Last updated: 30 August 2003
This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. 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:	ETX-125 corrector plate cleaning?
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 14:24:57
The text below (starting with "While out viewing mars..." ) was posted
to a couple different newsgroups (alt.telescopes.meade & alt.astronomy)
this afternoon for comment. Then I thought why not just ask the ETX

Your input will be appreciated- especially if you tell me I didn't ruin
the corrector plate.

Have a great labor day weekend!


While out viewing Mars last week, my Meade ETX-125 corrector plate got a
pretty good dose of dew over the course of the evening. I let the scope
thoroughly dry and upon inspection the next day, the corrector plate had
a somewhat mottled appearance. Nothing serious, but enough to make me
want to get it back to the pristine condition it was in when it was new.

Anyway, per Meade's instructions, I mixed a solution of distilled water
and isopropyl alcohol to make a cleaning solution. Then using a small
amount of solution and a microfiber towel, I proceeded to 'clean' the
corrector plate. It appeared that the solution was removing more than
the accumulated dust and dew spots- almost like it was removing the
coating on the plate. At this point I was committed to the task so I
proceeded to finish cleaning the entire outside surface of the corrector

Now, when it is completely dry and 'clean' (?, no more mottled
appearance anyway) the corrector plate simply looks 'dull' for lack of a
better word. This is inside under artificial light. Outside in indirect
sunlight, it looks pretty good. As I have a few more hours to wait until
it's dark here, I won't be able to check it out on Mars but frankly I'm
pretty apprehensive that I have damaged the corrector plate.

One, your thoughts would be appreciated. And two, if I have to send the
scope back to Meade to have them make it all shiny and beautiful again,
any idea what they might charge? Hopefully nothing as I followed their
'recipe' for the cleaning solution!
Mike here: You might try Dr. Clay Sherrod's cleaning solution; see the Cleaning Optics article on the Buyer/New User Tips page. That may restore the look, assuming the actual coating wasn't removed (was this a UHTC system?).


Yeah Mike, it was.

Personally, I find Meade documentation somewhat lacking but for the life
of me I saw no 'cautions' or warnings about cleaning- either UHTC or
non-UHTC optics.

I'll check out the cleaning optics area.

Mike here: If it turns out that the documentation applied to the older non-UHTC model you could probably argue that Meade is responsible if you damaged the coating.
Subject:	Terrestrial Photography
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 11:37:09
From: (Michael Stupinski)
Any advice on whether or not to attempt removing the ETX 90EC tube
assembly from the yoke (via the 4 hex screws) to allow its use for
terrestrial photography on a normal tripod?  There is a normal tripod
thread on the block on the bottom of the tube.  It would be a lot easier
to transport the the optics that way, and the motors really aren't
needed for that application. I'm just a little concerned about charging
ahead with this although I can't see where there would be any problem.

Mike here: Actually, the ETX-90 is designed to be removed from the fork arms and used as a spotting scope. So using it as a 1250mm telephoto lens by mounting it to a sturdy photographic tripod and attaching a camera is perfectly doable.


Thanks for the prompt response and boost to my confidence, Mike!  I'm
really a "newbie" to astronomy and telescopes, so it's nice to have you
and your wonderful site available.

Hope sometime soon I can contribute an answer, rather than a question.


Subject:	Etx 125
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 07:10:37
From: (timothy dennis)
You have answered questions for me in the past which have been very
helpfull. I now have one that maybe you have not heard about. I have
recently been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease and am not able to focus
my 125 under normal circumstances due to tremors. I have not tried the
clothespin trick but am wondering if the Flexifocus would be helpfull or
if I should just invest in somekind of electronic focuser. It is really
impossible to use the standard Meade focus knob. I can no longer focus
stars at pinpoint accuracy which messes up planets, nebula, etc. My
condition will only worsen over time, but I will always want to look at
the stars.I have recently purchased a Teleview 13 mm and a Meade 4.7mm
Ultra wide angle eyepieces thinking this will help.Have not had the
opportunity to use them yet. Thanks. Tim Dennis.
Mike here: Sorry to hear about the diagnosis. You might try the clothespin trick; if you can approach the pin slowly you might be able to focus. Don't grab it, just let your fingers touch the side of the pin. I doubt that a short focus cable would help since you have to grab that. But perhaps a longer, homemade ones (see the Telescope Tech Tips page) would be usable. Lastly, you could use an electric focuser if you can press the Autostar or other buttons OK. You might also look into voice-actuated software. AstroPlanner has a voice-mode (maybe Mac only although there is a Windows version) but I haven't checked with it works with focusing through the Autostar.
Subject:	RA settings on ETX90
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 05:41:14
last night my batteries ran out on my autostar so instead of replacing
them i decided to have a go at finding my way manually which was
actually quite appealing having found stuff myself, the thing is in the
etx90 instruction manual it says the upper times on the RA circle are
for northern hemisphere whereas in your book "mighty etx" on p49 it says
the upper times are for the southern hemisphere,  so basically i located
the andromeda galaxy and moved the sliding RA numbers ring to match the
location in star chart using top numbers (noticed your bit in book about
southern hem being top after) but i still couldnt find some objects and
even albiero which i know, didnt line up too near to the star charts
settings, so could u pls tell me if you or the manual are correct about
the RA times and also if you can, exactly what time on the RA i put by
the little arrow in polar alignment?
 tnx for your time, eddie
Mike here: The easiest way to check which side to use is to note which way the numbers increase. As the telescope moves eastward, Right Ascension increases.
Subject:	ETX-125 hand controller malfunction
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 00:38:23
From: (Urs Schke)
Whilst undertaking my ETX-125 and its clutches a mechanical inspection I
made stupid mistakes with the wireing plugs that are inside the
telescope bottom. It was the plug for the left/right movement (RA axis)
that I once placed 180 wrong and another time 1 pin out. The result is
horrible and yet difficult for me to understand: the right/left movement
with the Autostar #497 computer controller is now working only with max.
speed no matter what I have selected. Up and down movements work
correctly with all speeds selected. But now: with the standard
electronic controller (handbox), the right/left movement works perfect
with all possible 4 speeds one can select, and of course up and down is
ok as well.
For any good idea I am grateful.
Thank you and all the best
Urs Schoeke
Mike here: Since you say the standard handcontroller works fine, it would seem that the wiring is OK. Have you done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES with the Autostar?
Subject:	Thanks for etx comparison on Mars
Sent:	Friday, August 29, 2003 20:09:35
From: (t.s. lee)
"A frequently asked question is "how will Mars look" in a particular
telescope. I decided to take some photographs of Mars through several of
my telescopes to show a comparison. So, on the morning of 13 July 2003 I
set up the ETX-70AT, ETX-90RA, ETX-125EC, and the LXD55-8"SC."


Thanks for taking the time to do the comparison.  I have an ETX-70, and
am contemplating a change to ETX-90.

"Don't look for any real details in the photographs; I present them for
telescope comparison purposes only. The quality of the images does not
represent the view during periods of good seeing."

That said, is it possible to see the dark areas and polar ice cap on
Mars from suburban L.A.?  I figure normally not, but since Mars is so
close and bright right now...  What are my chances, as I can't do dark
sky viewing.

Mike here: If you look out to the Southeast right now you can see Mars very nicely, even from LA. So, yes, you'll be able to view it nicely with a telescope.
Subject:	Flip mirror detached on ETX-105
Sent:	Friday, August 29, 2003 11:59:40
From: (James Clark)
First thanks for the great site.  I did loads of reading before buying a
Meade ETX-105.  I bought it 2 months back and used it once before my
move to come live in the Middle East for four years (no clouds).  In the
shipping the flip mirror has come off its mounting plate.  It is now
stuck so that it mostly obscures the aperture from the front of the
scope.  Looking through the front of the scope I see what I take to be
the brown glue on the back of the mirror.  My problem is that I've just
moved to Oman and shipping it to Europe or the States for repair is
going to cost a fortune and a lot of time (Mars opposition this weekend,
groan).  I'm thinking of taking off the back and trying to reattach the
mirror.    I figure the warranty doesn't cover my shipping damage anyway
so I might as well have a go.  Do you think there is any chance of
success or is it doomed to failure and further damage?

Thanks again,

flip mirror

Mike here: Ouch. You can attempt the repair but aligning it will be a challenge. Also use caution about the glue you use; you don't want to use any that will "outgas" and coat the optical surfaces. And no, I have no recommendation on that. Alternatively you could purchase a "Visual Back" (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page) to use an eyepiece at the rear port.

Subject:	choice of filter for deep sky with ETX125
Sent:	Friday, August 29, 2003 10:51:14
Many thanks for your web site.  I have just bought an ETX125 and would
very much  appreciate your advice on choosing filters for deep sky
observation. Meade seem to have several sets of 4 filters.  Which would
be the best choice?
Thanking you in advance
(Lewes, East Sussex, UK)
Mike here: What is best for you will depend on the object and your viewing conditions. However, most of these types of filters work best on larger aperture telescopes. But you can read some reports on the Accessory Reviews - Filters page.
Subject:	Mars and the Arkansas Governor
Sent:	Friday, August 29, 2003 07:32:57
From: (P. Clay Sherrod)
Good morning....on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, Clay and
Patsy Sherrod were pleased to host the Governor Mike Huckabee (left in
photograph) and First Lady Janet Huckabee of Arkansas.  The Governor and
his wife and entourage comprised of State Representative David Haak, and
Arkansas Parks Commissioner Debbie Haak, as well as a security team from
the Arkansas State Police came to Arkansas Sky Observatory to witness
Mars on its closest approach.

Because of poor seeing conditions (....doesn't it always happen this
way....?) Mars was not as impressive as it could have been, but we
obtained images for them to return to Little Rock with as well as
certificates from ASO as having "officially" observed Mars during this
close apparition.

In addition to Mars, the Governor et al were treated to an actual
astrometric measurement and imaging of comet C/2001 K5 (Linear) for
submission to the Harvard MPC, CCD imaging of the Ring (Messier 57) and
Dumbbell (M-27) nebulae, and a tour of the sky via the robotic Meade 16"
telescope at the observatory.

We learned that the Governor and First Lady are avid skywatchers and are
shopping for a Meade LX 90 for the Governor's upcoming birthday.

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive
Petit Jean Mountain
Harvard/MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mt.
MPC H43 - Conway
MPC H44 - Cascade Mt.
Dr. Clay
Mike here: I'm sure I speak for all of us in congratulating Dr. Clay and Patsy!
Subject:	Orion Barlow
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 23:32:53
From: (Ross W Valentin)
I was wondering if I can use the Orion Shorty 2x Barlow on my ETX 90 RA
telecope? Its specs are 1.25" diameter, 1.6 inches barrel length.

I want to purchase it but I don't know if I can use it in my telescope

Hope you can reply


Mike here: "Shorty" Barlow Lenses should work OK.
Subject:	Difference between Meade #124 and #126 Barlow
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 19:59:24
From: (Randy Selman)
Can you tell me if there is any optical difference between these two
barlow lenses and how can you tell them apart?
Mike here: The #126 is slightly higher quality; the #124 is designed for the low-end ETX-60 and ETX-70 telescopes.
Subject:	Meade ViewFinder 825 and 827 both works for ETX-90EC?  Barlow lens good deal?
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 13:52:29
From: (Kin Ng)
I just purchased the ETX-90EC and dicovered immediately the viewfinder
that came with it is difficult to use.  I looked in vain for a Meade 825
viewfinder but found a cheap 827 one on  Do you know if I
can get the 827 and use it in the existing ETC-90EC view finder bracket?
Here is the Amazon link.

Another need after reading your site is a Barlow Lens.  I found one on
the discovery store site:

Do you think that one works (and well) on my ETC-90EC?


Mike here: That finderscope is designed for the ETX-60 and -70; I don't know that it will work with the ETX-90. The Barlow Lens looks like the "shorty" one so it should work if it is indeed a shorty model.
Subject:	ETX car power supply cord
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 13:44:17
I see a lot of great posts here about portable power supplies and power
supply cords.

As I only want a power supply cord that will plug into the accessory
(formerly cigarette) socket in my truck, is it really just as simple as
getting a 12 VDC cord/plug assy. and soldering on the correct (center
positive!!) Radio Shack plug?

(This is for an ETX 125 by the way)

I also have a Vector 'Start-It' model VEC021ST 12 volt power supply.
Could it be used if I'm unable to set up the scope close to my truck?


Mike here: Yes, it is that easy. In fact the Meade AC power supply comes with a cigarette lighter adapter. As to other power supplies, as long as it is 1.5A it should work.


Thanks for the prompt reply! I couldn't figure out how to post the
message to your site so I figured I might as well take a shot and send
it to the guy at the top.

It occurred to me after sending my message that maybe a fuse would be in
order. Do you have an opinion about this?

Mike here: Email is the right way. That allows me to "moderate". If you don't mind frying the electronics, don't worry about a fuse. But on the other hand...
Subject:	To Barlow or Not 
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 13:01:39
From: (thebostons)
If my calculaions are correct a 26mm EP on my etx105 yields 56.5X. The
12.4mm EP yields 118.5 (about double). Will I get better contrast using 
the 12.4 or the 26 with a 2X Barlow? No doubt the answer is already
somewhere in your site but I've read to fatique and don't find it. If
the Barlow/26mm combo is better do you have a recommendation as to the
Barlow of choice?
Mike here: A Barlow Lens adds some extra glass to achieve its focal length change. This means that there is a slight deterioration in the image quality when using one. So, if you have a choice (ie, money) using eyepieces alone to achieve different magnifications is best. However, if you want to keep costs down, you can certain use a Barlow Lens to effectively double your eyepiece collection (depending upon what you have).


Thanks and I apologize for not asking this next question in my earlier

What is the maximum power one should expect to use successfully on an
ETX105 without overpowering the scope? Last night, while viewing Mars, I
could see the polar ice cap distinctly but small with a 9.4mm EP. I also
looked at Mars through a 10" and an 8" Meade. Much to my surprise I
found the Mars image to be larger but not nearly as crisp as the image
in my 105. Should the 8" and 10", with appropriate EP's, give a crisp
image? Or, is the ETX so good that it "outshines" the others?

Thanks for your dedication to helping others.
Mike here: See the FAQ page for info on max magnification and how to calculate magnification.
Subject:	ETX-70AT and eyeglasses
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 12:43:51
From: (Kathy Fisher)
I am in the nearly "coke-bottle" range as far as myopia
(nearsightedness) goes.  This means taking off the glasses is really not
an option. Any tips on making viewing less of a strain?

Many Thanks,

Kathy Fisher
Mike here: Long eye relief eyepieces could help. So could turning down (or removing) the rubber eyeguard.
Subject:	ETX90EC Problems
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 21:27:10
From: (John O. Turnage, Jr.)
I am trying to find out if anyone else is having similar problems to
mine with their ETX90EC.  Here goes...  Purchased new in April 2003 but
not opened until May due to the fact it was an anniversary gift.  Upon
removal from the box telescope motors just ran on their own causing it
to move counterclockwise until reaching the stops while simultaneously
moving from zero degrees tilt to ninety degrees tilt.  I called Meade
and had to send it back to them.  I got it back in July.  I used it a
few times until last week at which time it began doing the motor dance
again.  Called Meade and had them send me one of the old-fashioned
controllers (I have an Autostar).  It arrived today and it didn't help. 
Now I have to send it back to them again. Any idea what is going on? 
The technicians are very friendly but that doesn't really matter as I
now have an expensive non-functional telescope.

Thanks in advance.  I was able to fight with it enough tonight manually
to at least get a glimpse of Mars...  beautiful.

John Turnage
Mike here: Sorry to hear you've had problems. Have you tried using different batteries? Flakey batteries can cause all sorts of odd problems. Bad connections can also cause problems. When it did work (with the Autostar) were you able to get good alignments? Did you do the RESET, CALIBRATE, TRAIN DRIVES?


I tried new batteries several times.  I never aligned the Autostar
because I was only interested in a few specific things (mostly just
Mars) and quite frankly, it has been very hazy in Atlanta this summer so
I have not even used it much.  When I first took it out of the box it
didn't work.  Meade fixed it and it worked for a few times and then all
of a sudden it was malfunctioning again.  It actually worked on a
Thursday night with brand new batteries, and then on the following
Monday (the next time I used it) it didn't work.  I have done a RESET
but not a CALIBRATION or TRAIN.  I have no control whatsoever of the
drives--they just move the telescope incrementally until it hits the
horizontal and vertical stops.  Thanks for the quick reply.  I have
arranged to send it back to Meade again.


Subject:	Vacation?
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 20:42:08
From: (Armstrong, Neil)

Your vacation has been cancelled. There are too many people that need
you here.

You can take a week off next year.

Subject:	ETX 125 Problem with Auto Focus
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 20:23:40
From: (Bruce Brisson)
With the electronic controller plugged into my ETX-125EC, I also plug
the auto focus into the "aux" so that I can use one controller (so far
so good).  However, when I down select the motion/focus speed to the
lowest setting, use the auto focus, and then select another higher
speed, the auto focus stops working.  The scope will still slew at the
different speeds.  Do I have an electronics problem?  The scope is 2
years onld.  I can reset the controller by turining the scope controls
off then on and the focus will work again until the above occurs.  This
is a real pain since every time I reset the scope slews automatically
off target.  Any suggestions?


Bruce Brisson
Mike here: If the focus problem is only at the slow speeds I would suspect one of two possible problems: either the battery power is too low or there is some drag on the focus shaft that only the higher torque of the faster speeds will supply. Check for some binding in the focus mechanism; you might have to remove the electronic focuser. Remember to tilt the OTA upwards to avoid having the focus shaft fall inside the tube.
Subject:	ETX 125 EC, Prices UK vs US
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 12:58:19
From: (Scott Moore)
I'm interested in purchasing a ETX125.

Trouble is how come us Brits have to pay .00 to 9.00 for the privilage ?
Usual rip of Britain. $1421.60 $1571.40 I suppose I could order one from
the States, even with delivery around the $50 mark, 5% import tax and
17.5% VAT ontop of that aswell it would still be cheaper.

Anyone from the UK brought via the States? What's the pros and cons of
doing so? Any info will be much appreciated

Mike here: Someday maybe we will have a true global economy without all the pains of paying extra just because you live in a different country. I'd like to get items in the states for the same "price" as in other countries. So it just isn't Meade doing it.
Subject:	ScopeTronix Service
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 10:12:16
From: (Dick Sontag)
I just wanted you and all of you out there to know what a great company
ScopeTronix is.

I ordered a Philips TouUCam Pro with adapter from them on 08/19/03.  I
was told that the unit was back ordered and should be available in a few
days.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive it from Florida to
Massacusetts on 08/21!

I had a problem with the adapter fitting into the cam and called them on
08/22.  I received the new part with paid package and postage for the
defective parts return on 08/26/03.

This is a company I intend to do more business with.

     Dick Sontag

Subject:	ETX-125 AT ?
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 09:41:05
From: (Jacky Poupot)
First, I would like to ask you that your Web Site is very interesting
for a newbie like me. (the best one)

I'm from France and I have decided to buy an ETX-125 EC. But Everywhere
here I only found ETX-125 AT. Could you tell me what the difference is ?

The ETX 125 AT is bundled with Autostar 497 and the tripod delux 884.
Could it be that the ETX that is in that bundle is an EC model ?

This AT model is UHTC too. So I think is a recent model.

Many thanks for you answer.

Best regards
Mike here: I seem to be answering this a lot lately. See the Announcements --> Meade page for the info.
Subject:	#884 Tripod instructions
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 09:25:50
From: (Jim Fisher)
Does anybody know where I can get the setup instructions for the #884
Tripod?  No instructions were included with my unit and I am not sure
which way the EXT-90 should be installed on the plate (if there is a
correct direction) and how do to polar alignment.  Thanks.

Mike here: I haven't come across any instructions for the #884 online but you can contact Meade; they will send the info to you. As to mounting, if you are not going to use the ETX in Polar Mode it shouldn't really matter which way you mount the ETX but if you are going to use Polar Mode then you need to attach the ETX so that it will tilt and point the fork arms at the North (or South) Celestial Pole. For more on aligning, see the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	re:   Motors died on 105etx ec
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 21:19:52
From: (Richard Seymour)
You wrote:
> (old batteries in about 15 hours) the motors moved in
> both directions and the autostar showed a motor failure 

When you change from very weak to new batteries,
try doing a Setup > Telescope > Calibrate 
that re-tunes the encoders for the higher voltage level.

good luck

Subject:	Your Site
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 20:01:24
From: (Kathy Gowans)
Just a quick note to let you know how much I appreciate your site.  I'm
hooked on it.  I love my Meade ETX-90EC with 883 tripod.

Your site has provided us with much useful information and help.  We
live in Salt Lake CIty and tonight we're hoping the skies will be clear
for a good look at Mars.  Keep up the good work.

Tom Gowans
Salt Lake City

Subject:	ETX 90 question
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 19:18:37
From: (GT Space)
I'm interested in Astronomy and would like to purchase my first
telescope and was considering the Meade ETX 90.  It's just the right
little scope for me that would fit my budget.

The question that I have is this, I have to purchase the telescope
through mail-order and was wondering what anybody's thoughts were on the
best on-line company for this would be.

Also, the question I have about the scope itself is this.  Is the tube
of the telescope "sealed" to prevent dust migrating into the inside.
Specifically, where the eyepieces attach, is there some sort of glass or
a lens inside that area?

Thanks for your help, GREG
Mike here: There are many excellent online dealers. I like OPT (I have a relationship with them), Scopetronix, and Shutan. But others have their own personal favorites. There is no permanent seal at the eyepiece but there is a cover included with the telescope.
Subject:	User Opinions Page
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 19:06:01
I just read your User Opinion page. Interesting. One plus for Meade that
wasn't mentioned: as a rookie, I learned a great deal about the
mechanics of telescopes. Yes, I had some problems with the ETX 90 EC out
of the box. By reading your site (especially Clay's stuff), I worked out
the bugs - and learned a lot. I agree that Meade's quality control needs
quite a bit of tweaking, and the instruction manual is minimally useful.
The online edition is much better. I feel sorry for ETX buyers who are
computer illiterate or those who don't know about your site to get it.

So, all in all, I'm glad I have my scope and this site.
                                                       George Dreitlein

Subject:	Meade Moon Filter
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 14:12:10
I own a Meade ETX 125 and by chnace I observed Mars through the Meade
ND96 (moon) filter.  Where the image without the filter had not been
well defined, the ND96 brought Mars into sharp focus.  I am not sure of
the reason, but wanted to pass the information along.   Scott D.
Mike here: I also use a Moon filter or other light reducing filter for Mars; it reduces the glare. I have also recommended using sunglasses for those who don't have a filter!
Subject:	lens cover problem
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 10:36:21
From: (mark wenrich)
I have a big problem. I know this sounds dumb, but my lens cover is
stuck. I was out using my scope the other nite, screwed it on as normal,
now i can't take it off. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to
remove it. I'm scared to put anything on to loosen it up for fear of
damaging the optics. I hope you can help, dying to check out mars this
week and i'm kinda stuck. Thanks for your time and help.

Mike here: See the FAQ page.
Subject:	EXT-90 Possible Mirror Alignment Problem
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 07:59:40
From: (Alan Georgian)
Thank you for the excellent site! Pardon if this question has been asked

I purchased an abused floor model from the Museum Company - which is
going out of business. At least the price was good! When looking at
bright stars and especially Mars - there appears a "smudge" light blob -
that extends to about the 11:00 o'clock position. Mars itself shows a
clean disk - there's just this halo.....(stars have a bright ray that
shoots off in the same direction - it's almost like a problem with my

At higher magnification -  I did the collimating thing (where you
de-focus - and get the donut shape) - and find that the "hole" is
off-set. At lower magnification, it's not so noticable

Is the halo effect a result of the scope being out alignment? Reading
the collimating tips made my hair stand on end...but Mars is here! Can
the Scope really be aligned with just a ever-so-slight turn of a
screw...and given the direction of the "smudge" - is there an educated
guess as to which one to turn?


Alan Georgian
Mike here: It does sound like the optics need to be collimated. And no, collimation is not easy although to some it may seem easy. What is easy is to mess things up even more. But you have a choice of doing it yourself or sending it to Meade.
Subject:	ETX and Vixen
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 07:21:27
Is it possible when I remove the ETX90 tube from the mount and place it
for example on a Vixen Polaris DX mount to make long exposure deep sky
astrophotograps with an analog camera (kinda heavy one).

You then have a good quality 3.5 inch Maksutov Casegrain on a good and
steady mount with accurate motors so that you can autoguide or starguide
by vision of the eye.

Or am I wrong and is it not recommendable?

I am seraching for a cheap way to do better deep sky astrophotography
with a normal camera or with a good autoguided CCD camera instead of a
webcam where I can use my ETX instead of buying a complete expensive new

Such a Vixen mount and/or a ccd camera are expensive enough for me.

please answers to


Job Geheniau
The Netherlands

Subject:	ETX125 question
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 05:12:55
From: (Raffel, Matt)
Do you have any information on using the 884 "deluxe" field tripod w/
and ETX125EC?

I found mounting it to the tripod was rather clumsy and difficult for
one person.  It seems like it should be easier...

Mike here: Personally I've not used the #884 but there are some user comments on the Accessory Reviews - Tripods page.
Subject:	Meade ETX Website Comment
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 03:52:30
From: (Jenny Morgan)

This is a wonderful site and I'm sure I will be utilizing it much. Do
you take donations? You certainly deserve them.

I just got a 125 and am impressed with its quality. Now I just need that
dew shield, a few bubble levels, camera adapters for a Nikon N90 and a
Nikon 950 digital and some good lessons in polar alignment.

Any suggestions?

Jenny Morgan
Milwaukee, WI
I found your donation link and made one. Your Welcome...

Could you recommend a 'goto' controller? And do you know of anyone doing
stuff with the Mac?
Mike here: There are lots of suggestions around the Site. If you have a specific question, feel free to ask. The ETX models have a GOTO controller: the Autostar. I do a lot with the Mac (PowerBook 17"). See the Autostar Information page; also the reviews of ScopeDriver and AstroPlanner.
Subject:	Re: DEC-Axis motor made smalls jumps at slow speed
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 02:24:16
From: (Mircea Malarski) wrote:

> Since the telescope was not used for a long time perhaps all that is 
> needed is some usage.  You could try slewing up and down several times, 
> hardstop to hardstop, and see if that improves things.

Thank you for this encourage. After slewing up and down several times
the effect really dissapeare.

M. Malarski

Subject:	ETX-90 Horizontal Lock
Sent:	Monday, August 25, 2003 10:31:56
From: (Bob Watt)
Hi, I never really got serious about my ETX 90 until the recent Mars
excitement and by then the one year warranty had run out.  The
horizontal lock does not lock.  (ie.I can always slew it horizontally by
hand, even when the lock lever is at full clockwise.)  And, of course,
the controller won't move it either.  (Vertical is ok)  Is this
something I should try to work on myself?  The lock lever has a small
set screw.  If I knew the size, I would try to remove and retighten. 
Any suggestions?

							Bob Watt
Mike here: See the FAQ page for how to adjust the lever position. This may be all that is required.


Thanks for the suggestion.  It seemed to work.  And the good thing was
that I was able to find my two allen wrenches that came with the scope. 
The bad thing is that I now have to make up my mind whether or not to
pop for the 884 tripod and the Autostar.

Thanks again for the help and for the amazing web site.  B. Watt

Subject:	Mars info and viewing in Naples, Florida
Sent:	Monday, August 25, 2003 03:19:07
From: (mark mathosian)
Thought you might like to read this article about what we and other
local astronomy groups  in southwest Florida are planning for this week
regarding Mars.  It is also an excellent summary of the Mars/earth/sun


Subject:	Difference between ETX-125EC and 125-ATC?
Sent:	Sunday, August 24, 2003 13:02:48
From: (Jack Fox)
Wal-Mart is selling an ETX-125 ATC for $957.  What is the
difference between the 125-EC and a 125 ATC ?

Is this a good price for the telescope? Thanks.
Mike here: If it is the ETX-125AT with the Autostar 497 and 884 tripod, then it is the standard offering. Not certain what the "ATC" means though. As to the difference between EC and AT models, see the Announcements --> Meade page. List price for non-UHTC model is $995.
Subject:	Motors died on 105etx ec
Sent:	Sunday, August 24, 2003 09:50:02
From: (Robert Bilbao)
Purchased a 105etx ec back in May '03.  Used a few times viewing the
moon, fantastic views. Last night Aug 23 set up to view Mars from my
backyard, aligned the scope and began the wait for darker skies and the
appearance of Mars.  Decided to move the scope to my front yard where
Mars would be visible sooner due to trees blocking the view in the back.
 Scope was carried to the front, started to be set up, plugged in
autostar beeped as usual and began the start up process.  Went to align
and nothing happened.  Motors appeared to have died.  Unplugged autostar
and began again, same result.  Next day tried to resetting the scope to
no avail.  Motors appear not to be working.  Any ideas before I make my
call to Meade.  Thanks for any advice and for the great site.

Bob Bilbao
Mike here: Do you have the standard controller? (I forget when they stopped offering it.) If so, does it slew the telescope? When you say "nothing happened" when you went to align, what do you mean? The Autostar said it was slewing but the telescope did not move in either axis? I doubt that both motors died simultaneously. I would suspect a battery problem first.


Thanks for your quick response.  I do not have the standard controller. 
I installed fresh batteries(old batteries in about 15 hours) the motors
moved in both directions and the autostar showed a motor failure and if
the problem continues to contact Meade.  Thanks for your assistance and
I will be purchasing the adaptor to avoid this situation in the future.
Hopefully this will not reoccur.  Onward to Mars.  Thanks again...

Bob Bilbao

Subject:	Clunking horizontal movement on 105
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 22:28:35
From: (William Wilson)
Like everyone says, Great Site!

I've had a 105 for a few months now. The last couple of times I used it,
I noticed that when setting the OTA in the home position, while turning
the tube either left or right, it appears to be hitting something in the
base. (Yes, the clutch is disengaged). This also happens when the scope
is slewing (which can really screw up a GOTO!).

I'm not afraid to try opening the base, but might I be better off
returning the unit to Meade since it's under warranty? Any ideas what
might be causing this?

Keep up the great work!

Bill Wilson
Mike here: If the "something" is in the same location, yes, it could be a serious problem, like a wire that has become out-of-place or something else that has broken off. If you want to open the base and look, do that. It could be something easy to move. But use caution and don't break any wires. If you haven't used the telescope much then all that might be necessary is to redistribute the grease by moving the OTA (slowly) in azimuth, both directions, hardstop to hardstop, several times by hand (with the axis unlocked).
Subject:	Mars viewing the evening of Aug. 23 from Massachusetts?
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 21:53:48
From: (Ted Brayton)
About a week ago, my dog woke me up very early in the morning, so I
figured I would check to see if I could view Mars for the first time.
Sure enough, it was right where it was suppose to be. I whipped out my
scope did a hasty setup, and viewed the red planet for about 10 minutes.
I figured I would wait till I got closer to the 27th to try to
photograph it.

Tonight, the 23rd, was just beautiful. Cool in the 70's, and not a cloud
for hundreds of miles. Tons and tons of stars viewable with the naked
eye, and Mars looked like a 727 bearing down on me from the ESE, just as
it should. I raced home set up my scope, and to my surprise, "Mars" was
a pale yellow or white. No red! Hooked up my CoolPix 995, still white.
Tried it thru my Barlow x2, still white. I have viewed Jupiter and
Saturn several times, and I know it is neither of those two. It was
about the same size as Jupiter, as it should. Uranus, sounds way to
small to confuse with Mars or Jupiter. I did not use any type of filter
last week or tonight.

What could be the problem?

Middleboro, MA
Mike here: Try wearing sunglasses. Seriously. Mars is so bright right now that the color "washes out" with even a small telescope. You could use filters to bring out specific details; I actually like using an adjustable polarizing filter (see the Accessory Reviews - Filters page), which reduces glare and make details visible. A Moon filter will do the same thing.


Thanks for information. I can't believe it can change that much, so
quickly. I figured the colored filters were for people really trying to
take a hard look at different things, didn't think I would need one just
to see red! I'll try out my moon filter tonight.

Thanks again for all your help,

Subject:	Your Hartmann Mask
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 16:00:11
From: (Paul)
i read through your very nice description of how to make the Hartmann
Mask and found it very interesting!

i noticed that you made this particular mask for your 8" scope. to make
this same type of mask for an ETX 90RA require different sized holes and


Mike here: Yes, you size the mask to fit your particular telescope. So, for the ETX-90, you would use the aperture cover to make the initial disk, the cut out holes that would be between the secondary mirror and the edge of the corrector lens.
Subject:	mike help
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 15:30:19
From: (David Sabet)
I've had a 125 for two years and really feel like an idiot with the
scope.  I'm not happy with the image (clarity, distortion) but don't
know if it's because I live near the beach or the scope is bad.  So I
need a place to start learning the ins and outs and your site is so
chock full I hardly know where to start.  Can you recommend a place to
start with understanding calibration and alignment (which is a pain in
the ass every time I set up the scope).

Any advice appreciated.  I plan to be in Oceanside with OPT on the 27th
and don't want to seem like a total dork.


David Sabet
Mike here: PLEASE see the "Email Etiquette" item on the ETX Home Page; your email was almost deleted as SPAM.
Lets see, image clarity can be affected by ocean air along with general poor seeing conditions, failure to let the telescope reach "thermal equilibrium" when first setting up (could take a couple of hours for the -125 for best results), dirty optics, poor eyesight, and more. You might want to look at some of the Telescope Performance articles on the Observational Guides/References page. As to calibration, you generally only due that once (or when changing batteries or switching from battery to AC or back). For alignment tips, see the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Beware the eye piece calculator link!
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 04:34:19
From: (Petersla)
Used your "other Astronomical
links site"  to access the "Eyepiece Calculator".  Paid for the full
download,  alas neither of the links for download worked (truncated or
missing bits)  and have been unable to contact the yahoo address to seek
help or credit.  The mail box is not available.   Beginning to look like
a quick way for some-one to make money!!!!

cheers Lee Peters -  (Australia)
Mike here: The link has been removed.
Subject:	What eyepiece is best for Mars?
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 19:48:20
I have a meade ETX and a 9mm and a 25mm eyepiece.  I noticed that with
the 25, I ge a very bright 'dot'.  and with the 9, I get a somewhat
fuzzy mars image. Waht should I buy?  I need to get another
eyepiece....maybe somewhere in between...and NOW!!	So, pleas tell me
what the best eyepiece is for viewing Mars in shapr detail, like it is
when I look at Jupiter.

Any help will be apprecialted.....including the best place to buy an
eyepiece at the best price.

Thank a alot, and I love your site!
Rowland Harris
Mike here: Which model ETX? You'll want something as close to the max magnification for your telescope aperture (see the FAQ page for how to calculate the maximum theoretical magnification). But keep in mind that Mars is not well positioned for Northern Hemisphere users (if that's where you are). So seeing may not be too good due to its low position in the sky. As to what eyepieces to buy, see the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page and the eyepiece articles on the Buyer/New User Tips page.
Subject:	Opposition of Mars on CBS' Early Show August 27th!
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 19:17:08
CBS will air a live interview with famed astronomer Jack Newton on CBS's
The Early Show on August 26th at 8:47 a.m. to discuss the opposition of
Mars and how best to observe it.

Wishing everyone good luck and clear skies,

Scott W. Roberts, Editor
The AstronomyOutreach network is an award winning web site devoted to
the people, events, and organizations involved in outreach to the public
in astronomy and space exploration.
Mike here: An earlier email had this as the 27th.
Subject:	External power - remove batteries?
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 15:48:42
From: (Smithies, Mark A)
A short, and possibly stupid, question:  If you are using an external
12v power source (eg car battery, Meade adapter etc.), should you remove
the eight AA batteries, or can you leave them in?
Mark Smithies
Mike here: You can leave them in. Unless the power jack is damaged, it will cut out the batteries when an AC adapter is connected.
Subject:	Making a Scopetronix FlexiFocus??????
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 02:27:25
From: (Bart spreeuwenberg)
First of all i want to thank you for the great help at your site. i've
managed to get rid of some problems by reading your answers. And now I
have a question myself. You mension the Scopetronix FlexiFocus cable
some times and said you can make it yourself.

First of all, wat is it and what does it do??

Second, how do you make it?

I hope you can answer my questions,
thanks Bart Spreeuw.

P.S. Could you please use easy words? My english isn't that great.
Mike here: For WHAT it is, see the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page; you'll find a review there. For HOW to make a homemade focusing cable, see the Telescope Tech Tips page; there are several focus related articles.
Subject:	ETX125 with UHTC 
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 21:31:25
From: (Herb Lancaster)
I have finally found a store with the Meade ETX125 in stock.  The
Discovery Store has them packaged in two ways.

I have the option to either buy the ETX125 packaged with the tripod and
UHTC,( no Auto Star ), or the tripod and Auto Star, ( no UHTC ).  My
short term reason for buying is the Mars event.  I realize I can buy the
Auto Star option later,( $147 ),.  I guess I need to know if the UHTC is
worth it? Your sight has been Extremely helpful in many ways but I have
not seen much on UHTC.

Thanks, Herb
Mike here: You can read some info on UHTC (including Dr. Clay Sherrod's test report) on the Announcements - Meade page. I did a side-by-side comparison of an ETX-90 with and without UHTC and the visual difference was very noticeable. I'd recommend the UHTC. You can always buy the Autostar later; in fact you can buy a used #497 or even a #495 (which can be upgraded via software to a #497).
Subject:	RadioShack 12v transformer?
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 19:31:56
From: (major jon the bold)
Is there any reason I should not run my ETX 125EC directly from house
current via a RadioShack 12v transformer?  As long as I get the polarity
correct, this shouldn't be a problem...should it?

Of course, I can always pick up the transformer Meade sells, but isn't
this the RadioShack transformer the same thing?



"I shall never believe that God plays dice with the universe."
Albert Einstein
Mike here: As long it can handle the required 1.5A. There are many reports of people using them. You can read more on power supplies on the Telescope Tech Tips page.


Thank you so much for the response.  I'll let you know how it goes.

BTW, your sight made my telescope purchase and first season much more
fun and interesting.  You are doing a very good thing indeed!

Subject:	ETX 125 serial number
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 14:26:35
From: (Carl Feeman)
I just received my ETX 125 and I was looking for the serial number. Can
you tell me where it is on the telescope?
Mike here: The last I checked there is no serial number. If there is one it could be inside the battery compartment or on the bottom of the base.
Subject:	Another quick question...
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 13:45:21
Thanks again for your advice on steering clear of the damaged ETX-125;
the more I have been reading up on the ETX's and on scopes in general,
the more relieved I am that I followed you and Dr. Clay's advice.

As I have been obsessing over what scopes I am in the market to purchase
over the last few days (well, ok last few weeks...) I have come to the
conclusion that my budget and interest fall in line with either the
ETX-90EC or the Celestron 4GT.  These two models seem to be relatively
well matched in features, quality and price (although the Celestron is

I know that you are a champion of the ETX series but I also know from
reading your reviews of other products that you can be fair and unbiased
in your recommendations.  I have been unable in my last few days of
searching to find a comparison between the 4GT and the ETX-90 EC.  It
seems to me as if the more natural comparison seems to be between the
4GT and the ETX-105.

Since the ETX-105 is out of my budget, I really can't consider it as a
beginning scope although in that comparison, the ETX seems to win
overall.  Do you have any information, weblinks, or personal opinion
experience regarding the comparison between the Celestron 4GT and the
ETX-90EC?  I feel somewhat hesitant to consider the 4GT (even though the
lower price is seductive) as I feel like I would be considered somewhat
of an outcast in the ETX family here on your wonderful website but I
want to consider it nonetheless.

Thanks again for you time and consideration.

Best regards,

Mike here: I have no experience with that Celestron model so can't comment on it or make a comparison. If you search the web you could probably find several websites that are similar to my ETX Site but for Celestron users. There are also Yahoo Groups for Celestron users. And non-Meade users are always welcome at my Sites but support for other telescope models is obviously limited.
Subject:	ETX-90EC - beginner
Sent:	Wednesday, August 20, 2003 21:49:48
I hope you can help me.  I am  new to all of this and happened to find
your web sight.  Did not know where to go to find some help.  So here
goes,,,,,,,,,  My husband bought me this ETX-90EC telescope knowing I
have some interest.  I don't really know what the heck I am doing,  When
I focus on something on land it is fine, when I then try and see 
something in the sky, (like Mars), all I get is a big white circle with
a dark circle right in the middle. What am I doing wrong?   Hope you can help.
Thanking you  in advance.
Mike here: Welcome to a wider universe! What you are doing is a common new-user mistake. When you are focusing the image you are trying to make the image as large as possible (which is incorrect) instead of trying to make it as clear as possible (which results in a view that is as small as possible with a given eyepiece). Since you probably know that stars will only appear as points of light, focus on a star. That is the correct focus position for the planets and the Moon as well.
Subject:	Re: Slew Speed Error
Sent:	Wednesday, August 20, 2003 13:38:58
From: (Vikas)
Thanks for your prompt reply, as per your advice I opened the controller
, but found out that the contacts were absolutely clean, just like new,
there was absolutely no sign for any corrosion or dirt. and I have also
moved the base & tube as per your directions but the scope is still
behaving like before.

if the problem is in controller then I can very easily send it to Meade
through courier for repair but sending the scope is very difficult.

Please advise


Mike here: You might want to look into getting an Autostar to use instead of the standard controller. You can buy a used #497 or a #495 (which can be upgraded to a #497 via Meade's Autostar Updater Application with Windows, a serial port, and a #505 cable, which you can buy or make). Might be easier than shipping the controller to Meade.


I have a good news, I changed the batteries of my scope and Lo behold
the scope started working accurately. I was able to see Mars polar cap
today using polar mode with no difficulties.

I think Low batteries was the real problem. Do you see any need for
further investigation if no problematic symptoms occur.

Please advise, And thanks a million for your prompt & informative

Thanks again.

Mike here: Ah yes, bad batteries. Always good to check for that first! Unless experience tells you different, assume you have solved the problem.
Subject:	Re:  Meade 105: Both EC and Autostar Don't Light Up
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 21:50:36
From: (Jane E. Hawkins)
>When you replaced the batteries that died did you look for any corrosion?

Yep.  Perfectly clean.

>  Did you try different batteries?

Yep. Two different sets.

>If neither handcontroller now works it
>is likely something on the circuit board (or the control panel) has
>failed.  Unfortunately, the means a call to Meade.

How dare you tell me what I expected to hear! ;-S  Sigh.   At least Mars
isn't hard to find right now, unlike some of the other stuff I love to

Thanks so much for your quick response!

Jane Hawkins
From: (Richard Seymour)
Sometimes the circuit board behind the power switch can blow a copper

If the batteries died completely while the Autostar was in use,
that can also scramble the Autostar's parameter memory. See:
for an extreme example.

But, since your hand controller is also not lighting up,
i suspect inside problems with the 105 itself, possibly as 
simple as a loose connector (or cut wire... my RA nut sliced
through two of my Dec drive wires after 2 years of heavy use)

You can remove the base plate (the screws are under the rubber feet)
and check the seating of the various plugs, and the status of the
battery leads 

good luck
Dick, thanks much for the hint!  Mike -- I'll make sure I update you
when I get this fixed in case the answer is of any use to someone else. 
Sure hope I don't have to mail my beloved baby back to Meade....

Subject:	Looks Like Meade Is Jumping Into the Web-Cam Market...
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 20:39:05
From: (Greg Askins)
Just received my new issue of Sky and Telescope and on page 156 (if it
were numbered), Meade is introducing a new product (at least new to me).

They are calling it the Autostar Suite which includes a Meade LPI (Lunar
Planetary Imager/Autoguider) and Planetarium software.

The LPI is described: "combines the power of an electronic astronomical
imager/autoguider with the simplicity of a web cam". Some features:
"auto and manual exposure control from .001 to 15 seconds (up to 450x
longer than web cams)" and "works as an autoguder for long-exposure
astro images."

The software includes Talking Telescope software ("translates Autostar
text to synthesized speech through PC speaker"), automatic
point-and-click Autostar tour generation, remote telescope control over
the internet, and Autostar Updater Tool.

Pricing is $149 including Autostar-PC interface cables.

From the photo the LPI looks pretty sleek.

Should be interesting to see how this new imager stacks up to some of
the standard and modified ToUcams.

Greg Askins
Chandler, AZ

Subject:	Help!  Problem with RA hard stop
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 20:31:00
From: (Richard Simon)
Before my question - thanks again for a great site.

My ETX 125 has worked fine for almost a year (started with Clay
Sherrod's Tune up), but since a recent trip, the hard stops on the RA/Az
axis are behaving strangely.  Instead of getting a full rotation and
then some, the telescope can only rotate ~ +/-160 degrees between the
stops.  What this means is that with a normal equatorial setup, I can't
point the telescope directly south!  I can get almost south from either
side, but not quite.  I am quite experienced with using the ETX in
equatorial mode, and I double checked my setup:  control panel to the
west, counter clockwise to stop, then a bit less than 1/2 turn to polar
home.  The problem is that, as I spin the telescope on the RA axis
clockwise, I hit the hard stop before getting to full south.

It looks like something happened during transport (by car in the case)
or during use.  Before I open it up to figure out what is broken or
mis-adjusted, I would welcome any advice or suggestions.  I won't rule
out that might be doing something silly, but I have used the telescope a
great deal in both Equatorial and AltAz modes and haven't run into this
problem before.

By the way, other than the hard stop problem, the telescope is behaving
normally - the RA clutch works as well as ever, end-to-end slews seemed
fine, slow-motion is smooth, etc.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!


Richard Simon
Mike here: If you are getting less than about twice around hardstop-to-hardstop, then it is probably not a hardstop but something else catching. Like a wire (not good). You will have to open up the base to see if you can see a wire or something else that has become lodged someplace where it should not be. Go carefully in case it is a wire.
Subject:	Question about home position
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 19:15:47
From: (Allyson Marie Zacharoff)
Hi. I've found your extensive web information on the Meade ETX-90EC and
AutoStar. I'm a newbie, and am just trying to get off the ground with my
scope and controller. I'm totally confused and frustrated about the
"Home" position in Alt/Az mode. The manual, as well as your info, says
to position the tube level and perpendicular to the fork arms, with the
circle at "0" degrees. When I position my scope this way, the dial reads
47 degrees. 0 degrees positions my tube upwards at a 135 degree angle to
the arms. I've tried calling Meade about this, but have gotten put on
hold for 10+ minutes without getting through to anyone. I'm still
waiting for them to answer my voice message. I hope you don't mind my
e-mail - if you have the time I would really appreciate your input.
Please contact me at   Thanks~~~~~~~~Maria Zacharoff
Mike here: See the FAQ page for adjusting the scale. But eyeballing the leveling can be just as effective; I hardly ever use the scale.
Subject:	Rattle in color filters and Barlow lens
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 19:13:18
From: (Victor Burhans)
Recently I noticed a rattle in a few of my colored filters and Barlow
lens.  Upon investigation I found that if I tighten the ring holding the
lenses in place, the rattle would go away.  I was wondering if
tightening down this ring would cause a focusing problem.

You still have the ONE astronomy site that I visit every day.


Pain, panic and plunder.
    This has been a great day.
Mike here: The ring should be tight and there should be no rattling. If the ring is loose the filter or lens can be crooked, affecting the light path and so would affect image sharpness.
Subject:	Slew Speed Error
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 15:24:41
From: (Vikas)
I have got a ETX-90 EC with me which I got from USA in 2001 . I am in
INDIA and I got it through my sister in US. Today when I put up the
telescope after a very long period of no use to see Mars.

The slew speed acted funnily. when the speed key is set on Fast
everything is okay and all the four arrow keys work at fast speed. but
when I choose Medium speed and the light 2 gets on, the left/right keys
work at medium speed but the up/down key still works at Fast speed. same
thing happens at Moderate and slow speeds also. However, when I switch
off the power switch and then again restart the Telescope , some times
the keys start behaving properly but then sometimes suddenly the UP/Down
key start working at high speed only completely ignoring the chosen
speed. There is one more thing for you to note. when at times all the
arrow keys are working properly at different speeds and when I put the
scope on polar mode then the UP/Down keys always work at high speed.

I have just discovered these problems, and I searched the web and found
your promising website. Please help me , I am feeling quite depressed
with the thought that there may be something terribly wrong with my
ETX-90 or "SKYWALKER" , the name I have given to my scope.and there is
no place in India where I can get any advice reg this as there may not
be any or few similar scopes.

I have checked the battery compartment for any cell leaks, There is no
such problem.

Please help and advice 


Vikas Singhle
Ludhiana, Punjab
Mike here: I suspect the controller keypad contacts is either slightly dirty or perhaps even became corroded during the period of non-use. If cleaning is required, see the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Autostar Information page. It would also probably help (but probably not related to your handcontroller) to loosen the grease in the base. Do this by unlocking the axes and moving the telescope tube from hardstop to hardstop, several times, back and forth.
Subject:	HELP mars so close yet so far!
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 11:36:42
From: (mike pizziferro)
My father in law gave me his Astro etx-125ec because he has been unable
to work it for two years.  Last night I was dissappointed looking at
mars because the magnification seemed to be poor.  The  moon looked
decent I could see craters and such, but nothing more then my 50 dollars
telescope when I was a kid.  Is my lens poor? Can I increase
magnification with the computer? How come Mars seemed so tiny (no
details at all!) Can you suggest a lens? How much?   THanks an aspiring
Mike here: I take it you only have the supplied 26mm eyepiece. To get more magnification you will need an eyepiece with a shorter focal length and/or a Barlow Lens. A 2X Barlow Lens will double the size of Mars in your 26mm eyepiece and a 3X would triple it. You can accomplish the same magnifications using an eyepiece and get slightly better views than when using a Barlow Lens. However, don't try to exceed the maximum magnification (about 250X for the ETX-125) unless you are willing to see a less than clear view.
Subject:	Image Shift
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 05:52:19
When focusing my ETX-125 with the Meade electronic focuser, the image in
the eyepiece will shift left or right depending on which way I am
focusing.  Is this just an inherent characteristic or is this a problem or the start of one?
Mike here: There is a small amount of image shift due to the telescope design. Should not be excessive (i.e., moving out of the field of view).
Subject:	Re: Thanks!
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 00:26:38
From: (P. Clay Sherrod)
Wonderful Mike and thanks so much for the update!  Great to hear

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt.
MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H44 / Cascade Mountain

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  To: drclay 
  Dr. Clay,

  I was able to take out my SuperCharged scope last night and a few
  minutes tonight. It is working great! Every object I wanted to see,
  the scope went right to it. I found objects that I have never found
  before! I saw more objects in one hour last night than it would
  usually take a number of nights to find. Again, Thank You! You have
  made my observing time much easier and more enjoyable. No more


Subject:	Meade 105: Both EC and Autostar Don't Light Up
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 00:24:59
From: (Jane E. Hawkins)
Great set of pages you've got!

I've used my Meade 105 roughly thirty times now and it's been great. 
Tonight I plugged in my Autostar and it didn't light up.  The red light
on the scope itself does show.  I turned the power switch on and off a
couple times, uplugged and plugged the cable in a couple times, tried
plugging in the EC, and no joy.

I took my scope back inside and examine the inside of the connection
very closely.  The pins are all there and look OK but could be very
slightly bowed.  They also have some slight dark spots.  I cleaned them
with a little rubbing alcohol but that made no difference.

Last night my batteries died while I was observing.  Is there any chance
that something needs to be reset?  Right now, I'm thinking I got an
internal problem with the connector, which is a sad thought!

Thanks again for that terrific site you're running,

Jane Hawkins
Mike here: When you replaced the batteries that died did you look for any corrosion? Did you try different batteries? If neither handcontroller now works it is likely something on the circuit board (or the control panel) has failed. Unfortunately, the means a call to Meade.
Subject:	Update on My ETX-125 SuperCharge...
From: Greg
Sent: Monday, August 18, 2003 8:41 PM
Dr. Clay,

Just wanted to drop you a quick note of thanks for the great job you did
on my new ETX-125. Its performance has been great (both optically and
mechanically), and I appreciate your quick turn around time earlier this

Thanks again for your great service and I will always highly recommend
you to others!


Subject:	How to use Autostar with Mac Os X?
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 22:00:11
From:	Ighal
I saw your web site, and Id like to know how to use and if its possible
to use AutoStar with MacOs X and a Powerbook 12. Im sure its possible
since I saw you have a 17. (nice toy!)

Well, I know you are busy but Im new to the telescope world and I bought
a Meade (I dont know the model, but was like $400 a few month ago) with
AutoStar, I dont know if im doing something wrong or what but I cant see
too much, I mean, I see the moon (upside down) and I see some Planets
but the planets are fuzzy and blured, I know this is not normal, im
trying to use the wheel to adjust the focus, but is not so precise, any
advise on this? I went to the store and the guys told me that perhaps
there is something wrong with the Telescope, so they changed it for a
new one, but the same happened. Also sometimes i see the 3 screws that
hold one of the mirrors inside the telescope when I try to focus, is
this normal too?

Well, I hope to catch you on iChat some time. Thanks for your time and
for reading this.
Mike here: See the Autostar Information page for info on using a Mac with the Autostar. Also, see the reviews of AstroPlanner and Scopedriver. Many telescopes reverse the image you see; this is normal. Depending upon the size of the telescope, the views of the planets may be small. A typical new user error is to make the planet disk as large as possible when turning the focus knob; this is wrong and since you say you are seeing screws I suspect that's what you are doing wrong. Focus on the Moon or a star. A star will appear as a pinpoint of light. Then don't change the focus when you look at a planet.
Subject:	Inverted Moon
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 21:14:20
I have been happily studying moon (earth's) features with my binoculars
and have gotten familiar with seas, craters, etc. However, when I use
the ETX 90, the image is inverted. This is confusing. There must be a
better way. Can you suggest an accessory that will make the moon have
the same image as my binoculars? I would likely not use it for stars,
nebulae, etc., but the loss of brightness on our moon shouldn't be much
of a problem. Your experience and suggestion would be greatly
                                                         George Dreitlein
Mike here: The reflecting style telescopes typically reverse the image in one of several ways. The ETX-90 reverses the image left-to-right. You can purchase an "erecting prism" for it however; see the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page for info.


Thanks, Mike! - George Dreitlein

Subject:	Slightly Damaged Meade ETX-125EC
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 18:03:17
I am fairly new to astronomy and to purchasing telescopes and have
really enjoyed your website.  I will at somepoint like to become a
formal member and perhaps contribute since I am sure I will be using it
regularly as it is a wonderfull resource.

On to my question...  I am in the market for a telescope (I used to have
a 60 mm refracting telescope as a child that I put away and haven't used
in...20 years).  I have been looking at the Meade series scopes and
especially at the ETX-125EC.  I am on a budget so I have been looking
around to see if I can find one used or perhaps a lesser model (ETX-90
or 70AT).

I have come across an ETX-125 - the older model - that someone is
selling that is new but slightly damaged.  It is missing the manuals,
autostar controller, eye pieces and sight scope.  The damage is in the
mount as it has broken along an attachement line along the base of the
mount (I have attached a picture for reference).  The optics are
supposedly in tact and fine but the seller admitadly does not know the
history of the scope as he bought it at a bankrupcy auction and does not
know much about scopes in general.

broken fork
The scope is being offered to me at $380.00. For an ETX-125 that retails for $900.00 that seems like a steal but I would have to purchase: The autostar Eye pieces Sight Scope Software and fix the mount somehow. My question is, assuming the optics are ok do you think that it is worth investing into this scope at such a discounted price or should I just look for a lesser model like an ETX-90EC? Do you think that the mount where it is broken (all wires are still attached) can be easily repaired and would it affect the tracking/alignement/precision? Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. Best, -Dimitrios

Mike here: I would avoid purchasing the damaged system unless you are prepared to fix ALL its potential problems. There could be more wrong than just the detached fork arm; if this occurred because the telescope was mishandled, the optics could be out of alignment (not an easy thing to fix), other components could have been loosed, and since the history is unknown, the circuit board could be fried. I'm not saying that these other problems ARE present, just that they could be. I would suggest buying a new ETX-90 or perhaps -105 (if you are trying to stay within a budget and you want an ETX), or you could look into other telescope models, perhaps the DS or LXD55 series from Meade. That way you would get the latest model, all the components, and a full warranty. Alternatively, you could purchase a used system, but one that is more complete with a more known history. There is a FOR SALE page on my ETX Site or you could try eBay or other used marketplaces.


Thanks very much for your quick reply and insightful opinion.

I think I will still clear of the scope considering that I am a novice
and I probably am not prepared to fix any and all potential problems.

I will give the for sale section on your site a browse tonight.

Thanks again for your help.



Subject:	DEC-Axis motor made smalls jumps at slow speed
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 10:42:50
From: (Mircea Malarski)
I read almous all your collected technical tips but my problm seems not
answered there, so I try to ask it directly, my be you or sombody you
know has an idea how to overcome.

Since a longer pause (I dont use my ETX for about 8 months) I observed,
that there are obscure moving jumps on the DEC axis, if I use low speed
(autostar <3). I think that it is not a problm with the DEC-Axis clamp
(and all this, discusses widly in the tech tips), because the clamp is
OK and the axis does not slip at all, if it is fixed. So I remove the
OTA and open the fork arm, to look whats happen. I lay the Fork and
removed the Motor-mount (not the worm, but the motor and the "gearing")
. After this I swiched the ETX with connected Autostar ON and made some
try with the up/down arrows. And now I can see, that the strange
moving-jumps came directly from the motor. If I use speed 2 or 3 (on
Autostar) then the motor first does not respond at once if I hit the
arrow and after a sec or 2 the motor "makes" a "jump". If I hold the
arrow down the motor made something like a traktor (tuck tuck tuck) but
not with smal stpes but "half turn" short stop "half turn" and so on. If
I use higher speed (5 6 ...) this does not happen: the motor responds at
ounce and the turning is continous. I clean the "optical encoder" but
the problm resists.

Now its clear, that the problem is not a problm with the mount itself
(axis slip, clamp and so on) but a problm with the motor itself or may
be with its control. (I use Autostar-Version 25Ea).

The problm of late resopnse of the motors and the start with a jerk (at
low speed) is mentioned in the Clay Sherrod PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT -
CREATING THE PERFECT "GO TO" ETX OR LX 90 Part 1 Point 4), but I can not
find the solution there (althought it is announced).

Do you have any ideas how to fix this problem? Any hint will be

Thank you in advance.

M. Malarski
p.s.: Sorry for that poor english...

Tout le trouble du monde vient de ce qu'on ne sait pas rester seul dans
sa chambre. (B. Pascal)
PGP FP: E0FC F889 0B27 DD8E 2015  1146 8C9A E2E3 9DC1 4844
Mike here: Since the telescope was not used for a long time perhaps all that is needed is some usage. You could try slewing up and down several times, hardstop to hardstop, and see if that improves things. You could also update to the latest version of the Autostar ROM (2.6Ed). But a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES might also clear it.
Subject:	"Align - Mate" for ETX90
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 08:47:45
From: (Morgan Wolfe)
Where can I purchase an "Align - Mate" eyepiece for my ETX 90 ? I have
only found the part for sale in the UK... and nobody over there wants to
ship the item to the US... there has got to be somebody selling them
over here.

Subject:	ETX 70 - Image Flaring
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 00:07:50
From: (Malcolm Martland)
Regarding your 11 August posting: Image flaring can also occur with an
intra-ocular opacity such as a small cataract. This is worse with higher
power eyepieces. I experienced this effect last week when observing Mars
through my ETX70AT - it is frustrating but not enough to put me off.


Malcolm F. Martland, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly, U.K.

Subject:	Choices???
Sent:	Sunday, August 17, 2003 17:30:44
From: (Todd Fields)
Thanks for your work and site...very helpful...

2 weeks ago Fed Ex Ground broke my ETX 90 RA as it was being shipped to
Dr. Clay for a tune-up. It was insured and the amount would pay for a
new EC..or AT model. I could also add a little bit to it and get the 105
or splurge and go with the 125.

I use a new 12" powerbook.

Is connectivity easy with the Autostar and the mac?

Should I just stay with another RA model?

I'm not a real serious observer, but do like to take some pictures and

Any thoughts?
thanks much!
todd fields
Atlanta, GA
Mike here: See the Email Etiqutte notice on the ETX Home Page; your email was almost deleted as SPAM.
You could stay with the ETX-90AT (if you like the portability of the ETX-90) or you could upsize to a -105 or even -125 if portability is not that much an issue. See the article "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page for my reports and that from others on using a Mac with the Autostar. Also, look at the Scopedriver and AstroPlanner software reviews for info on using them (I used my PowerBook 17" but there are also versions for Windows).
Subject:	caldwell cds catalog
Sent:	Sunday, August 17, 2003 15:00:48
From: (andrew sprott)
i was readin wiv interest regardin catalogs etc. i have a little
problem, i'm developin a web site for my local astronomy society, and i want to have my own catalog search page. i
want to start wiv the caldwell, catalog, but can't find any cds file for
the data.

does anybody have the cds template for the caldwell catalog?

andrew sprott
Mike here: I went to the SEDS site and searched for "Caldwell". Among the pages returned was:
You could make you own database with that.


yesh i could but i wish to write a perl script to parse many of the cds
catalogs that all use a cds text file that acts as a key to parse the
dat files. and i wanted to start wiv the caldwell catalog cos we have
telrad images for each entry, on the web-site.

stickin to a single format i fink is the best way to start. btw, there
is somat like over 5000gb of catalog data, and gnot one of them is a
messier or caldwell.

acutally, it aint the caldwell.cds file i'm lookin for, tho it is the
cds format as documented here
the template usually is called readme.txt and comes wiv the data files.

Subject:	ETX125 Help required.
Sent:	Sunday, August 17, 2003 12:02:08
From: (keithmoore)
Twice now I seem to have got the lens cap (Objective lens) stuck,
probably by becoming crossthreaded. This second time I cannot release
it!.Unable to get a firm grip on the 5ins. diam. tube - easy to unscrew
the top holding the lens and secondary mirror but I am afraid to take
this off in case i damage the lens or mirror. Any ideas as to how I can
unscrew the dust cap - it defies all my attempts?
Keith Moore
Mike here: I have used a rubber sheet (jarlid remover) to loosen things that are stuck. Works well. You could also try rubber gloves (a suggestion by Dr. Clay Sherrod).

And an update:

Many thanks for the advice.Unfortunately it did'nt work despite the
efforts of two of us. We managed eventually by placing masking tape
round the tube body for a good grip and using a lever onthe cap . This
consisted of a wood lath attached to the cap by means of double sided
very strong tape (sticky) . A quick twist and it loosened so it could be
I will be more careful in screwing the cap on in future!
Keith Moore
Ashby de la Zouch

Subject:	confused
Sent:	Saturday, August 16, 2003 15:57:08
From: (Shannon)
great site by the way....i am so confused....i want to look at stars and
planets and  all sorts of stuff...but i am having a problem picking out
a telescope..  i was thinking of getting an etx 90ec, or a nexstar 4, or
a lxd55.  but after reading a lot of responses from your site and
others....i am confused....i understand that you dont want to buy a
telescope based on magnification.   some people say aperture is the most
important....but if thats the case...why are the meade and nexstar
telescopes twice the price of a 6" reflector from the
link below...

i understand brand has a lot to do with it...but is the above link
telescope any good...or would this be considered a toy (junk)?  i am new
at this but i am very excited about getting into it and taking pictures
of planets and price range would be about $500 - $600 your opinion what is the best kind of telescope to get in
that range... i have been searching ebay for sometime now ...trying to
fight off the buying urge until i know more about them.   I like the
meades and we have a company here that sells them...(for twice the price
as mentioned everywhere else) but...i do like all the stuff you can get
for them.  the mars pictures you did with the different telescopes was
very helpfull in knowing more about what i am getting into...

looking for clarity,

Mike here: Price is usually a result of the telescope design as well as size and its capabilities. For example, does it have a GOTO computer system? Does it include a tripod and other accessories? And there is a warranty to be factored in. Remember, you get what you pay for. I'm not talking about that item on eBay; I'm talking about new models from ANY of the reputable telescope manufacturers. As I tell everyone who asks, the best telescope for you is the one that gets used (instead of staying the closet). If budget is the limit you might want to look at Meade DS or LXD55 models; you'll get a larger aperture (but not necessarily a longer focal length) telescope vs an ETX model. I can't speak to Celestron offerings as I've not researched them lately. As to the eBay, I did a quick look at but couldn't find any mention of the manufacturer. That raises an alarm for me.
(PLEASE see the Email Etiqutte item on the ETX Home Page; your message was almost deleted as spam.)


are the DS and the LXD55 considered better scopes that the ETX series?
Mike here: Depends upon how you define "better". The mounts and optical designs are different depending upon the models. But in general the scale goes like this (for Meade telescopes): DS, ETX, LXD55, LX200.


think i am going to go with the etx-90ec.
Seems like a great little portable scope and  can get some great

thanks again

Mike here: Yes, with some effort you can take some pretty amazing astrophotographs with the ETX-90. But don't expect to necessarily start out with those greats results. Start with the Moon. Also, look through the various articles on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page.
Subject:	no more etx
Sent:	Saturday, August 16, 2003 09:57:13
From: (Marc Delaney)
I have now sold my ETX and bought an Intes-Micro Alter-703 with GPDX
mount and Skysensor-2000. But your site remains in the "Favourites"
folder on my computer and I shall continue to visit you regularly as
ever, for I have learned so much about astronomy and telescopes in
general from your super site!
Best wishes,
(Wales, UK)

Subject:	re:  ETX90EC manual
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 22:03:53
From: (Richard Seymour)
If you simply call Meade's 800-number, (800-626-3233)
they will probably send one for free.

Cheaper than paper and inkjet ink...

have fun

Subject:	Re: Compass names
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 14:50:10
From: (Richard Seymour)
My FAA instrument flying book (USDOT AC 61-27C) refers to the variation
as variation, the vertical comnponent as "dip",  local magnetic
effects as "deviation"...
it then goes on into "northerly turning error" (the tendency of a 
typical alcohol-supported magnetic compass disk to indicate a 
turn to the west as the aircraft banks during a turn to the east from
a northerly course) and "acceleration error", whereby the dip
affects the floating disk from acceleration during east/westerly
motion.  If you are moving east OR west, acceleration will make 
the compass indicate a turn to the north.
Finally there's the catch-all "oscillation error": the net total
of all of the above injected into the reading during rough flights.

I have not tried to check if Meade cross-verifies the latitude
of a location with the dip/declination reading. I doubt it.

have fun

Subject:	Telescope Comparison Advice
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 04:29:45
From: (Julie)
Firstly thank you for your ETX site. It is proving very helpful.

I am hoping to purchase either an ETX 105 or 125 (both with UHTC), but
am having trouble deciding which will suit my needs the best. While I
realise that you cannot make that decision for me, I was hoping for some

I tend to be an all-round observer, looking at both planets and deep sky
objects. I would imagine that I am like most prospective ETX purchasers,
in that I am attracted by the portability and yet power of the scopes.
The 105 should be more portable and is certainly more affordable, but
the larger aperture of the 125 should mean better observation of deep
sky objects.

Someone has mentioned that the 105 has less of a central obstruction
than the 125, and so this may reduce the apparent advantage of its
larger apperture. Would you agree?

While I have read the product comparison charts for the two scopes, they
are just really numbers on a page. What I would really like (if not an
actual sight) is a comparison of how items would appear. How would
Saturn compare in the two scopes? And how about M13? What might the 125
offer over the 105 and vice versa.

For info, in the UK the 125 is the equivalent of around $450 more than
the 105.

I realise that this is a little rambled, but I am very keen to make the
right decision.

Thank you for your help.

Mike here: Objects will be slightly brighter and clearer in the -125 vs the -105. Focal length determines magnification (for a given eyepiece focal length) and aperture determines the max magnification you can effectively use. See the FAQ page if you are unfamiliar with these calculations. See the User Observations page for reports on each telescope.
Subject:	The difference between ETX-125AT and ETX-125EC?
Sent:	Thursday, August 14, 2003 19:30:16
From: (Anon Anon)
I am very interested in buying an ETX-125.  The only question I have
left is whether there is any difference between a 125 AT and a 125 EC. 
I know that AT stands for Astro Telescope and EC stands for Electric
Controlled... but is there any real difference?

Mike here: Well, those are not exactly what the abbreviations mean. The "EC" models only included non-GOTO handcontroller (electronic control) as standard; the Autostar GOTO handcontroller was optional. "AT" models have the Autostar #497 as standard, as well as the #884 tripod (ETX-90AT, -105AT, and -125AT models).


Outstanding!  Thanks for the help.

Your web site has been a great source of information in my search for a
good telescope.  I hope the Meade people appreciate you as much as I do.

Thanks again.

- Paul

Subject:	Re: meades Telescopes
Sent:	Thursday, August 14, 2003 08:22:44
Do you know of an outlet where you are that sells Meade telescopes?

Many thanks

Paul Trethewey
Mike here: Many stores sell Meade telescopes but it would probably be more important to locate one near you rather than near me. Check Meade's web site and their ads in Astronomy and Sky&Telescope magazines. There are also good online dealers (see the Astronomy Links page).
Subject:	Star Test question
Sent:	Wednesday, August 13, 2003 19:37:00
From: (christopher shaw)
Thanks for your wonderful site! Theres plenty to learn there for us

I have a question -

When doing a star test on my ETX 105, must the star be perfectly
CENTERED in the eyepiece? If it isn't perfectly centered, will the
central 'donut hole' be shifted off center or is this purely a
collimation problem?

I was doing a star test on my ETX 105 in less than perfect seeing but
was able to notice the central 'donut hole' isn't centered perfectly in
the middle of the concentric circles, but slightly shifted to one side.
The star I was looking at was not centered perfectly, could this affect
the test and indicate a 'false' collimation problem? This was during the
intra-focal and extra-focal positions.

When I do a perfect focus on the star, the star appears in the CENTER of
concentric rings but the outer rings appear to be slightly broken. Is
this a problem or a result of bad seeing?

Best regards,
Mike here: Yes, the star should be centered. Also, let the telescope reach "thermal equilibrium".


What happens if the star is not accurately centered? Does that mean my
collimation test is VOID and will produce a false reading?
Mike here: It won't necessarily mean it is void but eyepiece quaiity will significantly influence the image.
Subject:	How can I use a camcorder with ETX?
Sent:	Wednesday, August 13, 2003 13:24:36
From: (Kit)
I have a question to your readers:

has anybody tried astrophotography using an ETX and a digital camcorder?
What accessories / software will I need?

Almost all the info related to digital astrophotography assumes the use
of a digital still camera or a webcam, not a camcorder.  But a friend
who is an astronomer told me that a digital camcorder like my Canon
MV-20 (known in USA as "Elura") would in fact be ideal, because I can
shoot a long sequence of frames in the progressive scan mode, then
download them all onto a PC and remove those that are blurred due to
poor atmospheric seeing.  It's also quite small and light for a
camcorder, so it should not cause excessive balance problems if attached
to an ETX eyepiece (afocal coupling).

My Canon MV-20 has lens with an unusual (I think) size thread: 30.5mm.
What's the best way to attach it to an ETX-125?

I am also concerned about the shutter speed.  My Canon has shutter
speeds from 1/50s to 1/4000s while for astrophotography I think much
longer shutter speeds are needed?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Best Regards,

Marcin Bruczkowski
Warsaw, Poland
Mike here: See the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for some info on camcorder use. See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page for some camera adapters. If you want to view the movies or edit them on your computer you will need software and hardware that lets your computer talk to your camera. I use a Macintosh so I use some software that comes with the OS. If your camcorder is a DV model (which I think the Elura is), you will need either USB or Firewire on your computer. If you have an analog camcorder you will need some sort of AV-in capability. There are boxes that convert between Firewire (or USB) and component video devices. Don't worry too much about shutter speed; you'll be amazed at what you can capture. Using stacking software you can take all those individual frames and build them up into a single frame.


as always, many thanks for the helpful (and super-fast) response!  Yes,
Elura is a DV model with Firewire link to my PC.  I am relieved that the
lack of long shutter speeds will not matter so much.

What is "stacking software"?  Do I need to buy some special software

Thanks again!

Marcin Bruczkowski
Mike here: Astrostack, Registax, Keith's Image Stacker; those are free stacking applications.


Thanks ever so much.  I've just downloaded Astrostack & Registack, the
third one is for Mac only.  Once I get the chance to try and compare the
two, I'll write a review for your site.

Best Regards,

Marcin Bruczkowski

Subject:	Re: Baffle tube of Etx shined like a mirror
Sent:	Wednesday, August 13, 2003 12:33:12
From: (Evert D Carter III)
I tried to line the baffle with flocking paper but it took out to much
of the light cone from the secondary.  I gave up the project and will
leave it like it is.  The mirror had lighter fluid spilled on it but I
was successful at cleaning it up.  The lighter fluid in the baffle did
take out some of the shine.  I guess that the sun always has to be at my
back when viewing land objects.  It might be noted that the baffle of
the ETX 90 is now sealed into the mirror. Observations on the planet
Mars have been excellent.  I have seen the southern polar cap shrinking
since looking at it the first time in late July. Some planetary surface
detail. I have learned to use sterilized cotton balls to clean my
corrector but could not find 97 proof isopropyl alcohol only 91 proof.
Corrector was very difficult to clean until my methods changed.  
Incidentally Tim at Captains Nautical Supply said that the mirror base
is to be screwed till it stops in the tube.  Altogether different than
what he said before. The tube of telescope is now tight. Is a 800 ASA
overkill for photography in my telephoto system of my ETX90?   

Skip Carter  Kent Wash
Mike here: Thanks for the update. I typically used ISO 800 film when doing 35mm astrophotography with my ETX-90RA. Since the tracking and aperture are limited with the ETX-90, faster film is highly desirable.
Subject:	Telescope upgrade questions.
Sent:	Wednesday, August 13, 2003 12:06:59
From: (Rush, Jason S)
I'd like to start off by saying that your website is a most excellent
information resource. I have learned a lot from your site. Now, I
purchased an ETX-70AT last December and have fun time with it. My first
question has to do with the focal length difference between the etx 70,
90 and 120. Why is the focal length between the 90 and 120 a much
smaller difference than that between the 70 and 90? Is this simply the
way they were designed. If this is so, then I assume that the aperture
has nothing to do with the focal length when designing a telescope. My
second question is about upgrading. I am looking for a telescope to view
more detail of the planets. I cannot get any CLEAR answers on this. If I
want a telescope purely to get high detail views of planets, what
telescope type do I need? I need to keep my purchase under 500 bucks.
Can you recommend a few options for me.

Many thanks and keep up the good work.

Jason Rush   
Mike here: Definitely telescope design determines focal ration (aperture and focal length). The ETX-70 is a refractor (and a short focal length one) and the ETX-90 and -125 are Maksutov-Cassegrain designs (think "long focal length in short tubes"). As to other telescopes, certainly aperture and focal length is an important consideration when purchasing a telescope. Some people says to buy the largest telescope you can avoid (whether that be a Dobsonian, an ETX, an LXD55, a LX200 GPS, a NexStar, a DS series, or whatever). I say to buy the telescope that you will USE as the the best telescope is one that is used (rather than sit in the closet). Since you are familiar with the Autostar, you might want to look at the DS models and the LXD55 models.


I didnt realise the 70 was a different type than the 90 and 120. 

Ok, Thanks again for your time.

Subject:	Mars Viewing
Sent:	Wednesday, August 13, 2003 08:28:38
From: (Leland, Stephen F) 
I'm using an ETX-90 w/26 mm lens w/ 3x Barlow and can't seem to get a
good view.  The planet appears fuzzy like heat radiating from a surface.
Any suggestions?
Steve Leland
Mike here: Mars is very low in the sky during this opposition for Northern Hemisphere viewers. So, for the best views, wait until it is near your local meridian. Also, let the telescope reach thermal equilibrium. And of course, avoid looking through air that is above roofs, parking lots, and streets.
Subject:	ETX90EC manual
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 11:35:57
From: (Marcus Thompson)
Do you happen to have a copy of the ETX90EC manual that can be
downloaded on your site? I know Meade has them online but I need one
that I can printout. Thanks
Mike here: See the FAQ page.
Subject:	ETX 125EC Altitude Setting Circle
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 11:00:11
From: (Tom Royer)
I'm having difficulty loosening the altitude setting circle so I can
zero it. I don't want to force anything, and the grip is difficult. 
This isn't a big deal, since it's only off by about 4 degrees and I only
use it for leveling purposes prior to initializing the AutoStar.  But
it's aggravating.

Thanks for the advice.

Great site, by the way.

Tom Royer
Lead Engineer, Software Test
The MITRE Corporation
Bedford, MA  01730

"If you're not free to fail, you're not free."           --Gene Burns
Mike here: I use a soft rubber jarlid opening. Provides the extra friction needed.
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 08:13:56
From: (Cesar Brischetto)
I saw my 5 year old son holding the 26 mm. SP eyepiece with fingers from
the two ends, that I had to clean it (cookie-greasy fingerprints!).

I run to the bathroom to get an extra soft cotton ball, put some several
drops of ethyl alcohol (from pharmacy) plus common water, making a 50-50
%, and gently rub both lenses.

Seems that urgency didn't allow me to THINK!!!

Then, my breath stopped suddenly when I saw the cotton, which had blue
greenish spots on it...bye bye to the multicoatings???

Mike here: Most likely...
Subject:	ETX-125 Field Doubler
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 07:15:09
From: (Young, Jeffrey T)
Scopetronics offers a field doubler that makes your scope a f/7. I'm
really wanting to take pictures with my this a needed
accessory? Thanks, Jeff Young  p.s. I am going to purchase the GPS for
my ETX-125...I hope it's worth it.
Mike here: Needed? No. You can find many fine examples of ETX astrophotography that haven't used one on my ETX. It is useful for some objects? Yes.
Subject:	Motor Fault
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 05:17:02
From: (Cook, Mike)
I have been trying to resolve my Motor fault problem and am  sorry to
admit this but i have committed a cardinal sin and broken a wire from
the Control Panel i.e. a wire from the battery compartment can you tell
me how i get the panel stripped out of the base.
   cheers Mike Cook.
And from our resident hardware expert:
From: (P. Clay Sherrod)
I do not recommend even attempting to get the control panel from the
base; instead, you can very carefully solder the wire back on the
BACKSIDE of the small lead; there will be a soldered wire "post"
slightly sticking up on the side facing you....use that post to reattach
the wire.  If you are not comfortable with microsoldering, merely take
the scope to a nearby computer repair shop where those guys do it every
day; just show them the backside of the original point and they can
reattach it within a few seconds.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H44 (Cascade Mountain)
And more:
Thanks for your and Dr Sherrods help, however i do need more.After a
process of elimination it looks as if my problem may be something to do
with feedback.I have tried training the motors and calibration but still
get the same problem,when i try to calibrate i get a message (Under
Construction)i have also had the motor checked and it is fine,do you
have any ideas
Mike here: Have you tried upgrading the Autostar software? The current version is 2.6Ed.
Subject:	RE: handling ETX 105 question
Sent:	Monday, August 11, 2003 20:33:27
From: (christopher shaw)
WOW! You're the man! Meade should pay you for this!

Do you mean that if you blew the bulb blower AT the surface, you may
cause scratches? Have you ever experienced this? I normally use the bulb
blower at an angle to the mirror but sometimes, inadvertantly, I do
blast the air directly at the surface.

Mike here: Yes, you can damage the coating if a large solid item hits it with some force. So blowing across is much preferred.
Subject:	Support Arm Trunions??
Sent:	Monday, August 11, 2003 19:58:06
From: (Steven Meltz)
I am going through the ETX tech tips, and in the section discussing
declination "slop", I have a question. There is mention of the
"trunions" in the fork arms, and how to take out play using teflon tape.
The problem is I cannot find the trunions based on the description. Does
anyone have a picture of them? BTW, I have a 90EC.

Thank you...and this is one of the most informative sites I have ever

Mike here: Which article specifically was that in?


CREATING THE PERFECT "GO TO" ETX OR LX 90 - Part 1", paragraph 2 under

I am in the middle of doing several of the enhancements.

Mike here: No photos but a search of Site for "trunions" revealed this explanation from Dr. Clay Sherrod (the article author): "Take the OTA off and remove the trunion pieces (the OTA support arms); the trunions are conical very slightly..."
Subject:	What CCD camera with ETX125?
Sent:	Monday, August 11, 2003 18:20:10
From: (Michael L MintCan you recommend a good (and
less than $600) CCD cam to use with my ETX125?  Any info would be
Michael L Minto
Mike here: Webcams and the Sonfest SAC imager make nice imagers. See the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for more info.
Subject:	Flashlight Test
Sent:	Sunday, August 10, 2003 20:04:35
From: (christopher shaw)
Shone a strong torch light onto the flip mirror of the ETX 105 yesterday
night and discovered numerous dust-like specks and what looked like some
patches on the little mirror - They weren't dust as I used a strong
blower to blow them off - so maybe it's the generic coating on the
mirror? Is your ETX that way too? Mine is new and the flip mirror has
never been cleaned or touched. Took the scope to local dealer who says
that 'Flashlight tests' do not demonstrate quality of optics and often
reveal specks or irregular patches that are normal to the mirrors. What
do you think? I don't want to attempt cleaning any of the mirrors.

Mike here: Flashlights should not be used; the direct light creates a false impression. That is mentioned in the ETX manual.


Thanks mike. Boy, you are fast!

Another quick question: Is it possible that using a bulb blower (the
kind you buy at photo stores) to blow dust off mirrors would instead
cause scratches - since theoretically the bulb blower can draw in
floating grit and then be blasted onto the delicate coatings of the

Mike here: Yes, bulb blowers are OK. Just blow ACROSS the surface not AT it. Stay away from compressed air cans.
Subject:	electronic eyepiece
Sent:	Sunday, August 10, 2003 19:58:53
I  would like to know has anybody tried the orion electronic eyepiece
and or the pc164c video camera on their etx scopes and what were the
results. thanks
Mike here: There are some reports of the Meade one. You can search the Site for "electronic eyepiece". But I don't recall any others.
Subject:	Shopping again for a new scope!
Sent:	Sunday, August 10, 2003 05:46:56
From: (jim abbey)
Well it's that time again ! I looking for another telescope. (No my
other ones did not meet an untimely death!!) I am looking for a scope
that is a little larger than the ETX90 and with in a price range of
about  $650- 800 price range? I'm not trying to go pro or anything,but 
I'm' looking for more of a challenge!  I have even looked at the LXD55
series of Schmidt  Newtonians,or should I enhance what I have?(ETX90ec
or ETX70at) Like more gadgets?!I have  looked through an ORION Starmax 
127 and 102 ,Maksutov scope and they are not half bad for the's
almost like an ETX but without the Autostar.Any advice you can give
would be appreciated!


Mike here: The LXD55 series of Schmidt-Newtonians are nice telescopes but typically they are short focal lengths. The views are nice though, especially with the 8" or 10". You might take a quick look at my LXD55 Site (


I looked at the site and all LXD55s seem  troublesome > I guess I'm used
to the ETX simple mount! I have Had some experience with equatorial
mounts and I guess I could get used to it?The !0 inch mount looks a
little frail for such a big scope?The 8 and 6 seem more suitable for the
mount.I wish I could find some one here in Jacksonville Florida ,who has
one I could check out.Seeing   it on the net is one thing,but  trying
one for myself is another. The only scope  Dealer here in town is the
Discovery Channel store.,and they generally do not have them in
stock.Thanks for your timely reply!
Mike here: Keep in mind that most people who write in usually have some problem to report and need some help, either because there IS a problem or because they are doing something wrong. This doesn't matter whether it is a telescope or a computer. Very few people write to say that everything works as it should. Hence the appearance that all telescopes (and computers and cars, if you listen to CarTalk, etc.) are troublesome. (I really should put this in the FAQ as I've said something similar so many times.) But yes, there are occasionally problems; I had a problem with my original ETX-125 (one of the earliest models) and the LXD55 RA gear. Meade had to fix the former (which resulted in a slight design change) and I was able to fix the latter. Yes, a GEM is more complicated to use than Alt/Az but since you have experience with equatorial mounts, you should be OK. There have been reports that the 10"SN is a little large for the LXD55 mount; I've seen one in person and it seemed to perform fine.
Subject:	Compass names
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 21:08:37
From: (Marvin C. Sumner)
Another little tutorial:
Most of us know the difference in direction to Magnetic North and to
True North.  I see, however, that many folks have the terminology mixed
up - (even Meade Instruments).

The universally (almost) accepted term for the difference in direction
between true and magnetic north is "compass variation".  There is
another phrase, "compass deviation" which refers to the pointing error
caused by the presence of a large boat or airplane engine or other
ferrous object (like telescope parts?) nearby.  Compass "declination" is
caused by the vertical component of the earth's magnetic field.

The amount of "Variation" depends on where you are on the earth.  The
"deviation" changes with your direction of travel - or which direction
the (iron) mass is from the compass - (Deviation also changes when
someone with an iron belt buckle approaches the compass).  Compass
"declination" depends on how far you are from the earth's "magnetic
equator".  Near the equator declination nears zero (level) and at the
magnetic poles it is 90 degrees (vertical).  Our compasses are mounted
so that they respond only to the horizontal component of the magnetic

My reference is "Bowdich", an age-old maritime reference book, and my
current physics instructor.

Marv Sumner
Mike here: From my Air Force flying days, we called it "Magnetic Variation".
Subject:	Viewing Mars
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 18:55:06
From: (Schlatter)
An article posted on the ETX General Info site dealt with the viewer's
disappointment over viewing Mars -- he was seeing only a bright disk
with no features.

GET YOURSELF SOME FILTERS.  Orange (#21), red (#23A), and med blue

Two points:

1.  Mars is a very bright object and this brightness washes out the
details. You need filters to make the planet dim and to enhance certain

2.  The photos you see of Mars with "canals," dark areas, etc., are
generally made using long time exposures with expensive CCD cameras. 
This is NOT what you will see through any telescope that an amateur can

With my ETX-90 UHTC and my 8-inch Dob I am seeing very interesting and
pleasing views of Mars.  I am using magnifications between 150X and
240X. When I go to 300X - 340X, the normal crap in the air makes viewing
fuzzy -- stick with 150X -- 250X.  BUT -- I must use filters on my
eyepieces.  If I look at Mars without filters, all I see is a bright
white disk with a lighter area at the top (bottom) which is the southern
polar cap.


Joe Schlatter

Subject:	Small Observing Table/Platform for ETX 90RA?
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 18:22:00
From: (Paul)
thanks so much for your very nice and informative website! 

i was wondering if you had any ideas about small transportable tables to
place the ETX 90RA on while observing with it? since i was able to
purchase the ETX 90RA for only $200 i am reluctant to spend another $200
just for the deluxe field tripod.


Mike here: There are a couple of tables discussed on the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page. Keep in mind that you will want a sturdy platform; portable tables may not be that good for holding a telescope.


thanks for your very fast reply.

yes, i did see both of those tables but i believe that those tables were
mostly recommended for use with notebook computers and accessories?

currently i am using the hood of my car (far from ideal i know!) or when
i can get a shot in the backyard i opt for an unsteady plastic outdoor
table that is best suited to holding a plant and not the telescope.

to be honest, i am cursing myself now because Amazon and Scopetronix are
now selling the newer ETX scopes with a free deluxe tripod and also
Autostar. oh well, i will think of something i am sure. :-)


Mike here: Check out my "ETX - My First Impressions" and the "Addition Impressions" on the Buyer/New User Tips page. I used a sturdy microwave/TV table.


Yes I just looked at that page and your microwave cart is a good idea.
It is easily moveable and certainly very sturdy. Necessity is the mother
of invention.


Subject:	meade etx
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 15:31:27
From: (Gomez, Richard)
I am a little confused on whether there is a difference on the Meade ETX
105EC or 105AT. Are they the same ? recent magazines list them as AT
models and I noticed a price increrase of about $100. I purchased the
105EC with the complimentary autostar and tripod. But paid $765. Old
price was $695 I was told by the merchant that MEADE had a price
increase.  Is there such a thing as an ETX 105AT ? 

thanks for your help.
nice site btw
Mike here: See the Announcements --> Meade page for the "15 June 2000" item about the change.


thanks , that clears things up. couldn't get a straight answer from some
vendors. my next call was going to be to MEADE on monday. thanks again.
this is my first real scope. will, let you know how it performs. thanks

Subject:	GPS for your ETX
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 09:32:40
From: (Young, Jeffrey T)
I have seen GPS offer for the ETX. It is available on Let me know what you think.....oh, I have an
ETX-125 with #497 and tripod. I'm looking to upgrade to do some
astrophotography. I read you comments on photography with the
ETX...rats! Any suggestions on what scope I should get?

Thanks, Jeff Young
Mike here: I don't have the GPS but you can read about on the Autostar Information page. There are some reviews there. The ETX telescopes CAN do astrophotography. You can see many fine examples on the astrophotography pages on the Site.
Subject:	Re: New ext90 not turning left or right
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 21:13:07
From: (June Urich)
I just got a meade ext90 ec and on the very first night I think I broke
it I hear the motors running but the scope will not turn it will go up
and down  just not left or right I was using the autostar #497  is there
any way to check the gears I live in a very small town and I and have no
place local to look at it  By the way I'm VERY NEW TO THE HOBBY and
realy need the help Thanks J Urich
Mike here: Are you sure you have the azimuth lock engaged? If you try to move the forks horizontally, do you feel any resistance? Have you tried the faster speeds when slewing using the Autostar? Lastly, did you set the telescope model and mounting mode, and the CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES?
Subject:	A site for your links page
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 20:07:09
From: (Jim Wilkins)
Here is a potential link for your links page.  Looks like a nice site.


Subject:	ETX125EC  New user About to give up.
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 19:26:52
From: (William Peterson)
I bought a etx125ec telescope it came with the 497 autostar. I bought it
used. Could someone tell me about the motor as it well go 360 deg. I
thought it was supposed to stop at a certain point. I am very confused
about the autostar as it is supposed to beep and ask what telescope I am
using etc. Maybe the thing is broken. I am about to sell it, though I
really would love to use it, Please help. I also was wanting to join a
group and maybe someone in the Sacramento area would help. Love your
site, Thank You, Bill.
Mike here: Did you get the manuals with the telescope? If not, check the FAQ page for the ETX-125 and Autostar manuals. That should help you a lot. You do have to set the telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar; it is not "auto-detected". The hardstops are almost 720 degrees apart so you go nearly twice around between them.


Yes I have the manual for the telescope  and downloaded the one for
autostar. When I turn it on I can't see where to enter the information
for the telescope or the mounting. Thank you, Bill.
Mike here: Setup --> Telescope then Model and then Mount.
Subject:	MEADE EXT100
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 18:20:07
From: (Joanne Anderson)
Mike here: Sorry you've had some problems. Did you CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES? As to a Meade address, check their website.
Subject:	ETX 125 Cracks on mounting Information update
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 08:53:25
From: (EHRENGRUBER Christian)
On Thursday I got an official information from MEADE Europe, confirming
that this marks  on the mounting are cracks, but the consider this
cracks are negligible and wound harm the ETX 125 function, as long as
the don't grow further.

At present the are not willing to take any measures.

I keep you informed .

ch. ehrengruber

Subject:	Re: etx 125 horizontal gear
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 08:41:52
Yes, All the slewing speeds work. Vertically I can see it working,
horizontally I can hear the different speeds.
Mike here: OK, could you be overtightening the axis lock?


From lightly tightened thru overly tightened the horizontal gear does not engage. The motor just whirs.
Mike here: OK, sounds like something is not engaging. You can try the enhancements mentioned on the Telescope Tech Tips page. Might be something there that can help.


Nothing. I guess I will send it to Meade. Thank you for trying to help.

Subject:	etx 125 focus problem
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 21:31:51
From: (Doug Scates)
hello and thanks for a fine site!

my etx125 moves when i focus. and i don't mean shake movement, the
telescope actually moves to another part of the sky, albeit a slight
movement. have you experienced this problem or know where i might find
some info on what may be going on and what i can do to correct the

thanks for your time in advance,
doug scates
Mike here: Do you mean physically (the telescope moves) or just the image in the eyepiece moves (known as "image shift"). If the former, use less pressure on the knob or use one of the focus extender cables or an electric focuser. If the latter, see the Telescope Tech Tips page for several articles on fixing image shift. However, if the image shift is due to the optics being out of collimation then you have a larger problem.
Subject:	No AutoStar + how to use setting circles
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 04:55:15
From: (Premal Jhaveri)
I am one of those guys who bought a meade etx 125 ec WITHOUT autoStar.
The idea of not buying autostar was to be able to learn by virtue of
doing things the hard way.

Assumptions : (pls correct me if i am wrong)
1. What i know roughly is that if i polar align my telescope then i can
just dial in the address of a star in my telescope and voila ( firstly
is this assumption correct )...
2. if you have autostar then you just need to "show" it two stars and it
calculates all the relative positions, after which you ask for a star it
calculates it and takes the telescope there. ( no alignment of any sort
required - other then it being on flat surface )

what i want to know
1. is there a software by which i do the similar stuff. go to wellknown
stars, note the setting circle values on my telescope, enter it in the
magic software and then i ask for a known address and it tells me what
should the values on my settings circles should be ...
2.  what's the use of setting circles w/o aligning the telescope.

any help in this regards will be greatly appreciated.

Mike here: See the FAQ page for info on using the Setting Circles. There is a lot of software that shows you the sky (see the Astronomy Links page) but you still need to align the telescope and set the Right Ascension setting circle.
Subject:	ETX 90 EC training & focusing problems
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 22:53:02
From: (Forest & Ruai Gregory)
When autostar moves the telescope away from the centered object and asks
that it be centered using only the right arrow key, I'm only able to
move away from the object and not able to recenter it.  The same thing
happens with the left arrow key.

When using the electronic focus controller, I hear a click when focusing
in or out and it is unable to focus.

Where can I obtain a user's manual for the ETX 90 EC?

Forest Gregory
Mike here: See the FAQ page for manuals. Is this a used ETX and Autostar? I ask since you don't have a manual. Have you done a RESET and CALIBRATE? Have you set the proper telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar? Check those and let me know. As to the electronic focusing, it sounds like something is catching or the gears in the focuser (assuming it is a Meade focuser) are not engaging. You could remove the focuser and re-attach it, confirming that the gears are aligning. Be certain to keep the telescope pointed upwards about 45 degrees to keep the focus shaft from slipping inside the tube.
Subject:	Help!
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 17:10:37
From: (Martin CHUTER)
Great site by the way...

Certainly helped make my choice about buying the ETX125.

Now i've got it, I am having some problems...

Firstly, I am attempting to view Mars through the  ETX125.  I have tried
the 26mm Super Plossl, 18mm Super Plossl, 6.3mm Super Plossl...  all of
which show the planet in the eyepiece as being just a rather large
circle...  no features, just a blank whitish circle.  So, I thought, why
not buy a 2x barlow lens.  It came in the post today and I tried it on
all the eyepieces tonight, but still I view just a small, circular disc.

Looking at all those images in the guest planetary gallery, they all are
superbly close up, with markings on the surface, good colour...   why is
it I can only see a small white circular disc?

Kindest Regards

Martin Chuter CNS
Mike here: Be certain to read the Email Etiqutte notice on the ETX Site home page; your email was almost deleted unread as SPAM. Are you certain you have focused? A common new user mistake is to make the "disk" of a planet as large as possible by turning the focus knob. This is incorrect. Right now you can easily focus on the Moon. Then you can look at Mars without changing the focus. That's an in-focus image. There are many other factors in how well Mars will appear. Are there any readily visible features visible (see the Sky&Telescope Mars page)? Is the seeing good (and at northern latitudes, Mars is pretty low)?


As I say, i've tried those lenses, focusing properly.  If the image is
blurred, I focus using the knob to give a clear image, which is what I
get. But the image of Mars is far from spectacular!  As I say, the image
is clear and sharp, not blurred.  But looking at Mars, it appears as a
planet sized white disc with no markings or anything.

You say there are many other factors in how well Mars will appear.  At
the moment, the UK is currently basking in a a heatwave of record
temperatures, something which this country hasn't seen since records
began back in 1880. The sky at night time is clear, but not winter time
clear, if you know what I mean.  Would the 35C / near 100F temperatures
during the day have an effect on observing overnight?

One thing I am doing...  I am observing Mars fairly low to the horizon.
About 1 hour or so after it rises.  Would this have an effect?

I did read this interesting bit from Sky And Telescope...

"Mars begins May well south of the celestial equator at declination -20,
so it fails to rise more than 30 above the southern horizon (as seen
from latitude 40 north). Seeing will suffer, and any crisp markings are
likely to be smeared and softened by low-sky haze and turbulence in
Earth's atmosphere."

How much of an effect would that have on viewing markings on the
surface... could that be the cause of a disc with no features?

Kindest Regards

Many thanks for your help!

Martin Chuter CNS
Mike here: The low altitude of Mars will have an affect on viewing quality. So does thermal heating of our atmosphere and surface features (roof tops, roads, parking lots, etc.) during the day. Anything that will cause atmospheric turbulence will affect the seeing quality. The other thing you are likely experiencing is "higher expectations than a small telescope will deliver". If you are comparing visual views to photographs, you will get the wrong impression of what you can see. As long as Mars is in focus, and if the seeing cooperates, you should be able to see dark markings and certainly the South Polar Cap. Check that Sky&Telescope page for the Mars simulator.
Subject:	etx 125 horizontal gear
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 10:16:11
I purchased my meade 125 apx 3 years ago but have not used it in several
years.Ive brought it out to view Mars this month. My problem is that it
does not move horizontally using the standard controller. It moves fine
manually. The vertical motion is working but not the horizontal. I've
turned it on & off several times as suggested in the book. If I send it
back to Meade I will probably not get it back for at least a month.
Anything I can try? A camera/photography store that sells Meades told me
about your site.
Mike here: After you lock the horizontal axis using the lock lever, can you still move the telescope tube horizontally by hand? Don't force it; just see if there is any resistance to motion. If so, then the axis lock is getting engaged. If you can move the OTA then the lock is not engaged; see the FAQ page for a possible cure. One other possible problem is that the grease has stiffened up during the inactivity. Unlock the axis and move the telescope forks from hardstop to hardstop, back and forth, several times. That will redistribute the grease.


Thank you for your prompt reply. Yes, the horizontal axis lock does
engage. I did unlock the axis and moved the forks hardstop to hardstop
several times. It still does not move horizontally with the auto
controller, only vertically. I do notice a different sound to the motor
in each direction. Slewing right it sounds like the normal slewing
sound. Slewing left it sounds more like a clunking sound. Any other
suggestions? Thanks, Bob
Mike here: Have you tried different slewing speeds?
Subject:	mars watch
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 01:22:16
From: (thebostons)
At 0230 CDT, 6 August, 2003 , I peered through my ETX105 EC at Mars,
first using the Meade Super Plossl 26mm EP. I stepped up to the 20mm
then the 15mm. Within thirty minutes low clouds had come in to haze the
view too much to see anything meaningful. However, prior to the cloud
cover, I was able to observe the brilliant yellow ball, but with no
discernable features. Hoping to show Mars to the neighbors in the coming
weeks but fell I should maybe take them to a location where larger
scopes will be available (a long drive from our neighborhood). Can I get
enough out of my 105 to make Mars enjoyable to the uninformed (including
me?)  If so, what do I use? Or, do I "take a drive"? You seem to always
have the right answer.

Mike here: What you see when looking at Mars certainly depends on what magnification you are using. But as shown in my example test photographs (My Astrophotography Gallery - Planets), you can see the disk with the magnification you are using. But it also depends upon other factors such as what surface features are currently visible (see the Sky&Telescope Mars page: It also depends upon whether dust storms are appearing (and one certainly is). It also depends upon your latitude and time of observing. Mars is very low in the sky for Northern Hemisphere viewers.
Subject:	Focus knob for the ETX
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 16:04:38
From: (Vittorio)
My name is Vittorio, I'm italian and I own an ETX 90EC for 3 years (I'm
still a beginner).

I was looking in the ebay site today and I found out that somebody is
trying to sell a vinyl coated flexible extension for the ETX focus knob.
He claims that this device highly facilitate to focus the telescope when
it is pointing at zenith.

I send to you some photos.

Since you are my point of reference for the ETX. I would like your
opinion about it. What do you think Mike? it could be a rather
inexpensive solution!

focus cable

Mike here: This looks very similar to the Scopetronix FlexiFocus reviewed on the Accessory Reviewed - Miscellaneous page. Such a focus extender is useful. There are also homemade ones discussed on the Telescope Tech Tips page.

Subject:	Re: ETX 125 Cracks on mounting (
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 15:53:59
From: (Vampire Le Stat)
I've been reviewing the latest articles (where's the auto update
notification gone to?) and come across the "ETX125 cracks" item.

As the body is ABS plastic and injection moulded, these 'cracks' look to
me almost to be like 'wave fronts' where the plastic has been injected
at multiple ports and 'met' and created a visible mark. This is also
highly likely due to the way these cracks have appeared absolutely
uniformly and not just at areas where there is stress. Whether or not
thse fronts will actually be structurally different, i don't know; but
if they are, it is possible cracks could start there.

I also reviewed the "STS-107 Memorial page"; me and my big mouth about

Clear Skies,

Mike here: Not certain if you mean the "To be notified of site updates, click here!" but it is still on the ETX Site home page. But if you have stopped receiving site update notifications it would be because the site update email to your email address was rejected by your ISP. Any time an email comes back the email address is removed from the notification list. And thanks for the cracks info.
Subject:	ETX 105 that died in within few minutes of use... going for the 1 25!
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 10:10:36
From: (Mesnik, Roberto)
Great web page!!

I have ordered an ETX 105 last beginning of May 2003 and 2.5 months
later it arrived. This was my first telescope. I played with it for
about one week, adding to maybe 2 hours of use - doing the gear
training, aligning and getting use to it. Then one night, when I felt I
was ready (finally had time!!) to use the GOTO and tracking... yes, it
happened to me as well. I did the alignment, chose a start, hit GOTO and
it went. I was dazzled. It started to track and you could hear the low
humming. I left it there for about 15 minutes. Then I decided to GOTO
Mercury. It rotated and then it stopped. It was the last time we all
heard that particular scope breathing. Everything was dead. I took it
back to my local shop and we tested the Autostar. That was working fine.
 Turned out that they had an ETX 125 at another store and I decided to
upgrade and pay rather than wait another ten years to have a new one
shipped. The store refunded my money and today (!) the new arrived so I
will be going there to pick it up. This all happened last week Thursday
(today is Tuesday). And all that happened inside my family room!! I was
getting acquainted with the scope before going outside. I am hoping the
new one will be a trooper and live a little longer. From what I have
been reading on your web page, it seems like a lot of people have minor
problems (like you did) that is all fixable and from there all goes
good.  I just don't like the idea of paying for something and not
getting it.  I wish MEADE would sell kits - that way it would be cheaper
for everyone and we could put it together (I love building things -
remote controlled airplanes is my primary hobby) the right way! I have
ordered a copy of your book and it should arrive any time soon. I am
wondering, judging by the publishing date, how it will correlate with
this new ETX 125 that I am getting? Anyway, I really enjoy surfing your
web page! A lot of good information and most important: well organized!

I just felt I had to write this in order to keep the log going. That is
why I made sure I returned the ETX to the store and made them refund me.
Although I am sure MEADE knows about all this, we have to sending this
feedback. Yes the product has good quality components but assembly is
not there yet.

Best regards,

Roberto Mesnik
Mike here: Sorry your first experience wasn't so good. Thanks for buying the book. Many people have found it useful regardless of the model they have.


Thanks for the time to reply - I am sure you receive tons of emails (I
do and I am not even famous!)

I picked up my ETX 125 last night and everything seems to be working how
is supposed to. I have not taken it under the starts because of the rain
but the GOTO seems to be pointing in the right genera direction.

And since we are here, I have a question to which I couldn't find the
answer on the manuals... When you are tracking, the gears are going, how
do I stop tracking and gain manual control of the scope again?

Thanks for the attention one more time and keep up with that excellent
web page!!!

Best regards from a Brazilian lost here in Michigan...
Mike here: While the ETX is tracking you can use the four arrow keys to slew around. When you finish slewing the ETX will resume tracking.
Subject:	ETX 125-EC & The Mighty Web Site - Oh my, how Mighty!
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 22:04:42
From: (Kiwi Forkhoists Ltd)
From New Zealand, the Southern Skies!, oh we are blessed in todays age.

Sorry to dissapoint I have no problems ( apart from my batteries going
flat, cureed with a Heavy Duty forkhoist battery!)

I am compelled to say THANK YOU for your web site, as I was struggling
to use my ETX 125-EC until I found your site.

Maybe there is something you can help me with :).  Mars is up, and I was
wondering what eye piece/barlow/filter combo would suit my scope the
best for Mars viewing, as I am a beginner self training newbie!

Many thanks in advance!

Blair Slater

BTW: a friend gasped "thats better than I have seen anywhere on the
internet" referring to a moon view through the ETX!! - now thats cool!
Mike here: See the email "Viewing Mars" further down this page for some ideas.
Subject:	handling ETX 105 question
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 19:35:06
From: (christopher shaw)
This may be a stupid question: but when carrying the ETX prior to fixing
it to a mount, is it ok to grab the ETX by one of the fork arms or will
this put undue stress on the arm?
Mike here: I've carried mine short distances by holding a fork arm. Shouldn't cause any problem. But be certain to hold the OTA to keep it from swinging; don't rely on the axis locks.


Great site! I have an ETX 105, does it ever need to be collimated?
Mike here: Under normal use, probably not. But if you knock it about it can go out of collimation.


Wow that was fast!

Do you mean you keep the axis unlocked while carrying it by the fork
arm. I keep mine locked. Risky to keep it unlocked while carrying it by
the fork arms. The only time I keep it unlocked is when I store it away!

Best regards
Mike here: Keeping it unlocked except when in use is a good idea. For transporting, keeping it unlocked is still a good idea; that is why I suggest holding the OTA as well as the fork arm.
Subject:	Re:  Motor problems...
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 06:10:12
From: (roy faiman)
Well, it seems that for now it works fine (after doing the suggested
treatment). I tryed the motor on Polar mount and it works with less
sound (less strain on motor?) and could trak Mars for 2 hours with zero
Thanks again,

--- wrote:
> Usually the simplest cause of this (other than power
> problems) is failure 
> to do the intial rotation to the hard stop (assuming
> your ETX model has 
> them) when setting up in the Home Position.  If
> that's not the culprit, 
> then you might need to redistribute the grease.  The
> simplest way to do 
> this is to unlock the axis and move the telescope
> tube by hand from hard 
> stop to hard stop, back and forth several times. 
> Repeat for the other 
> axis.    You should also check that the cable
> connectors are fully 
> seated.

Subject:	Mars on Aug 27/28
Sent:	Sunday, August 3, 2003 22:00:21
From: (Kian Jek)
Much appreciation for your great ETX site and I thought I'd contribute
something useful for a change!

It's a rendition of how Mars might look like thru an ETX on the night of
*the* opposition, Aug 27/28. I took the image from the Mars Profiler at
Sky and Telescope, and used a 3D program on my G4 to wrap it around a

Original images are mirror-reversed with north up.
Mars Mars

Subject:	etx90\etx125
Sent:	Sunday, August 3, 2003 08:53:45
I was wondering which etx model to purchase. The etx125 is a 5 inch
scope but what it really comes down to is a 3 inch scope because of the
centeral obstruction which is about 40 percent. Im not sure what the
etx90 actually comes down to can you tell me what percent the total
obstruction is .
Mike here: 27.9mm
Subject:	a question
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 19:14:29
From: (Bob Carden)
You seem like one of the most unbiased, and helpful folks in astronomy. 
Wondering if you could help me with a non-etx question.

(I have an etx... you helped me choose a finder for it)_...

Am considering giant binoculars for those nights just want to go out for
a short time.  Question... is it worth another $100 to go from 20X80 to
25X100 ?  I can afford it, but don't want to pay it if not worth it.

Your opinion counts a lot with me.

Mike here: Please see the Email Etiqutte item on the ETX Site home page; your email was almost deleted unread as SPAM. As to giant binoculars, here there is the new JMI one. Very nice. But at a lower end, you will need to consider how you want to mount it. With that much power you will need a sturdy mount. Personally, I use 7x50 binoculars for those really fast looks. Moving up the line however, you might consider something like an ETX-70AT.
Subject:	Can ETX 90 or 125 use LX-90 tripod?
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 15:17:45
From: (Larry Stedman)
Is there a way of attaching any of the ETXs  to the LX-90 tripod?

I'm interested in a lighter-weight scope option for some digicam photos.

Subject:	ETX 125 Cracks on mounting
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 12:40:46
From: (EHRENGRUBER Christian)
First of all congratulate to your web site, a great source of
information. Being a novice in astronomy it helped me a lot in making a
decision and fulfilling me a childhoods dream by buying myself a
telescope. I considered the Meade ETX series as a perfect choice, but
been stroked hard by reality.

In April I ordered a Meade 125 ETC with AutoStar 497 and Tripod 884 for
Euro 1599,- ( that is an equivalent of approx. $ 1700;- " lucky America
") when I received the ETX in May I realized cracks on the mounting (
see enclosed photographs ) starting off on all drill holes.

Unit Serial No.: 0388; Product Authorization Code A 88018

Being a technical engineer by myself, I really understand that such
things can happen. I informed my dealer ( send the same photographs as
attached, he passed they on to MEADE Europe ) and returned the ETX,
without ever using it.

Nevertheless MEADE promised several times to my dealer to proper repair
the ETX the sent the same unit (with the cracks in the mounting, no
measures taken place) back twice.

After a written intervention from my side, MEADE Europe send me a email,
telling me that they will now send a different  ETX. So after finally 10
weeks have passed by, I was looking forward to get something valuable
for my money.

Guess what, this week I got a phone call from my dealer telling me that
the "new  ETX" has cracks on the mounting again ( I have not seen it yet
personally, since it is approx a 1,5h drive to the dealer). But it seems
as that MEADE has just swapped the name plate !

For me it would be a great deal if I could get information whether
somebody else noticed this cracks on his 125 ETX mounting or not. Or to
all 125 ETX have this cracks and I have to bear with it if I want have a
125 ETX ?

It also would be interesting, even if it does not help me, whether
MEADE's costumer support is such a lousy one in general or is it MEADE
Europe only that doesn't care about their customers?

Thank you in advance for your comments.

DI. Christian Ehrengruber.

Linz, Austria
Mike here: In looking at the photos it is hard to tell whether the lines are indeed cracks in the material or just surface stress lines. From Meade's reaction it sounds like they may have determined that it is indeed just a surface defect not a structural flaw. But I agree that it detracts from the nice looks of the ETX. I checked my 4 year old ETX-125 and it doesn't show any defects or cracks.
Subject:	Thankyou for your ETX site
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 01:03:22
From: (Larry Carlson)
I would just like to thankyou for all the effort you have put into this
site.  I own an ETX90 and an LX90 and enjoy them both. Your  dedication
and energy to promote these scopes is very much appreciated.   I will
try to post a few pics I have taken if luck will be with me; mainly
because my experience and skills are lacking a bit.  I really appreciate
what you have done.


Subject:	Re: ETX Supercharge
Sent:	Friday, August 1, 2003 14:07:38
From: (P. Clay Sherrod)
To:	Ken
Hello Ken...
Note that the telescope base can be set up in ANY position whatsoever
and the scope will work just fine until it finds a hard stop; the nature
of alignment will allow this to happen; if you set it up 180 degrees
from where it is supposed to be it will do everything possible to work
right for you, until a hard stop is found.  Once done, it will go into
Motor Unit or obstruction fault.

So, the fact it worked rotated 180 degrees is not a coincidence nor a

However, I still suspect that the telescope is merely trying to rotate
to find your object (Mars in this case) properly, even though it seems
like the long way around...many times this is done internally to keep
the wires from being stretched or pulled the wrong way.....the scope is
a pretty smart machine!

Let me know if I can help you find that you had a default
or setup issue that can be resolved.  Likely this does NOT sound like
the scope at all...probably a default.  Make sure that you always have
the control panel facing WEST no matter how you start, and rotate the
scope properly to determine that you are located properly to the stops
(my articles under Performance Enhancement on Mike Weasner's site.....)

Best of luck and let me know if you need my help!  Supercharge is about
to be offered only on a very limited schedule and prices will be going
up soon because of that....ONE scope per month beginning in October.

Clear skies!

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H44 (Cascade Mountain)

----- Original Message -----
From: Ken
> comments: Well I've been saving my pennies for your supercharge
service and I'm almost there now a snag. My ETX-90 has started
exhibiting some quirky behaviour in polar mode, and I'm wondering if
this is going to be a problem that needs meade's attention first. (I
recently updated my 497 autostar so it might be there also) The scope
will do an align ok Correct stars correct locations then the first goto
I.E. Mars will be almost exactly 180 degrees from where mars actually after trying the align several times I simply took the scope of of
the 883 tripod flipped it 180 screwed it down and presto mars is in the
FOV of the 26mm eyepiece (All this without shutting it down or
realigning) the gotos were then fairly accurate (in the finder anyway)
until I did a spiral search for M31 everything after that was again 180
off..So Doc is it possible my ETX is schizophrenic Am I seeing the
Darkside here?? Oh further info It seems to work normally in alt/az
mode.I updated to the most!
>  recent firmware 2.6 I believe.. Thanks for your time and all the
great info you have shared with everyone.
Mike here: Also be certain you have done at least a TRAIN DRIVES after doing the update. It is required following any Autostar ROM update.


Hi Mike thanks for the reply, I did reset/retrain etc in polar mode but
I think Dr. Sherrod might be on the right track here. I am unfortunately
learning this polar setup the hardway, I seem to be having more than my
share of brain fade (If I didnt have this obsession with taking
astrophotos I would stay with alt/az) the part that has me bumfuzzled is
after It aligned (two star Arcturus and Altair) both in the right place 
I sent it back to polaris bingo no sweat then as the moon was still
visible in the west I sent it there It dcided the moon was in the east??
And it wasnt against a hardstop so I tried mars nope back to the west it
goes It was as though the whole deal was exactly 180 off.soo I didnt
turn it off or change anything just unscrewed it turned the whole scope
180 and presto mars is in the finder scope..after that it worked fine
for about 1 hour M-31 and several Clusters no sweat (well it was close
anyway) then I go back to andromeda Poof It decides andromeda is in the
west . But I have printed out all of the fine instructions again for
polar alignment put fresh batteries in the scope made a lunch kissed the
long suffering wife and kids and am off again tonight..One of us aint
comin out of this fracas alive..Me or the scope. As he stalks
determindly off into the setting sun..

seriously though I suspect the problem is something Im reading
incorrectly or am doing incorrectly in the setup for polar (for instance
a grown man twirling his finger in the air muttering
clockwise...counterclockwise..? This does not build huge confidence)

Thanks again 
Mike here: Check the obvious: telescope model, mounting mode, date (including the year), AM/PM (watch if you are using 24 hour time), location.


Dr. Clay, Thanks for the quick response! Two quick questions.

1. Im no pro at setup in the polar mode so For clarification turn the
scope to the hardstop counterclockwise 180 (approx) but is this facing
the eyepiece end or the objective end?

I suspect this is where my problem lies as It did hit the hardstop
several times during last nights alignment attempts (and you are right
it's a pretty smart machine at times smarter (more cunning perhaps) than
I !)

2. What will  the new price be on the supercharge? I might have enough
this month but if not I'll have to wait my turn and keep saving.

Thanks again for your time and help.
Go to:
and read my Guide on setting up the telescope in proper home position
relative to the stops.  It is packed full of diagrams and good
information that will help you (Part 3, specifically).  The control
panel on the base MUST be on the WEST side, whether you are using in
polar or alt-azimuth mode;  once there, merely rotate the scope to the
stops as described in the Guide and that should do it!

Best of luck.

Dr. Clay

Subject:	Weight limits on ETX-90 drive train
Sent:	Friday, August 1, 2003 13:00:15
From: (David Feindel)
Any rules-of-thumb for how much weight you can safely add to an ETX-90? 
I purchased some 10-14 oz EPs for use with my LX90; would they put too
much strain on the motors and gear train?  What are the symptoms of too
much stress on the ETX?  Would adding a counterweight on the corrector
lens end of the OTA help?  How about using "quiet slew", which would
reduce the torque applied to the gears?

Thanks for providing a valuable resource for ETX owners; your site and
book have proven to be invaluable resources many times.

David Feindel
ETX-90 and LX-90 owner
Mike here: Those eyepieces should be OK. There is no published limit but indications of too much weight is slippage during slewing or tracking. Keeping the system in balance can help.
Subject:	Mars photos with various scopes
Sent:	Friday, August 1, 2003 00:52:40
From: (James)
Just looked at your photos of Mars that you took showing the comparison
of different scopes. What a fantastic job you did and what a wonderful
way to educate us. I know at first glance the job you undertook looks
simple, but I know the work that had to go into all the set ups in one
night. I am very thankful you took the is very
useful to show the younger astronomers visually what different apertures
can do, combined with Barlow's and such.     

Great job............and thanks again

Jim Fisher
ETX-90mm Guider- Stella Cam EX
Supercharged by ASO #2365-2008
76'36.28' W     39'09.27' N

Subject:	Viewing Mars
Sent:	Thursday, July 31, 2003 20:52:04
From: (Schlatter)
I noticed that several folks have asked about viewing Mars.  I use two
scopes -- an ETX-90EC UHTC and an 8-inch Dobsonian mounted reflector. 
The Dob, with its larger aperture, gathers more light and gives me a
brighter view of Mars than the ETX but both give excellent views of
Mars.  Also, with its larger aperture, the 8-inch scope accommodates
higher magnifications than the ETX-90.

Here's a tip: If you don't have filters for your eyepieces, get some now
and use them on Mars.  I have found these filters really enhance viewing
of Mars (in order): red (25 or 23A), orange (21), medium blue (80a),
green (58).

Mars is bright and the brightness tends to wash out details on the
planet. The filters knock down some of the brightness while enhancing
specific colors.  I have used magnifications from 126X to 345X and find
that 150X up to around 240X is my favorite, with 240X being best for me.

Just one person's experience.

Joe Schlatter

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