Last updated: 31 December 1999

This page is for user comments and information of a general nature and specific items applicable to the original ETX model (now known as the ETX-90RA). Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX 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.

Mike here: This is the final update of 1999. There will be no further updates until I return from my trip to MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. Expect the next update around 9 or 10 January 2000. See you in 2000, the last year of the 20th Century!!!!

Subject:	Site
Sent:	Thursday, December 30, 1999 17:44:46
From:	Wwmorse@aol.com
Mike: I just wanted to say that you are providing a great service and
resource for ETX users, please keep it that way. If you have to take on
advertisements to defray your costs, who could blame you ! (?). I have
gained much knowledge from your page and enjoy going through it
daily/weekly. Please just keep it ETX. Thanks for all of your hard work!
Sincerely- Bill Morse

Subject:	 EP's for ETX-90EC
Sent:	Thursday, December 30, 1999 14:27:09
From:	hal-9000@home.com (T. Miller)
I'm picking up a Meade 4000 8-24mm Zoom EP soon, and want to supplement
with a 2x barlow as well.

I am debating between the #126 and #140 Meade barlow's, and would like
to know if you have tried or heard how the #140 will work with the ETX?

I realize the #140 is of higher quality than the #126, but am wondering
about the size and weight increase.


T. Miller
Mike here: Search the site for "140"; I believe there are some references to it as well as to the 126.

Subject:	 Feedback
Sent:	Thursday, December 30, 1999 11:09:35
From:	davidcolton@rica.net (David Colton)
Thanks for providing ETX users with such a valuable website.  I wanted
to share some of my experiences and observations, which I hope can
benefit both existing users as well as those comtempting a purchase.

I bought my ETX-90 in August of 1998 and I bought it wholesale through
the J.C. Penney catalog.  While that may sound unusual, I used that
route as Penney's periodically offers sales to customers who have made
previous catalog purchases.  They had a special sale - 20% off any item
in the catalog - and I was able to purchase my telescope for $480.  As
none of the vendors who advertise in the astronomy magazines will sell
these scopes wholesale, I was quite pleased with my purchase.  The scope
arrived in the Meade box, so Penney's is not repackaging or selling them
under their own brand.  The current catalog carries the ETX-90EC and
Autostar, so I would encourage potential buyers to consider using this
approach to purchase their telescope.

The scope arrived in excellent condition and so far I have not
experienced some of the problems others have described on your site. 
One of the selling features of this scope is its portability, but I have
to confess that it didn't get as much use as I had intended until I
purchased a good tripod.  Realistically, a table doesn't make a good
support for this scope, as they are seldom stable and are not portable. 
I bought a Wedgepod from JMI this past fall, for $149 and I have been
very pleased with it.  JMI is now selling its Megapod for $219, but may
still have a few Wedgepods in stock, so I'd encourage readers to call
and check.  I recently saw a Meade delux field tripod and it appears to
be a very sturdy mount.  If I had a 125EC that is the way I would go. 
But for the ETX-90, I have found the Wedgepod to be a very light weight,
stable, and portable support for the scope.  I keep the scope setup in
my garage, on the tripod with a large, plastic garden and leaf bag over
it to protect it from dust.  All I have to do is pull the cover off,
undo the lens cap and carry it out to my driveway and I'm ready for

The first accessory I purchased for the scope was an Orion EZ Finder.  I
screwed and superglued the mount onto the plastic ring at the base of
the telescope tube.  Great job, but I miscalculated its placement and
the finder wouldn't clear the yoke when I pointed the scope up toward
zenith. Taking the mount off and relocating it closer to the eyepiece
was a bear (superglue really does a good job of attaching and anchoring
the mount permanently), so I caution anyone who tries this to check the
position of the EZ Finder mount with the Finder in place and with the
telescope tube in a variety of positions.  The EZ Finder does work well,
but like the finder (which most contributers to this site have pointed
out) it is difficult to use the higher you point the scope.

I nexted purchased Orion Sirius Plossl 7.5mm and 12.4mm eyepieces, which
give 166x and 100x respectively.  This has been a learning experience,
as the 7.5mm provides a rather dim and blurry image of Jupiter and
Saturn and the 12.4mm seems to be the upper limit for my scope under
ordinary seeing conditions.  First, although I live in Virginia's
Shenandoah Valley, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Waynesboro
is like most suburbs and so we do experience quite a bit of light
pollution.  However, I think the real reason for these limitations is
inherent with a telescope of this size. With its secondary mirror
creating a central obstruction of nearly 10%, the 90mm objective is
effectly reduced to 80mm.  The ETX-90 also has a focal length of 1250mm,
or nearly 48 inches.  Optically, the ETX-90 performs like a long tube,
80mm apochromatic refractor - ideal for planetary and lunar study,
somewhat less suited to deep space observing, and limited in overall
light grasp.  Consequently, 30x per inch is probably a more realistic
criteria to use when purchasing eyepieces.  I plan to purchase a two
more eyepieces; a 15mm (83x), which I plan to use as my high power
eyepiece and a 32mm (39x) for deep space objects.

I also bought Orion's starter set of color filters and have found that
given the small aperture, these filters cut the light grasp down to the
point they don't work well with anything but the brightest objects, such
as Jupiter or the Moon.  I do plan to purchase one or two lighter color
filters, which allow more light to pass.  I purchased an Orion variable
lunar filter and I am pleased with it.  I intend to purchase a solar
filter later this year and would like to hear from others who have used
the ETX for solar viewing.

Altogether, I've spend about $850 for the scope, tripod, and other
accessories, which is not bad for a hobby such as astronomy.  For new
users, this may seem like a lot of accessories, but part of the
enjoyment of the hobby is with the gadgets, as well as with the
observations.  As many contributers to this site have shared, I have
also purchased a number of books to help me find my around the night
sky.  One of the best is "Turn Left at Orion." which uses drawings to
illustrate the view through a small telescope.

At this point, my goal is to get the most out of my telescope.  I want
to be able to find my way around the night sky and to observe at least
fifty Messier objects, as well as to continue enjoying views of the
planets. However, I am also giving serious consideration to purchasing
the ETX-125EC in a few years.  In this hobby, bigger is better and the
125 seems to be the best size for a portable scope.  However, I also
want to read more positive reviews of the scope and of Meade's response
to customers before making that purchase.  And who knows, maybe J.C.
Penney will offer the 125 in its catalog next year.

P.S.  The writers of "Turn Left at Orion" recommend taking the eyepiece
out before viewing to let cooler night air circulate inside the
telescope tube. I try to keep the tube sealed to reduce condensation. 
What are your thoughts on this practice?

With Regards (and Happy New Year)

David Colton
Mike here: As to eyepiece in or out, I usually leave it in. My observing runs are usually short so I don't even take the time to let the temperature stabilize. But then I live in a warm climate and the temperature differential between inside and outside is not as great as some others would experience.

Subject:	 Meade Scopes at JCPenney for 30% Discount
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 22:31:13
From:	hal-9000@home.com (T. Miller)
I just thought some of the visitors to your site who are in the market
for an ETX or DS scope might like to check out www.jcpenney.com as they
are having an end of Millennium sale of 30% on their Meade scopes and

I picked up an ETX-90/EC for $419.99 and a #497 Autostar for $125. (I
decided against the 125mm for various reasons, including size, weight,
thermal issues, etc).


T. Miller

Subject:	 Electronic focuser
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 22:10:04
From:	bob@shutan.com
Regarding question of not being able to install brass gear on focusing
shaft: The 90EC and 125EC use different focusers as well as different
gears. The focus shaft on the 125 is actually smaller diameter than the
90EC. If Mr. Gilbert could not get the gear to fit on his 90EC, I
suspect that he has the gear and/or focuser meant for the 125.

Bob Shutan

Subject:	 Eyepieces
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 20:05:58
From:	duckmann13@excite.com (Tim Gartman)
What usable eyepeice will give the most magnification? What are some
usable eyepieces?
Mike here: Magnification is the telecope's focal length divided by the eyepiece focal length. So, on an ETX-90 with the 26mm eyepiece, you have 1250/26 = 48x. The theoretical "maximum" magnification is 50-60x per inch of aperture. Suggest you look at the Accessories - Eyepieces and Buyer/New User Tips pages for some possible eyepieces.

Subject:	 ETX/EC deals
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 19:00:43
From:	dspeed@caverns.com (Dave Speed)
Picked up an ETX/EC from JC Penney's for 30% off.  Autostar also 30%
off.  Looks like they still have a few in stock.  The deal is only good
until 1/11 or when they run out of stock.

Thanks for the help.

"Eastern Montana-9 months of winter and 3 months of
  shitty ice skating".

Subject:	 How do Meade's various GOTO gizmo's differ?
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 15:57:51
From:	dbjarnas@toronto.cbc.ca
Can you tell me: what is the difference between the Magellan ll in
Meade's LX50; the automatic go-to capability in Meade's LX200, and the
Autostar in the ETX EC 90/125? With Autostar, you just turn it on (after
an alignment), and basically select from a series of objects to slew to.
Couldn't be easier. How do the other gizmo's differ? Are they less

Subject:	 PalmPilot Software
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 11:33:56
From:	radowning@home.com (radowning)
As an avid reader of your site, I am pleased to have the opportunity to
add to the information you compile.  I am a user of a Palm V (currently)
having migrated from a Palm III.  On both platforms I use the following
registered programs:
  a.. Star Pilot from Star Pilot Tech. [http://www.star-pilot.com/]
  b.. Location Manager from Star Pilot Tech.
  c.. Messier! from Star Pilot Tech.
  d.. Planets! from Star Pilot Tech.
  e.. J-Moons from Marvin Wilborne III [www3.gamewood.net/mew3/]
  f.. Moon! from Marvin Wilborne III
  g.. Sol!II from Marvin Wilborne III
Star Pilot is the main charting application, from which you can call or
invoke all the others.  The charting is very good, and has zoom and
informational features.  The Location Manager is required to keep a data
base for either US or global locations (i.e.:  latitude/longitude). 
Messier! allows for the compilation of a viewing list, essential for
keeping track of what one is doing, when there is so much to
see...Planets! gives you the ephemerides data for all the planets.
J-Moons is a great application giving the relative positions of
Jupiter's moons for any given observation time.  Moon! and Sol!II both
give you the expected information for the respective bodies.

In all, I would say that these applications have been of tremendous help
in my observing sessions.  From the quick verification of just what the
heck I'm looking at, to planning an observing session, these are

Well, that's my two-cents worth.  Thanks for all your hard work.

Subject:	 CCD options for the ETX-90EC
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 09:16:06
From:	geonav1@attglobal.net (Jim Bruton)
Great site- thank you for all of your hard work in distilling down lots
of info for the rest of us!

I am wondering if you can recommend any CCDs which couple to the back of
the ETX-90EC, with a relative minimum of fuss.  I am getting the Epoch
2000 software and the #505 cable kit, and-of course- have a field
computer to pilot everything with.

Thank You!

Jim Bruton
New Haven, CT
Mike here: I have no experience with CCDs but you can search the site for "CCD"; you'll find lots of references.

Subject:	 Palm Pilot Astronomy Software
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 07:09:55
From:	DavidH@DataChannel.com (David Huyrn)
While this application does not interface with the Autostar, it is still
a nice one to have.  Its called Planetarium. Planetarium calculates the
position of the Sun, the Moon, all the planets and 1600 of the brightest
stars in the sky for any time and a any geographical position.  There
are two main displays. One is a star map and the other shows the azimuth
and the altitude of an object on a compass-like scale. In addition, it
will also calculate the rise, transit, and setting of the Sun, Moon and
planets. Planetarium is shareware and can be registered for $19.  You
can find it on the web at http://www.aho.ch/pilotplanets/. I am in no
way affiliated with this application or its author.  I have found it
useful and wanted to pass it along.
And of course, thanks for a great website!

David Huryn
Solutions Architect / DataChannel
(877) 891-6334

Subject:	 Buying Recommendations
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 03:12:55
From:	trevor_clopton@tekno.com (Trevor Clopton)
I am looking to purchase a telescope for my family and me. This will be
our first telescope and think that the ETX-90EC is the right choice.
Could you tell me your thoughts on purchasing one through e-bay? Also,
would you recommend the ETX-70AT available at Wal Mart for $490
including the Autostar controller?

We live in the country with the nearest security light 1/4 mile away and
have good visibility of stars on most nights. Also, want a telescope
that we can grow into but not buy something too complicated to use.
Portability is important just because with 3 kids, I don't want to leave
it set up in the living room.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Mike here: I think you will like what can see with the ETX-90EC. You might be disappointed with the views through the ETX-70AT. I briefly discuss the ETX-70AT on my first NexStar5, ETX-125EC report.

Subject:	tripod angle
Sent:	Wednesday, December 29, 1999 00:38:16
From:	XMeCoOLx@aol.com
i looked at lots of pics of tripods and they are at angles, why? and do
i have to do the same?  what's the angle?
Mike here: The base is tilted to allow the telescope to compensate for the earth's rotation. This is called "equatorial" mounting and provides for "polar aligning" the telescope. When the tilt is set to match your latitude, the "vertical" rotation axis of the telescope is parallel to the earth's axis. If you have a telescope, this is probably described in its manual. If you have one of the new GOTO style telescope systems, check its manual; it may be able to compensate for the earth's rotation even when "altazimuth" mounted, meaning that the base is horizontal and not tilted.

Subject:	 lest there be any question...
Sent:	Tuesday, December 28, 1999 20:54:13
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Let me join the hordes who are saying:
"I'd be happy to serve as one of the suite of answer-folks...", my
specialty will probably be the Autostar's software, but i can kibitz on
other stuff (just ask my poor ear-bent friends...).

As a caveat, I'm especially -weak- in modern eyepiece selection.

My choice of the ETX90/EC was for its portability, not for long-exposure
astrophotography. My biases will be colored toward that mission for the

I'll usually try to couch commentaries in non-confrontational language,
but at times, i may slip  (that's what you're there for, right?

have fun at MacWorld (gasp... a -week- without ETX updates...)

Subject:	 Palm Pilot software for ETX
Sent:	Tuesday, December 28, 1999 16:38:31
From:	fk@event1.com (Frank Kelly)
Have you heard of any worthwhile Palm Pilot software for the
Mike here: Since I will likely purchase a Palm at next month's MacWorld Expo, I am also interested in this.

Subject:	 Future of the Mighty ETX Site
Sent:	Tuesday, December 28, 1999 10:57:12
From:	david.kaufman@railinc.com
In response to your recent editorial, I have several comments.

First, I vote to keep the site just for ETX.    I don't think you should
completely ignore other makers, but I believe that  the way you have
handled the Nexstar was appropriate,  showing other scopes in comparison
to the ETX. I think by expanding the site to handle all small telescopes
it would lose its focus (no pun intended) and lose its effectiveness.

Second, regarding advertisements, I think its a great opportunity for
you. You should not have to pay the cost of mainaining the site.  Your
time is appreciated enough, this should not be costing you money.  
Also, I'm afraid that charging a membership fee might severly limit the
number of contributors and readers, and might be quite a burden to
maintain and enforce.

However,  I am a bit concerned about which advertisers would be used and
I hope you would pick and chose wisely.  Companies like Amazon.com and
eBay that are not directly the topic of discussion would be great, and
they could target books, and auction goods of an astronomical nature to
your readers.   But, I hope you would resist advertisements from the
companies that are regularly discussed, reviewed, bashed and praised on
your site;   Meade, Celestron, Scopetronics, Shutan... The appearance of
a conflict of interest would seriously undermine the credibility of the
site. As you pointed out, some companies get free advertising out of the
posts (Meade, Scopetronics, Shutan...), but  some companies get free
bashing (Meade, SkyMall....). That't the beauty of this site. For
instance, I would have found the reviews for the Doskocil Seal-Tight
cases much less credible if there was a paid advertisement for B&H right
near it.

I think your idea for a regarding Subject Matter experts would be a
great addition whether or not you expand the site. Having an expert in
areas like astrophotography, autostar usage, even carpentry (for those
of us building ETX Cubes) would be very helpful.  Ideally, it would be
great to have a Meade engineer so we could Ask The Expert and get a
response.   It seems like it would be in Meade's interest to support
such an effort.

Anyway, I hope my 2 cents help you decide the future of the Mighty ETX
site. Thanks again for the great resource, and Happy New Years.

David Kaufman

Subject:	 handmade dew shield
Sent:	Tuesday, December 28, 1999 05:43:53
From:	david.kaufman@railinc.com
I recently made a simple, very good, low cost,  dew shield for my ETX90.
The dew shield helps to cut down stray light pollution, too.

I took some left over 1/8 inch black foam used for lining a Sears
toolbox, cut it to size, and applied a few strips of velcro.  (Sears
sells extra lining foam in their hardware department.)

I hope this helps.

Thanks again for the great site,

David K

Subject:	Video and ETX
Sent:	Monday, December 27, 1999 15:22:04
From:	Nvr2fst@aol.Com
how are you doing. My name is joe and i bought an etx 90 ec about 6
months ago. I have the autostar controller also as well as some extra
eyepieces...45 Degree..Barlow...Etc. Actually i have done a couple
interesting additions. First i have a small video camera mounted over
the lens on a bracket. I didn't think i could get it to work but its
beautiful ! I connected the video into my win-tv input on my computer
and now i watch it on my computer in the warmth of my house. Its real
time full motion. Much much easier keeping track of objects. I am able
to record the video or take snapshots. It also gave me the luxury of
adjusting brightness, color etc. I bought a long 8 prong phone cable to
extend the controller indoors. I also made my own electronic focuser and
controller. So i have a long cable running in my house to control
everything. I know i could have bought the focuser but im impatient
[waiting for order] and maybe a little cheap..... I did put out a good
bit on accessories already. I also really enjoy creating things myself.
Anyway, the video may or may be interesting to you [i imagine you have
seen people do different things with the etx but this setup works so
well i thought i would let you and everybody else know its possible. Its
relatively simple but not for everybody to try. Everything is adjustable
[the camera in relation to different eyepieces] if you are interested in
knowing or seeing more, let me know. Its ok either way.   I do have a
question though.....I know that meade has the software to control it
from the keyboard but i was wondering if you knew of a program that
works with autostar such as share.......Or even freeware? I know it
sounds cheap but im not rich and people make these programs sometimes
just to say they did it or for practice. I would pay something but not
what meade wants for the epoch 2000.         Thanks

Subject:	 ETX collimation
Sent:	Monday, December 27, 1999 12:07:55
From:	jmichaud@magic.fr (Jacques Michaud)
To:	tcostanzo@netway.com (tony costanzo)
Hi Tony
Thank you for your mail

I don't see any reason for getting different results between a real star
test and a virtual star test.

Indeed, an artificial source such as a tree ornament or a ball from a
ball bearing is preferable: No need to track the star,easy to control
the distance and the brightness (using a flashlight instead of the sun)
less turbulent atmosphere to go through,  then much more steady pattern
than with a real star test.

As you know,the important thing is that the size of the source divided
by its distance to the scope is less than the resolution of the scope
(1.3 arcsecond for the ETX).

The size of the image of the sun in a sphere is less than 1/300 the
diameter of the sphere.

Thus, for instance with a ball 2cm in diameter (and using a safety
factor of x2) the distance must be 20 meters as a minimum.With a 4mm
ball (bicycle ball bearing) 4 meters are enough.

Now,if you see  nice concentric patterns on a virtual star test but not
with a real one, maybe the explanation is the following: Your OTA is
rather horizontal in the first test and rather vertical in the second.If
you did not tighten (gently!) the six screws ,the guide axis of the
primary mirror can have some play and get misaligned in some
positions.In such a case you should (maybe) observe a shift of the image
when defocusing from one direction to the other.

Anyway, when collimating is complete the six screws must be tightened.
Hope this can help a little.

Which  will be much more helpful is the book of Harold Richard Suiter
"Star Testing Astronomical Telescopes" (Willmann-Bell)

Clear skies!
Jacques Michaud 
Mike here: The above is in reference to "Collimating an ETX Mak" on the Tech Tips page.

Subject:	 Canon A-1 Exposure Determination
Sent:	Monday, December 27, 1999 10:43:17
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
I have fashioned two different wood mounts that attach to the 1/4 20
holes in the bottom of my ETX-90EC.  My Canon A-1 (about 12 years old --
discontinued model) mounts either for eyepiece projection using a 70mm
Canon zoom and Rini 45 mm eyepiece, or prime focus with Canon lens
removed.  I find I can focus on the ground glass section of the
viewfinder for the moon or terrestrial photography.

My question regards how I interpret the thru-the-"lens" meter readings. 
I have a choice of aperture priority, shutter priority or programmed
mode.  I don't know what setting to select to tell me the shutter speed
to use for the light flux incident upon the meter.  The camera knows it
is in manual mode (no FD-style lens attached) but I am at a loss as to
how to interpret the readings.  Is there an A-1 owner who has been down
this path?

Mike here: One thing to keep in mind is whether the light meter is a "spot" or "averaging" type. Spot works great on the moon whereas averaging in the black area around the moon would result in overexposure. In any case, nor matter how good the meter, you should probably plan to take several exposures, bracketed around the meter suggestion.

Added later:

I found my owner's manual for the A-1 and solved the problem: There is a
lever on the left (looking thru viewfinder) hand side of the A-1 that
locks the camera in "Stopped Down Aperture-Exposure" mode.  In this mode
it chooses the shutter speed from 30 sec to 1/1000 based on the light
flux at the time the shutter release is depressed.  I'll see how well
this works on the moon and terrestrial subjects.

Subject:	 ETX-90EC Mounting to Bogen Tripod
Sent:	Monday, December 27, 1999 10:13:39
From:	mark.shneour@usa.net (Mark Shneour)
I am about to purchase a ETX-90EC telescope (my first), and stumbled
across your site in the course of my due diligence. Very helpful and
informative. Thanks!

I have read all the posts regarding use of tripods and "wedge" setups
with the ETX, and am happy to discover that the Meade field tripod is
not a necessity. As I already do photography and video, I had hoped to
use my existing tripod. I own a set of Bogen legs (#3021) with two heads
-- a camera head (#3047) and a video head (#3063). Both heads
incorporate the Bogen "quick release" mounting plate.

Because the new ETX-EC has two offset mounting holes in place of the
standard center hole on the original ETX, I am unsure as to the best
method of mounting the ETX-EC to one of my tripod heads. Shutan
(Chicago) offers both their "Easy Mount" and a "Tripod Adaptor,"
although they recommend that the Easy Mount be used directly on top of
the tripod stem without the head. If you have ever removed a Bogen head,
you know this is a bit of a hassle. What I want is a "plug-and-play"
setup -- ideally utilizing a Bogen quick release plate. I have read all
your Tech Tips, and admire the ingenuity of many of your contributors.
But I am not interested in "machining" myself anything from scratch. I
have remodeled two homes, and with two kids to boot, that is plenty. Any


Mark Shneour

Subject:	 Editorial & Expansion
Sent:	Monday, December 27, 1999 07:00:39
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
I'm actually a bit saddened that the site will be expanded - maybe i'm
just selfish - i greatly appreciate having a resource for MY telescope
needs - i've gotten valuable tips from the nexstar sites, but
"Weasner's" was my ETX bible - i don't see how that can stay the same
when the voice behind the site goes from commenting to web site
administration - of course others (the "experts") can chair the various
scope sections/feedback, but there is something almost gospel about what
you say Mike - i KNOW if you say you like the scope because xyz, that
i'll PROBABLY also like the scope for the same reasons.  I simply don't
think it will be possible to keep the quality as high when there are
more cooks involved - even if they are distinguished or extremely
knowledgable - just my 2 cents worth.

Jumping channels for a moment, i for one would be happy to hear that
you're at least breaking even for your costs - although I'd certainly
have no problem if you actually made a profit!  (a while back, there
were thoughts abounding that we should somehow chip in to get you an EC
- i still share those sentiments).  While advertising would be the
relatively least painful way (for the users) to benefit, i can see where
you'd be hassled for taking advertisements, having bias, etc. - i can
almost see MAC advertisements which are not astronomy related and thus
no possiblity for conflicts of interest, but you'd probably receive ads
for astronomy related products - not a big leap there.  I know I
wouldn't feel you "sold out" but some may voice that opinion, and the N5
vs. ETX review in the year 2005 could suffer because you might be a
receipient of hefty meade, celestron, and upteen other companies by that

I can see where you might not want to charge a subscription fee, (hey, I
don't wanna pay it :0 however i think i speak for just about all the
users where a $10, $15, or higher fee has been more than recouped just
from the tips, lens suggestions, etc. - when you consider the high cost
of this hobby, the few dollars you'd potentially cost are minimal - yes,
it might keep out new people (unless you made, say, archives available
without posting ability), however the SUBSTANTIAL benefit of CHARGING A
SUBSCRIPTION would be to limit some of that "noise" vs. "signal" - if i
shelled out the moola to subscribe, chances are I have a scope, at least
some experience or genuine questions, etc. - rather than someone who
might simply post opinions to bash one brand or the other, etc.  The con
to a subscription would be that people may DEMAND from you, rather than
APPRECIATE all that you bring.

Personally, I would not object to your advertising or charging a
subscription fee - just ONE tip can make the difference between a
mediocre experience to phenomenal, and although you are presently
running the site as a labor of love (get your head checked!!!!), i feel
badly that you're not even breaking even, but operating at a loss, and
that's a real shame.

I have noticed the editorials seem to coincide with the N5/ETX reviews. 

Mike here: The first editorial was kicked off by the CONSPIRACY THEORIES that were being mentioned in the Feedback pages and elsewhere in the aftermath of my first N5/125 report. The timing of the second editorial was more to get it out there before the end of the year. Of course, I also wanted the N5/125 report #2 to get out before the end of the year.

Added later:

i can understand that you get some enjoyment from hosting the site (you
must, or you wouldn't do it) but i can only imagine how burdensome the
administration is to become - if you were to retire and this would be
full time, i could see it - if you were running "scopetronix" and
expanding a business like jordan, well, i could see that too -
presently, you're providing a service, gratis, which costs you some $$
and X hours/week - i can only imagine after the site expands, that
you'll be spending X raised to the Y hours, with only a portion devoted
to content, and the rest to posting, cleaning, etc. - i don't believe
you have an ultimate "mission" i.e. spend 3 years building a
site/credibility, and then turn it into a money making venture (which I
would be all for - heck, I'd help raise capital - I'm serious!)  I've
read your personal pages (no, not in the underwear drawer) - fighter
pilot, etc. - impressive - you've "lived" a lot more than I have, and
not just from chronological years - I'd just hate to see you get bogged
down behind the computer, and unable to spend time with your girl
(sorry, don't remember her name     :( and also not have time to
stargaze - of course, you're in a far better position to budget your
time than I am - I'm simply scratching my head wondering why you'd take
on such a burden.  Perhaps your delegation of responsibility will take
much of the burden off, but the little I've been able to glean about you
over the past 10 months or so shows me that you'll probably still read
every e-mail for quite some time (old habits die hard) and you'll
probably worry about quality control, content, accuracy, keeping a
relatively neutral tone, keeping correspondence civil between your
"panel" and the crank e-mailers, and so on.  Guess I'm just a grim
pesimist, but as David Brin once said, the scariest part is this is the
most OPTIMISTIC projection I can make!

Subject:	 Re: Looking for ETX/EC
Sent:	Sunday, December 26, 1999 18:52:17
From:	jh@brainiac.com (Joe Hartley)
To:	dspeed@caverns.com
> So I started to do some shopping.  I notice that its easier to pay a
> premium than to get a discount.  Is the EC *with* a motor worth $100
> more than a stock EC (neither had the Autostar)?

There's a bit of confusion here, I think.  There are 2 different models
of 90mm ETX - the new EC (Electronically Controlled) and the RA (right
ascension), also known as an Astro, and sometiomes referred to by its
owners as the "classic" ETX.

The EC has 2 motors, one in the RA (horizontal) axis, and another in the
Declination (vertical).  The ECs come standard with a hand paddle to
control the scope's movements, and this can be replaced with the
Autostar which adds the computer pointing capabilities.

My short answer to the question "is the extra motor and motorized
slewing worth an extra $100?" is yes.  I spent more than that to
motorize my old ETX with a MicroStarII+, and I've never regretted it.

> I saw a posting that good prices were to be had through a group called
> Learningsmith but their web site seems to be down (and their sys admin's
> don't appear to answer mail...). 

Learningsmith is in the process of going out of business.  Try looking
for a Discovery store nearby.  Fo a good mail-order experience, I'd give
the folks at Pocono Mountain Optics a try.  I've had excellent dealings
with them in everything from a $40 eyepiece to a $20,000 LX-200 setup.

       Joe Hartley - UNIX/network Consultant - jh@brainiac.com
     12 Emma G Lane, Narragansett, RI  02882 - vox 401.782.9042
Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa

Subject:	 various
Sent:	Sunday, December 26, 1999 12:16:34
From:	ronmccafferty@email.msn.com (Ron McCafferty Jr)
I received a Doskocil Extra Large Pistol case from Mid South Shooters
Supply for Christmas.  I can't imagine being happier with any case. 
I've been using one of the Meade soft cases for years and while I've
never had any trouble I'll feel more relaxed while traveling especially

As one user suggested by offering a donation a 3rd method of covering
expenses could be user donations.  I would argue against a subscriber
fee although I would pay one.   I would feel more comfortable with
advertising. I can understand how someone might feel that your
objectiveness would be biased.  As you've always stated it's a matter of
trust.  I certainly have learned to trust you over the time I've read
this site.  A method that's worked well for other web sites is to charge
for a link to a site.  Meade, for example, could pay to have a link
connected to their new accesories page.

As far as expanding the site I think it could be a great.  The more the
merrier.  I've always wanted to see a section on how to find it in the

Ron McCafferty

Subject:	 etx: good or bad?
Sent:	Sunday, December 26, 1999 08:47:53
From:	duckmann13@excite.com (Tim Gartman)
I finally got my ETX for Christmas, and some accessories, of course. I
went out last night(very clear skies) and was NOT impressed. I had it
polar aligned and pointing North, but couldn't find anything well enough
and neither did the autostar. I was and am currentley thinking of
trading it all in and buying a Meade Starfinder 8" Eq. Reflector 
(keeping in mind that I have no care or qualms whatsoever about
bulkiness, I want visual capabilities), but before I do so I want to
know if the ETX is even able to see what is in the autostar's database.
Or maybe I'd see more with the 8". Is it really worth it to keep the ETX
or should I trade it in? Can the ETX actually see what I want to see?
Also there are some problems with the focusing knob. It doesn't seem to
focus very clearly with higher magnifications. Finally, what can I see
that is really mindbogglingor amazing?
                                      Tim Gartman
Mike here: Your message had no specifics on WHAT you were trying to see and how. Yes, the ETX can see what is in the Autostar database. But sky conditions, magnification, and eye dark adaptation are some things that can affect how YOUR eye sees things viewed through ANY telescope. Certainly a larger aperture telescope can see more details and use higher magnifications than a small aperture telescope. Although the GOTO telescopes work reasonably well, some familiarity with the sky helps to ensure proper usage. If there is no GOTO capability, even more sky familiarity is required. If the ETX does not meet your requirements, then you should purchase a telescope that does. For some, the ETX does a superior job (as is well described and shown on my ETX web site). For others, something else is more appropriate. Only the individual can make that decision.

Subject:	 New 90 - Can install the Auto Focuser
Sent:	Saturday, December 25, 1999 13:50:03
From:	reedgilbert@mindspring.com (Reed Gilbert)
Just Found your site and think it great.

Santa just put a 90 etx with all the trimmings under my tree: deluxe tri
pod, erecting prism, Autostar, T adapter, Barlow 2x, Hard case etc ...

My question is When I went to Install the Auto Focuser and removed the
focusing knob that was standard the Brass gear ( that came with the auto
focus)  did not fit on the focusing shaft?  Have you head of this
before? Are there different size gears? or shafts?

On a second not can you refer me to a sight in which I can get my exact
Lat Long?


Reed Gilbert
Mike here: Not having the Auto Focuser from Meade, I can't answer your question other than to say that there are different models. You want the #497 model Autostar. As to lat/long sites, there are some listed on the Astronomy Links page.

Subject:	 Vendors for Meade Telescopes?
Sent:	Saturday, December 25, 1999 11:47:31
From:	jrhodes@pacifier.com (John Rhodes)
I just found your site while looking for sources of information on the

I was active for many years in astronomy while living in the SF Bay
Area, but the hobby has been dormant since moving to Washington in 1979.
 I'm now on the verge of retirement, and want to reactivate a favorite

I have been intrigued by the advanced features and portability of the
new Meade Maksutovs, and decided to purchase one (not yet sure whether
the 90EC or the 125EC; though 1-1/2" eyepieces would be desirable since
I have a good set which I used with my C-8).

Do you have a recommendation for mail-order vendors?  Orion doesn't
carry Meade (and Celestron just ain't there yet!), and Edmund's doesn't
typically have competitive prices.

What do you think?


John Rhodes
Vancouver, WA
Mike here: You can find Meade scopes at your local Nature Company, Natural Wonders, Discover Store stores. Mail order places that sell Meade scopes are listed on the Astronomy Links page on my site. Don't expect too much, if any, discounting (except for sales) on the ETX line. Just too popular!

Subject:	 a question on focusing
Sent:	Saturday, December 25, 1999 10:07:34
From:	newmercies@mindspring.com (Laurel G. Gardner)
Just got an ETX-90 for my Dec. birthday.......all is going pretty well,
considering I don't know a thing.  I seem to have a problem focusing
once I've got an object in my field of view.  Any suggestions?

Mike here: If you can't get the object in focus, try loosening the setscrew on the focus knob and slide the knob a little further out on the shaft, then retighten the setscrew.

Subject:	 Software for the ETX-90EC
Sent:	Friday, December 24, 1999 14:41:11
From:	atzinger@bellsouth.net (Chris Atzinger)
First off - GREAT web site.  I have used the advice to make most of my
ETX purchases.

Question - I'm new to the hobby and was wondering what might be the best
software to control my ETX.  I have the 505 cable and Autostar and would
love to get my laptop controlling the EXT.  Since I don'tlike the cold
weather either is there a CCD for the ETX in the $100 to $300 range?

Thanks for any help.

Subject:	 Learningsmith--Beware !!
Sent:	Thursday, December 23, 1999 17:47:01
From:	bob.brannon@owenscorning.com (Brannon, Bob)
I read about Learningsmith's Big SALE, so I went to one in Columbus Ohio
tonight-- December 23 !!  Their big sale included Three Meade
Accessories for the ETX.

First The erector System: Their price $69.95 - 30% or $ 48.95---This
turns out to be LIST---No Sale Price !

Second, The T adapter $ 49.95 - 30% or $34.95 !!  List price--NOT a

Third, the table top tripod, $45.00 - 30%----NOT a sale !!

PLEASE make sure you know the List price before you buy !! The marked
these items UP so that @ 30% off they would be LIST........

P.S. I have NO problems with my Meade 125--Its GREAT.....

Bob Brannon

Subject:	 Looking for ETX/EC
Sent:	Thursday, December 23, 1999 07:46:15
From:	dspeed@caverns.com (Dave Speed)
Great Site !  I've been watching the ETXs since their debut but was
living in coastal NJ with light pollution and no reason to mess with

Living in rural SE New Mexico at 3100'  the sky is too delightful not to
have a 'scope.  I drove down to El Paso, planning to pick one up at
Service Merchandise, only to find that they had gone out of business.

The local Mall (in El Paso, only 180 miles away ...) was selling $1200
Celestrons and warned me that "Meades were junk" and I should "do some
homework before buying a telescope" (even my 8 yr old daughter saw
through this ruse ...)  To make a long story short, there was to be no
ETX in our house for Christmas.

So I started to do some shopping.  I notice that its easier to pay a
premium than to get a discount.  Is the EC *with* a motor worth $100
more than a stock EC (neither had the Autostar)?

I saw a posting that good prices were to be had through a group called
Learningsmith but their web site seems to be down (and their sys admin's
don't appear to answer mail...).  If anybody can point me to a better
deal, I'd appreciate it.  (And both my wife and I are currently enrolled
in University degree programs, etc...)

Thanks in advance.  And keep the site going.


"Those who do not learn the lessons of science fiction are condemned to
live them."
Mike here: When I lived in Alamogordo I used to go to El Paso shopping. But that was in the late 1970s! I did enjoy the dark skies of New Mexico. Wish the ETX would have been available then!!!! Finding a discounted price on a full-up ETX-90EC is difficult. It is just too popular. If you don't want the Autostar capabilities, you can probably get a used ETX-90RA from places like Shutan Camera & Video (if they still have any).

Subject:	 Re: the editorial
Sent:	Thursday, December 23, 1999 06:05:59
From:	jh@brainiac.com (Joe Hartley)
Well, I for one am disappointed that the Mighty ETX site will be
changing its focus to become a more generic small telescope site.  I
think that the secret of any good website is to stick with what you
know.  With the explosion of the small scope market, I fear that the
thing the site does best, which is to give ETX owners a place to connect
with other owners and find some good advice on issues relating to a
specific scope, will become diluted.

Of course, I'm sure I'm following a similar train of thought that you've
already ridden on.

So in the spirit of "put up or shut up," I volunteer for any ETX/RA
positions that are available.  I realize this might be the one area that
you might have been reserving for yourself, as I believe this is the
model you still own, but it's the only small scope I have any knowledge
of. I'd also be willing to put myself on the line for product reviews if
it happens that you're deluged with products to test.  You're aware of
my forays into that area already, I think.

I hope that the different ETX models continue to have their own discrete
sections.  I have no interest in (and do not read) the 125, 90EC or
Autostar areas.  If all the ETX messages went into a single area, I'd be
less likely to wade through it looking for a post that actually related
to my interests.

Finally, I have some small knowledge of HTML design, and can also
volunteer for maintaining some part of the website if necessary.

Just let me know how I can help!

Thanks a million for all the work you've put into the site over the last
three years.  It's been a great fount of information that's really
helped me enjoy my scope more.

       Joe Hartley - UNIX/network Consultant - jh@brainiac.com
     12 Emma G Lane, Narragansett, RI  02882 - vox 401.782.9042
Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa

Subject:	 Update of http://etx.brainiac.com/
Sent:	Thursday, December 23, 1999 05:36:41
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
I read your site religiously (ok, more than that, I'm not very
religious!) anyway, i try to jump to web sites that catch my interest -
i didn't realize i had visited the above site previously - anyway, it's
a nice site (and brings the size and depth of "Mighty" into focus after
looking at the site) - so, i took a look, and must compliment Joe - in a
RELATIVELY small site, he put together coherent information, great
photos of his setup (obviously his pride & joy!), and gave good tips - i
especially appreciated the comments in his library.  Well done!

Subject:	Latest Editorial
Sent:	Wednesday, December 22, 1999 20:48:50
From:	WarrenPugh@aol.com
I have benefitted greatly from reading your site, and have certainly
derived benefit from the tips there. For what it's worth, I would be
willing to pay a nominal access fee, or just make a contribution to
support the cause.

Season's Greetings,

Warren Pugh

Subject:	 Update of http://etx.brainiac.com/
Sent:	Wednesday, December 22, 1999 19:03:16
From:	jh@brainiac.com (Joe Hartley)
I've updated my website at http://etx.brainiac.com to show off my new
eyepiece case and the nifty eyepiece rack I got from Scopetronix.

      Joe Hartley - Technical Director - Frosty Drew Observatory
        12 Emma G Lane, Narragansett, RI  02882 - 401.782.9042
            joe@frostydrew.org - http://www.frostydrew.org

Subject:	 eyepiece
Sent:	Wednesday, December 22, 1999 10:01:44
From:	hevbound@lou-telecom.net (Brad & Kelley Thorpe)
Thanks for your wonderful site it is very helpful. I have decided to
purchase the Etx 125 I think it is a pretty good scope. I am going to
wait a few more months until they get some of the bugs worked out of it
but in the mean time I was going to purchase a few eyepieces. Can you
tell me what is the best eyepiece for under $125.00 in a 40mm and in a
range of (4mm to 10mm  )(depends if I buy an ultima 2x barlow or not) I
want something that is crisp to the edge. I could care less if it is a
super wide....Thanks

Brad Thorpe

Gal 2:20  "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I
live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for
Mike here: Check the Accessories - Eyepieces page. Also, check the Buyer/New User Tips page for some suggestions.

Subject:	 ETX and Home Planet
Sent:	Tuesday, December 21, 1999 11:58:24
From:	t.lewisflood@elsevier.com (Lewis-Flood, Thomas (ELS))
I've just discovered your site, and it's extremely impressive. Good

Anyway, I've tried a search on "home planet" with no results, so I pose
the question here. I found (windows-based) software called home planet
which is "star finder" software
(http://www.fourmilab.com/homeplanet/homeplanet.html). One of the
features is the availability of a DDE (dynamic data exchange) server,
which is intended to be able to be used by a telescope driver. If I'm
not mistaken, this should allow for telescope control via the Home
Planet software (and what's also kind of nice is that it looks like the
data made available to the driver is for either a polar aligned scope,
or one in Alt/Az mode). Of course, the only thing missing is the driver,
which I figured might have been written by someone by now (Home planet
was released in 1997). Do you, or anyone reading this have any knowledge
about Home Planet? I'd also be interested in checking out any other
freeware or open-source packages, so anyone with suggestions?

I decided to buy just the base model ETX-90EC and decide what
accessories I would need after I got a sense of the basic capabilities.
If this driver exists, then anyone with a PC, the special cable set from
Meade, and the Home planet software could GOTO and track objects! It's
time like this that I wish I was a programmer! It'd be a great

Hope you have a nice day, 


Tom Lewis-Flood		t.lewisflood@elsevier.com 
Systems Support Analyst	212-633-3722 phone 
Elsevier Science Inc.		212-633-3769 fax 
Mike here: I'm not familiar with Home Planet software. There are some free software packages under the Software section on the Astronomy Links page.

Subject:	 Ultima
Sent:	Monday, December 20, 1999 17:56:34
From:	n5smj@hit.net (Ron Smith)
First let me say that I am continuing to use your site almost on a daily
basis. I have found a wealth of information within. If you don't hear
from me very often it is because most of the time you have the answer on
your site. Your search routine and I have become very good friends.
Thanks for your efforts in maintaining such a fact filled site.

I purchased a Celestron reflector the other day primarily because of the
eyepieces it had with it. I have two questions;

1) Will I see a significant difference using the Ultima 2x barlow over
the #126?

2) Will a diagonal erector work on anything other than a refractor

The sky has not allowed me to make a significant tests on the Ultima and
I thought you might know.

Thanks again Mike for the wonderful site.

Subject:	 ETX-90EC or ETX-125EC
Sent:	Monday, December 20, 1999 09:17:08
From:	cpettigrew@nowfrac.com
Good Afternoon,

My name is Chris Pettigrew and I am writing you to ask for advice.  For
a few years now I have been quite interested in astronomy, primarily due
to taking a couple of star shot observations in my Surveying career.  At
home, I have been using a very poor refractor scope to view the moon and
local planets (although not in any kind of detail) and have decided to
get a little more serious about this hobby.  I have done some research
into the various types and makes of telescopes and have narrowed my
search down to two choices (or at least I think I have).  I was hoping
you might be able to provide the final decision for me as they both seem
like good scopes

Choice 1:  Meade ETX 90 EC
From what I have seen/read, the Cassegrain telescopes seem to get pretty
good reviews(please tell me if I am wrong).  This unit should provide
excellent views of both the planets and distant galaxies.  However, the
smaller diameter probably means the 125mm would be better for viewing
deep space objects.

Choice 2:  Meade ETX 125 EC
I guess this telescope will give similar views as the 90, only the
larger aperture will give more detail in both planetary views and deep
space views.

I guess my question to you is which of these two units would be better
suited for a novice who is looking to be able to view planets, stars and
galaxies the best?  Also, is the additional money for the ETX 125EC
worth it??

 Thank you for your time,
 Chris Pettigrew

Subject:	solar views
Sent:	Sunday, December 19, 1999 18:35:26
From:	OIdNo7@aol.com
Customary congrats on a fine page. I have a 90r/a and am interested on
getting some decent photos of the sun. I noticed that the filters
consisting of glass and aluminized mylar are cheaper, but i was wanting
views akin to that of a hydrogen alpha filter. Are these available for
the 90 r/a. Is there any other filter that will provide similar surface
detail. Thanks for your help,

Mike here: Those filters can cost way more than the ETX. I haven't looked into them.

Subject:	secondary baffle
Sent:	Sunday, December 19, 1999 16:07:28
From:	WML5992@aol.com
My nearly 3 year old "classic etx" seems to have a problem. It looks as
if the secondary baffle on the corrector has moved. I have noticed a
difference in the basic star test. The baffle seems to be attached with
some type of adhesive. My question; Is this a definite return to
Meade??? I know I have voided the warranty but am happy to get this
fixed. Is it time for a tune up anyway and will Meade re-collimate and
basicaly tighten things up?  Also, over the past 2+ years I have checked
your site weekly if not more--Thank you for all the great info!!!
  Clear Skies
  Mike Lewis
Mike here: My 3 year ETX also suffered the same slippage. See "Meade Facility Tour" on the "Just for Fun" page for a photo. It should definitely go back to Meade. Give them a call.

Added later:

Thank you for the FAST response. I will probably wait until after jan.
lunar eclipse. Thanks again

Subject:	 $1.00 Piggyback Camera Attachment
Sent:	Saturday, December 18, 1999 19:50:44
From:	grumpabob@hotmail.com (Bob Fandrich)
A very cheap way to take PiggyBack photographs using an ETX is to invert
the Optical Tube in the two Support Arms and use the threaded mounting
holes to attach the camera.  I simply threaded a 1/4-20 stud into the
mounting hole and locked it in place with a lock-nut on a washer (to
protect the rubber bottom).  I then threaded a second inverted locking
nut on the stud, followed by my camera.  I got my camera as close to the
Optical Tube as possible to reduce flexure in the stud. I then tightened
the second lock-nut against the bottom of my camera, and ........$1.00
PiggyBack Camera Mount. I got an elevation angle from -30 to 55  using
Meade's 45 ETX Erecting Prism.  This is somewhat restrictive in Alt/Az
mode but wouldn't be much of a problem in Polar mode.  The figure shows
the setup, along with a close-up of the stud and lock-nuts.

Bob Fandrich
Piggyback Camera

Mike here: Besides the Meade 45-Degree Erecting Prism, you could also use the Shutan Visual Back to attach an eyepiece at the rear port.

Subject:	 On my soapbox again!
Sent:	Friday, December 17, 1999 22:11:48
From:	bob@shutan.com (Bob Shutan)
I read a posting from one of your readers asking about a hard case for
an ETX125. You correctly pointed out that both Meade and JMI have hard
cases, but I think you missed something here. Suggest to your readers
that they try calling one of Meade's FULL-LINE dealers-- there are about
seven authorized APD mail-order dealers (like Shutan) listed right in
Meade's magazine ads.

People buying ETX's at mall stores or so-called "educational" outlets
seem to be left out in the cold when it comes to the most basic
must-have accessories. Most mall-type stores don't bother carrying
anything but the telescope.

Support your FULL-LINE dealers!


P.S.  Regarding DS telescopes at Wallmart, Sam's, etc. Don't buy'em
there! Buy from a telescope dealer and get the 1.25" white-tube
versions. Most, if not ALL mass-market models (even though they carry
SAME DS designation) have .965" eyepieces!
Mike here: Excellent points! I'd like to point out that establishing a relationship with an authorized dealer, any dealer, can pay back many dividends to you over time. This is true whether buying a telescope, a computer, or a car.

Subject:	Meade ETX-90EC or ETX-125EC
Sent:	Friday, December 17, 1999 14:27:21
From:	MSDJW@aol.com
I have taken many hours looking at the Meade website, which you seem to
be the talented webmaster of and admire the work you have accomplished.

I am in the process of selecting a telescope for my wife as a Christmas
present and started looking seriously at the ETX-90EX as the ideal gift
for her.  My wife (Sue) is an 8th grade Science and Math teacher and I
feel this would be an ideal present for her to enjoy.

We have tried other telescopes, but have found them very difficult to
align and use especially with 40 to 50 8th graders running around during
a cold New England night.

Now I have looked at the ETX-125 and although I cannot seem to find
pricing for this unit, it seems like it might be a better choice.

Any input / feedback that you can provide me would be greatly

With best regards,

Wayne Bracy
Mike here: Just to clarify, my ETX site (www.weasner.com/etc) is not a "Meade website" and I am not the webmaster for the Meade site (www.meade.com). If you are talking about my site, then thanks. I have lots of excellent help on the information available! As to which is better for a school, certainly the smaller model will be easier to take on field trips and even have the students set up. The larger model will let you see more details but that might not be as important as learning to properly handle a telescope. Just a thought to consider.

Subject:	 ETX 90 autofocuser usable on ETX 125?
Sent:	Friday, December 17, 1999 07:40:09
From:	jsteve1@sprynet.com (John Stevenson)
Just a note for those near a Learningsmith store. Learningsmith is
closing all its stores and selling everything at 30% off. As time goes
on, prices will be marked down further. Mine ( at Phipps Plaza, in
Atlanta) has a few accessories and a bunch of less expensive Meade
telescopes left. One of the things they have is a pile of ETX90
autofocusers (I don't think they are a deal yet, at 30% off their
original price of $129.95, but maybe if they last to a 50% markdown they
might be a bargain).

My question is, can the ETX 90 autofocuser be used interchangeably on an
ETX 125? The focuser shaft looks the same, but I can't be sure and my
125 is at Meade, so I can't bring one home to try.

John Stevenson

Mike here: According to the Meade web site, there are two different electric focusers: "#1244: for ETX-90 models; #1247: for ETX-125 models."

Subject:	 meade repair report
Sent:	Friday, December 17, 1999 07:23:50
From:	paul@crabtree.com (Paul Crabtree)
One night last month I took the bottom cover off of my ETX90 RA to
change the batteries, and the On/Off switch snapped off. I was unable to
re-assemble it with my limited mechanical ability. The scope was still
under warranty (barely), so I called Meade customer service and they had
me send it in.

I got a scope back from them yesterday. I'm convinced it's not the same
one that I sent in, but seems to work just fine. Reason for my letter is
that one of the common complaints I've seen about the ETX is a lack of a
plug for the scope's eyepiece holder. The scope I got back had a plastic
cap that fit into the eyepiece holder and plugs for the holes that the
tabletop legs fit into. Sure it's probably seven cents worth of plastic,
but I was pretty pleased. Hopefully all new scopes ship with these caps.

With the volume of complaints that I see about Meade quality and
customer service, especially in the Usenet discussion groups, I still
think my scope was the best value for the money and, if we ignore my
feelings about the ETX field tripod, I continue to be a very satisfied

Now, if anyone wants to contribute to my LX-200 fund...

Keep up your good work and clear skies.

Paul Crabtree

God grant me the serenity to accept the size of fish i catch
the courage not to fib about it
and the wisdom to know that no one would believe me anyway

Subject:	 ETX-90 optical quality check, cables and sunrise
Sent:	Friday, December 17, 1999 00:31:14
From:	tor.waag@iku.sintef.no (Tor Inge Waag)
Thank you for organizing this excellent web resource!

My question is: How do I know if my newly acquired ETX-90 is well
collimated? Are there benchmarks such as double stars that will be
resolved with a good, mediocre and bad ETX, respectively. My situation
is that I have bought it in USA and live in Norway. At the time of
purchase, it was not available in Norway. Now I am not sure if the local
dealer is too interested in helping me check it out. In what I regard as
good viewing conditions I can see the Saturn ring but not Cassinis
division. Using the Super-Ploessl 9.7 mm instead of the 26 mm only makes
it more blobby, does not improve visual resolution. Also in terrestrial
viewing the 9.7 mm gives more fuzziness.I do see the four large moons of
Jupiter but not very crisp. Are there some simple checks for good
alignment? Taking it back to Meade requires intricate planning of my
future travel arrangements!

I have hacked a serial cable from the Autostar to the computer taking
one end of a telephone handset cable and connecting three wires to a
9-pin D-sub plug. It worked fine for downloading new Autostar software.
I also took a chance on positive polarity to center pin and hacked a
mains adaptor for 220V to 12V, not provided by Meade USA. Positive
worked fine. This information should have been printed on the socket
itself as on all cheap Walkmen.

Are the Autostar times for sunrise/sunset calculated for the sun center?
They differ somewhat from accepted published values calculated for the
upper rim (Autostar gives later sunrise, earlier sunset).

Tor Waag, Trondheim, Norway (63.6 North)
Mike here: See the Tech Tips page for a collimation test. You can also search the site for the "Christmas Tree Ornament" test. I don't know about the Autostar sunset/rise times.

Subject:	 cool down procedure
Sent:	Thursday, December 16, 1999 09:43:13
From:	jamestoomey@usa.net (JAMES TOOMEY)
I understand that a telescope needs to sit outside for a while to "cool
down," but I'm a little confused about the specifics:

1) Should I leave the eyepiece hole open? One the one hand it seems
dangerous because moisture can get inside the telescope, but on the
other hand it seems that it'll help the warm air to vent out.

2) Should I remove the metal lens cover? I'm not sure whether leaving it
on helps prevent dew buildup or just impedes the cool-down process.

2) How much time will I have after it's cooled down but before dew
starts to collect? In other words, what's the window of usage time? I
know heater systems are available but I'd rather not bother with them.

I usually use the ETX on a whim (its portability lends itself so well to
this), so I'm trying to figure out the best way to get in a good hour or
two of viewing without a lot of hassle. Thanks for your help.

James Toomey
Mike here: The idea of the "cool down" period is to stabilize the air currents within the tube. Leaving the eyepiece out will certainly allow the stabilization to happen quicker. Uncovering the lens is also a good idea to allow the glass to stabilize at the same air temperature. Dew build can occur in minutes or hours, depending upon the local humidity and the temperature of the equipment when exposed to the moisture.

Subject:	 Newbie
Sent:	Wednesday, December 15, 1999 20:38:49
From:	rsethi@netcom.ca (Ranjeev Sethi)
I wish I had checked out this site earlier. I have just purchased an
ETX-90EC as a newbie i kind of got screwdbie. Well put it this way I
made 3 trips to the dealer and then handed it over for a refund went to
another store and got one that actually worked.

The problem was with the motor. Either with the clutch engaged or
disengaged. While rotating along the horizon as you stop the scope the
motor would continue to move but the scope would stay still. Had this
grinding noise.

Needless to say on the next venture. I finally got a working scope. No
noise or problems. Well ok just getting use to the reverse imaging to
say the least of it.

Now just starting to get the autostar too work..

As a newbie to this field I hope to learn more about the scope and its
capabilities and learn more about the universe.


Subject:	etx 90
Sent:	Wednesday, December 15, 1999 15:44:48
From:	Robbzzz@aol.com
you have a great site!  just got my etx 2 days ago... it came with the
48 x eyepiece.  Can you send me a link to a site that sells meade
eyepeices...  i want to get it up to 390 x magnification. Is that true? 
is that the highest magnification you can get... is there better made
lenses then meade.  The higher the mm on the lens the better?  thanks
for your help          rob
Mike here: Check the Astronomy Links page for dealers. But before you do that, check the Accessories - Eyepieces page for some reviews. Magnification is focal length of the telescope divided by the focal length of the eyepiece. So, for the ETX-90, we have 1250mm / 26mm = 48x. Smaller focal length eyepieces mean higher magnifications with the same telescope. The theoretical max magnification is 50-60x per inch of aperture. Since the ETX-90 is a 3.5 inch telescope, the max is about 200x but this can be exceeded by quite a bit on bright objects, like the Moon.

Subject:	 Thanks and two more questions.
Sent:	Tuesday, December 14, 1999 20:48:15
From:	sprocketworks@earthlink.net (Doug Weiner)
Thanks for getting back to me so fast. Your site was unbelievable.  I
spent the whole day going over with a fine tooth comb.  I am going away
in 5 days with ETX 90/EC in hand to the Virgin Islands and want to get
all the necessary accessories before I go.

One more question:

1.Do you know if the Paul Rini lenses fit in the Meade Variable Camera

2. On your astro-photography page, there on the back of your ETX is a
right angle device off the back of the scope.  What is that item and is
it reviewed anywhere? (people's comments?)

My idea for accessories is: On the ETX's built in 90 degree viewfinder
mount a Cannon Elan II using a variable camera projection adapter and
Paul Rinki's lenses.  On the back of the ETX, putting a Teleview 24-8mm
zoom on a right angle adapter or 45 degree erecting prism. Using the
mirror to flip between the images and shoot away.  Any opinions if this
is going to work?

Mike here: 1. Don't know if the Rini eyepieces will fit. They probably do but I don't have any to check out. 2. That is the Shutan Wide Field Adapter. Check the Accessories - Showcase Products page. Your idea is similar to my setup. But unless you have a lot of patience and skill you can't do that during an exposure without shaking the scope.

Subject:	 Re: Doskocil Seal Tight case- extra large 
Sent:	Tuesday, December 14, 1999 19:59:15
From:	tobinsnj@uscom.com (Liz & Marty Tobin)
I just got my case today.  It sure is sturdy! However, I need to correct
my previous information.  The case is not shown on their website, but
Mid South Shooters Supply can be reached at 1-800-272-3000.  The
Doskocil extra-large pistol case is Item 126-10803 : All-Weather
Ex-Large Pistol Case $54.55 (with shipping my total was $61.95 !!).  You
should ask for a catalog  as they have many cases reasonably priced
which could be used for accessories.

Clear Skies ;)

Subject:	ETX web site
Sent:	Tuesday, December 14, 1999 15:59:21
From:	WagnerMatt@aol.com
Thanks for the great site full of useful information!  I have one
complaint though, the <meta http-equiv="expires" content="Tue, 01 Jan
1980 1:00:00 GMT"> line in the pages makes browsing around the site very
time consuming.  For instance, on the Tech Tips page, selecting one of
the topic links should just jump down the page to the corresponding
topic.  Instead, the page reloads because the browser was told that the
page has expired.

Consider removing this meta tag; at least on pages that contain 
links.  Also, if you must pay for bandwidth on your site, then removing
this tag will certainly reduce bandwidth.

Regards - Matt Wagner
Mike here: Thanks for the suggestion. I have the expired tag on every page to ensure that all browsers load the new page when a page is revised. This may no longer be required on the 4.x browsers but some readers may have older versions. Since there is so much updating on almost every page, I just kept the tag in. But I'll look at removing the tags in the future. I do plan to split up some of the longer pages.

Subject:	 Questions about photography & power supply
Sent:	Tuesday, December 14, 1999 14:08:54
From:	sprocketworks@earthlink.net (Doug Weiner)
Hi my name is Doug I just purchased an EXT 90/EC.   Your web site is a
great resource that I am finding invaluable.  Thanks.

I was wondering if you (or anyone) could answer a few questions for me
about astro-photography and the ETX 90/EC.  Mainly, the choice between
projection photography and through the lens on the ETX (with the mirror
down and camera attached to the back of the  ETX).

1.  Can the ETX 90/EC use projection photography.  With the Autostar? 
Will it hurt the motors or gears?

2.  Can you set up the the ETX to do projection photography but not put
in a eyepiece?  Isn't this practically the same method as the straight
through method except for the mirror bouncing the light vertically?

3. By mounting a camera with the projection adapter, don't you get the
added bonus of gaining more potential arc motion without the camera
attached to the back?

4. Clearly I am novice at this so far, so if there are any other obvious
concepts I am missing, please let me know.

Another quick question.  Does anyone know if the power supply from Meade
is regulated or unregulated.  My guess is that because the power supply
is relatively cheap -  $40.00, that it is unregulated. (Combined with
the fact that you just plug the DC Cigarette adapter into your car, also
makes me believe it is unregulated.) But before I plug in my $600
purchase into my existing power supply (12v 1.5 amp and correct polarity
pin +, I would like to know 100% for sure.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Mike here: Take a look at the
Astrophotography Gallery - Basics page for some answers. Also look at the Accessories - Astrophotography for info on the accessories used. But the tracking is not accurate enough for long duration astrophotography without some manual assistance, such as can be done using an off-axis guider attachment. As I mentioned in a response on the October 1999 ETX-90EC Feedback page, the Meade AC Adapter shows output of 12VDC, 1.5A. I measured the unloaded output and it was 16.5VDC.

Subject:	 Excellent table for the ETX
Sent:	Monday, December 13, 1999 18:20:21
From:	bfoy1@clark.net (Barry Foy)
I accidently discovered an almost-perfect table to use with my ETX: The
good 'ol Workmate folding workbench. It is extremely rigid when erected,
even with the four legs extended. When knocked, it dampens vibrations
almost immediately. It holds the ETX at a comfortable viewing height for
an observer seated on a stool or chair. It provides a large surface for
holding accessories. It folds very flat, and is easy to carry. It is
dirt cheap, compared to anything of comparable effectiveness. It is a
extremely useful tool to have around the house, when it is not being
used for astronomy (I have 3 of them.) And versions of it can be bought
at any hardware or building supply store -- often on sale.

I have made only one significant addition to it: A larger one-piece
table top.  It is made of 3/4" plywood, approximately 18" x 30". A 2" x
12" strip is mounted on the bottom; this strip is clamped in the
Workmate's jaws to hold the table top securely.

My Bogen tripod is still my most used telescope mount; it does beat the
Workmate for portability and astronomy-or-birding flexibility. But I
know I will be using my ETX with my Workmate more frequently for

Barry Foy
Mike here: There have been several comments about using the Workmate over the years. A good accessory for the ETX (or any tabletop telescope).

Subject:	 Recommendations between DS90 EC and ETX 90
Sent:	Sunday, December 12, 1999 21:48:20
From:	roger@nflunlimited.com (Roger)
First, the astronomy community owes you a great deal for the time and
effort you put into your site. As an educator I thank you for helping
with the scientific education of all of us.

Now the question.

I am going to be either purchasing the Ds 90 ec or the ETX 90 EC.

For overall use which would you recommend?  This will be my first scope
and I will be using it with my 12 and 16 year old sons. I will mostly be
doing the planets and major stars a little deep space but not much.

Which scope gathers the most light? Which scope gives the end user the
best over view of the planets?

Thanks again.
Mike here: I have only used the ETX-90EC but suspect it will give the better planetary views.

Subject:	 Polar vs Altazimuth alignment.
Sent:	Sunday, December 12, 1999 20:12:46
From:	lremigio@commsearch.com (Lionel Remigio)
What are the main differences doing a Polar vs AltaZimuth modes
alignment? I have the Tripod and would like to know what advantages
have the Polar instead of using the normal Altazimuth. I can do both
because I have the DeLuxe Tripod and I would like to know if Polar is
better vs the other choice.

Thanks Mike.....learning in a daily basis with your site. By the way..I
donwnload the last  Austostar firmware and ephemerids files from Meade
and they are recommending your site. Congratulations...I'm wondering


                         Lionel Remigio
                Communications Research Group, Inc
               16410 SW 109 Avenue, Miami Fl 33157 USA
                 Tel 305-252-3492  Fax 305-254-5682
Mike here: Unless you plan to do piggyback astrophotography there really isn't much reason to use Polar Mode. The Autostar will track well in either mode. There may be times when viewing objects near the zenith or near the horizon can be better viewed in one mode versus the other so that the ETX base will not interfere with positioning either your head or the OTA.

Added later:

Thanks Mike.
I asked because I'm using Atazimuth and don't see big differences.

I want you to know that for first time I saw last nigh Jupiter with the
4 moons in my backyard here in Miami ( with lots of lights
around)......I follow your advice and I'm going to keep my ETX-90.

Tonight here in Miami..lots of rain and no clear skies  but tomorrow I
will make my second " professional" try.

For me was really impressive saturday nigh because in the past days I
only saw 3 moons but last nigh all four were visible.

Amazing views from Saturn and after that.......alreay starting enjoying
this amazing hobby for my relax ( I'm a ham radio operator, satellite
hobbist, and  also an audiophile....so...I have now with
astronomy....many toys to play with......

Thanks. For all your readers visiting this site I wish you all Merry
Christmas and a very Prosperous Happy Millenium from the deep of my
Mike here: By the way, the Next Millennium doesn't begin until 1 January 2001. See USNO Millennium Program web page for the proper definition of "millennium" and The 21st Century and the 3rd Millennium - When Will They Begin?.

Added later:

You are absolutely correct and I agree.

Subject:	 etx scope
Sent:	Sunday, December 12, 1999 18:55:11
From:	cohatch@erols.com (Cheryl & Scott Hatch)
As a novice, I wonder if you might advise me.  I'm looking at an etx.  I
see the etx/90-ec and aboout a hundred fifty dollars down is the
etx-90/ra.  The "ra" model is on sale at the local Sam's club.

Can you let me know the basic difference and can the "ra" model be
adapted for astro photography?

Thanks for your time and advice.

Scott Hatch
Mike here: There are two basic differences between the EC model and the RA model. The original RA model had electric control only in the Right Ascension axis whereas the EC model has electric control over both axes. The other difference is that the EC model can use the optional Autostar computer controller. Either model can do limited but rewarding astrophotography, as shown and described elsewhere on this site.

Added later:

Thank you very much Mike.  I know you are very busy and I am
appreciative of your help.  The willingness to share information among
participants is one of the things that has attracted me to this hobby.
Happy Holidays.

I will also look into your website.

Thanks again.

Sent:	Saturday, December 11, 1999 09:13:10
From:	lremigio@commsearch.com (Lionel Remigio)
I just atarted with astronomy and I found a very fascinating hobby this
one. My daughter started me and I already bought a ETX-90as a gift for
her and I was fascinated to see Saturn, Jupiter and many starts out of
the box with the 90... and my question is if you really thing I need to
go with the 125 in oder to get more light or power. I'm living in a very
light polluted area and I would like to step up with the 125 but don't
know is this is really worth it.

Can I see more, bigger with 125? Or for a starter like me you would
recommend the 90?

Please help me.....the problem is I have thru December 27 to return the
90 and exchange it for the 125.........after December 27 I can't return
the unit.....

                         Lionel Remigio
                Communications Research Group, Inc
               16410 SW 109 Avenue, Miami Fl 33157 USA
                 Tel 305-252-3492  Fax 305-254-5682
Mike here: Yes, you can see more and better with a larger telescope but the difference may not be worth that much to you unless you can travel to where there are really dark skies. Based upon what you said in your message, I think you will be better off sticking with the 90mm model for now. You will get years of enjoyment with it and can easily take it on trips. On the other hand, if money is no object and you can handle the extra weight of a larger scope AND if you think you will really keep on using it, go for a larger scope.

By the way, some people consider it rude to SHOUT (that's what all caps means) and by shouting, appear to be DEMANDING an immediate response. Just an online etiquette tip.

Added later:

Thanks. You really impressed me for the fast answer and I'm sorry for
that capital letters in the subject....I'm learning and I see what you
mean by online etiquette tip and I really aprecciated this....

Back to the 90....I guess this is what I'm going to do...keep the 90 and
if I see that I can keep the learning curve I will upgrade or go for the
125 as a second unit. Money is no matter for me. I'm a businessman but I
don't have the time to stargazing going to dark places and with the 90
or 125 my main purpose was to do some backyard observations and may be
some days, yes...I can go to the Everglades area here in Miami and close
to my home to do some serious deep sky observations ( Can I do deep sky
with the 90?)

I apreciated so much your comments and the quick response and sorry
about the capital letters missunderstanding Mike. As I said that was not
the intention to rush your answer but really was very fast in order to
give me a real satisfaction to know that you care about your site.

Inn reference to your pages....THEY ARE ( using capital now with all the
intention of the world in order to call your attention and throw some
flowers on you...) THE BEST PLACE for informacion. You can't realize how
much I learned ( and my daugther) reading all the sections in your site.
I bookmarked and I visit the site often. Very interesting site.

Subject:	 Buying on the web
Sent:	Friday, December 10, 1999 16:10:15
From:	jaymissy@home.com (Johnston, Jay H)
I just ordered from Pete's Photoworld based on the responses I got from
my email.  I thought I would share the data, maybe others may find it
useful.  Needless to say the prices did not very much due to demand.  I
did rate each based on how well they responded to my request.  Each
column is a different retailer from the list I attached below. Numbers
in italics are estimates if they did not provide one.  I don't think its
fair to identify each, but I will say I felt Pete's turned out the best
and Earthtreasures the worst.

I am looking for good family viewing !

Jay Johnston

The folks I sent to are shown below, you can figure out the company
names by there email addresses. Not all had web pages, or online

Jcurran2@aol.com (chris cameras)

price comparison

Johnston, Jay H wrote to retailers:

> > Hi,
> >
> > I looked at your web page and would like to request what your best
price is for the below, and please indicate shipping too.  This is for a
family Xmas gift.
> >
> > If you have any comments or suggestions about the items I have
included, let me know also. Let me know if these are the list prices
from the Meade catalog.
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Jay Johnston
> > jaymissy@home.com
> > Seattle
> >
> >
> >
> > ETX 90 EC
> > #497 Autostar
> > #64 T adapter
> > #541 AC adapter
> > #505 Software and cabling
> > #932 45 degree erecting prism
> > #883 tripod
> > #774 case
> > 9.7mm eyepiece

Subject:	 Ultra Wide Angle eyepiece
Sent:	Friday, December 10, 1999 12:37:27
From:	SPP1112@email.msn.com (SPP1112)
I own a 90ec, returned one, second works much better.  A dealer has
suggested to me that I buy a 6.7mm ultra wide.  that will help me go-to
because of the wider fov and will also give me much larger objects than
my 26mm and my 40mm with my 2x barlow.  is this correct?  and is cost
justified @  $199.99 ???

Mike here: Certainly the 6.7mm will give more magnification than a doubled 26mm (makes it a 13mm) and doubled 40mm (makes it a 20mm). But the field of view is likely to not be wider than your 40mm, and perhaps a lot less. You can search the site for "6.7" and "UWA"; you'll find some references to both a 6.7mm eyepiece and to UWA (ultra wide angle) eyepieces.

Subject:	 Site opening
Sent:	Friday, December 10, 1999 05:28:10
From:	erwin@matys.co.at (Erwin Matys)
These days I opened my new site called "Nightflight". It's a picture
book, dedicated to astronomical imaging from vienna.

Some of the pictures are made with my ETX-90, others with the optical
comparable MTO-100 (a russian-made 100mm maksutov).


Maybe you want to add the link to your directory.


PS: There is a lot of interest in the concept of the "Magic Cube". I
will keep you informed.

Subject:	 focal reducer for ETX90
Sent:	Thursday, December 9, 1999 23:49:49
From:	thierry.lombry@co.arianeii.be (Lombry)
One of my friend wants to know if he can use a focal reducer on his ETX
90 ?
Do you know such an kit at Shutan ?
Mike here: Visit the Showcase Products page and see the Shutan Wide-Field Adapter comments.

Subject:	 Doskocil Seal Tight case- extra large 
Sent:	Thursday, December 9, 1999 19:18:47
From:	tobinsnj@uscom.com (Liz & Marty Tobin)
After all the positive reviews I also ordered the extra large Doskocil
Seal Tight case.  However, I was able to find it at
www.midsouthshooterssupply.com for a total of $69.42 INCLUDING shipping.
Hope this helps some of the new ETX owners!

Subject:	 ETX 90EC
Sent:	Thursday, December 9, 1999 12:03:37
From:	CONS048@mbusa.com (Alex CONS:Diaz)
I live in NJ, and if you wouldn't mind, I'd like your opinion on the
90EC Astro. It sounds like it would be a great tool for oceanside
viewing, but is it friendly enough for a beginner? Is it something you
won't outgrow quickly, mind you she's only an occasion "see-er"?  And
can she have fun with it with the kids on given nights? Any comments
would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!  Alex
Mike here: The ETX-90 models make great terrestrial viewing scopes. Sort of like using a 1250mm telephoto lens on your 35mm camera (55mm lens is considered the "normal" lens). Plus you get the additional benefit of having a capable night time scope. Check the Buyer/New User Tips page for some descriptions of what can be seen at night. Also, check out the various Feedback pages.

Added later:

Thanks for the info, it's much appreciated. Based on your site, there's
obviously more to this than just setting up and gazing so to speak, so
your pages are going to come in real handy. I'm sure she's going to
enjoy the scope and the site!

Subject:	 Re:  ETX Advice
Sent:	Wednesday, December 8, 1999 07:08:38
From:	morans@pop.tiac.net (Robert Moran)
Thank you for the advice. I knew those were the right questions for me
to ask myself but I was hoping there was some other consideration that
would override them and help me avoid facing them. I await anxiously
your comparison report.

Bob Moran

Subject:	 re: ETX at SkyMall
Sent:	Tuesday, December 7, 1999 20:37:55
From:	bob@shutan.com (Bob Shutan)
In response to a posting that one of your "followers" made regarding the
ETX90EC he saw in an in-flight magazine and also online thru the same
company. First of all, if you go to the magazine's web site whose
address you posted, you will see that the telescope is NOT a ETX90EC. It
is a ETX70 which is a 70mm aperture telescope (only 350mm focal length!)
whose optics are made overseas-- possibly Taiwan or China. It is not the
fine Maksutov optics of the ETX90EC. The so-called items that seem to be
"free" are a 9mm MA eyepiece and a 2x doubler- (type not specified).

The MA is no big deal. Most dealers sell it for less than $40. Take away
their profit, take away Meade's profit, and you probably have a $5 piece
of glass you're looking thru. The doubler...? Who knows, certainly not
the operators at the catalog's order desk.

ATTENTION SHOPPERS! Buy your telescopes from Authorized Meade dealers
who specialize in telescopes. Whether it's Pocono, Lumicon, Shutan, or
another. Don't buy from suppliers such as in-flight magazines, Sharper
Image, Radio Shack, or Sam's Club. Shop at the stores who can back up
your purchase with accessories, competitive prices, knowledgeable
advice, and after-the-sale support.

While I haven't been elected to speak on behalf of other dealers, I hope
it's fair to say that we ALL apprecaite your past, present, and future


Bob Shutan
Mike here: I added the above to tonight's update so that as many readers as possible would note the clarification.

Subject:	 ETX Advice
Sent:	Tuesday, December 7, 1999 10:50:37
From:	morans@pop.tiac.net (Robert Moran)
It is with some trepidation that I ask your advice on ETX purchasing
since I'm sure you've been asked my question a hundred times at least.
I've poured over as much of the "Mighty Site" as I'm able to digest but
I remain with one key buying strategy question. If cost is not the
primary consideration, would you advise me to get in line for the
"improved" 125 EC (even with its checkered past) or purchase the readily
available 90?

Bob Moran
Mike here: You need to decide for yourself what the "primary consideration" really is. Is it portability? Is it astrophotography? Is it planetary viewing? Is it lunar viewing? Do you plan to use it for terrestrial observations. As to my thoughts re: the -90, -125 and N5, wait about another week and my report will be online.

Subject:	 ETX vs 395
Sent:	Tuesday, December 7, 1999 08:21:30
From:	smerch@mb.sympatico.ca (Gerry Smerchanski)
I'm in the process of evaluating a recently obtained, used, ETX astro
that was just checked out and recollimated by Meade against my old Meade
395.  The previous owner had the objective on the Meade 395 replaced
after an accident and claimed that the replacement objective was much
better than the original.  It seems, like so many other instances, there
is a bit of variation in quality with the 395's.

I have been comparing the two scopes side-by-side for about a week now
and several conclusions seem to be in order.  Both scopes are quite
sharp and capable of the expected magnification for their size. On
bright objects such as the moon and Jupiter the achromat does show a
purple halo.  This can be controlled quite successfully by aperture
stops or minus violet filters.

On Jupiter: The 395 presents more detail.  It does this this not by
being sharper, but by having greater contrast.  Detail on Jupiter is
more easily revealed by having good contrast--even if slightly less
sharp. If anything, the ETX is slightly sharper(see Saturn tests below)
but the superior contrast of the 395 makes detail easier to find.  The
ETX has just about the right brightness level for Jovian detail while
the 395 can easily get the brightness level just right by using aperture
stops if neccessary.  The 395 does show a slight, but not intrusive,
amount of lateral colour, especially at higher magnifications.  The ETX
stays pleasingly colour free.

On Saturn the 395 gives more colour and shows Saturn to be a pale
yellow.  The ETX has little colour in comparison.  The extra contrast of
the 395 shows the banding on Saturn more readily but it is there in the
ETX.  The ETX, however consistently shows the Cassini division clearer
and sharper then the 395.  This leads me to conclude that it has the
slightly sharper optics.  But the brighter image and greater contrast of
the 395 gives preferable views of Saturn.

M42 combines a couple of tests.  The nebula is far more discernable in
the 395 due to a brighter and contrastier image.  The  Trapezium shows
pinpoint stars in both scopes but the fainter stars are more readily
seen in the 395.  If you pump up the magnification to see more than 4
stars in the Trapezium, the ETX 'runs out of aperture' and the stars get
too dim.

I won't bother commenting on the ergonomics as they are the
straightforward differences of a compact catadioptric vs a longer
refractor tube.  The only comment I'll ad is that the 395 has a far
shorter cool-down time to be useable.

As far as the optics go, I find the 395 to be the more versatile scope. 
On all objects fainter than the moon and brighter planets the 395 was
superior. It had brighter and more contrasty images with better colour
transmission.  It had optics that were barely less sharp than the ETX
and gave prettier views of star clusters. (More of that diamonds on
velvet look).

Please note that my 395 may not be typical as it has surprisingly(?)
good views that are now better than provided by its original objective.
My comparisons are ongoing.

ps: Keep up the great site Mike!

Subject:	 ETX at SkyMall
Sent:	Tuesday, December 7, 1999 06:58:22
From:	david.kaufman@railinc.com
On a flight to New England this weekend, I was flipping through the
airline shopping catalog, Sky Mall.

They are selling a package bundle of the ETX90EC, with Autostar, MA 9mm
eyepiece, SP 26mm eyepiece, 2X Barlow lens, and batteries for $749.95

For those not flying...It's located at www.skymall.com, item #63715

Seems like a pretty good deal, basically a free 9mm and barlow. I
thought some of your readers might be interested.

Ho ho ho,

David Kaufman

Subject:	 Astro Photography.
Sent:	Monday, December 6, 1999 4:52:14 PM
From:	bmmcneill@systechnica.co.uk (Brian M. McNeill)
Firstly your www site looks great - not to sound to flattering but it
provides a lot of information.

I'm new to the Astronomy thing - What kit would you recommend ?

Budget - 2,000 or $3,200.

I'd like to study the planets and deep sky with the possibility of
taking Digital Photographs for my own use. I'd also like to attach a CCD
camera directly to the scope for video capture.

I'd like to purchase decent equipment to get a good result.

The pictures of Saturn and Jupiter on your site look great. What do I
need to get the same - in other words focal length type etc - as you can
probably tell I haven't got a clue.

Your assistance would be appreciated. I'll be purchasing the goods in
the UK and viewing the sky from Scotland.

Best Wishes
Brian M. McNeill

Systechnica Limited     
Mike here: There are lots of possible answers, from the ETX-90EC to the more expensive larger telescopes with computer controllers. Some telescopes are more suited to visual work and so to photography. You can do astrophotography with the ETX as you've seen on this ETX web site but it is challenging (and rewarding). If you think you want an ETX-90EC or ETX-125EC, then you'll still need to add a lot of additional equipment (eyepieces, CCD, Autostar, adapters, etc.). Check the Astrophotography Gallery - Basics page for some info as well as the various Accessories pages. And since you are interested in doing CCD work, search the site for "CCD"; you'll got lots of hits with photos and models used.

Added later:

Thanks for the quick reply and your advice.

I'll have a further look around your site to decide on which options to
go for and then decide on the kit.

Subject:	 Autostar tracking
Sent:	Sunday, December 5, 1999 8:47:00 AM
From:	duckmann13@excite.com (Tim  Gartman)
I'm definitely going to buy an etx-90, but i have heard bad reviews for
its photographical status. I've heard that it doesn't track accurately
enough to photograph deep sky objects. I was wondering if the auto star
controller tracks objects in space well enough, for long periods of
time, to take pictures of them and have it come out really great.Keep in
mind that i don't plan on using a piggyback mount for my camera, but an
eyepiece projector camera mount. By the way how do you get pictures of
celestial objects, that far away, with only a camera on top of a
telescope? Thank you.

Tim Gartman
Mike here: Most low end telescopes can't accurately track for long duration shots without the assistance of some sort of guide capability. This applies to the ETX as well as many other telescopes from other companies. As to equipment required for photography, see the Astrophotography Gallery - Basics page on my web site.

Added later:

As i said earlier, I need help with correcting the drive's inacuracy.
You didn't answer my question. Will the autostar correct the inacuracy
of the ETX's drive motor? Also if that doesn't help, would a modification?
Mike here: Sorry that I didn't give the answer you were looking for. By itself, the Autostar will not correct for tracking errors. You would need to attach either an autoguider or a manually guided eyepiece to do this. The same applies to most any scope when attempting long duration astrophotography. As to drive mods to improve tracking accuracy, there are several mentioned on the Tech Tips pages as well as the two Guest Contribution Archive pages (linked from the Tech Tips page). I've added your mod to the Tech Tips page.

Subject:	 ETX-90EC Astro Telescope 
Sent:	Sunday, December 5, 1999 1:05:42 AM
From:	johno@abc3340.com (John Oldshue)
It was great to find your website on the ETX-90EC .....my brother
enjoyed astronomy as a teenager until I tore apart his telescope when I
was ten.....now a good 20 years later (feeling guilty) I am looking to
get him a christmas gift and was wondering what your thoughts are on a 
ETX-90EC with the AutoStar combo and would it be a good choice for a
begginer.....I read most of your review on the site, but was wondering
if $750 is worth it for the system for a beginner or if that would be
overkill and to just find a cheaper scope for him..... I really want him
to get interested in astronomy again and this seemed like it might be
the perfect gift for just that.....

Any thoughts appreciated and if you know any where to find a price
better than $750 for the combo please let me know......
Mike here: First, many retail stores are running sales. See the recent Feedback pages. But other than that, finding discounts will be difficult. The ETX-90EC and Autostar make a fine beginner's scope. Any larger can end up in the closet because a larger scope may be inconvenient to set up. Anything less capable than an ETX (like the department store cheaper telescopes) will disappoint eventually. Many beginners have purchased an ETX and are extremely pleased with their telescope.

Added later:

I was also going to see what our thoughts on the Meade ETX-70/C
Electronic Telescope would be if you paired it up with the 495 AutoStar
controller for $500 total instead of $750 ???? Descriptions
below....Thanks, John Oldshue

Check out the stars and solar system with this Meade ETX-70/C Electronic
Telescope with 70mm diameter, fork mount dual axis drive, and easy
portability. Includes 20mm eyepiece and electronic hand controller.
Upgradeable to Go To capability via 495 Autostar hand controller. Weighs
10 lbs. Model #ETX70ECMDE.

Find stars quickly and accurately with this Meade 495 Autostar
electronic hand controller. Features automatic goto function for 1300+
sky objects and 4-direction hand operations. For use with Meade DS60EC,
DS114EC and ETX70EC telescopes. Model 495.
Item # 495MDE
Mike here: The 70mm model will not give as satisfactory views as the 90mm model.

And another question:

What about the DS 114mm model with the Autostar......it would run about
$350 less than the ETX....
Mike here: Better than the 70mm model. Currently, there are two short reports from DS114 users on the DS Models Feedback page.

Subject:	 Great Deal on ETX
Sent:	Saturday, December 4, 1999 5:11:39 PM
From:	kayakingfool@yahoo.com (Marty Tobin)
I found an even better deal than the JC Penney deal. Here (in NJ at
least)the Learningsmith stores are going out of business.  The are
currently offering 30% off of EVERYTHING.  I picked up an ETX 90/EC for
$418 and the ETX tripod for $140.  All sales are final but you still
have your Meade warranty to back you up.  If you want to buy from
someone who will be in business, The Nature Company stores are offering
20% off all ETX items.

Good luck, your site is great.  I can't touch my ETX until Christmas
(wife's orders) But I'm really looking forward to starting my astronomy

Subject:	ETX-90 vs 395 refractor
Sent:	Friday, December 3, 1999 21:47:25
From:	Giggshome@aol.com
In your opinion, which will give a clearer, sharper image , the Meade
ETX 90/EC, or the 395 refractor (95 mm)?  Does it matter what I am
looking at or is the difference negligible in all circumstances and

Thanks for the advice.

Alan Schaffer

Subject:	 Cartes du Ciel 2.41 aka Sky Charts
Sent:	Friday, December 3, 1999 21:17:40
From:	ronmccafferty@email.msn.com (Ron McCafferty Jr)
Cartes du Ciel, a Sky Chart software program, is featured in the January
2000 Sky and Telescope. It is freeware.  I downloaded and installed it
from www.stargazing.net/astropc.  A first look indicates it is a full
featured Sky charting software.  I will write again as I gain more

Ron McCafferty

Subject:	 effects of cold evenings
Sent:	Friday, December 3, 1999 19:04:18
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
For those of us who take their scopes outside in the winter...

A lot of the postings talk about the effect of battery voltages on the
Autostar and ETX accuracy... Well, wintertime brings additional problems
in that area. Low temperature can greatly affect a battery's ability to
provide power, and also its life. Alkaline batteries are better in the
cold than "standard" carbon-zinc, and Lithium batteries are far better
than Alkaline...but about three times the price. My ETX seems to
consider 8 volts from the nominally 12 volt battery pack to be too low.
That, in turn, seems to be around an Autostar-reported "60%" of the
batteries' level.

If you visit (for example) Duracell's website and dig around, you'll
find their AA's cells' temperature curves.

Duracell uses 0.8 volts as "end of life". But my scope gets upset when it reaches about 1 volt per cell. So the curves shown are, in marketing terms, "optimistic" (but realistic for flashlights). Meade claims about a 20-hour battery life. Assuming they're using 70F (21C) for that rating, we can follow the 70F line until it crosses the 20-hour line (the faint one above the 10 Hours on the left axis of the graph). It happens to be pretty close to the 10 ohm vertical line. Simply drop down that vertical line until you cross the 32F (0C) line. That crossing happens at about 13 to 14 hours. So 30% of the battery's service life (total capacity) has been lost by dropping to freezing. Note that the curves arc downward as they approach the 1/1 corner of the graph... that means that higher loads (do your batteries only last 15 hours at 70F?) drain them faster. And that colder temperatures (look at the 14F line droop) also have a greater effect. The 14F (-10C) line shows that the same 10 ohm load yields only 9 rated-hours of life. The moral? Wintertime is a good time to consider using rechargables or an AC (or car) adapter. (as other folks have noted, the Autostar itself can be temperature-sensitive.) clear skies (but warm ETX bases?) --dick

Subject:	 A question about vibration and FOV
Sent:	Friday, December 3, 1999 14:12:24
From:	LawR@DNB.com (Law, Rick)
I am glad I ran into this site as I search for scope info to decide if I
want to get a GOTO scope.   I found a lot of references to ETX's
vibration. You have made a comment in one of your reply that it is
normal.  (Sorry, forgot which archive).

Can you share with me your experiences with how much ETX vibrates?  What
impact should I expect?

Thanks a million
Mike here: The original ETX-125EC had some vibration but that was cured by Meade in a revision. The ETX-90RA and ETX-90EC are pretty stable for visual work. The more sturdy the mount (whether a tripod or a flat surface) the better.

Subject:	 New to the Hobby
Sent:	Friday, December 3, 1999 06:39:24
From:	skanavos@ath.forthnet.gr (Steve Kanavos)
Great site.  Today I purchased an ETX90EC with various accessories
including the AutoStar.  I also purchased a series 4000 Zoom made in
Austria by Swarovski Optik.  It is a 7.7-23.1mm zoom.  I was told that
these are no longer available and have a collectible value to it above
and beyong the better optical performance that it offers.  I paid $235
for it.   Have you ever heard of this before.  Supposedly MEADE
discontinued its agreement with SWAROVSKI because of the high cost of


Steve Kanavos

Athens, Greece

Subject:	 M42
Sent:	Wednesday, December 1, 1999 21:35:59
From:	bweaver@dayton.net (Bill Weaver)
I'm leaning towards the Nexstar now, but can't stay away from your ETX
site; it's very mighty. I really like the astrophotography galleries,
they show what can be done with these little scopes, and the accessory

Um... I could be wrong, but isn't M42 in Orion's sword, not his belt?


Thanks again!
Mike here: Thanks for catching my typo!!!!

Subject:	 Meade Series 4000 Zoom Eyepiece doesn't fit in the 90 Eyepiece Holder
Sent:	Wednesday, December 1, 1999 18:16:10
From:	dirk.lenz@maconline.de (Dirk Lenz)
the subject says it all. Is there any way to improve the fitting of the
Meade Zoom eyepiece in my ETX90/EC's 90 eyepiece holder? The eyepiece's
metal tube is about 1 mm too long and doesn't move all the way into the
holder's tube. With the thumbscrew firmly locked the eyepiece is still
flipping around. Would be nice to make it as tight as in the 45 Erecting

Thanks for your help

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