:	jsteve1@sprynet.com (John Stevenson)
I just received my ETX-125EC yesterday (my first telescope) and ran into
these problems/questions out of the box. If anyone has guidance/answers
to these problems, I could use any help I can get.

1. When I mounted the telescope to the Deluxe Field Tripod using the
mounting plate provided with the scope, I found that after tightening
the attachment knobs as much as seemed prudent there was still daylight
between the tripod mounting plate and the mounting plate that fits onto
the scope base. The scope will rock laterally with  slight pressure.
This doesn't seem correct. Did I do something wrong in assembly?

2. I found a small set screw wedged in one of the catches of the battery
compartment cover. I noted that there was a set screw missing from the
focus knob and attempted to put the recovered screw into the hole in the
knob but was met with apparently damaged threads so I stopped messing
with it. It seems to be the right size. However, this may not matter,

3. The focus knob and shaft are rattling loosely in the hole where the
shaft goes into the scope and turning the knob has zero effect on
focusing. The knob/shaft assembly is obviously unattached inside the
scope. The instruction manual only says to use the focusing knob. Is
there an unpublished trick to get the focusing mechanism to work, or do
I have a defective unit?

4. When using the hand controller to slew the scope around in azimuth
the scope will (intermittently) turn a few (10-15) degrees and stop til
I release the button and repress it. It did this continuously last
night, but seemed to work somewhat better this morning as I was able to
rotate it all the way to the auto-stop with only one momentary
interruption in power to the motor. I admit that I haven't done
extensive experimentation with this problem, but it is a bit
disconcerting when several other apparent problems exist out of the box.

Also, is the Meade manual correct when it says under "Quick Tips" on
page 6 "The horizontal limit stop prevents the telescope from rotating
more than 630 degrees to avoid damage to the internal wiring."?

Thanks for being a resource.

John Stevenson
Mike here: First off, I would return the unit to the dealer. The lose focus knob probably occurred in shipping and needs to be corrected. For the tripod bolts, you can call Meade and ask for replacements for the ETX-125EC or you can use a couple of washers. I also noted the RA pause when slewing long distances with the standard controller on an ETX-90EC. And to avoid cord wrapping around the rotational axis, there is a limit to the number of turns the scope will make before hitting the hard stop. If you hit one, just rotate the scope in the other direction until you reach the object desired.

Subject:	 Keep up the good work !
Sent:	Tuesday, October 26, 1999 09:42:48
From:	GallJJ@cdm.com (Gall, John)
The additions in the specs are interesting.  Some border on reviews,
which should be deleted, or moved, IMHO.

Otherwise, we are dealing with a synopsis of reviews interspersed with
specs.  I don't mind synopsis reviews, but they ain't specs.

And do we know if the people submitting have had acess to one of the
"new" 125 etx's ?  I know that clive had access to a couple of the early
ones. Or, come to think of it, a Nexstar ?  I'm not interested in
"reflected" opinions.

Two minor quibbles:  I'll check tonight, but the the zenith problem with
the etx is probably in the alt/az mode.  Not sure why anyone would be
doing astrophotography in this mode anyway.  And, of course, the dec
problem is only in the polar mode.

Which means, of course, I have the 125.

Mike here: I agree that some of the submitted additions bordered on "reviews" but I elected to keep them in in the interest of airing all views. If such things get out of hand, I'll reconsider this position.

Subject:	 ETX-125EC
Sent:	Sunday, October 24, 1999 20:01:50
From:	subramdza@arnet.com.ar (PHILIPPE SUBRA)
Perhaps have I not read all was written about the etx125, after it was
modificated for Meade. But, what about the obstruction of 40% of the
diameter for the baffle. Did Meade modify it? on the photos you present
with your test, the baffle seems enormous. It's true that if the etx125
keeps that, it will probably not have more contrast than the Nextstar,
and, will not make the difference that the maksutov design should
permit. The etx90 baffle is really proportionnally smaller, and does not
add more obstruction to the one of the secondary mirror. Perhaps Meade
has a technic difficulty for maintening such an obstruction: easier to
assembly? general lack of baffling of the whole scope? or , simply have
they neglected this important detail?

Well, all that are questions and suppositions, beacuse I of course had
not the opportunity to look neither through an etx125, nor a nextar. But
if you have some informations about that, me and probably some of the
fidel readers of your site would be happy, and even happier if meade
resolve this problem.

OK, I'll stop now, hoping you had not too many difficulties to
understand my rudimentary english. I love my old etx scope (without EC),
particulary yesterday night.

Very best regards,

Philippe Subra.  
Mike here: Keep in mind that the ETX-125EC primary mirror is larger than the corrector plate and the baffle edge parallels (I think) the light path from the corrector to the mirror. Therefore it does not block any light.

Subject:	 ETX 125 EC   Available at Natural Wonders
Sent:	Sunday, October 24, 1999 18:40:21
From:	okubosan@earthlink.net (Michael Okubo)
I wrote to you a few months ago in regards to the ETX 125EC. We
currently have a few in stock(10/24/99) and they are ready to ship. If
you would like to let your readers know, they can contact me at Natural
Wonders (516) 248-0642.  I am located in Garden City, New York (long

ETX 125EC      $895.00
Autostar       $149.00 
Tripod         $179.00

Full line of accessories available 

Best regards

Subject:	 More fun
Sent:	Friday, October 22, 1999 23:54:03
From:	mromine@home.com (Mike Romine)
I have to admit that I have really enjoyed your site lately!  Quite the
lively discussion.  I know that after the Meade post, it is only going
to get more fun.  Although I really don't want to join either the meade
or celestron bandwagons, as an engineer,  I can't resist responding to
the Meade engineer's technical points:

> The plastic gears are class 3 gears which have precision tooth
> profiles and run very smooth with minimal wear.
If the class 3 is the AGMA rating, then they are not even precision.
Gears don't start to be considered precise until you reach AGMA class 8.
At the last company I worked for, we molded AGMA class 12 gears for our
precision systems (in high volume).  AGMA class 3 were only used where
precision was not an issue.

> The worm gear approach is superior to the spur gear approach used in
> the NexStar (this is easily demonstrated by comparing the backlash
> seen in the DEC axis to an ETX).

The only advantage worm gears have is they allow an extremely high gear
reduction in a very small space. Otherwise they are very inefficient
relative to spur gears.  A typical worm gear with a lead angle of 5
degrees will have an efficiency of 62%. But any spur gear will have an
efficiency of 98%.  The reason this is important is that the lower the
efficiency, the more the system will wear. Hence, you may start off with
less backlash with a worm, but after a year or 2 of use, I bet the worm
will have much more backlash that a spur with similar use.  What is
really funny here is that the plastic gears mentioned above ARE SPUR
GEARS! Hence if spurs are bad, then why are you using them?  By the way,
from what I can see of the Celeston scope in the pictures at
scopetronics, they are using a Pitman motor with a planetary gear head
and an HP encoder (I just designed a product with a similar setup using
a maxon motor).  That is an extremely robust setup, and will probably
never wear out.

> Perhaps someone should disassemble the units to see exactly how
> rigid are the structures.

This is strange.  Why would anyone need to disassemble a device to see
how rigid it is?  Wouldn't normal use demonstrate its rigidity (or lack
there of) more effectively?

Now having said all this, you must wonder what is my beef with meade.
The truth is I have none-I think Meade makes great products.  But a few
years ago, when I worked for HP, I made a post similar that of the Meade
engineer's on a printer related news group about how a printer I helped
design was better than the competition.  Man, was that a mistake!  I
turned the entire NG against HP!  I got lambasted not only by the NG
posters, but by my co-workers. So since I never sought therapy for the
experience, I am doomed to respond in a like way to similar posts that I
come across--ever perpetuating the cycle of abuse.  So don't be mad at
me, feel sorry for me,  I need help...       AND DON'T FORGET TO HAVE A

Mike here: Meade used to participate directly in the online MAPUG but apparently stopped because no matter what they said, somebody would either take it the wrong way or write a dissertation dissecting every word of a three line response, adding a lot of between-the-lines interpretations. Sometimes, no matter what good intentions there are, somebody always looks for the negative side. But silence on the part of companies does not work either because there are those who always wonder what the companies (or the webmaster...) are hiding. "Damned if you do; damned if you don't." As ETX users, readers of this site should be grateful that Meade does respond here. If this site does expand to become a "small telescope" site, we should hope that Celestron, Questar, and other companies, including the accessory makers, will be as open with us as Meade.

Added later:

I totally agree that their responding is a good thing.  But as I learned
the hard way, if they respond as a representative of their company by
making negative claims about their competition (as was the case in this
last post), they are doomed for a backlash of people dissecting their
response.  The trick is to post only factoids about their own product if
they are identifying themselves as Meade.  If they want to make
comparisons to the competition, they should make anonymous posts like I
am sure all the Celestron employees who make up the "anti meade camp" do

BTW: I still think the ETX is a good scope.  And thanks for all your
hard work on this site!  And like I said, I hope you are not taking the
scope flame war too seriously-it is all in fun!

Subject:	 EXT 125 vs. N5 controversy
Sent:	Friday, October 22, 1999 13:28:43
From:	JamesK@frontier.wa.com (James Keithly)
I've really enjoyed your website  and have been very entertained by the
controversy you caused with your review of the 125 vs N5.  By posting
all of the comments and flames you've received concerning the review,
you've done an excellent job of acquitting yourself of any possible
bias.  It is pretty amazing how defensive/angry people will get
regarding $1,200 purchase. After you've gone through all the effort to
justify/rationalize your purchase, it is hard to step back.

Anyway, I did just put a deposit down for a N5. There were mainly
because the performance should be similar to the 125  (the optics are
the same as Celestron's venerable C-5) and the Nexstar will work well as
a spotting scope for checking out wildlife, etc.  My understanding is
that the 125 needs a correcting prism (?) to be used as a spotting
scope.  Being able to collimate the scope also seems pretty important.

You website is an amazing resource for a small telescope owner.  Thanks
for all the hard work!


James Keithly

Subject:	 Some comments from Meade Instruments (ETX-125EC, NexStar5)
Posted:	Thursday, October 21, 1999
From:	Meade Instruments
Corrections to the ETX-125 OTA were primarily stiffening including the
collimation plate, primary baffle, primary slider and the main tube. 
The inner structures of the tube are now very substantial.  Once a
telescope is in the hands of a customer (even one of the first ones
shipped), they are not very likely to receive the kind of stress found
in shipping and therefore will operate as expected.

Meade has a hardcase for the ETX-125 and it is not the same type case as
the 90.  It is much bigger.  I am sure your readers would be pleased
with it.  Remember that using the foam insert between the OTA and base 
(included in the modified packaging) is important if it is checked as
freight or otherwise handled roughly.

Because a manufacturer claims they can do long exposure photography does
not make it so.  Meade has a high standard of performance we require of
a telescope to make this claim.  My personal opinion is that long
exposure photography will work equally as well on either telescope in
the polar mode which is what Celestron endorses.  But let someone try it
first before it is a fact.

The ETX-125 would not weigh 18.5 pounds if it were all plastic.  There
is substantial metal throughout including the entire RA axis and
reinforcing in the fork arms.  Yes, we have a set of plastic gears in
the reducer, but the last two gears are metal, namely the worm and worm
gear.  The plastic gears are class 3 gears which have precision tooth
profiles and run very smooth with minimal wear.  The worm gear approach
is superior to the spur gear approach used in the NexStar (this is
easily demonstrated by comparing the backlash seen in the DEC axis to an
ETX).Perhaps someone should disassemble the units to see exactly how
rigid are the structures.  (the Jordan Blessing photos show how much
metal is in the base of the 125).

The 2" threads are nice on the NexStar but you can buy an LAR that
attaches to the back of the ETX's to supply a 2" set of threads. Note
also that while the threads are 2" the optical opening is nowhere near
that.  In fact the optical opening of the ETX is 10% larger than the
NexStar (1.1" Vs 1.0").

Regarding the NexStar you used on 1 October;  It was right out of the
box.  It had not been disassembled or had any tampering.  Our optics
shop tested the optics (in place) and even collimated them.
Mike here: Thanks to Meade for supplying the above details and clarifications.

Subject:	 Controversy and well-poisoners
Sent:	Wednesday, October 20, 1999 14:26:21
From:	jsteve1@sprynet.com (John Stevenson)
I'm a totally green novice at this astronomy stuff. Never owned a
telescope before, but, based on the info I've gleaned from your site
have on order an ETX125EC and some goodies to enhance the experience.

I was at first shocked and somewhat dismayed at the venom directed at
you re: the Celestron/ETX125 comparison. However, as I reflected on the
situation, I remembered that every time I've tried to do something in my
life that put me (whether I desired it or not) in the spotlight, there
was a small minority of snipers and well-poisoners who always took shots
at me. I've learned, as you apparently have (or are) that "He who puts
his head above the crowd always gets the tomatoes."

I just had to send you a word of support and hope that you learn to like
the taste of tomatoes because you are providing a valuable service for
those of us out here who have not the expertise, time, inclination, etc,
etc to do what you are doing. Bravo! and thanks for your steadfast
devotion to the users of your site - the majority who appreciate your

Damn the torpedoes...

John Stevenson

Subject:	 Meade ETX Deluxe Field Tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, October 20, 1999 13:37:02
From:	jtarter@mindspring.com (JTarter)
First, I fully support your site and appreciate the time and effort you
have and are putting into it. I'm a beginner amateur astronomer and your
site has been an invaluable resource for information.

I recently purchased the Meade ETX-125EC telescope and the ETX Deluxe
Field Tripod. When I tried to connect the telescope to the tripod with
the supplied 1 1/4" attachment knobs and adapter plate, quess what? It
doesn't work... the 1 1/4" attachment knobs are to short! However, all
is not lost, I called customer support at Meade and they are shipping
the correct attachment knobs ( 1 1/2" ) within the next couple of days.
Now this is what I called customer support! It is my understanding that
not all the Deluxe Field Tripods are shipped with the short attachment
knobs so maybe you won't run into this problem.

Again, keep up the great job you are doing!


Subject:	 A brief question re: etx125
Sent:	Wednesday, October 20, 1999 10:45:41
From:	duch@cgo.wave.ca (resident)
First, I'm a big fan of your page. It's significantly improved my
enjoyment of my ETX 90.

Mama told me never to discuss politics and religion -two subjects which
stir up too much controvery. I would like to add "telescopes" to those
taboo topics after reading the many maligning posts you have received
after your review!  Honestly, folks get too excited about this topic.
We're only talking telescopes here afterall!  Some sure like to sweat
the small stuff.  But enough said.

I've really enjoyed my ETX 90 with autostar. Naturally, as many do, I've
been thinking of some more aperture with an eye toward the etx 125 (
just a Meade man I guess; althought the Nextar looks equally appealing
).  My question is not whether I should go etx or nextar; but whether
the incremental viewing pleasure going from 90mm to 125mm is really
significant enough to warrant the investment? Or should I be focusing (
no pun intended ) on instruments of 8" aperture or greater to ideally
compliment my little ETX which I intend on keeping.

Since you've experienced both ETX's , and probably have had an
opportunity to view through larger scopes as well, are you able to offer
any insights? Dollars are not the primary concern and portability
remains a major requirement.


Mike here: The answer to your question is easy. But your decision may not be. Go for the largest aperture you can and will use. The difference in viewing with the ETX-125EC vs the ETX-90EC was dramatic. Of course, the same can be said as you further increase the aperture. The down side as you increase aperture is that you also tend to increase size and weight. This can and does result in actually using the larger scope less than a more portable one. Some observers like the larger (8 or 10") Dobs; they provide the large aperture in a large scope but lack a lot of things that make the telescope and mount heavy.

Subject:	 Jordan Blessings Review
Sent:	Tuesday, October 19, 1999 07:26:26
From:	rlonn@home.com (Robert Lonn)
As noted in this review he shows the new drive motors! I have mentioned
this in several of my emails for this posting but everyone thinks I was
making it up! The main reason for this posting is that it is critical
that you upgrade to the latest 1.3 Autostar software. It will track
better with the new motor drive. Also, when you are doing a two star
auto align, move the star down to the lower right of the FOV. Then using
only the left and up keys, slew the star to the center. That removes any
gear play. I think now you will see why I claim 95% FOV with GO-TO
capability. Last night I would say 100% even when I pumped the tripod, I
guess it held fast. One last comment about the "WHO SUPPLIED THE
COMPARISON CHART" Mike posted. What difference does it make if the fact
are TRUE!!! Back to listening to my Ham Radio (20 meters), my other

Mike here: As you will see below, my ETX-125EC and NexStar5 postings have generated a lot of email. This is good; I welcome both the pros and cons. However, there is an undercurrent here that we all need to be aware of. I've been asked many times over the three years this site has been online to do an "editorial page"; the controversy that is brewing has prompted me to finally do just that. Keep in mind that the EDITORIAL PAGE is just that. It is MY area to say whatever is on MY mind. Comments are welcome of course. I have no idea how frequently I will write something nor what the topics might be. But recent events have provided me with material for the first one. Visit the EDITORIAL PAGE if you want.

Mike here again: Be certain to read Jordan Blessing's side-by-side comparison of the NexStar5 and ETX-125EC (home.att.net/~celestron/125n5.htm). Scopetronix (which is Jordan) is a Celestron dealer (which he points out in the write-up). He is also a developer of some great ETX products and his site contains a lot of valuable ETX information.

Subject:	 125 and viewfinder
Sent:	Monday, October 18, 1999 11:27:42
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
Boy, I've done a lot of posting today!  I tried my spanking new 125 on
fri night - good clear night - and after i aligned the 90 degree
viewfinder, i soon came to learn it was somewhat useless to me!  I had a
scopetronix lightsite on my 90, and when i replace the double stick tape
I'll remount it to the 125 - I found the red dot finder to be
indespensble - just keep both eyes open, and the target image kind of
lines up in both eyes and you know you're there - even the 90's finder
had a similar ability with both eyes open - in contrast, i found the 90
degree site to be virtually useless when i was manually panning the sky
for saturn or jupiter - both very bright and visible in the naked eye. 
I'm glad I never paid for the 90 degree conversion like i intended (it
was actually out of stock when i tried to order around june).  I can see
where the 90 degree finder would have benefits - looking near the
zenith, and now, for magnification once I'm in the general area.  After
viewing for a bit, i noticed i couldn't see anything out of the finder -
i realized looking through the eyepiece, i had breathed onto the finder
(my breath isn't THAT bad!) - i fogged it up.  So, the finder does have
it's uses, but i think a dot finder will be indispensible on this scope
even more so than on a scope with a straight finder.  As a further plug
for scopetronix (it's VERY rare that i find a company i like) - i had
previosly followed jordan's advise for converting a daisy red dot finder
- after spending roughly $20 in parts, i had a finder i don't like
nearly as much as the scopetronix unit - which has BIG knobs for
sighting adjustments.  The daisy conversion did, however have unlimited
variable light adjustment ala variable resistor, however the scopetronix
unit felt more robuts with it's bight/dim setting (dim was too bright
for some fainter objects) - I could do the tip i learned from this site
(that i think you mentioned mike) and aim the finder so the dot is
always to, say, right and above the target - which would eliminate that
problem...or if i could get the scope to goto....

Subject:	 ETX 125 bag
Sent:	Monday, October 18, 1999 10:48:51
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
I was busy with my 125 this weekend (still don't have good goto!) - at
K-mart I found some duffel bags for around $30, and found a sort of
weekend back that went for $50 (i'll look at the name tonight) - the bag
was fairly long - about 45 inches or so, included 6 side/external
pockets, had WHEELS, and a hidden handle (like airport luggage on
wheels) - The 125 fit easily inside (too easily).  Right now, for
padding, I'm using a thermos insulated bag that the 125 sits in and is
crammed into the bag - I'm trying to find foam that would be appropriate
- perhaps I'll contact Pelican who makes cases similar to the seal tight
and try to buy replacment foam for one of their bigger bags.  I've
thought about Home Depot or similar store for insulation (wrapped) or
perhaps plumbing foam, etc. - any suggestions would be appreciated - i
don't want to just lie the scope in my back seat.
Thanks for any thoughts,

Subject:	 reviews
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 1999 23:36:41
From:	melmartin@pnwnet.com (Mel Martin)
Mike.. as an owner of both Meade and Celstron gear, and a long time
reader and supporter of your site I'm really disappointed.

You are dodging some fundamental questions people are asking of you.

1) Who supplied the comparison chart? A simple answer will do. You have
dodged it in every response.

2) You tend to think everyone is honest and above board. Do you think
with all the dollars resting on impressions of a product in the
marketplace Meade would just give you an off the shelf unit? Is this
same reputation for honesty any explanation of why all mention of the
ETX125 was taken off the Meade site with no word to potential customers
about why?

Reviews, even when done quickly, demand full disclosure. You stated that
Meade provided all the equipment, but we really don't know, nor were you
interested to ask, if anything special was done to any of it.

You've reprinted, without any honest owning up, a highly flawed
comparison of two telescopes produced by the manufacturer of one of

C'mon Mike... a reputation is a terrible thing to waste.

I'd suggest you clearly answer the questions that have been put to you..
establish some form of ethical code for your journalism (because that is
what you are doing) and let's get back to looking at the stars with
whatever instrument suits us.

Keep Meade and Celstron at arms length, and if you can't let your
readers know EXACTLY what is going on.

Mel Martin

Subject:	 5-inch scopes
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 1999 20:14:47
From:	jaepbond@aol.com (JaePbond)
I tried to share my experiences and you've document them on your site in
my "Night at the ETX" piece for new users and buyers.    I also shared
my initial experiences with you and your site with a C5+ and my ETX90
where I said that the sample C5+ I had didn't do any better than my
ETX90 on planets and lunar detail; it was just brighter. In fact the
lunar contrast was higher on the ETX90. As expected, the C5 was
consistently better on all deep sky objects, hands down.   I did say
that I believed that a better sample of a C5 would have done much better
and that I would someday look for another sample. This was a couple of
years ago.

Today,  I have better insight as to what was happening with my first C5+
and btw the folks at saa are an experienced bunch.   My initial
experience would have been chewed apart here or simply someone would
have pointed out that I had a miscollimated scope or a lemon.

So what was wrong with my first C5+ ?  It was not precisely collimated
although I did out-focus star collimation.   In addition, the primary
was off, which prevented precise collimation via the secondary.   How
could I tell?  I get the "donut" on out-of focus stars but  when looking
down the ota tube during daytime,  concentric rings cannot be seen.  
Rings were overlapping.    I also never did a high power in-focus
collimation with this scope.   The focus on planets lacked the "snap".

I have a second C5+ which is much, much, better.  The daytime rings are
concentric, and the star test shows 1/5 to 1/6 wave accuracy at the
eyepiece. I'm sure that this is not the best sample out there as I do
have a C8 with a 1/7 to 1/8 wave accuracy.   This scope consistently
outperformed my ETX90 on planetary and lunar detail.  The contrast is
every bit as high or higher on the moon than an  ETX90EC with 1/8 or
better wave sample.  The resolution overpowered small craterlets that
were invisible on the ETX90.   The focus on planets "snap" sharply with
no doubt.  But I do have to conduct high power in-focus collimation
every time to be sure.   If it's off a bit there is a surprising amount
of softness that creeps in; out-of-focus collimation is just not good
enough.    So that's my experience.

If I was doing the comparison you made between the ETX125 and the
Nexstar, the first thing I'd do is a star test and high-power in-focus
collimation of the Nexstar.  IF YOU DON'T or don't know...... then
anything you say can be argued as not worthwhile like a lot of people
are saying here...... or is it ?   Maybe not completely.........To me it
does say that the Nexstar may be more prone to collimation sensitivity
than the ETX125.   I'm assuming that the ETX125 is like my ETX90 which
never seems to go out of collimation.   There are no secondary
adjustments to fiddle with just primary.   So a lot of people may be
better off with a scope that needs less collimation tweaking but as for
me I've been a bit turned off by the ETX90 and the ETX90/EC quality
control and poor materials. I won't be buying a ETX125 until I hear more
about how really solid it is....... kind of like a.... Nexstar.   But
then I could've had a Nexstar........

So more time and money may not be what is needed....but just a bit of
star testing to be sure of collimation and maybe a bit more experience. 
This would have clarified a few things for me.   Best wishes to you

Jae Park

Subject:	 Prime focus photography with 125
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 1999 19:03:37
From:	jlewis@theramp.net (Joe and Shelli Lewis)
I haven't seen any posting of photos taken with the ETX 125 yet. I know
someone has to have tried it by now. Have you seen any, and if so, would
you please post them on your site.


Mike here: As soon as someone sends me some, I'll post them.

Subject:	 John Steinberg Letter
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 1999 17:49:09
From:	relgert@datanet.ab.ca (Rob Elgert)
Hey Mike:  This is Rob again from the Great White North.  I just had to
send a note regarding John Steinberg's letter in the 125 site. While he
makes a few valid points regarding the evaluation, I think he missed the
point of it altogether. Could it have been done more scientifically? 
Absolutely.  But this site is a courtesy service delivered by an
uncompensated enthusiast such as yourself.  I got the impression from
your editorial that you feel under attack and need to defend yourself. 
Don't worry about it. Just keep up the good work.  Just remember that
Meade did most of damage to the ETX reputation itself due to it's shabby
handling of the ETX125 affair.

By the way, I truly believe that the problems with the 125 had nothing
to do with packing and everything to do with Q.C..  They just covered
thier own butts and bought some time to make the production improvements
required.  It doesn't really matter as the bottom line is that we get a
damn hot scope in the end.

Despite all that's happened, I still love to use that scope!!!!

Keep up the excellent  site.

Subject:	 etx/nexstar review
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 1999 13:54:31
From:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
Talk about controversy!  It seems that some of  your readers are biting
the hand that feeds them.  Your site has been a tremendous source of
information despite a rash of conflicting opinions.  Unfortunately your
comparison was not appreciated for all your efforts to organize it. A
suggestion, for what it's worth, might be to organize a challenge
session between Meade and Celestron to compare scopes.  For example,
Oceanside Photo and Telescope has occassionally a Meade Day or a
Celeston Day with their corresponding reps showing their wares.  How
about a Meade/Celeston Day challenge centered around these highly
marketable telescopes and get an opinion on the results.  There would be
no question of bias under those conditions.  Just food for thought.
Please let me know what you think.

Clear Skies, DON
Mike here: There are many opportunities to compare scopes, side-by-side. The Riverside Telescope Makers Conference is one example. Since both Celestron and Meade are located in Southern California perhaps something could be set up.

Subject:	 The 125 vs N5 comparison
Sent:	Sunday, October 17, 1999 01:28:23
From:	drdano@sprynet.com (Dan Odom)
First, I have enjoyed your ETX site since I found it several months ago.
It convinced me to purchase the ETX 125 and gave me the information
needed to know to wait till the 2nd generation with the fixes came out. 
Thank you for all of that.

I have been active in astronomy for about 25 years, useing both Meade
and Celestron products, scopes, eyepieces, tripods, etc.  My main
telescope is a Meade 10" SCT that I think is great in every way...
except it is sooo heavy that it spend almost all its time in my garage. 
I attend the Texas Star Party fairly often and have looked through lots
of telescopes.

Here is the rub.  My experience with my ETX 125 2nd generation scope was
very different than your description at the Meade Star Party.  The 125
would GOTO fairly well... but frankly that was about all I can say
positive about the experience.  I can't give a fair optical evaluation
because the scope was out of collimation enough to impact the images. 
The star test indicated, even with the collimation problem, an
undercorrected mirror. Something that bothered me as well is the noise
the scope makes.  I thought Meade had fixed that.  Apparently not, it
sounds like a kids electric motor race car when slewing, and when
tracking it makes such strange and loud noises that at first I was
amused, but after about 10 minutes it began to detract from the viewing
experience.  (maybe that is my own quirk... but it is really loud!)  The
focusing is rough and very shakey; the right angle finder is just about
useless in that all stars outside the exact center of the field of view
appear to be small comets.  I had better luck finding things with a wide
angle eyepiece in the main scope.  One other thing that bothers me is
that the scope has a very front heavy balance.  Any time I loosened the
altitude lock the scope would quickly rotate down and hit the base.
Needless to say, with the collimation problem on a Mak, you have to take
it back.  The very helpful astronomy shop I bought the scope from was
very willing to exchange it, but they also offered me a chance to try
the N5 before deciding what to do.  I took them up on it, of course, and
tried the N5 that night.  My experience was again different from yours. 
The N5 did everything it is advertised to do very well.  Setup was
simple and everything I chose to to GOTO was in the eyepiece... and much
of the time I was useing a 9mm and didn't need to change to a wider
field of view ocular... I was impressed!  The optics were out of
collimation when I got the scope home, but with a SCT it took only about
5 minutes to make it perfect.  Views of everything were great.  Jupiter
was crisp and sharp with great detail in the equitorial cloud bands. 
Two other bands stood out well also.  Saturn was a near religious
experience.  The Cassini's division stood out black and easy with subtle
band structure on the planet.  I could go on about the optics, lets just
say they were all that I hoped for in the ETX 125 but didn't find... at
least in the one I had purchased.  The Auto Star with the Meade has more
bells and whistles, some of which I would like to see on the N5, but
there isn't that much difference.  The lack of a "Below the Horizon"
message is a non issue to me, I rather like the N5 telling me the
altitude of the object instead "+" means its above the horizon by the
number of degrees indicated... that helps me know if it is truely
visible, due to the roof tops and trees around my back yard.  After
telling you the altitude above or "-" below the horizon, you can just
push the up or down buttons to get all sorts of other information on the
object... i.e. separation of double stars.  And the N5 is so quiet when
slewing or tracking... it sounds like a cat purring happily. Well, I
ended up keeping the N5 and letting them send the ETX125 back to the
factory.  The sales person at the astronomy shop said he knew that would
happen.  He told me that those who buy the N5 are delighted while those
who buy the 125 often have problems... that was my experience.
Concerning your review of the two.  I believe you are an honest guy and
I believe Meade is a good company, so is Celestron.  But I must say that
in my business I wouldn't allow one supplier to help me test his product
against his competition, especially l wouldn't let him supply both
samples. Mike, business is business, Meade and Celestron are in a death
struggle looking for anyway to convince the consumer their product is
superior. I think both have good points and challenges.  My evaluation
lead me to choose the N5 based on its metal construction, less shakes
when focusing, quiet - quality sounding motors, ability to collimate
anytime if needed, impressive - tried and true - optical system, and the
feeling when useing it that you have a well made instrument that will
last a long time.

Best of luck with your site, I still think the site is great.
  << keep looking up >>
          Dan Odom

Subject:	(no subject)
Sent:	Saturday, October 16, 1999 14:46:20
From:	Naptownman@aol.com
As an avid follower of your website since I bought an ETX over a year
ago, I'm almost ashamed of the treatment you've received since posting
your comparison of the 125 and the Nexstar.  You published a draft which
consisted of some objective information and some subjective information.
And it should have been taken as nothing more than your best attempt at
answering an overwhelming amount of mail regarding a comparison of the
two scopes.  You do your best and you get flamed and for that I
apologize on behalf of the rest of us who visit your site and appreciate
the effort you're putting forth to enhance our pleasure of astronomy and
the ETX-line of scopes.

Don Pamachena

Subject:	 ETX / NexStar Review
Sent:	Saturday, October 16, 1999 10:35:24
From:	greenfield@proaxis.com (Greenfield)
I certainly enjoy your site. It is tremendously valuable for all us

I'd like to add my observations about the NexStar 5. I've owned one for
a little over a month and had the chance to compare it to the ETX-90
last night.

The Nexstar 5 (NS5) has been easy to set up and very accurate. It took
me about 10 minutes to set it up (align) the first time and since
requires about 2 minutes. I've found the tracking to be 'right on' and
have even left it tracking a planet or star while going in to eat
dinner. An hour later the object has always been right in the center
when I return. I'm just setting it on a stable picnic table in my back
yard in Altazimuth mode and using AC power. The tripod is on backorder.
Following are a few comments from my log notes this past month...

Saturn - clear night - good seeing - 31x to 313x (40mm ep to 8mm ep with
2x Barlow). Sharp and clear - cassini division clearly visable. Band on
planet visable. Planet's shadow clearly visable on rings. Best contrast
with blue filter.

Jupiter - clear night - good seeing - 31x to 313x (40mm ep to 8mm ep
with 2x Barlow). 5 Bands visable. Able to see swirls in 2 largest bands.
Best contrast with blue filter.

Double Cluster in Persius - clear night. Spectacular at low power (40mm
ep). Both clusters within field of view. Looks like diamonds spilled on
black velvet.

Andromeda Galexy - clear night - good seeing (40mm ep). Extends outside
field of view. Core very bright with dark lanes visable.

Double Double - clear night (26mm ep). Easily splits both pairs.

Albiero (colored double) - clear night (26mm ep). Great color contrast -
one star yellowish, the other blueish.

I had the chance last night to compare the NS5 with the ETX-90 (Just the
viewing - I didn't set up the ETX). The ETX was on its tripod and not
very stable. Not as stable as the NS5 just sitting on a table. NS5
objects (planets, double stars, clusters, nebulas) were larger, brighter
and showed more detail in ever case. I was very impressed with the
ETX-90 for its size however.

In conclusion, I've found the NS5 to be very stable, easy to use and the
viewing has been supurb. I'm certainly pleased with mine. Also, there
seems to be no end to options available off the shelf. In about a month
or so, according to Software Bisque, TheSky will be compatible with the
NS5. So that capability is coming, too.

Thanks for your great site. I appreciate your work (or is it play?!),

George Greenfield
An Oregon Observer

Subject:	 Telescopes...err...Attacks on character?
Sent:	Saturday, October 16, 1999 09:52:14
From:	parallax@vgernet.net
To all readers,

I DO NOT speak for Mike...However,

Mike's ETX site has always been and should continue to be a fair,
non-descriminating, open forum. DO NOT contribute to the attacks on
character recently being made by insecure people whom obviously need to
boost their ego's. By jumping so quick to condemn Mike for his
prelimanary report, they have only shown that they completely ignored
mike's warnings concerning liability and user choice, above all.

Does anyone remember the fervor generated over the recent flawed "S&T
ETX125 Review"?  Geez...get a life.

We are only talking about which telescopes to buy, and what "Cool Mods"
to make...aren't we?

Everyone has their own opinion right? Well, i for one never base an
important  decision on a single piece of information. I find every
angle...Because ultimately, the only person to blame for not doing your
homework...is YOU! Even in this age of frivilous lawsuits!

I've been a regular visitor to this site since early 99'. From what i've
seen, Mike has always strived to provide all sides of "the story". This
is precisely why his web page is the #1 ETX site(and related small
telescope site...despite his best intentions)on the net today. It's not
about popularity...it's about information...and only information. Today
Meade has their day....tomorrow Celestron...Big Deal! I'm a proud owner
of both Celestron & Meade Products...and  I've always felt they were on
an equal par. Let's face it...they both manufacture pristine optics, and
cutting edge technology. Beyond that i would add that Meade has, in the
last few years made a distinct effort to produce revolutionary
technology in a low cost, high quality format...that incidentally, was
soon after copied by Celestron...and for good reason...that is what
people want!!

I'm sure many people(like myself) were waiting with baited breath for
mike's initial ETX125 vs. Nexstar review. I'm also sure as with every
other thing Mike has posted, it was quite simply what he
experienced...and that goes for quoting from the Meade Reps as well.

If i was meade, and i new that a meeting with Mike(and a consequent net
posting) would most likely help to boost consumer confidence in the
ETX125, i would send a couple of my best guys to insure the best
representation for the product. And i would use a Product i knew was set
up correctly. I Would also be sure to relay all the Autostar features as
compared to the Nexstar features...in a commercial manner...as Meade did
for mike, and he then posted. I do not Expect Meade to have the exact
specs on the Nexstar, nor do i expect Celestron to have all the ETX125
Specs, or for Mike to have them for that matter. Mike's meeting with
Meade Reps produced this information...what will John Doe's meeting
produce? Lets wait and see, or post our experiences...NOT crucify the

Also, Just to clarify...neither the Meade ETX nor the Celestron Nexstar
come with a Field Tripod as standard equipment...a tripod is an extra
investment. Most people buy a tripod separately from the telescope
purchase and rarely use the exact tripod manufactured for a specific
scope(that's what "Custom-Mod" is all about). If the Nexstar requires
the Celestron tripod to perform well...then alot of people are gonna be
upset. Therefore, the alleged unfairness of using a Meade Tripod with
the Nexstar is a moot point.

And to the comments(and entire homepage dedicated to slamming Mike) from
John Steinberg(nexstar5in@aol.com)

All i have to say is:

What your doing is cheap!!! After all, Mike inspired you to create your
site...obviously you never learned the lessons you preach in your
writings...be impartial, and leave it to the reader to discern the
truth...and don't take it personally.

Enjoy all the new press your getting.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion...

Thanks Mike!
Keep up the good work...

when should we expect the next in-depth review of the ETX125...And now
that i've put my ETX90/RA on a DS/EC Mount...how about an "Alternative
Mount" page?

Alex Zarvis
Interstellar Medium

Subject:	 People
Sent:	Saturday, October 16, 1999 02:55:26
From:	mturney@innercite.com (Michael L. Turney)
Read your editorial regarding input you've recieved since reviewing the
ETX 125EC and Nexstar. To say the least I was a little disappointed to
see the direction and tone of some of the people who responded. But as
I'm sure you're aware some things will never change and this certainly
applies to the small mindedness of some people.  To think you work as
hard as you do for this site and then have to take such abuse is a hard
pill to swallow so you need to be reminded that 99.9 per cent of the
users of this invaluable site support and appreciate your efforts and
opinions. Don't go South because of the vocal .1 per cent!!

Received my ETX 125EC two days ago and I'm in Love! Have not used the
AutoStar function yet but did use the scope by manually slewing and
viewed both Saturn and Jupiter last night. Both were "exquisitely sharp"
in the 15mm Super Plossl eyepiece and I am completely satisfied.
Collimation is dead on. The optics are truly superb. I installed an
electric focuser which also is extremely beneficial. Will be training
the Autostar in the next couple of days and also have a tripod adaptor
plate on order from Scopetronix so I can install on my Bogen tripod.
Right now life is good.

Thanks Mike and Hang IN There.

Subject:	 125 ETX Re-Engineering
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 21:31:11
From:	snyderld@earthlink.net (Lynn and Dan Snyder)
Great site!   This is truly your labor of love.  You should be paid on
commission by Meade for your de-facto customer support & help

I was wondering a few of things (being on the verge of buying a 125 ETX
myself), and perhaps you, Meade, or the ETX community out there can
answer.  Hopefully you have some feedback from the Meade seniors during
your evaluation workshop on October 1, especially feedback on the S&T

1. What specifically did Meade modify to correct the 125 ETX "shipping
problems"?  Was it just additional cushioning in the box, or was there
some actual improvement to the OTA & scope mount itself?

2. As per the Sky and Telescope review, is Meade planning further
re-engineering / improvements to the 125 ETX to correct the "other"
problems noted in the review? (i.e.. should I wait awhile for more
improvements of the product before buying my 125 ETX, or is the design
static now? Will the secondary baffling be reduced?).

3. On another note, has anyone been using a PC & software to control the
ETX (either the 90 or the 125)?  What software works, and what are
people's experiences with it? Accurate pointing? Repeatability, etc.

 Clear skies!

 Dan Snyder
Mike here: There were several, unspecified, changes that Meade made. While I'm sure there will be continuous process improvements on all products, currently shipping models seem to be good, based upon user feedback. Waiting for more improvements is like waiting for the next, faster computer. You'll never get one because an even better one is "just around the corner". I have not tried controlling the ETX from a computer but several packages do it. SkyMap Pro and The Sky are two that come to mind.

Subject:	 ETX-nextstar review
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 13:55:24
From:	g.skinner@neccsd.com (Skinner, Glenn)
I have been a faithful follower of your site for quite sometime now, It
has always been a valuable resource to ETX owners worldwide, but after
reading your review between the ETX and nextstar 5 I have lost almost
all respect for your site. The review and review conditions were so
bised from the start that not only is the review useless, the review has
destroyed my credibility in your site content.

I do not own a nextstar 5 nor do I ever expect to, I own an ETX90
upgraded to the EC base and a 10" LX200. I have however repeatedly been
able to use and compare the nextstar and ETX on a weekly basis for
several weeks now. Our group meets twice a week and weather permitting
stargazes. A good friend purchased the nextstar 5. First night, while he
was reading the instruction manual, I turned his scope on, compared the
two controllers and by the time he read the alignment instructions I had
his scope aligned and was already slewing to objects. After three weeks
of use, I have yet to see his scope miss an object on a goto unless the
batteries are low (they don't last long in it) The goto is as good or
slightly better than my upgraded ETX (which is quite good) The celestron
tripod is by far superior to the ETX tripod, Meade severly biased your
session mounting it on an ETX tripod. Tracking on the nexstar is as good
as with the ETX I have found no difference in three weeks of sessions.
Image quality in a COLLIMATED is as good or better depending on what
type of object you are looking at, deep sky better on the nextstar,
planets better on the ETX. I suspect the collimation was off on the
scope provided by Meade, did you check it? You did not include that
information. I know a couple of people who own nextstar scopes and none
of them have experienced anything close to what your review stated. For
the record, I prefer the ETX over the nextstar 5, someday I will upgrade
my 90 to the 125 because I prefer the higher contrast of the mak design.
The two other features I do not like are the lack of manual knobs, and
the slow (strained sounding) dec motor it is very slow responding on the
scopes I've used when you are moving up. This lack of speed is very
proportionate to battery life.

I can understand the pressure reviewing the scope under Meade
executive's eyes, but the review is so biased and off base that it in my
humble opinion severly hurt your credibility which I have always held

Glenn Skinner

Subject:	 Just got to get one . . . 
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 12:26:54
From:	ericball@bigfoot.com (Eric Ball)
Ive been a visitor to your site on and off over the past couple of years
(ever since discovering the ETX) and learned a lot of valuable insights
into amateur astronomy, thank you!

With the release of the NEW ETX I just have to get one! Im in Florida on
vacation next week (I live in the UK) and wondered if you could help me
find an outlet down there that may have one in stock I could purchase
before returning home? Big reasons behind wanting to pick one up in the
US  1) If I dont get it there and then Ill probably never own one 2)
$595.00 US, $1000+ in the UK!!

Any assistance gratefully accepted  keep up the good work on the site,
it really does make a difference.

Best regards,


Mike here: Check with the dealers listed on the Astronomy Links page. I'm sure some of them will work with you. You could also check for Nature Company, Discovery Channel stores, Natural Wonders outlets where you'll be.

Subject:	 Edgard from Brazil - Information about ETX and ship to Brazil
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 12:17:42
From:	edgard@nautilus.com.br (edgard)
Let me introduce myself... My name is Edgard, I'm 24 and I'm from Brazil
Since I was a child I love astronomy, when I was 11 my dad gave me a
60mm small refractor to observe the halley comet in 1986 and since that
time my love for astronomy just incrase and incrase.

In 1986 here in Brazil, specially here in my city the amount of
information about astronomy was very small. there're  no books, no
magazines, nothing. So I never used my reffrator in it's better

In Jan 1996 I bought a 4.5 department store refletor and start to look
to the heavens in a completely different way! I discovered Jupter! (it's
was completely amazing) few weeks later when I was looking to a faint
star I noticed the rings!! It's was Saturn! I just couldn't belive!! the
weeks afters show me other impressive things like the M42 orion nebula.

Than in July 1996 the internet arrived in my home. What a holy day!

I began friend of a Rio de Janeiro amateour astronomer (he's is my guru)
that teach me about  astrophotography and a lot of things.

Some day he write me and said "Why don't you buy the astronomy magazine?
It's very good and you'll see a lot of intersting things!"

So I decided to search for the magazine here in my city. 3 months later
I found it! It was a very hard search cause here in my city almost
nobody likes astronomy and just one maganize store trade this magazine
here (I live in Belem a city with 1.000.000 hab and very near the amazon
forest) Ok...when a opened the magazine I almost die! I saw an entire
page with a lot of Meade's SCT, LX 50, LX200 8", 10" 12" !!! with it's
computers , GOTO etc...It was incredible!!! for the first time in my
live I was looking to real scopes! no words!!! no words!!!!!! From that
day (dez 1996) to now, I've been dreaming with one of these good scopes
And finily, this month I decided not to wait more, not to wait until a
day that I could buy one Celestron or one Meade by myself in a dealer.
So...I decided to buy the new MEADE ETX 125 with Autostar, I'm sure that
this is the best scope for me It is simply perfect.

But I noticed that buy this is scope have been far more difficult than
the decision to buy it. I'm not kiding...but no USA dealer I contacted
can ship me the ETX, neighter Focuscamera, Anacortes, OPT, Shutan
Camera..etc....no one!!! I'm almost crazy!! Here in brazil there's a
Meade dealer but the price he's asking me for the ETX125 is very very
expensive!! (He's ETX125 price is U$ 1.600 he's autostar price is U$
430.00) It's to much expensive!!!! If I buy the EXT in the USA + the S&H
to Brazil the price in U$ will be less than the price he's asking.

So I'd like a favor of you Mike, or of anyone that is reading
this...please...Do you know  about a store in the USA that could ship me
the Meade ETX125 to me here in Brazil? Or anybody knows about a store
that could ship me this scope???

I really need this scope, a good scope is my dreaming since I was 11
years old! I know that the ETX125 is back order, but wait 5 to 6
weekends for it is no problem to me! I've been waiting for a good scope
more than 12 years, i can wait some weekends. Please again...Could you
help me Mike? or anybody could help me? my email is

Thank you Mike! and thanks to everybody that is reading this email.

and sorry my english
Edgard Faciola
Mike here: I've heard that Meade (or someone) has restricted sales in other countries. Maybe it is covered by the United States Department of State export restriction as being too powerful, like Apple's new G4 Macintosh which is too powerful to export! But seriously, it is unfortunate that people outside the US can't buy what they want at reasonable prices.

Added later:

I writing you to thank you very much for your reply! I'm gonna start to
look for the Meade ETX in other countries (like UK) i think that they
could ship me a Meade ETX directly.

Subject:	 review of 125- 90 etc. etc.
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 11:43:50
From:	Robert.Lonn@cox.com (Lonn, Robert (CCI-San Diego))
Your review of the scopes were right on. I would continue on this course
as MEADE wants to make all this stuff right. I got my ETX-125/EC back
and it is PERFECT, yes PERFECT!!  Keep up the great job, and the
evaluations!! Someone will always question if an evaluation was fair.
Doing evaluations for a living, I could relate to your procedure. Even
if you were 90% accurate, it only means that overall the MEADE product
is the winner. Have a great weekend!! BTW, Did you pull the evaluation??
I don't see it posted??
Mike here: There was an ISP glitch that took the site offline for about a day. The problem has been resolved.

Added later:

OK, I found the review Michael! I love the comparison chart you did as

Subject:	 125 cases
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 10:36:47
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
Do you or any of the readers know of any good alternative cases for the
125?  My 90 case (the Seal Tight gun case) just won't cut it - even on
diagonals...I had the (extra?) large case - is there a super duper extra
large?  As I recall, the meade 90 case was on the lightweight side, and
didn't want a cheapie for my 125 (which will hopefully goto so i'll
hopefully keep!) I've read about using 28 gallon rubbermaids from
walmart for the NexStar 5, using the included N5 shipping foam (the 125
doesn't lend itself to that idea)
Thanks for any info!

Subject:	 Updates to ETX-NexStar comparison
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 08:19:11
From:	russbag@yahoo.com (Russbag)
Been a while since we communicated.  I hate to say it but I am now a
NexStar 5 owner though I still read your site.  I canceled my ETX 125
order in September and got an N5.  Beyond the worries about the drive
performance, the real clincher was my interest in doing
astrophotography: Meade doesn't recommend it, Celestron does.

That was an amazing table you pulled together comparing the NexStar 5 to
the ETX125!  However, as an engineer and N5 owner, I have some questions
about the source of some of the specs:
- How did you measure the baffeling contrast as high or meduim?
- How did you determine the CPU types?  
- How did you determine the current drain?  

Have you found a website that has this info?  If so, please let me know
where.  Or did you take an N5 apart?  Or did the Meade folks volunteer
this type of technical data?  If Meade provided some of the comparative
data, it might be worth saying so in the interests of full disclosure
since they are a competitor to Celestron.

Meanwhile, in an effort to build on your start, I downloaded the table
and updated it based on my experience.  I highlighted my changes in red
italics.  If I thought you should delete text, I enclosed it in [] and
then new text follows.  I have attached this file to this email.  Let me
know if it doesn't come through.

I was very interested to read your comparison comments but disappointed
that you weren't able to make it apples to apples - e.g. equivalent
magnification.  I look forward to my own opportunity to do a side by
side with an ETX 125 but so far, have found that the N5 performance
appears excellent and exceeds (not surprisingly) that of the ETX90 RA I
traded in.  In contrast to your first experience, the N5 auto alignment
is quick, easy, and very accurate (my first night out after slewing to
Jupiter and Saturn, I chose the Andromeda Galaxy from the menu without a
clue to where it was or what it looked like and sure enough, it was dead
center in the EP when done slewing).  Tracking seems to work great
though I only have the 25mm EP to judge, not a 4.7mm like you were

Let me know what you think of my updates.

Mike here: Many thanks for helping to make the chart more accurate. I'm collecting them and will be posting an update within a few days. Tonight's site update will address your questions (my responses further down this page).

Subject:	 Re: ETX vs NexStar chart additions
Sent:	Friday, October 15, 1999 00:21:43
From:	khayes@powernet.net (Ken Hayes)
I'm a NexStar owner and not an ETX owner.  So what I report about the
ETX is from many reviews that I've read.  I know you are an ETX expert,
and I respect your opinion and your web site is great!  I just don't
think your comparison was fair to the NexStar.  I mean the NexStar loses
in almost every point in your chart (err, Meade's chart)!  Much of this
is just wording by Meade's marketing.  For instance, they make the
plastic fork arms on the ETX sound better than the aluminum fork on the
NexStar!  And the chart lists very minor features that hardly anyone
would care about; always in Meade's favor.  I'm sure Celestron can make
such a list too. And as I said before, I didn't think your comparison
was done under fair conditions (Meade supplying all the scopes and doing
the NexStar alignment).  If I'm trying to do an objective comparison, I
wouldn't trust Celestron to supply all the scopes either.   Anyway, here
is a recent post which reflects what I said.  Points #1 and #3 deal with
deep sky viewing and photography with the ETX, and I've seen similar
reports before.  If you think it's wrong, let me know.  I think this is
a well balanced report.

Other points I'd tend to agree with include the maximum useful power
(point number 6).  I think both scopes should max out at about 300X
(50-60X times diameter of 5").  Your report of a sharp view of Saturn at
404X on a poor viewing night (hard to find stars) is surprising to say
the least. Especially when you say the NexStar was no better than the
ETX 90.  Seems to me, there was something wrong with the Meade supplied
NexStar.  I also agree that an LED finder scope is superior on this type
of scope (even though it's cheap) because you should only need to use it
for bright stars during alignment, and then not need it again (unless
you don't want to use the GOTO).  And, the NexStar does now support
lunar tracking.  Software wise, we are comparing a mature product for
the ETX to a brand new product on the NexStar.  And it seems NexStar's
first attempt has been pretty darn good! The NexStar does not have the
web update capability of the ETX (wish it did), but it seems it's
software has been pretty bug-free so far (was that true for the ETX?). 
And it can be updated by replacing the EPROMs, I think this is how the
LX-200 is updated too.


There is a certain amount of "religion" here clouding up the facts.
Unfortunately, none of us are in a good position to nail the facts on
how well an ETX125 performs vs. an N5 optically or during GOTO
operations.  Some things are indisputable however:

1) FACT: Meade does not recommend the ETX125 for deep space
astrophotography, only for planets and the moon.  Celestron says you can
use the N5 for deep space astrophotography.  OPINION: people have used
the ETX series for deep space and will use the 125 for such but I
suspect the N5 will perform better (no one will know for sure until we
get some experience).

2) FACT: The ETX125 uses plastic gears, plastic motion stops, plastic
fork arms vs. metal parts in the N5 - which do you think stands the
better chance of still working in 30 years?  OPINION: Some may argue
that space age plastics will out last metal but I bet my $1200 on metal.

3) FACT: With a camera mounted on the back, the ETX can't point straight
up (or anywhere close) and when polar aligned, it can't point close to
the south horizon.  The N5 has no such limitations on movement. 
OPINION: Either this matters to you or not.  Maybe you never plan to put
a camera on the thing.

4) FACT: When the batteries are dead in the N5, you go home whereas with
the ETX you just loosen the clutches and you can point it (crudely)
where you want.  OPINION: As with #3 either this matters to you or not,
it can be easily "fixed" by having spare power ready.  (You can't fix
the problem with ETX in #3.)  Note that when Mike Weasner said:

"I would try to center a star but the drive would stop moving the scope
in one direction for no apparent reason."

it sounds like a) either they ran afoul of the cordwrap setting or b)
got a scope with a bum drive (not a rare occurance based on the
experience of this group) or c) had low batteries.  And when Mike said:

"I also found it somewhat clunky that there was no good way to manually
move the NexStar5 in either RA or DEC (there are no tension locks). It
will move manually in DEC but in jerks, not smoothly, and the RA will
not move except by using the handcontroller."

he doesn't seem to understand that is isn't supposed to be moved
manually - period; that is not a feature of this scope.  If you want
that feature, get the ETX.  When operating on suffient power, the N5
moves smoothly and quitely to the target, taking 20 to 40 seconds to do
it (assuming it has to move a fair amount).

5) FACT: You can't upgrade the software in the N5 except by replacing
the chips.  The ETX can be easily upgraded via internet download.
OPINION: As someone has said, if the software works, we don't need to
upgrade it.  My microwave has never needed an upgrade.  However, it
would be nice if the scope wouldn't goto things below the horizon, and
if it could track the moon ( can't), etc.  I thought about this
and decided that I would be happy with the available features and hence,
wouldn't worry about upgrades.  The N5 controller also sounded easier to
use (more direct accesss to features) than the AutoStar (though I have
never used that).

6) FACT: The ETX125 has a FL of 1900mm vs. 1250mm for the N5.  OPINION:
since they are both 5" scopes and both limited to 250-300 power, what
difference does it make?  You will achieve the same magnification with
different EPs, that's all.  From what I have heard, entire books have
been written about the different optical quality of different telescope
designs.  The evidence is that the C5 (on which the N5 is based) is a
very popular, well regarded optical instrument.  So is the ETX90.  I
would expect Meade to do a top quality job on the ETX125 optics as well
and so this will continue to be a "religious" issue.

I could go on but I think this is long enough.  My advice would be to
make a list of the things that you know are different between the two,
like their design choices above, like their prices, accessories (the
Meade has that undersized thread on the back vs the N5's standard 2"
thread).  Make a list of what is important to you like photographic
ability, dead battery performance, longevity, etc.  Compare the lists -
that's what I did and the photographic suitablity and metal construction
is what decided it for me.

Oh yea - and the red dot finder on the N5 is far and away better than
the optical finder on any scope!  No longer do I plainly see my target
in the sky and yet can't see it in the finder.  (But this is all


Anyway, I'm glad this is still a work-in-progress Mike.  I hope others
are contributing like me.  Let's try and balance the chart a bit, at
least.  If one scope looses out, so be it.  But I doubt it's a shutout
on either side, as it appears to be now.  I'd suggest eliminating some
of the minor points or else your chart will become too big to download
once Celestron gets a chance!

Mike here: It is now obvious that readers are misinterpreting my comment about the Autostar Easy Alignment star selection. Let me try to clarify that. The Autostar was selecting stars which were not bright ones, that is, not easily identified without star charts. You would look through the Finder or eyepiece and see a couple of possible stars, either one (or neither one) could be the correct star. This was a result of the geometry used in the Autostar star selections, the time of night, and the day of the year. The excellent seeing I mentioned made no difference on our ability to properly identify the Autostar selected stars.

Subject:	 ETX vs NexStar chart additions
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 22:08:41
From:	khayes@powernet.net (Ken Hayes)
My suggestions for the ETX, NexStar comparison chart:

Scope Mount / Fork Arms:            ETX 125 plastic.        NexStar Aluminum.
Gears:                              ETX 125 plastic.        NexStar metal.
Deep Sky Photography:               ETX 125 No.             NexStar Yes.
Pointing Capability with camera.    ETX limited motion      NexStar no limits.
Ability to us SCT accessories:      ETX No.                 NexStar Yes.

For Controller, instead of saying "no options" for NexStar, I'd say

I could mention a lot more, but I don't have the time or resources Meade
had to prepare the chart.  There is a lot of detail there which is of
little interest to most, but if you want a comprehensive chart then it's
OK.  It's just that someone with a lot of free time could come up with
just as many minor points in NexStar's favor.
Mike here: Many thanks. I certainly don't expect any one individual to update the whole chart (although that would certainly be welcome if anyone has both telescopes).

Subject:	 question number 164
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 21:55:22
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary Garland)
I know, I've written a lot today...just got home with my long awaited
125 - won't get first light till at least tomorrow...two questions that
I'm hoping you can answer...the packing for the scope had minimal
amounts of white styrofoam around the base and 2 small pieces by the
arms, otherwise it appeared pretty much like the 90 etx packaging - any
way you know of for me to determine if i got a scope, version 1 or
version 2?

#2 - do you think i need to do a complete autostar reset for the new
scope?  if so, i'll lose satellite data, etc. (i believe) unless i
re-download 1.3b...any advise greatly appreciated!

Mike here: Meade did not elaborate on the packaging change so I can't say what exactly was different from packaging version 1 to packaging version 2. But the bottom line was to provide additional protection to the rear of the ETX. Any time you change the Autostar/telescope combination you should retrain the drives. That's it.

Added later:

well, being anxious, i didn't wait for your reply, but hit the dreaded
reset option on my autostar - lo and behold, it DIDN'T wipe the memory -
i still have comet, asteriod, satellite info, and was very surprised!  i
think 1.1m did wipe the memory, apparently this is an improvement in
1.3b. one thing interesting - i was playing with the scope indoors (i
think that's a prerequisite with a new scope) and realized i left "play"
in the drive when i reset and the system said "calibrating motors" - so
i powered off, reset again (much more bravely than 5 minutes earlier)
and let it calibrate WITHOUT slop - i wonder if there is a difference,
and what effect it would have.

i managed to carry the scope (without any controller) outside, and
placed it on my car trunk for a couple of minutes of stargazing -
managed to target saturn through some tree branches, and with the 26mm
it was BLINDING - i'll definatly need to use filters.  it was also about
50% larger than with my 90 - makes sense based on the focal length.  i
couldn't get jupiter - tree branches, and i was getting cold in my fuzzy

i think i got revision 2 (as revision 1 is fairly non-existent now) and
it did have some white styrafoam packing at the bottom of the base in
the box, and WEDGED onto the focus knob, and also on the other bottom
between the base and the tube - actually took me about 10 minutes to get
the foam out (didn't want to force anything - and there was no mention
about it in the manual) - i know, i might have been (more) silly, but i
didn't want to screw up my brand new scope and wait until who knows when
to get the other. This scope definatly feels more substantial than my
90s, and seems to have no slop ala manually moving vertically or
horizontally, although i did see a bit of backlash - the price we pay
for mechanical linkages.  One small improvement in shipping was also the
meade emblemed 1 1/4" cap in place over the eyepiece hole - rather than
the gaping dust magnet in the 90s. The manager at Natural Wonders
(Staten Island) gets my kudos - he was able to wrangle ONE scope, for
me, based on being on the waiting list for months - there are a couple
of other names, but supposedly they were fairly recent (that, and I've
been calling weekly).  They took back my EC NO QUESTIONS ASKED, and i
gladly paid the upgrade like a gaping fool - i even got 50% off a
simultaneous purchase based on the promotion they're running - great

Subject:	 NexStar 5 vs. ETX review
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 21:11:20
From:	sfs@troi.csw.net (Stephen Sherrod)
Early in your review you stated that it might provide some useful
information. It did. I am now totally convinced, instead of partially,as
before, that I will never buy another Meade product. I currently own
three Series 4000 plossls which are not even close to the UO Orthos in
Any aspect. All three are for sale. I hope that your marketing
strageties and K-Mart sales go well.
Mike here: Thanks for expressing your opinion. In the spirit of openness I will post it on the next ETX-125EC Feedback page update.

Added later:

In the true spirit of openness, why not add a link on that website that
takes readers to the one thread on Deja discussions labeled "Don't Buy
Meade" ? Then, with just one, simple click, they could read appx. 100
more opinions from various amateur astronomers all over the world.
Mike here: What's the link?

Added later:


Then, go back 2 or 3 days at most.

Subject:	 Tripod Question
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 17:41:10
From:	relgert@datanet.ab.ca (Rob Elgert)
I was wondering if you or anyone else can tell me if the 125 ETX will
fit on the Celestron 5" Wedge (and subsequent C-8 Adjustable Tripod). 
From what I have read about the Meade tripod, I am afraid to use it with
my newly returned scope(yes, it finally came back after I left my tail
of woe on your site) for fear of it crashing to the ground.

I would really appreciate a quick response to this if at all possible as
I am extremely anxious to spend some quality time under the stars with
my new baby.


Subject:	N5 vs. ETX
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 15:41:25
From:	NexStar5in@aol.com

In response to your letter of the 13th,  I invite you and your readers
to review my evaluation of your NexStar5 v. ETX  comparison.

The URL for same is:


Thank you for your consideration and continued success with both your ETX and
the site.

Kind regards,

-John Steinberg

Mike here: I encourage everyone to read John's detailed review. He has a NexStar5 and so has more experience with it than I do.

Subject:	 unbiased tests!!
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 12:50:07
From:	Richard.Harding@civilisations.ca
I wonder if I would want to do a comparison of my wife versus Demi Moore
with my wife looking over my shoulder.  I know that your site does not
claim to be unbiased, but please....you should write the sales brochure
for Meade. I do not believe that the majority of your readers will take
this as a serious "comparison".  If they do, it is because they "want to
believe it". There's no place like home, there's no place like home.....
Mike here: This episode makes me feel for the Microsoft Windows users who think they know that their OS is better than the Mac OS. Many times they base that on little or no experience with the Mac OS (believing the marketing machine of Microsoft). Limited samples are dangerous and can lead one to erroneous conclusions or correct conclusions depending upon what you want to believe. My comparison, as I stated, was based upon a limited sample. It is for the reader to determine whether it is valid for them.

Subject:	 ETX vs. Nexstar 5 "Specifications List".
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 11:11:05
From:	gibbonsc@mcmail.cis.McMaster.CA (Clive Gibbons)
Just wondering who concocted the list you've recently posted to your
website. Rather than being a useful resource for ETX owners and
potential buyers, it sounds suspiciously like a piece of Meade-generated
propaganda. After all, you only had a brief opportunity to inspect that
Nexstar 5 at the Meade sponsored "telescope party", so I doubt you
compiled that list without a lot of help from "you know who". If you
honestly want to provide a useful service to your website visitors, try
cutting back on the Meade advertorial stuff and replace it with more
objective content.


	Clive Gibbons                                           
	Technician, McMaster University, 
	School of Geography and Geology.         
Mike here: I'll edit the page to indicate who did the "zeroth" draft. I did the first cut draft. I'm hoping that users like yourself will contribute to the accuracy of the comparison and turn it into something useful (as stated on the page currently).

Added later:

Inviting people to contribute to the accuracy of the comparison is a
noble gesture, but the problem is, the List, as presented, is so
obviously Meade hyped, it should never have been posted to begin with!
Geez, Mike, since when is it reasonable to stick a chunk of bogus Meade
propaganda on your site and then ask folks to debunk it to make the
thing more realistic? Do the right thing; yank it off, get your initial
info from Meade *and* Celestron, make the whole thing less partisan and
then ask for additional input. Until then, many knowledgable readers
will consider it a bad joke.


Just in case you're planning on keeping the 125/N5 "Spec. List" on your
website, please find attached a few ammendments. Hope you and your
readers find 'em useful.



Subject:	 ETX 125 vs. NexStar
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 11:02:45
From:	khayes@powernet.net (Ken Hayes)
I've got a lot of problems with your comparison of the ETX vs. NexStar.

1.  Hard to believe the ETX 125 beats the NexStar in all categories, but
if that's your opinion then OK.

2.  Meade supplied the ETX samples.  Chances are they are going to be
better than what the average buyer will get.

3.  Meade supplied the NexStar sample.  Now I've got a huge problem with
this!  I've heard of reviews where samples come from the manufacturer,
but never where samples of the competing product also come from the same
guy!  Was the NexStar fresh out of the box?  I doubt it because it's
clear that Meade has disassembled at least one NexStar as I'll describe
later.  I hope they put it back together properly.  I know you can't
afford to buy your own samples, but I think some kind of arrangement
could have been made with Meade to let you get a new NexStar and buy it
back from you (or something similar to get an unbiased sample).

4.  You let Meade's senior people do the star alignment for the NexStar!
 Mike, this is getting embarrassing.

5.  From the picture, the scope appears mounted on a Meade tripod rather
than a NexStar tripod.  Meade must of had a NexStar tripod because it's
described in the comparison chart.

6.  It's just hard to believe you got a brighter image of Saturn at 404X
on an ETX 125 vs. the NexStar at 266X using the same eyepiece.  And the
view on the NexStar was no better than the ETX 90?  This seems to defy
the laws of optics.  Doesn't this suggest to you something was wrong
with your NexStar sample?

7.  Your comparison chart is very impressive, but you should have stated
the clear fact that Meade made it for you.  There is no way a single
person like yourself could make that chart, unless you want us to
believe you spent 3 hours evaluating the scopes and at least two months
full time taking them apart to make up that chart.

Clearly Meade devoted a tremendous amount of man-hours preparing that
chart.  It shows how concerned they are by the NexStar competition.  I
think they should have the guts to print it themselves, rather than use
your otherwise excellent site as a sneaky way to take rips at Celestron.
 Oh, by the way it is a bit outdated.  The NexStar does now include
lunar tracking.  And the bias of the chart shows when it lists fact that
the ETX does not track the sun as a safety feature.  An excellent chart,
but highly biased towards Meade.  If Celestron choses to make one I hope
you'll print it.  I believe you will.

Ken Hayes
Mike here: Thanks for the comparison chart update. I'll update the chart and repost as I collect more inputs. I was hoping there would be no bias, only facts, in the chart. I'll remove the safety comment about the sun, even though that is a fact (see the warning label on the new ETXes).

Subject:	 life and the universe
Sent:	Thursday, October 14, 1999 06:21:41
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
thanks for the reviews of the scopes - i had wondered how the focal
length of the 125 vs. the smaller nexstar would affect magnification -
you answered that, and the tracking/goto.  i really wonder if somehow
i've been doing something wrong?  i'll wait for my 125 to finally come
in, trade up the 90 (gotta love natural wonders), then, if/whent he goto
doesn't work i'll start bitching all over again...

thanks, as always, and i look forward to posting that my future 125
goto's like a champ, or i'll give you an in-depth review of the N5!

happy slewing,

Subject:	 Your etx vs nexstar review
Sent:	Wednesday, October 13, 1999 20:26:58
From:	mromine@home.com (Mike Romine)
Thanks for the info. It was very informative. I am glad to hear the
EXT125 is finally kicking butt.  I am still curious about the Nexstar
though. How did the Nexstar perform on the deepsky objects?  The reason
I ask is that I have always read that MAK's (like the ETX) are better at
planetary objects, but SCT's (like Nexstar) have the edge on deep sky
(why, I do not know).  Was this true in your test?

BTW: Your comment about the focus vibrations on the ETX surprised me a
bit.  I timed them on my new reworked ETX and found they tended to last
between 5 and 10 seconds. I hope Meade did not give you a special for
the test.  Or perhaps mine was especially bad.


Mike Romine
Mike here: Thanks for the email. We didn't try any deep sky objects on the NexStar5 (time was limited unfortunately). Based upon the view of Saturn, I think I would have been disappointed. Just something to test further at some point. As to vibration dampening speed, there are a lot of variables. We had the tripods in the grass not on a hard surface. Beyond that I don't recall any obvious differences in the tripod we were using.

Added later:

Is there any chance Meade supplied you with a bunk Nexstar? 
Mike here: If so, I don't believe they did this intentionally.

Subject:	No Subject
Sent:	Wednesday, October 13, 1999 20:23:34
From:	NexStar5in@aol.com
Congratulations, Michael!

With the publication of your NexStar5 vs. The entire ETX line comparison
you've moved from providing a worthwhile service to the amateur
astronomy community - via your web site efforts - to being nothing more
than a lackey for Meade Instruments, Inc.

The only questions your review answers are what your future career plans
are; Perhaps a corner suite at Meade Instruments, Inc? Or was there some
discussion of stock options?

In the past I have looked to your site for enlightenment, now I find
your strongest suit is actually comedy.

Continued success with your site (and your career path!)

-John Steinberg

The Unofficial NexStar5 Resource Site
Mike here: Thanks for the email for expressing your opinion. I'm sure working for Meade (or Celestron or Apple) has its rewards beyond money. If money were the only goal in life we'd all be working for Microsoft. Sorry to disappoint you but my career is well established elsewhere. Since reading and/or participating in my ETX site is totally voluntary, I will respect your opinions.

Subject:	 ETX-125EC
Sent:	Wednesday, October 13, 1999 18:26:53
From:	raypepi@earthlink.net (ray pepi)
It is astonishing to me that considering how frustrated its pool of
customers are that Meade has not provided any information regarding the
fate of the ETX-125 on its web site or in any other organized way.  It
says a lot about the company, unfortunately.  Ray Pepi

Subject:	 125ec vs nexstar
Sent:	Wednesday, October 13, 1999 15:52:08
From:	darylinraymond@webtv.net (Daryl Averill)
i just got done reading your comments on the 125ec vs the nexstar i must
say that ilaughed when i read it i knew that the nexstar yu would be
testing would come from meade thats fair ifor one do not believe that
the nex star you tested was colminated properly for if it was there is
no comparison between the 90 and the nexstar i also owned a etx90ra and
the ec model i now own the G5 which is the same optical tube as used on
the nexstar and it blew away both my etxes i could see way more detail
with my G5 and my friends nexstar in jupiters cloud bands than i ever
saw with my etx 90ec as far as the 125 is concerned i had a chance to do
a side by side comparison also and at approx. the same power the images
in both scopes were excellent you could see the swirls and festoons in
the cloud belt and they were stunning but i feel the images were
slightly brighter in the nexstar and the other three people who were
there also agreed but ifeel both scopes are outstanding optically now
that said lets look at the mounts by far the celestron wins this
comparrison hands down a all metal mount verses a chessey plastic one
you do the math the focusing was much more stable in the nexstar with
its larger focus knob than i the 125ec which just like the 90ec has alt
of image shake and takes a few seconds to calm down i did not ntice this
problem on the nexstar or my G5 asfar as the goto and tracking between
the two scopes on this night they both seemed to work well. mike the
point that i am making is this i donot believe you went in to this
comparison with a unbias opinion ibelieve you are a meade man and you
are bias twards meade as you seem to do alot with them so i am sure they
give you perks for running this site because to say that saturn looked
the same in the90 as the nexstar is a joke the image has ten times more
detail in the nexstar i have read alot of coments on your sites and
there are alot of problemswith the drive base on both etx models i just
read a coment on your 125ec page that a guy just got his new improved
etx and it still has problems with the drive i have read on this site
peoplesaying how do they get a scope like this in this price range (i.e.
90ec) the answer is simple opticly they are good but the mounts are junk
when i got my etx90ec in sept i had to bring it back three times to ge
another because of problems with focusing and drive base the third one i
got i had it out the second night i owned it and the drive base came
apart as it was slewing across the sky needless to say i brought it back
to the store and got me a G5 wich i am happy to say is working great and
i like the fact that you can a just the colmination your self no need to
send it back if it ever does come out of colmination as you would have
to with the etx and as you said in your visit to meade you had your etx
recolminated because it was slightly out of colmination after you used
it for a while i will conclude this by saying there are still alot of
problems with the etxes mounting system just read the coments on your
own site i feel that when you pay 600.00 for something it should not
have to be modified to work the celestron i own and the nexstar i had a
chance to use are just plain built better with metal verses plastic and
you donot have to modify them or fix them as you do with the etx i hope
you post this so people can make an informed decision my advise to
people out there is go to your local astronomy club and test both scopes
first hand then make your decision or go to your local telescope shop
and ask them what they have heard about both scopes from the people who
have bought them
              thankyou for your time
Mike here: As I stated in the comparison, I only reported on my experiences. I had no preconceived notion of whether the NexStar5 or the ETX-125EC would perform better. Perks? What perks? Getting a loaner to beta test software, to try to provide help to other ETX users, to report on problems I've experienced (remember, I documented the Right Tube Adapter failure on the loaner ETX-90EC), and to report on good things hardly qualifies as a "perk". Meade pays for neither the site nor my time or my gas to visit them (and neither do the users of this site). I have purchased Meade products in the past just as I have purchased other vendor products. I do agree with you that buyers should do the comparisons themselves and not blindly believe anyone, including me. I only offer my opinions and reports on my experiences as guidance. As I stated earlier this year, I don't want to turn the site into a forum for Meade (or any company) bashing. Constructive comments, good and bad, on ETX-related products are welcome. As I stated shortly after the NexStar5 surfaced, this site is for ETX support, not for small telescope support (although I have been asked to expand its purpose). But as I stated then, I do welcome head-to-head comparisons. By the way, I found reading your message rather difficult due to the run-on nature of the text formatting (maybe not your fault). With the volume of email that I receive, good formatting of email messages helps a lot.

Added later:

sorry about the text. it could of been my servers fault.
i agree with you that your site is very helpful to people who own etxes,
as i once did. i just find it hard to believe that you really believe,
that thetx90ec, image was as good as the nexstars. i owned a etx 90ra as
my first scope, and thought it was a good scope. i then traded it in for
a 125, But after waiting all summer i gave up and got the 90ec. as isaid
in my last posting it was a nightmare. i just believe after owning the
two scopes that the celestron scope is better made. i like meade but i
think they are still having q.c.problems. 600.00 dollars for the 90 and
895.00 for the125 is a lot of money to shell out for a scope whos
mounting will not hold up to every day use. my first etx, the 90ra that
i mentioned above was a good scope. but the ones i owned after that were
of bad quality and that is what soured me on the etxes. i will leave
with this, people ask if they should get a 90 or 5 inch scope. after
owning a 90 and now a 5inch go with the 5 inch. the detail you will see
is well worth the extra money as in the bigger scope the panets take on
new life.
thanks mike for getting back to me so quick.
Mike here: I only reported what I saw. It was surprising but on the other hand, the focal lengths ARE the same for the ETX-90 and NexStar5.


yes the focal legths are the same,
but there is no substitute for aperture.
you said that meade brought the nex star
for the comparison.
i believe that the nexstar must have been
slightly out of colmination because, if it had been colminated correctly
i believe that you would have had a different view
of the optics.
i believe if you are going to do comparisons, than you should have
gotten the competiters scope from them as you did with the meade.
as i said the colmination can be
ajusted on the nexstar buy the user,
and the meade cannot. i DONOT believe that a comparison can be fair when 
it is meade reps supplying you with 
the scopes.
i agree that your site is for etx owners
bu when you do a comparison with the
compitition you open your self up to
all people have to do is read your sight
to see all the problems that plague this little scope 
               thanks for your response

Subject:	 Your comparison.
Sent:	Wednesday, October 13, 1999 13:09:23
From:	gibbonsc@mcmail.cis.McMaster.CA (Clive Gibbons)
Just read with interest your ETX-125/EC, NexStar 5 comparison. First, a
couple of short questions;

1) Where did the comparison take place?
2) Who supplied the telescopes?

You mentioned that the report isn't "an indepth analysis or comparison"
and is merely an expression of your opinions, but after reading it
there's a few points I hope you can clarify for me. Have you had an
opportunity to try out a NexStar which had typically smooth and accurate
drive motions or is the one in the report the only sample you've used?
Did you check the collimation of the NexStar? If so, was it misaligned?
You reported that both scopes suffered from "induced vibrations" which
would have benefitted from using an electric focuser. However, since the
NexStar was mounted on a Meade field tripod and not the Celestron tripod
(reputed to be very solid and stable), do you think it's fair to compare
the steadiness of the scopes as such? Candidly, what really strikes me
about your report is that it squarely flies in the face of what so many
other ETX-125/EC and NexStar users have related. With this in mind, your
statement that "some may read the following and believe there is a Meade
bias in what I say", is a very accurate prediction . I've used the
ETX-125/EC and even allowing for a total remedy to the image shift and
collimation problems, there's no way I could imagine anyone seriously
suggesting that the ETX-125 would be a better made, more pleasurable
instrument to use than a *typical* NexStar 5. I'm hoping that any
further insights you can offer will help me better understand your

(BTW, please feel free to post this to your ETX website. Thanks.)

	Clive Gibbons                                           
	Technician, McMaster University, 
	School of Geography and Geology.         
Mike here: The "telescope party" took place at the home of Meade person. Meade supplied all the telescopes. The NexStar5 was not obviously out of collimation. Do I trust them to have not modified the NexStar5? Do I trust them to have not supplied a non-representative ETX-125EC? The answer to both is "yes", otherwise I would not have agreed to the opportunity. Meade has earned my trust. Others may have different experiences but product substitution is counter to good business practices and I don't believe Meade would do that. This was my first opportunity to experience either the ETX-125EC or the NexStar5. I can only report on what I experienced; your mileage may vary. As to earlier experiences with the ETX-125EC, remember, those reports were based upon units that would (or should) be fixed by Meade. Most reports coming from users of the newer or repaired scopes are more inline with my comments. Based upon my "sample of one", the ETX-125EC performed better than the NexStar5. This is like when you go into the store and try out two competing products. Unless you do indepth testing (take them both home and try them out) you have to make a decision based upon your experience (and information available from elsewhere). As I stated, I reported my experiences.

Added later:

When you say that the Nexstar "was not obviously out of collimation",
how did you determine this? Examine a star at high mag.? Check intra and
extra-focal images? Did you try observing through the N5 without the
star diagonal, to see if that made any difference? I'm sure you're aware
that relatively small amounts of miscollimation can greatly affect the
visual performance of any SCT and I'd hope you considered this when
making your comparison.

I'm not going to debate what your opinions, personal experiences and
conclusions may be. HOWEVER, if you sincerely wish your report to be
more useful to your readers, I think you should clearly and
unambiguously state where the review took place and more importantly,
who supplied the telescopes. It doesn't matter how much *you* trust
Meade Instruments. To leave out that sort of "background info." can only
make your report seem less credible to a critical reviewer. Please, edit
your report to make mention of where the "telescope party" took place
and who supplied the scopes. Thanks.

Unfortunately, you've neglected to comment on the Meade tripod issue.
Let me ask again; do you think it's fair to compare the 125 and N5, with
both mounted on the Meade tripod? After all, isn't that something like
road testing a Ford which has been fitted with Chevy suspension parts?
It doesn't make sense and can invalidate some of your impressions.

In closing, I'd just like to make a few more points that I hope you'll
consider. I know you have great trust in Meade Instruments, but let's
think about the following... Meade has laid an egg with the initial
release of the 125 and is now doing their best at "damage control" to
mollify the situation. They set up a "scope party" with all instruments
supplied by them (INCLUDING the Nexstar) and invite you over to "test"
things (with 3 Meade reps present) and, naturally, report the findings
to your website. Now, does anyone need Sherlock Holmes to fathom that
Meade knew very well what the outcome of this little demonstration would
be? "Trust" can only go so far, in my opinion and should never replace
critical thinking and a healthy dose of skepticism. I'll continue to
enjoy your Mighty ETX website and sincerely hope that it shall always
serve the best interests of your readers and yourself, rather than Meade
Mike here: I felt that the collimation was not obviously bad based upon the fact there were no shape distortions during focusing. Since time was limited, no collimation tests were run on ANY of the telescopes. The tripods were the same and so therefore not a factor in the comparison. Like having Goodyear tires on both the Ford and Chevy. As to intentional misrepresentation by anyone or any company, I prefer to believe that we are all honest and what I would call "professional". Until such time as that trust is violated, I will continue to believe that. You, and perhaps others, now believe that *I* have violated that trust since I trusted Meade to be a responsible company. Until I have direct evidence that Meade has violated my trust, I will standard by my initial, albeit somewhat limited in scope, comments.

More info:

> I felt that the collimation was not obviously bad based upon the fact 
> there were no shape distortions during focusing.  Since time was limited, 
> no collimation tests were run on ANY of the telescopes.

OK, there was no gross miscollimation. However, the N5 could very well
have been slightly misaligned, which would only show up when observing a
star or planetary image at high power. More commonly, the star diagonal
is misaligned (the prism not sitting right in it's housing). This can be
remedied by opening the back cover plate of the diagonal and
repositioning the prism. If you didn't check for this as a possible
cause of the N5's disappointing imaging, you might very well come to the
wrong conclusion as to which scope had the best optical performance.
Every Celestron 5" SCT I've seen which sports "Starbright" coatings has
delivered *very* bright images for it's aperture... certainly brighter
than an ETX-125. To compare it to an ETX-90 would be silly, *unless*
there was something very wrong with that particular N5. Think about it,
Mike; Meade supplied *all* the scopes. I think it's time you put all
that "trust in Meade" on the back burner and considered things a bit
more critically.

> The tripods were the same and so therefore not a factor in the 
> comparison.  Like having Goodyear tires on both the Ford and Chevy.

Sorry, but I'm not buying that. The Meade tripod has been readily
demonstrated to have trouble adequately supporting anything larger than
an ETX-90. To put an N5 on top of one can only make the N5 look worse
than it really is. If Meade was sincere in showing you a true comparison
of the ETX-125 and N5 *systems*, they *should* have put the N5 on a
dedicated Celestron tripod. Once again, Meade stacked the deck against
the N5.

> As to intentional misrepresentation by anyone or any company, I prefer to 
> believe that we are all honest and what I would call "professional".  

You can believe what you want, Mike, but let's leave it up to your
website visitors to decide. A good start would be to inform readers, in
your comparison article, where the review took place and who supplied
the scopes. There's no point in being coy. You might also like to make
clear that while you noticed the N5 wasn't performing well, you didn't
get a chance to determine why this was the case. Your article suggests
that the variance was due to the two different optical designs. Do you
know this for a fact, or was this suggested by the Meade guys?

I'm sure you're a fine, upstanding guy, Mike. I've enjoyed reading and
contributing to your website in the past and have directed others to it.
However, your reputation as a fair source of ETX info. is being
seriously eroded by what appears to be undue influence from Meade
Instruments. Mike, do yourself a favor by stepping back a bit and
reconsidering who's best interests are being served by the recent
additions to your website. Right now, it looks like Meade is the only

Best wishes,


Subject:	 Thanks
Sent:	Wednesday, October 13, 1999 12:25:33
From:	s1253639@cedarnet.cedarville.edu (Ryan M. Flunker)
Thanks for your web site.  I just recently recieved my new 125, so far
it looks great.  I just wanted to say thanks because while I've been
waiting for my etx to arrive I've done a lot of researching from your
web site.  I am especially encouraged by your recent review of the etx
and nexstar.  Thanks again,
          Ryan Flunker

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125EC Report
Sent:	Tuesday, October 12, 1999 00:22:09
From:	wgats@gunnison.com (Wayne Gatschet)
In reference to the vibration, none on drive, all was from focusing. I
tried in the daylight on my concrete front porch and still got a lot of
vibration, more than I noticed from the ETX-90EC a local store had on
display, but then the 125 was at about twice the power (26mm ep). No big
deal, same problem with vibs on every manual focus scope I've ever

The power focuser would greatly enhance the viewing experience, it was
difficult to get to a clear focus quickly with everything in the EP
swirling wildly around.

Subject:	 pictures taken by the new ETX-125
Sent:	Monday, October 11, 1999 21:20:55
From:	npny@gis.net (nelson)
Has anybody taken any pictures using the ETX-125.  I would really like
to see pictures of the moon, sun, jupiter and saturn.   I just order the
new ETX and i have a waiting list of 5 months.  To tell you the truth,
it's my first telescope and i did enough research, to know that this
telescope is the best one in the market for astrophotography.   Please
let me know Mike, if my choice was a good one and if not please point me
to a new direction where i could enjoy looking at the night sky and
really seeing planets and stars with a good view.



Subject:	 ETX 124EC Warranty Returns
Sent:	Monday, October 11, 1999 20:44:32
From:	relgert@datanet.ab.ca (Rob Elgert)
First of all, thanks for the excellent site.  As I sent my scope back
for repairs 6 weeks ago(baffle/collimation/vibration problems), this is
all I've had to keep me going.  I love my scope however Meade has
quickly turned it into a Love/Hate relationship. The scope was a
pleasure to use, regardless of the problems including a total failure in
the autostar software.

After waiting for  4 months for initial reciept,  I am now waiting again
with no indication from meade of a possible return date following
warranty work.  The dealer keeps getting conflicted information on a
return and dealing with the Meade service reps is like talking to brick
wall.  Although I am reading excellent reviews on the repaired scopes, I
am starting to lose hope of ever seeing the night sky though an ETX

Can anybody tell me what the status is of these warranty returns.  Due
to withdrawal, I am starting to think Nexstar.  At least then I could
begin my new skywatching life that would include a serious dose of Meade
bashing. After all,

any scope to look thru beats no scope at all.  By the way, if anyone
from Meade is reading this......wake up!!!!!!!!
Mike here: Repaired scopes have been going out. So hopefully yours will arrive soon. As to the NexStar5, see my comments posted 12 October.

Subject:	 Meade is shipping again
Sent:	Monday, October 11, 1999 16:15:55
From:	benes99@ix.netcom.com (Phil Salimbene)
Thought everyone would like to know that according to Shutan Meade is
shipping again.  Got a call from Shutan camera that the ETX-125 that I
ordered in April was in.  They said that about a dozed went out before
mine and that I should expect delivery before Friday Oct 15th.

Will let you know how it performs as soon as it arrives.

Thanks again!

Phil Salimbene
Edison, New Jersey

Subject:	 Optical comparison etx90, etx125
Sent:	Sunday, October 10, 1999 09:58:09
From:	tommeehonda@webtv.net
Hi mike, I noticed you have looked at saturn with the 125. I was just
wondering a couple of things,  at what power did you look at it? And how
did the image compare  with the 90?

                             Thanks,  Tom
Mike here: Stay tuned for my report. I'm hoping to finish it today or tomorrow.

Subject:	 meade replacing my etx 125
Sent:	Sunday, October 10, 1999 04:29:11
From:	rlemish@supernet.ca (ron lemish)
Last august I received my new etx 125. One of only 40 sent up to canada,
and only 5 sent to my store. I went to the rockland astronomy star party
in nh. Just prior to going  about 1 hr. Away to springfield vt and

At the star party my etx 125 was on the newly purchased meade field
tripod. Well the scope was only 5 days old and it smashed to the
ground. One leg of the tripod was about 18 inches short, the leg had
collapsed, even though it had been tightened very well.

In short the meade canadian distributer has been most helpful. I will
get a new scope and tripod in the near future. I have been told that the
tragedy of the collapse is a blessing in disguise, that i shall be
obtaining what amounts to a new and better scope beccause of meade

To be precise i have read a little on your site of some fixes. Can you
tell me in fact what meade has done to their scopes that has made them
temporarily stop  shipping ?? Local people in montreal here mention 
baffle or mirror changes please detail.

Thanking you in advance

                    RON LEMISH Lph.
Mike here: Sorry to hear about the fall. Meade's tripod has been known to slip, hence the modification described on the Tech Tips page as well as a product from Scopetronix. I don't know all the details of fixes but do know that many of the problems were caused by the design of the packaging. That has been corrected.

Added later:

Thanks for the promp reply. I'll check out the tripod as to prevent
slipping. Some people told me to pu a cotter pin through the legs to
minimize slippage. I'd rather stop it from happening altogether.

From what you have learned, can you be at all specific as to the 2 or 3
changes that were engeneered into the etx 125 that necessitated stopping
the shipping and will result in a proposed $100.00 Price increase ???? 
New packaging is not worth a $100.00 Increase.

Hope you can help further, love your site.
And later:
Thanks anyway,, and a special thanks for all that you have done for so
many thousands through your web site.  I could not think, as a meade etx
owner, ever doing without it. Your effort and web site is outstanding. I
knew about the stop shipping order as soon as it was ordered but meade
was keeping things pretty close to their chest. I will ask my meade
contact the specifics and if i find them out, i shall contact you.

Keep up your superb work, i know it must be a labor of love.

Subject:	 ETX-125EC Report
Sent:	Sunday, October 10, 1999 02:21:44
From:	wgats@gunnison.com (Wayne Gatschet)
Well I've had my new 125 out for two nights now, here's what I found.
From the out of focus star test the scope looks to be perfectly
collimated. With two EP's 26mm & 9.7mm & 2X I have 4 possible powers,
75, 150, 200, & 400. Even at 400 power I can detect zero focus shift,
Great! Vibration is a problem at all powers, regardless if the scope is
on the Meade tripod, or on a concrete slab. Seem to be to much give in
the fork arms, but thats what you get with plastic. Worse on the tripod.
The powers focuser seems to me to be a must for a steady focus. Vertical
(Dec.) drive is very tight no slop or hesitation. However there is a
large amount of hesitation in the Horizontal (R.A.) drive, depending on
the speed your using, anywhere from 1 sec on 9 to 5-8 sec on 1. I have
to get the RA loc very tight before the scope will turn. Is there a fix
for this, I don't remember seeing one? I pulled the bottom cover and
looked at the worm gear assembly looks tight. The gear the worm drives
starts turning before the scope does, Problems seems to be somewhere in
the lock part of the assembly. First night out used ver 1.1j on the
autostar, would not keep object in EP even when sync'ed. Second night I
had upgraded to 1.3b, It kept objects in EP. After two star easy
alignment scope missed ever targed in EP, but were in view finder.
Missed by same amount each time. Tried several two star alignments same
results, Think problems is with hesitation in RA drive. I'm not sure
what to do, I hate to risk sending it back the Meade, Don't know what
I'll get back. Any sugestions? All in all a great scope.
Mike here: The next item on this page is a tip from Meade about the RA lock. Be certain it is TIGHT. This allows for better movement. As to the vibration you mentioned, I assume you were referring to hand-induced vibrations during focusing and not vibrations from the drive. I saw no vibrations from the drive in the model I looked through (and will get the report on it online as soon as possible). I also found that 1.3 was incredibly accurate in tracking once aligned.

Subject:	 RA Lock
Sent:	Friday, October 8, 1999 14:45:59
From:	Meade Instruments Corporation
The RA axis of the ETX-125 has zinc in the locking clutch.  Sometimes
the zinc acts as a pretty good bearing and requires a little more force
to lock it.  Some customers may not be locking the RA axis tight enough.
Tell them to give it a little tighter push on the RA lock lever and the
slipping clutch will go away.  They will also notice a big improvement
in pointing accuracy.

Subject:	 manual mode?
Sent:	Thursday, October 7, 1999 23:00:52
From:	redmoon@pacbell.net (redmoon)
Just wondering if the etx 125 is able to move in manual (unpowerd) mode,
in case the batteries die out in the field. I understand the nexstar 5
is not able to move at all without electrical power... I have been
reading all the posts for several months now and I am still trying to
decide between an etx and n5....

Looking forward to your comparison, and also to  your etx 70 report...

Mike here: Just like the ETX-90EC, you can move the ETX-125EC manually by holding the OTA (optical tube assembly) and/or fork and moving the telescope by hand. There is no manual "slow motion" control like on the original ETX.

Subject:	 ETX-125ec info
Sent:	Thursday, October 7, 1999 13:56:45
From:	gillespt@setmms.tusd.k12.az.us (Tom Gillespie)
I found your site as I searched for more info/prices for an ETX-125ec. I
teach earth science in a high school setting and wish to use some of my
funding to purchase the 125 and accessories.  So what i need from you,
if you can do it, would be a suggested list of what to purchase to
outfit the whole thing, telescope, lenses, tripods, etc.  This will be a
one time deal and I want to do it right the first time.  I'd have about
$2,000 limit and would need sort of a must-have, should-have,
like-to-have listing if possible.  Being new to this I could sure use so
guidance.  I also have a Meade refractor at home and wonder if the
lenses would be interchangable with the 125.  Can you help or show me
where to go to get the info I need?

Thanks for the help and time!!

Tom Gillespie
Mike here: Check the Buyer/New User Tips page. Lots of good ideas there.

Subject:	ETX 125 vs. NexStar
Sent:	Thursday, October 7, 1999 10:27:16
From:	Mccoy2302@aol.com
You mentioned in a recent reply that you would have the opportunity to
compare the ETX 125 with the NexStar.  Not to put too much pressure on
you, but we're counting on you!  I'm sure your impressions will be of
interest to many (including me - I expect my first 125 to be delivered
any day now).  Let us know your thoughts.  I will say that the helpful
salesperson at Oceanside Photo & Telescope told me that the second batch
of ETX's is nothing like the first - "three times the scope" in terms of
quality, motors, gears, etc.  Since the Meade optics seem to always have
been fairly good (and I've waited sooo long now - since May), I decided
to give it a try before going the NexStar route.  Look forward to your
Mike here: I still haven't written up my report but I'll have several comparisons to make. Want a sneak preview? Saturn was MAGNIFICENT in the ETX-125EC and only so-so in the NexStar5. Details will be in the report, which I hope will go online sometime this weekend.

Sent:	Thursday, October 7, 1999 09:21:10
From:	isochronos@yahoo.com (Eric Jacobsen)
I just bought a Meade 125ETX from Nature Company Oct 1.  It was part of
the second wave and was shipped direct from Meade to the Brea Mall
location in Orange County Ca ( 20 mile trip).

There was some extra packing foam (very stiff) between the bottom of the
OTA and the mount, maybe this is what Meade added to correct "shipping"

First Light using standard 26mm EP: saw Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon.
Very Sharp! NO COLLIMATION PROBLEMS!!!  I checked with the out of focus
test. the blurred star images were perfect concentric donuts. No
noticable focus shift.

The autostar placed the target in the Field of view every time, I really
enjoyed the "grand tour"  I saw the ring medula, Andromeda, M13, and
whole bunch of star cluster, that I hand never heard of.

I bought the Meade field tripod because I like the mount head. I will
reinforce the legs with extra clamps, they seem to be th source of the
slight wobble.

Conclusion: I LOVE MY ETX!!  This is the perfect scope for me.  I live
in a light and air polluted city.  I would be impossible for me to find
many objects without the Autostar because I can't see enough stars. I
don't have the time to drive to dark skies.  I don't have the budget for
a larger scope. Setup time is five minutes.  Years ago when I had access
to telescopes, I spend many hours trying to find a few objects. Last
night I saw 15 objects in as many minutes.  That means I can do this
every night instead of once a month at a star party. This is real
astronomy for the masses.
A very happy Meade Customer
Mike here: Thanks for the report. Glad to hear your report. By the way, keep that extra packing for the rear of the scope in case you travel with the ETX. It is important to use it when putting the ETX into a case.

Subject:	 ETX-125EC 
Sent:	Wednesday, October 6, 1999 22:11:15
From:	wgats@gunnison.com (Wayne Gatschet)
After waiting since mid June for the 125, it showed up today. Scope
looks perfect, Autostar works (ver 1.1j), but alas, clouds rolled in and
it started raining. Looks like it will be Friday or Sat. before there
will be a clear night to check everything out. I checked it out in the
daylight with the 26mm EP there was no detectable image shift. Very
little hesitation in the vertical (declination) drive, but quite a bit
in the horizontal (RA) drive, several seconds. I'm going to try 1.1j
before upgrading. Let you know what I find.

Subject:	 ETC 125
Sent:	Wednesday, October 6, 1999 06:09:58
From:	rgroday@nytimes.com
Gotta call yesterday from Astronomics, they got in 200 ETX 125's and
autostars. My reservation was #117 on thier list, they said they would
ship last night, so I am looking forward to getting my scope on friday.
Hope the packaging etc, is ok. Ill post my initial review of the 125
over the weekend (if all is well) SInce I am upgrading from a ETX 90,
ill try a side by side comparison.



Subject:	 ETX-125EC User Feedback
Sent:	Tuesday, October 5, 1999 09:19:49
From:	msibbern@forbin.com (Michael Sibbernsen)
Just received one of the "updated" ETX 125s directly from Meade.
Beautiful telescope, and the images are excellent. I do however have
some terrible slosh in the RA drive. It may take up to 6 seconds on the
button before it kicks in, and then usually overshoots the target. Is
there a published fix for this? I would hate to send this back after
waiting 6 months in the first place.

Best- Michael Sibbernsen
Mike here: You didn't specify whether the problem is with the standard controller or the Autostar. If both, then a mechanical problem likely exists. I did not see this much backlash in the ETX-125EC I had a chance to try out.

Subject:	 your review(s)
Sent:	Tuesday, October 5, 1999 05:25:12
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
I'm looking forward to reading your comparison of the 125 vs. N5 - would
also be interested to hear of further results with the 90 EC - thanks,
as always!
Mike here: Still have to write it all up. Just too much to do!!!!

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Copyright © 1999 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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