Last updated: 28 February 2001

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: The content that gets posted on this site is totally under my control. I'm sure I have erred on the side of posting too much from some ongoing threads. I am trying to do better.

Subject:	Bogen Tripod 3051
Sent:	Wednesday, February 28, 2001 19:51:39
From:	tfmf@bellsouth.net (tfmf)
Having read all the reviews on various models, as well as the
modifications readers have made to the Meade Field tripod simply to
achieve stability I began a short search for alternatives.  (Many thanks
to prior contributors of Bogen reviews!)  As luck would have it, a local
photo store had a Bogen model 3051 tripod (used and in great condition!)
offered at $139 (new runs $300+).  Though a bit of overkill for the
ETX90EC, this tripod is as sturdy a mount as anyone will find and
features quick release legs, center support locks, bubble level and
geared movement.  I attached the ETX with a new head (model 3026 -  $45)
which features the typical 3 way motion.  When locked down, this
combination is so sturdy one need not be concerned with an off-center
scope position when polar aligned.  I will probably add a plate/shelf
simply to have eyepiece and autostar slots in the future.  All-in, I
have an exceptional tripod for less than $200 (and one which can double
for photographic requirements).  Readers should keep an eye out for used
equipment at bargain prices.


Subject:	Outgassing
Sent:	Wednesday, February 28, 2001 19:12:38
From:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
For some reason the back button is now working on my WebTV when using
your site.  Whatever you've done, thanks.

I was wondering about the Doskocil case that's getting great reviews on
your site, if there has been reports on outgassing from the foam.  I
don't know what kind of foam they use.  I was told once by JMI that
their case uses foam that minimalizes it.  Does that apply to Doskocil?

Thanks again for a great site.
Mike here: I've done nothing; I suspect WebTV may have updated something on their end. As to outgassing, it can be a problem with some materials. Don't know about the foam in the Doskocil.

Subject:	Just Arrived!
Sent:	Wednesday, February 28, 2001 13:30:57
From:	pvalent@easy-pages.com (Paul Valent)
I just took delivery last night but tonight will be my first night out. 
I have a question about the declination setting circles knob.  The
"smooth" knob rotates freely, should it?  The book says if it loosens
recalibrate and retighten the knob.  I turn the knob but nothing
Mike here: You didn't say "what" arrived (apologies if you said it before but I do get a lot of email). But on the ETX models, the knob should tighten. If not, something is wrong.

Sent:	Wednesday, February 28, 2001 13:26:49
From:	picolino@prodigy.net.mx (Eduardo Memub)

I just bought a ETX-90EC, I am using the #883 tripod, and I cant get in
polar alignment mode, I have read the instructions very well and many
times, I live in mexico city and here the latittude is 19N, and when I
set this in the tripod I think the ETX is pointing close to the zenith,
and here I cant see polaris.

Another thing is that the North leg if I put this pionting to north I
can set the latittude... please please help me I am getting nuts because
I cant figure it out!!

PS: this pictures shows the ways I am traying to put it in polar mode,
please tell me which is correct or close to correct
polar mounted polar mounted
Mike here: Your setup appears correct or nearly so. As you have discovered, 19 degrees is just past the 20 degree mark on the tripod. Since the rotational axis of the ETX needs to be parallel to the Earth's axis, at your latitude this results in the ETX fork arms being almost horizontal.


thanks a lot, but just tell me one of the 2 images is correct
Mike here again: Not certain what you're asking. Both photos seem correct. The N leg is on the North site. The forks point to Polaris. If you're asking which is the correct orientation for the Polar Mode HOME position for the Autostar, it is the one with the ETX tube pointing at Polaris.

Subject:	RE: electric focuser in ETX port
Sent:	Wednesday, February 28, 2001 05:58:44
From:	ggrainger@prang.com (Garrett Grainger)
Hey - I finally got it to work. When the case was pinching the wire, the
scope wouldn't sense its presence....
Thanks for all of your help!

Subject:	Meade #140 apochromatic barlow
Sent:	Wednesday, February 28, 2001 04:32:19
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Bryan
Bryan - good question and one that is really confusion to a lot of folks
out there.  You no doubt have the "real thing" with the #140 and there
are several ways to confirm since Meade does not actually imprint the
word "aprochromatic" (i.e., e-element color correcting and
field-flattening system) anywhere on the metal housing.

1)  Looks for the words "three element" on the black upper portion of
the tube; that  indicates the model #140;

2)  It does, indeed, say "telenegative" which it actually is, just a
higher-tech version;

3)  The unit is longer (by about 15%) than the standard telenegative
2-element model by Meade and other aftermarked designs.

The #140 is an excellent buy, even considering the great price.  It is a
favorite and will give you years of good seeing and use.

How this helps!
Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan
>I recently purchased a "apochromatic" #140 barlow --
>Strange thing is it says "telenegative" on the side, and no mention of the
>word "apochromatic"
>but it says "model #140"..
>any input??

Subject:	ETX Telescope
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 20:24:30
From:	rch37@hotmail.com (r Manilow)
I reviewed some of the photographs that you have taken with your ETX90
from Meade.  About 2 years ago, I was given and ETX 90.  I have always
wanted a telescope but never had one.  The first one I receive from what
I have read up on amatuer telescopes is probably for the money invested
one of the best. I have a 26 mm and a 9.7 plossi that i have purchased
as well as a 2X Barlow lense.

My problem is I am not exactly sure I know how to operate the unit....it
appears that I cannot get any images in my viewer like the photos you
have.....to be specific, the Mercury photo's....as well as the Deep sky
photos which contain the Nebulas.  I really think it is operator
malfunction not the unit itself due to the lack of experience on my

I have also heard that I need to purchase different filters to utilize
with the unit. I am told that will enhance my viewing.

If you could take the time, to point me in the right direction on what I
would need to purchase or what I would need to do to get the long time
views that I have so desired of space and its contents.  Or if you could
just let me know what i need to look up on the internet to find out what
i need to do to get a better view.  Or advise me that what i want to see
cannot be accomplished by this unit.

Any response that you could find time to give me would be greatly

Thanks for your time,

R Manilow
Mike here: I'm a little unclear what you're asking. Are you trying to take photos of objects or is it that you can't see any objects in your telescope? As to filters, I wouldn't worry about them yet; learn to use your system first.

Subject:	Re:   Unclear on EL/AZ mounting screws
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 20:13:53
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Blais
First, thank you for the compliments on the article and I am glad you
are building a pier for your telescope.

You have studied the photographs for naught, I must say.  You have
realized somethingthat a lot of people have not!

I use my telescope nearly ALWAYS in Polar mounting mode, and rarely in
Alt-Azimuth; hence the mounting base for the Alt-Az mode ONLY HAS ONE(1)
mounting bolt.  I rarely use mine for very long in that position; if I
were to use it Alt-Az, I would have done the following:  make the plate
in the north (Alt-Az) end oversized so that you can get your hand
underneath the plate and attach WITH THE #887 tripod "adapter plate"
that allows coupling of the ETX 125 to the large tripod.  You will see
that this adapter has three (3) large threaded holes for mounting to the
#887 wedge (holes are 120 degrees apart); you should make your base
plate for Alt-Az oversized enough that bolts can be inserted from the
UNDERSIDE of that plate into the adapter (which is locked onto the base
of the telescope).  That's all there is to it!

However, I'm curious.  If you are getting that wonderful #887 tripod
with the big wedge (great for the ETX 125!) why do you NOT simply mount
the WEDGE onto your permanent pier and use in Polar mode?  You will find
that your tracking is MUCH better and centering a lot more accurate. 
With a permanent setup like yours, you would not have to re-align to
north every night, just slip the scope on and off the wedge (leave the
wedge outdoors!) and bring the telescope in; the wedge remains aligned
so no polar set-up is necessary.

Just set up in "home position" each night and you are ready to do your
AutoStar alignment!  That is why I built the pier, so that I could leave
it out and have it set up.  Save yourself some trouble and fix the big
wedge so that you can leave on the pier for POLAR mode, yet have some
method by which you can take it off to use with the tripod on trips.

How this answers the question - a very good one, too!  Good luck, and
don't hestitate to contact me any time.

Clear skies!
Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Blais
>Hello Clay,
>            Although I very recently ordered a Meade #887 field tripod to
>replace my 'flimsy' #883 for the 125 I was impressed by your article on Mike
>Weasner's ETX site and would like to build a copy of it for use in the back
>of my house.  It would be a pier that would stay here and not need to be
>used as a mobile unit.
>            I do have one question Clay.  When mounting the 125 to your blue
>base plate I do see the elongated cutout to be used to slide the first of
>the two ETX bolts into but it is not clear to me how I would get to insert
>and secure the 125 base bolt on the opposite side of the 125 base.  Study
>the pictures as I may I just can't figure that one out.  There just doesn't
>seem to be enough room to secure this 2nd bolt.  The polar mounting method
>is made clear to me via your text and pictures.
>            I do dislike bugging you with this but I just seem to have a
>mental block on the EL-AZ mounting.  I also appreciate the work you did in
>combining pictures with the elaborate text in the article.
>            I do hope my question is not confusing.
>            Thank You Clay
>            Blais Klucznik
>            marbla@naisp.net

Subject:	Finding North in the South
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 20:01:05
From:	berjac@southwest.com.au (Bert Denovan)
Finding north on the ETX can be a bit of a pain for those of us that
live in the Southern Hemisphere.  We don’t have Polaris to help us and I
defy anyone bar an experienced astronomer with a professional telescope
to find Sigma Octans in that rich star field marking the SCP.

I have been using a compass on the OT but it is very unsatisfactory as
the OT is rounded and slippery.

Then I noticed that one of the notches that the ETX screws into is over
the 'N' leg.  The instruction manual only mentions this leg (to point
south) if setting up in polar alignment.  So I used the two notches to
line up on north, but even this was difficult and I will overcome this
later.  Having done this I discovered that if I put the hole of the ETX
that is between the two rubber pads (opposite ‘High Altitude Leg’), and
then went through the routine of finding the stop and then putting the
first fork over the control panel, the OT was pointing north.  No
problems!  In fact I could even get it better aligned with north by
looking down and setting the face of the OT over the leg.

It is my intention to get a flat piece of wood and scribe a line down
the middle, put two small dowels underneath so that they fit into the
niches and use the centre line to set the compass up on.

Subject:	Front cover
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 19:56:24
From:	berjac@southwest.com.au (Bert Denovan)
I have had two ETXs that were assembled in Mexico.  With both of them I
had to use a lot of strength to unscrew the front cover.  After two very
hard spots to overcome the cover would screw off easily, but if screwed
back on to the end of the thread (without any hint of stops) it was just
as difficult to unscrew again.  It has come to my attention that this
has happened to several people and I have heard stories about using
string to put around the top of the screw thread to prevent it going all
the way in.

I was fortunate with the second one that I got in that I still had an
earlier ETX for returning after the tripod collapsed so I swapped covers
and each cover worked well on the different scopes.  It has been
suggested to me that the OT might be distorted but I checked with a
plastice ruler and it did not seem to be that way. However a friend was
reaming out a piece of plastic plumbers' pipe for me so that it would
fit over the front of the OT as I was making a solar filter with it. 
This person had the benefit of inside vernier callipers and told me that
there was a small 'high spot' near the base of the thread.

I don't know how this knowledge could help others with the same problem
but at least being aware might lend itself to ideas to fix it. It might
also warn people to check that the cover comes off and goes back on
again without the need for weight training!


Subject:	Do ETX-90EC fit on this??
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 19:54:58
From:	abcuellar@hotmail.com (abcuellar)
Hi, I'll buy a ETX-90EC in April and I don't know if a tripoid I already
have will fit on the ETX. Do any kind of  tripoid fit on ETX????or
eyepieces??Do I have to by a especial tripoid???or eyepieces? And I have
seen in your site that some ETX-90EC have a Piggy-Back Camera Mount.What
is that????

please answer me 

Adrian Cuellar 

P.S: How often do you update??? 
Mike here: If you plan to mount your ETX on a tripod it must be a sturdy one. Lightweight camera tripods will not work. Heavy duty camera tripods will work IF you purchase the proper adapter plate. See the Accessories - Tripods page on my ETX for more on tripods and adapter plates. The ETX-90EC uses 1.25-inch eyepieces. There are adapters for 0.965 and 2-inch eyepieces if you have any of those. See the Accessories - Showcase Products for info on piggyback camera adapters. Normally the site gets updated every 2, 3, or 4 days. If you haven't already, you can signup for automatic email notification when the site is updated; just follow the instructions at: www.weasner.com/etx/site/site_subscription.html.

And a clarification:

Hi,I send a mesaje of ETX-90EC to the place of mesajes of ETX-60AT
,-70AT .SORRY...
Mike here again: My response is still applicable except that I'm not certain if there are piggyback adapters for the -60 and -70 although you could make one.

Subject:	Collimating an ETX-125
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 16:03:07
From:	ajthurston@bryancave.com (Adam J. Thurston)
I have messed up and I'm looking for some advice.  I was having a
problem with the image shifting laterally when turning the focus knob. 
I don't know what came over me, but the next thing I knew, I had the OTA
disassembled on my workbench.  Before I figured out that the primary
mirror and focus assembly unscrews from the back of the OTA, I loosened
the hex screws that hold the primary mirror in collimation.  Now I'm
pretty sure the collimation is screwed up, and I'm trying to decide
whether to try fixing it myself or send it back to Meade.  I figure I
have already had the thing apart, and I might as well try to fix it
myself rather than parting with my scope for the next month.  (I
actually seem to have significantly improved the image shift problem
just by taking the thing apart and putting it back together).  I have
read the post on your website re:  collimiation and I think I get it. 
Sounds like a lot of trial and error and very tedious.  Is this a job I
can reasonably expect to get right, or do you think I should just send
the thing back?  Any tips aside from what's on the site?  I'm not happy
with the prospect of sending my scope back, athough there are a few
other things that I would have Meade fix while they were at it (my
primary lens was dirty right out of the box--some sort of overspray on
both the inside and outside surface, and the RA clutch needs
tightening).  Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide.
Mike here: Yes, collimating this Maksutov-Cassegrain is a matter of trial and error unless you have a lot of specialized equipment. After you spend a lot of time doing it you'll have a lot of experience and probably only a near perfect collimation. You can do it but there are probably better ways to spend your time. And since you indicate there are other things you'd like done, returning it to Meade is probably the best choice.

And a reply:

Thanks very much for your response.  That's the way I'm leaning, but
it's always nice to hear a second opinion.  Clear skies.

Subject:	Autostar rubber-banding
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 06:50:21
From:	slider2253@msn.com (slider2253)
I have really enjoyed using my autostar and 90ec until I updated to
version 2.1ek. I am experiencing rubber-banding and other problems. My
older version 1.3 seemed to work much better. I was noticing that there
is an archive of older versions on your site. My question is whether it
makes sense to load an older version into autostar (and which one is
best) or is there a way to work out the bugs in 2.1ek. Thanks.

Ryan Krenik
Mike here: Most reports of 2.1ek are positive, except for the rubberbanding. If you find that annoying you might go back to 2.0i and see how that works for you.

Subject:	New ETX-Site in Germany
Sent:	Tuesday, February 27, 2001 06:01:49
From:	rainer.nothdurft.rn@germany.agfa.com
Hello Mike,

a new, yet very tiny star is born!

Title: "Die deutschen ETX-Seiten" (the german ETX-pages)

We provide (in german)

- a  forum,
- viewing tips,
- technical tips

much more is planned

Would you be so kind and add our URL to "astronomy links" on your great
site? We refer to ETX and LX90

URL: www.stadtastronomie.de/etx_deutschland/

Thank you in advance

Rainer Nothdurft

Subject:	Meade ETX 90 "Astro"
Sent:	Monday, February 26, 2001 15:38:48
From:	arw@beeb.net (Andrew Walker)
HI, I think your site is fantastic!

I wonder if you can help me please?

I purchased an ETX 90 "Astro" a couple if years ago, and have seen that
there is "Autostar" option. Can I upgrade mine to have this piece of

I hope you can help me,
thanks and regards,
Southampton, UK
Mike here: As frequently mentioned on my site, there is no upgrade. Some dealers like Shutan and Scopetronix will accept trade-ins.

Subject:	Question 
Sent:	Monday, February 26, 2001 09:50:32
From:	redaries@adinet.com.uy (Marcelo Peralta)
Do I want to buy a battery to feed the ETX 90 EC and the Autostar 497,
which I can buy?
does automobile being should or of motorcycle?
12V .....A?

Thank you and best regards from Uruguay
Marcelo Peralta
Mike here: Search the site for "battery" and you'll likely found comments on many solutions (amongst the other comments about batteries). People have done this.

Subject:	question...
Sent:	Monday, February 26, 2001 06:32:16
From:	kardrak4@hotmail.com (Eduardo Lopez)
What is the angular field of view of the 8x21 finder?

Thank you...

Subject:	new nova in sagittarius - need to post for our ETX family!
Sent:	Monday, February 26, 2001 05:07:08
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Just received word via IAU telegram of a new moderately bright nova in
Sagr.  Might be a good object for ETX-ers if you can get on next update!

For all of our early risers, there is a new NOVA in the constellation of
Sagittarius!  Reports received at the Observatory on February 25 from
the International Astronomical Union show the nova, discovered by
veteran astronomer William Liller observing in Chili, to be located at:

R.A. 17h 54.8m
DEC. -26 degrees 14.3m

Based on my computations, from a mid-northern latitude of about 35- 40
degrees, this would have the new nova rising some time about 3:00 a.m.
local time, and being high enough for dark-sky observing before the
advent of dawn.

Right now the nova ("Nova Sagittarii 2001") is at magnitude 7.7 (as
determined from the actual 85mm lens photography taken by Dr. Liller. 
Because this is "hot off the press," I do not know right now if the nova
is brightening, at a stable point before declining (most likely since
Dr. Liller recorded the same sky area on February 14 and "nothing
brighter than magnitude 11 [ about the limiting magnitude of an ETX 90]
was visible at that exact spot) or if the brightness might be waning, as
most novae rapidly drop in brightness immediately after reaching their

There is no known (cataloged) star at that position according to all of
my sources.

Observers with ETX scopes and the LX 90 can easily pick up this object,
even in the finderscopes, by doing a GO TO to the above-stated
coordinates; a good sky chart or Sky computer program print-out centered
on that point will show stars slightly dimmer, so the star will appear
as one that "...is not supposed to be there!" based on your charts.

This is likely the first relatively bright nova visible to many amateurs
who have recently bought or received your telescope as a gift.  Although
novae certainly get brighter than this, a 7.7 magnitude outburst is not
all that common and considered fairly bright by astronomical standards!

Likely, as with many novae, this star will appear slightly reddish or
orange visually.  I would be very interested to hear from any of you who
are able to locate the nova.  Use comparison star magnitudes as provided
on the star charts to determine the new star's brightness and let me
know what you find...if I get enough data we will post our own "ETX
Light Curve" within a couple of weeks!

Good luck spotting our new visitor, and clear skies!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	ETX 90 loose gear assembly??
Sent:	Sunday, February 25, 2001 23:45:18
From:	bryangm@excite.com (Bryan Morris)
Great site!  A tremendous help for those of us who don't know too much
about this stuff but have that burning itch to learn and explore "whats
out there" more!

I started going through the ETX performance setup until I noticed
something that wasn't mentioned.  I cleaned and tightened everything up
as described but when engaging the RA drive, the scope would still take
a second to actually start moving.  For instance, I'd get it moving
right, stop it, and press the left button.  The motor would start up but
it would take a second to actually move.  Popping off the bottom cover
again to see what this was all about, I noticed the entire gear assembly
moving up or down depending on which way I was trying to move the scope.
I'd hit a directional arrow and the motor would start, the "gearbox"
would lift up maybe 1/8" and THEN the scope would rotate.

If I tighten the three screws that hold this together, it makes this
terrible grinding noise when I engage the motor.  It doesn't help anyway
though as the gearbox still lifts/lowers.

I've also noticed that when I press the left or right button to engage
the RA drive, the scope also moves up a tiny bit, even though I'm not
pressing a DEC button.

This is an ETX-90EC with the Autostar 21ek

Any thoughts about this?   Help!!  :-)

And a response from Clay:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Bryan - there are two (2) gear assemblies in the RA drive which you
might be talking about, both of which are causing both problems (the
delayed star in Azimuth (RA) and the upward motion in ALT (DEC)).  You
need to specify WHICH gear assembly is moving:

1)  in the very middle of the inside of the base is a larger, flat
"drive gear" which is engaged with a cylindrical "worm driver" gear. 
This assembly has been known to come loose;

2) the second drive gear assembly is the series of very small white
(nylon) relay gears that transfer the motion (and reduce it) from the
motor to #1) above.

I suspect that, from what you are describing, it is the main gear/clutch
assembly that is LOOSE from the turntable of the telescope.  Go to
Mike's TECH TIPS and pull up the "ETX Tune UP" article and then to the 
"ETX-125EC Right Ascension lock Fix."  In the latter post, you will see
a photo of the drive gear and clutch plate removed from the large shaft
that moves the scope; it is connected with a 1-1/2" nut and steel shaft.
 It sounds like that nut is loose on your ETX 90.  Every time you apply
torque (push the buttons in RA), the turning worm driver "lifts" the
drive gear in the direction the gears are turning if this nut is loose.

I doubt it is the numerous small gear assembly; but if it is, tell me
exactly how it moves relative to the large drive gear.

My "Enhancement Guide", Part 1 under the Tech Tips tells about working
on the clutch plate and the main drive gear.  Getting the clutch plate
OFF is tricky, but it is described; if the scope is still under
warranty, I would ask for a new one.  The movement of the main gears can
cause a lot of unnecessary and premature wear on the entire gear train
(not to mention your nerves!)

Tightening the three screws indicates that we are talking about the main
drive system as I suspected.  Those three screws will not affect the
looseness, except to jam the worm driver too tight against the drive
gear (hence the grinding).

The uplifting in declination is a "false" impression.  What indeed is
happening is that the ENTIRE TELESCOPE turntable (which holds and
rotates the fork arms) is LIFTING as you torque the drive gear.....when
the drive gear activates and pushes against the drive shaft (that big
steel shaft that the 1-1/2" nut holds tight), it literally lifts the
scope.  What you see is what appears to be DECLINATION movement, when in
reality it is not.....your declination is NOT moving.

You CAN fix this yourself.   But I would NOT use it until it is fixed. 
If it is not under warranty, certainly try to use the helpful guides I
have mentioned in conjunction with my "Enhancement" Part 1.  It should
step you through it completely.  If you do NOT want to try yourself, and
if the scope is out of warranty, I would be happy to fix it for you but
you would, of course, have to ship the scope to me via UPS.

Good luck....getting in there and working on it is not as hard as it
might appear;  THE MAIN CAUTION that I always express to self-helpers on
the ETX is the WIRING and ELECTRONICS.  They are VERY fragile.

I hope this helps....I know it is not good news, but you have a loose
drive shaft and it most definitely needs immediate attention!

Let me know if I can help further.

Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	DEC axis binding
Sent:	Sunday, February 25, 2001 22:13:09
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
FYI: A possible source of binding in the DEC (Alt) is the aluminum plate
behind the locking knob.  On my ETX90 that bears against a raised ring
on the fork's plastic.  That provides more stiffness to fight the
flexing of the fork due to worm loading, but does require greasing.  If
it's not greased, the metal plate (like the numbered Dec scale, but no
numbers) will stick-and-slip as it moves.


Subject:	Barlow  with ETX90EC...
Sent:	Sunday, February 25, 2001 16:22:16
From:	abcuellar@hotmail.com (abcuellar)
First of all I have to say that your site is very cool!

Well,my problem is that I have a barlow x 3 from a MEADE 50mm telescope
and I'm planning to buy a ETX90EC.Will the Barlow fit in the ETX-90???

please answer me 
Adrian Cuellar.

PS:What is a Quick Cam VC? What do it do?
Mike here: If the Barlow is a standard 1.25-inch type it might work. The only probably might be whether you will be able to focus with it. There have been some reports that not all Barlows can be focused when used with an ETX. As to the QuickCam, it is an inexpensive video camera for Macintosh or PC. Several people use them for CCD imaging with telescopes.

Subject:	Re: Observatory bulletins
Sent:	Sunday, February 25, 2001 08:24:16
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Jeremy 
Thanks for the kind comments; although I have several books on astronomy
that have been published as well as past popular-interest articles, the
Arkansas Sky Observatory bulletins have not been distributed since 1988.
I continue to update, but only as a hobby and as a service to others. 
Right now, the "Ultimate ETX Source Guide" is Mike Weasner's ETX
site....that's why I am contributing.  We have great scopes and need
both a source of information and an outlet for the uniqueness of the

So...for right now, stay tuned to the Mighty ETX site for the latest in
Arkansas Sky Observatory bulletins...you won't be disappointed!

thanks again, and keep reading.

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>I have enjoyed your contributions to Mike Weasner's ETX site and was
>wondering if there is a collection of the Bulletins of the Arkansas Sky
>Observatory available for purchase or on the web. I couldn't find a
>website. I like their style,clarity and technical level. Time to write
>the ultimate ETX-specific operation and observing manual!

Subject:	the fun of being referenced...
Sent:	Sunday, February 25, 2001 04:43:05
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I have been reading through the new update of the ETX web site.  Nice as
usual.  I just though I would let you know how rewarding it is - only
four days after being posted - to be receiving the e-mails (right now a
little over 240!) and having other observers who post on the site
referring to the "Enhancement Guide" Series.  This thing is really
making a DIFFERENCE out there!  I am hearing from ETX-ers who had all
but given up on their scopes, some over a year ago, only to give it "one
more shot," and suddenly everything works great now that they know how
to do it.

The odds are much in my favor that Meade should have paid us for posting
the "Guide."  (many are saying we are doing their jobs for them....what
the heck, if it gets people back into it, who cares?)

Just thought you might like to know how overwhelming the response has
been....and it has ALL been positive; I have not heard from anybody yet
who has said that doing the procedures in the "Performance Enchancement
Guide" did NOT help them....just the opposite.  Goes to show that Meade
needs to re-write a LOT of their instructional material.


Subject:	Chromatic abberation
Sent:	Sunday, February 25, 2001 03:58:02
From:	ceo@helpforce.com (Sanjay Gilley)
Would it be possible, if you could tell me what Cromatic Aberation

I am studying physics at the Boswells school

Many thanks.

Sanjay Gilley
Mike here: Well, I could but Sky&Telescope (and probably other web sites as well) already has. See: http://www.skypub.com/tips/rightstuff.html and search for "chromatic aberration" on the page.

Subject:	articles
Sent:	Sunday, February 25, 2001 03:10:04
From:	mike@mike-hadley.demon.co.uk (Mike Hadey)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net ('Clay Sherrod')

Just got back from a week of meetings in Spokane and read your
incredible documentation in the "Tech Tips" part of Mike's web page. 
That's quite a piece of work.  Meade ought to pay you to put this on the
support portion of their web site (the alignment, training etc., they
probably  wouldn't go for the mechanical comments).

Anyway I brought back a Megapod and can get rid of the piece of junk
I've been using.  I hope to take another run at the Dec slop today and
then do a full re-align.  I'll let you know how it comes out.

Mike H.
And from Clay:
Hey Mike - good to have you back with us!

Regarding your DEC slop, why don't you try the techniques in Part 2 of my
enhancement Guide, remembering to RESET, REINITIALIZE and RETRAIN (gee, the
"3-R's"); it seems to be helping everyone all of a sudden.  My mail box has
been SWAMPED in the last three days....so far about 230 responses (some
wanting me to run for President), all very positive that the methods DO take
out the backlash and creeping problems!

Glad you got the good tripod...let us know how it works.


Subject:	nice moon observing page...
Sent:	Saturday, February 24, 2001 22:23:53
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Do you visit the "astro photo of the day" site?

Particularly germaine to your Moon observing note is

give it time to load, and you'll get a complete month's "movie"
showing the libration nicely.

Thanks for the  continuing series of very nice guides..
p.s. today's is SNO
Mike here: That is a nice animation. So are the ones on the animation link: astrophoto.org/mercure/cidadao/animations.htm


From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike - that lunar animation is terrific!  It needs to be on your site as
an instructional piece because:  if you watch VERY carefully in the
rapid sequence (at the end) you will notice the "rotation" of the bright
crater Tycho, demonstrating clearly the moon's libration as it cycles
through the one-month period.  This is a GREAT teaching tool!

Subject:	Scope/base swap
Sent:	Saturday, February 24, 2001 16:36:36
From:	dadriance@home.com (David Adriance)
I have an ETX-70 with the old style base (ports in base as opposed to
fork). I'm wondering if it is posible to swap the OTA with one from an
ETX-90 RA. With the wide field of the ETX-70 the autostar really is
overkill (it came with the 495) and as the bases are suposedly the same
it would seem like a worthwile project.
Mike here: I don't know if the internal structure would be up to holding the 90RA although I am not aware whether they are same internals or different. Plus you'd likely have to make some sort of adapter. Nice project though. Let us know how it works out if you attempt it.

Subject:	ETX AUX flashlight
Sent:	Friday, February 23, 2001 17:23:58
From:	joerodricks@mediaone.net (Joe Rodricks)
I have devised (ok I copied the idea) a red-light flashlight that works
of the AUX port of and etx 90. If the AUX port are the same for any
other version of the etx, then it will work with them as well. The light
plugs into AUX port (where it get its power) and then is used as a flash
light. As long as the scope has power, so will your flash light. I also
made (this time my own idea) a batter cell into which the light can plug
that will allow it to be used stand-alone. The light is a "Jumbo" LED
and drains my better cell VERY little (as true with most LEDs) I cannot
comment on the battery drainage of the scope, as I use an AC adapter. If
any would like me to make them one, drop and email and we'll discuss it,
probably about $7 to make. In stores that are about $ 16.00, if you can
find them.

Clear skies,
Joe Rodricks, 16

Subject:	piggyback astrophotography
Sent:	Friday, February 23, 2001 05:14:45
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Regarding the M45 photo; I drank two cups of coffee while my ETX 125 did
all the work!  I had it set up in my usual Polar alignment, with a very
good alignment that night with perfect skies.  I used a cable release
and let the scope track for 20 minutes unguided.  I have been telling
you how good I have gotten the adjustments in my scope...this is proof
positive!  I also have photos of the Andromeda and Triangulum galaxies
and the double cluster (Perseus) piggyback off the -125 and a great shot
of the North American Nebula with my ETX 90 piggyback taken last fall. 
No guiding, just letting the scope track.

Subject:	O-ring for MA25mm eyepiece
Sent:	Thursday, February 22, 2001 22:37:19
From:	soehnk@cableregina.com (Keith Soehn)
I've recently taken the plunge and bought an etx-70 as my first scope
(but haven't been able to take it outside yet).  Upon reading a review
of it by Geoff Gaherty on Kahn Scope's website
(http://www.khanscope.com/), I got the idea to stop back the MA25mm
eyepiece by using a 1 inch o-ring so that both eyepieces are parfocal. 
I think most hardware stores would have something like this.  The
position of the o-ring illustrated is about where it should be.  Be
careful when going almost vertical with the scope as the eyepiece may
dump.  Use the tightening screw.  It works pretty good except I can't
put the MA25mm in the threaded poly bottle. Will look for a flat
(elastic) band? or something.  I've enclosed a drawing of the eyepiece
and the o-ring (done on my Mac of course). Should I get out more often? 

Clear skies,
parfocal eyepiece mod

Subject:	Re: REF:Question About the DEC Setting Circle on a 70AT
Sent:	Thursday, February 22, 2001 17:27:24
From:	np149@tir.com (Nick Petranovic)
I hear you. I was 16 when my parents got me an Edmund Astroscan. I used
it quite a bit at first, but got discouraged by city lights and a lack
of eyepieces. I stored it for several years and dug it out last year to
use with the kids. I enjoyed their reaction so much, it rekindled my
interest. I started picking up the magazines and reading up on the
hobby. That led to the purchase of the ETX 60 and the Deluxe Field
Tripod (planning ahead for a ETX 125!). I've had the thing for a month,
but living in Michigan, it's always overcast, so I have not had a chance
to use it yet. It sure looks nice sitting here though!! I'm hoping to
get some time with both scopes soon. I'm dying to see what a difference
modern eyepieces and filters can make. Hopefully, I'll get the chance

Take care.

etx@me.com wrote:
> We all started out learning from scratch somehow!

Subject:	Performance Enhancement on Weasner's Site
Sent:	Thursday, February 22, 2001 10:42:08
From:	john.schiermeier@mscsoftware.com (John Schiermeier)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
I've very much enjoyed reading your three-step Performance Enhancement
article on Weasner's Web-Site, which I just rediscovered and hope to
apply to my slewing/tracking/etc. problems.  Both the articles and the
web site are a great resource.

However, in Part 3:
your Figure 3-C is actually a repeat of Figure 3-B.  (Or were you just
checking to see if anybody read that far?!)

Thanks again.
John Schiermeier
Mike here: The error was mine and has been corrected. Glad you liked Clay's articles.

Subject:	electric focuser in ETX port
Sent:	Thursday, February 22, 2001 06:28:25
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	ggrainger@prang.com
Good to hear from you and glad you got the electric focuser; sorry for
the repair job!

I am curious about the lack of recognition of the focuser by the ETX
base;  try a couple of things and get back with me on them..

1)  Are you using (or attempting to use) this with the AutoStar?  If so,
try the Standard Electronic Control that COMES with the Meade ETX EC; it
too will control the Electric focuser from the controller; if it does
not work, then the problem is in the drive base connections since you
indicated that you had it working (I assume that your observations of
its effectiveness and "too fast" speed on slow settings was from the
actual focuser HANDBOX  that comes with the electric focuser since you
cannot get ETX port recognition???)

2)  If using Autostar, what version firmware do you have loaded?  It
will indicate the version (i.e, "v2.0", v2.1E, etc.) as soon as the
display lights up when you turn on power.  If you are using v2.1ek,
which is the newest, you are allowed to control the focuser through TWO
(2) modes: a)  Press "MODE" for 3 seconds; the first display is for your
focuser and hitting the up-down arrow keys will access (or should) the
focuser to move; b)  Press "0" once and this ALSO activates the focuser
(you will see it on the readout).  Again, pressing the up-down keys
should activate the focuser to move.

Try on BOTH settings and see if either work....please get back to me on
what you find.

3)  Noting #2) above, LOOK AT THE AUTOSTAR (if that's what you are
using) when pressing either or both of those commands to activate the
focuser.  DOES AUTOSTAR recognize in its readout (top line) that the
focuser command is in place?  If not, then you do have a most definite
problem either with the port(s) on the ETX base or with the clip that
goes into that port.  Dick Seymour may well have a suggestion if the
clip is actually involved.

Good luck, and please get back to us ASAP and we will try to work you
through this...

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	RE: Image in ETX-90EC shakes like an earthquake every
	               time I touch the rig in any way
Sent:	Wednesday, February 21, 2001 22:42:31
From:	Michael.Teige@webvangroup.com (Teige, Michael)
It's mounted on the #883 deluxe field tripod that was a freebie giveaway
when my wife bought it. It's mostly on the grass of my backyard but it
also shakes just as bad on a concrete sidewalk. I was just wondering if
all the rattling of the image was "normal". I looked for electronic
focusers as per your suggestion and saw this description at
Astronomics.com: "And, best of all, electric focusers provide totally
hands-off focusing, so frustrating telescope vibration is virtually
eliminated." So from this I take it that the rattle is normal. Can you
tell me why telescopes shake so bad? I realize the electronic focuser
would help but $120.00 is a bit steep. I'll try the more low-tech mods
described on your page.


Michael Teige
Mike here: The vibration you are seeing is because the telescope is small, providing high magnification (so it magnifies any movement), and because you are touching the telescope to focus by hand. This is true of any telescope. However, the more tightly coupled the telescope is to its base and mounting the less vibration prone it will be. Given the design of the ETX you have to use some care when focusing by hand or make small movements and let the vibrations dampen out (which should happen almost as quickly as you stop touching the knob). If you have the tripod legs fully extended, try it with the legs not extended to their full height.

Subject:	General Astrophotography questions
Sent:	Wednesday, February 21, 2001 22:27:27
From:	bobmi@northernwebs.com (Bob Minnick)
I've been up one side and down the other of your excellent site, looking
for links, or anyone talking about using photoshop to touch up
astrophotographs. I've played some holding a digital cam to the
eyepiece, and as owner of a professional internet consulting and web
design company, I've access to some of the latest photo editing
software. Someone, somewhere, MUST know of a site that talks about using
photoshop to touch up these photos, the few sites I've found are out of
date, at best, at worst, hopelessly obsolete.

Any help you or your readers can provide would be appreciated. And if
anyone is interested, we have a few moonshot photos taken by holding a
digital camera over the eyepiece available on our website.






Considering these are taken with a stock etx-60, stock lenses and a
polaroid digital cam, they aren't too bad.

Mike here: Have you checked out the "Astrophotography Web Sources" on the Astrophotography Gallery - Basics page on my ETX site? It's been awhile since I looked at the sites listed. A couple of things I typically do is unsharp mask (to sharpen images when appropriate) and adjusting the levels to increase the contrast. Play until the image looks the best but avoid overdoing either.

Subject:	Image in ETX-90EC shakes like an earthquake every
	               time I touch the rig in any way
Sent:	Wednesday, February 21, 2001 21:10:22
From:	Michael.Teige@webvangroup.com (Teige, Michael)
I much like my Christmas present ETX-90EC but I have just one
complaint/observation and wanted to know if this is normal. Let's say I
get Saturn all nicely lined up in the viewfinder (the stock 26mm
eyepiece with or without the "shorty" 2X Barlow) and need to make a
focus adjustment. I touch the focus knob and give it a little turn. I
now need to wait a few seconds for the image of Saturn to stop it's
violent shaking to see if I have focused it correctly. This very
annoying rattle occurs if I touch the rig in any way shape or form. I
have not contacted Meade about it 'cuz I thought I'd bounce it off of
the real ETX experts out there first! :) Is this normal? Can anything be
done about it to stabilize the image. I'm not sure I want to take apart
the whole rig but would be willing with proper instruction if this
rattle is within spec and there is some secret to make it stop.


Michael Teige
Monroe, WA
Mike here: You didn't specify on what type of mounting you have the ETX but the more study the mount, the less the hand-induced vibrations. Also, you can add a different focus mechanism (plastic straw, clothes pin, larger knob, Scopetronix FlexiFocus, or one of the electronic focusers). All of these are discussed on my ETX (see the Accessories - Miscellaneous page, some of the recent Feedback pages, and the Tech Tips page).

Subject:	About the etx's
Sent:	Wednesday, February 21, 2001 15:56:57
From:	atlanticp95@adelphia.net (anthony martin)
I am saving up for a Meade Etx telescope. Which one i am saving up for,
i dont know. I was wondering if you can tell me the major differences
between each one. If i am going to spend 300 dollars on the etx 60,
would it be worth it to save up another 300 for the etx 90, or even more
for the 125? i dont want to just see jupiter as a small, minute ball in
the sky, i want to see its stripes, and the great red spot. i also would
like to see distant galaxies and stars with some detail. Is this
accomplishable with the 60, or do galaxies and stars look blurry and
small? i would also like to photograph with my telescope. i am only a
teen with a small budget, but have a large interest in the stars.
thank-you for your time and patience.
Mike here: From your requirements, the ETX-60AT, ETX-70AT, ETX-90EC, and ETX-125EC will not work for you. But then there aren't many small scopes that will. You want to see detail in galaxies; ain't gonna happen! There are too dim. With a larger telescope you can photography details but beyond some brighter or fainter fuzziness, your eye is just not sensitive enough no matter what the size telescope. So, stepping downwards a little bit, certainly a larger telescope will provide better views of planets and nebulae (although nebulae will still appear as faint fuzzy blobs for the most part). You can see 2-3 cloud bands on Jupiter with a smaller ETX but to see more details you'll need at least the -90, if not the -125. While astrophotography can be done with all the ETX models (as evidenced by the photos on this web site), it does take some effort and luck to get the really good ones. See the Buyer/New User Tips page as well as the various Feedback page for actual usage reports.


Thank-you for such a fast response. What i meant previously is that i
want to see things pictures and magazines show. When i look through
photos taken of the andromeda galaxy, jupiter, etc., i want to see those
things through my telescope. which would you reccomend?
Mike here: Have you considered buying the Hubble Space Telescope? Seriously, you need a much larger telescope than an ETX to see those kind of details. I've looked at Jupiter through a 20" Dobsonian and while the image was large and I could see many cloud bands, it still didn't look like the photos you see in magazines and on telescope boxes.

Subject:	new to astronomy and the etx 125
Sent:	Tuesday, February 20, 2001 14:26:20
From:	Ken.Caldwell@disney.com (Caldwell, Ken)
I received the meade etx 125 for a christmas present.  I love it.  My
question is...I leave the scope out at all times. I never break it down
and put it away. Is this bad for telescope? If not, is there a scope
cover that i can put over it when not in use in order to keep the dust
off?  By the way your web-site is very helpful. Keep up the good work. 
Mike here: Unless you live in an area with no weather, no sunshine, and no birds, leaving the telescope outside unprotected is not a good idea. But if you mean you just leave it set up inside, then any cover that protects it from dust (or pet fur, if you have a pet(s) with fur) while not adding lint or outgassing (if plastic). My mother-in-law made a nice cloth cover for my ETX-90RA that has a stiff top and just sits on the ETX to keep dust (and fur) off.


thank you for the quick reply.

if you could indulge me with one more question...on my etx 125 my nose
hits the finderscope when i'm viewing through the eye piece. do i have
it set up wrong? if not, how do i combat this.  it is much more
comfortable for me to view through my right eye but it feels like the
finderscope is in the way. my nose isn't that big!
Mike here: Many users rotate the finderscope in its mounting bracket so that its eyepiece is 45 degrees towards the left when standing at the ETX eyepiece. It worked for me.

Subject:	REF:Question About the DEC Setting Circle on a 70AT
Sent:	Monday, February 19, 2001 18:58:06
From:	np149@tir.com (Nick Petranovic)
Great site! It's exactly what I have been looking for. I was "into" the
hobby quite a few years ago, but lost interest due to life. I've
recently gotten back into it by resurrecting my Edmund Astroscan and
getting an ETX 60. I have not had a chance to use the 60 due to work and
weather, but I am looking forward to it.

On to the topic...my DEC circle was also mis-aligned. You are right
about the retainer. I was able to loosen the knob and fix it with two
levels (a bubble on the base and a small line level on the tube). I
first leveled the scope base on a flat surface, then I set the tube to
level using the small line level. After leveling the tube, I set the DEC
circle to zero and locked it down by snugging the knob firmly. I have
another problem with my scope though. My RA "circle" is loose on the
base. It moves around the base freely. I'm still too new to this to
really know what I'm doing, but it seems to me it should also be
oriented and/or glued down somehow. I've looked at photos in magazines
and brochures, trying to guestimate where zero should go, and they're
all different. To make matters worse, I've looked at other display
scopes at different stores and have only found one that was glued down.
I realize it probably does not matter, but I was just curious about it.

Nick P.
Mike here: Nice to hear that you got the DEC setting circle properly oriented. But as to the RA setting circle, when you think about it you'll realize that it is SUPPOSED to be loose. Right Ascension coordinates are fixed in the sky. But as the Earth both rotates around its axis and revolves around the Sun, what RA position is on the zenith at 9pm local time changes throughout the year. And since we see different constellations at different times of the year, you can see why the RA scale has to move. The only way it can be fixed is if the telescope clock drive runs continuously throughout the year and you probably don't do that. Fortunately, with the Autostar you are likely to not use the RA setting circle.

And: Thanks for the prompt reply. I guess I just need more experience.

Mike here: Not a problem.  We all started out learning from scratch somehow!  I read a lot of books on Astronomy when I was a teenager, then got a degree in Astrophysics, and now I read a lot of books and web sites and email!

Subject:	Lens cleaning
Sent:	Monday, February 19, 2001 15:15:35
From:	srife@swbell.net (Stan Rife)
I was looking at my objective lens and marveling at all of the dust and
"stuff" that is stuck to it already. I have only had my scope for a week
and have only done some observing 3 times. Has anyone tried just
spritzing some distilled water on the lense, with the OTA pointed down
so the water will run off, and then blowing the remainging water off
with some of the "canned" air that you buy at the office supply? This
would seem to be a fairly pristine way of getting the junk off the
lense. Would this do damage to the coating? I am thinking that the
canned air is pretty clean.

Stan Rife
Houston, TX
Mike here: Canned air can create moisture of its own due to condensation so use with caution. I doubt that your idea would work too well in practice. See the cleaning tips on the Buyer/New User Tips page.

Subject:	Re: tracking
Sent:	Monday, February 19, 2001 11:42:34
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Paul - without the AutoStar, the ETX 90 or ETX 125 MUST be put into
Polar mode; the standard hand unit will not allow tracking in
alt-azimuth, only horizontal and verticle slewing.  You can tilt the
telescope on the standard #883 tripod or legs (if you have) to achieve
Polar alignment.  Otherwise, to track sidereally in Alt-Az you MUST have
the AutoStar unit (which by the way has come down to $99 right now
through Meade dealers!)

It is misleading and I am glad you mentioned it; at the least, the table
tripod legs should be included with the basic unit at no extra charge to
allow for sidereal tracking.

Hope that answers your questions.

Let me know if I can help further.
Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    Dear Clay:
    Will the 125ETX track at sidereal rate in alt-az mode without the
    autostar?  The ad says sidereal rate in polar mode with the standard
    hand controller. It does not mention alt-az mode?  Just curious,
    thank you.

Subject:	Autostar / Focuser
Sent:	Monday, February 19, 2001 06:06:27
From:	ggrainger@prang.com (Garrett Grainger)
Bought the electric focuser for my 125 - Didn't work out of the box, but
a little disassemble/reassembly did the trick. The case was to tight and
prevented the gears from turning. Aside from the slow speed being a
little to fast, it's a million fold better over the flexifocus! But.....

The autostar doesn't recognize it in either AUX port. Have you heard
this before? My poor scope base and tripod are so covered with velcro
patches, there's not much room left.....

Again - great site. 

Garrett Grainger
Mike here: Don't recall any reports of it not being recognized. There was someone who had it plugged into the wrong port however, which explained why the Autostar didn't see it.

Subject:	etx bits
Sent:	Sunday, February 18, 2001 23:30:26
From:	kgambrell@kgambrell.eurobell.co.uk
sorry it took so long for me to send you this. Its just gone crazy here
wanted this to be an easy line to run no such luck. I hope you like the
site http://www.bernard-instruments.com All I do is try to answer
problems I find using the ETX. I have several solutions on the board to
improve the ALT clamp on the 90. The electric focuser works very well
just want to improve the software once I do it will be in the brochure.

Many thanks K, Gambrell

Subject:	Enjoy Your Site!
Sent:	Sunday, February 18, 2001 13:05:18
From:	w5ami@alltel.net (w5ami)
Just wanted to pass a note to you and tell you that I've really enjoyed
your website.  My brother Clay Sherrod told me about your site some time
back, and I've just now had time to devote a little to my hobby.  Like
Clay, I was really involved in astronomy many years back.  Had a 12-1/2"
F/6 Cave Astrola and observatory, but sold out long ago.  Recently got
an ETX-90 and looking forward to using it a lot.  I'm thinking about the
7" Mak or 12-1/2" cass now!

Thanks for the Good Work!

Brian Sherrod
Mike here: Welcome aboard! Your brother has been a big help with his valuable contributions!!

Subject:	cleaning
Sent:	Sunday, February 18, 2001 09:57:56
From:	CF57UK1@aol.com
hi mike 
being new to astronomy 
i have an etx125 is it ok to clean the front lens glass with a cloth?
and can i unscrew the cap off and clean the inside of this i do not mean
the inside two mirrors
Mike here: See the "Cleaning Optics" on the Buyer/New User Tips page. I don't recommend removing the corrector lens assembly for casual cleaning.

Subject:	ETX Deluxe Field Tripod Bubble Level
Sent:	Sunday, February 18, 2001 09:30:42
From:	P.Salter@virgin.net (Peter Salter)
I purchased one of the first ETX 90 - EC telescopes imported into the UK
and despite experiencing most of the problems reported on your web site
it has given me a great deal of pleasure.  Your site has been invaluable
in helping me to overcome some of the problems and so I thought that I
would share my experience regarding tripod bubble level.

Firstly, I always use the scope in alt/azimuth and in my experience,
levelling the scope is the single most important procedure that will
ensure reasonably accurate GOTO performance.  Until about a month ago I
thought that the bubble level on my tripod was hopelessly inaccurate and
used an eyepiece level ( a device marketed by BC&F, the UK importers of
Meade equipment see www.telescopehouse.co.uk) to level the optical tube
by adjusting the height of the individual tripod legs.  This gave me
acceptable GOTO performance but I noticed that the declination scale was
noticeably off zero and I put this down to poor initial alignment.  It
then dawned on me that I had relied on setting the tripod latitude
indicator to 90 degrees to level the tripod top.

To cut a long story short, I would suggest that those people who think
that their tripod bubble level is inaccurate might be surprised at how
accurate it is if they adopt the following procedure for setting the
telescope level:

1) With the telescope attached to the tripod, level the tripod by
adjusting the length of the legs and using the tripod bubble level as
the indicator.

2) Set the telescope tube to zero declination, as indicated by the
declination setting circle, and lock it.

3) With the eyepiece removed, either use an eyepiece level as previously
described or use a conventional level resting on top of the eyepiece
holder and orientated parallel to the telescope tube to indicate when
the optical tube is level. (Check the accuracy of your level by turning
it through 180 degrees horizontally, it should read the same in both

4) Slacken the tripod latitude adjuster and use this adjustment to level
the optical tube.

You should now be able to rely on the tripod bubble level for future
levelling, only needing to resort to the previous procedure if you
suspect that the latitude adjuster has moved or if you use the tripod
for polar aligning the telescope.

Regards        Pete Salter

Subject:	cable for laptop
Sent:	Sunday, February 18, 2001 05:38:32
From:	bgalxie@fwi.com (needham)
Was wondering if you have a fix for a laptop that has NO serial com
port,I just bought a IBM model I /series 1200/1300 550mhz computer. at
present i have a USB port . Is there a way to use this to run my EtX 125
with the latest version of the sky(Software Bisque)I was told there are
adaptures around but havenot found one yet.
Have gotten a lot of information from your web site,keep up the good work!
Mike here: Sometime back I did a web search for USB serial adapters and found several. Belkin has one for the PC; there are several for Macs. See: http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=1&Product_Id=20938

Subject:	etx focus mechanism
Sent:	Saturday, February 17, 2001 21:41:58
From:	david@br.monarch.net (Dave McKenzie)
I would like to obtain an ETX scope mainly for bird viewing and
photography. I would like to know if the focus is done by rotating the
barrel of the scope or with a focusing knob.  I have read that a knob
provides a sharper but slower focus.  From what I have read about the
electonic focus add-on, it is too fast even on slow setting.

Dave McKenzie
Brooks, Alberta, Canada
Mike here: Focusing on the ETX models is done with a knob.

Subject:	Re: Celestron Ultima Barlow
Sent:	Saturday, February 17, 2001 11:30:23
From:	justin@rockout.com (Justin E. Kagan)

Thanks for the information.  I actually spoke to tech support at
Celestron a couple days ago and they confirmed that the Ultima Barlow
often has that problem.  This wasn't the first time they'd heard about
this, and that it only had to be off by a few millionths of an inch to
cause problems.  He said I could return it to Celestron and wait 2-3
weeks for a replacement -- one which might even have the same problem.

When I asked if I could use a piece of fine emery cloth to remove some
of the anodizing on the inside, he said that would be fine, and it
wouldn't void the warranty since they recognize there is a manufacturing
issue with this particular Barlow lens.  I gave it a shot, but it only
made the problem WORSE and my eyepiece got stuck!  Fortunately my dad is
a photographer who has a knack for working with optics, so he managed to
get the thing unstuck. Then he took his Dremel tool, **lightly** buffed
out the entire inside of the barlow's sleeve (also removing a tiny burr
on the tapped hole for the set screw), and re-coated the inside with a
VERY small amount of flat black enamel.  Now it works like a charm.  The
fit is still tight - I can hear the air rush out when I put the eyepiece
in and make a "pop" when I pull it back out - but it's not TOO tight.

Apart from the issue with the fit, I am very pleased with it.  The
optical quality is excellent.  While it's annoying that it's not
parfocal with the Meade eyepiece, I can live with having to refocus in
exchange for better image quality.

Clear skies - Justin

----- Original Message -----
> I saw your question about the Celstron Barlow on Weasner's site. Others have
> had the same problem. Optically, the Celestron is one of the best, but it's
> barrel is machined to VERY tight tolerances, and some eyepiece barrels have
> difficulty going in or coming out. Check out the comments on Cloudy Nights
> (http://www.cloudynights.com/eyepieces/7eps.htm). Just wanted to let you
> know that you're not the only one with the problem.
> Clear skies,
> Daniel
And more on this problem:
From:	broadfoot@home.com (Alexander L. Broadfoot)
I also own a Celestron Ultima Barlow, but I do not experience the
problem that you noted.  However, when I purchased the barlow from one
of our local astronomy shops, the proprietor and I did discuss the issue
and I understand that it is a pretty common problem.  Frankly, I was
surprised when he asked whether my eyepieces would fit the barlow
(seeing as it is a 1.25" barlow), but he said that lots of buyers have
had problems fitting some of their eyepieces in the Ultima.  He also
said that Celestron was aware of the problem but wasn't planning a fix
any time soon.  He told me to bring it back if I did have problems, but
I have been lucky.  The only thing I notice is that some of my eyepieces
fit so tight that you can only slide them in slowly as the air pocket
created by inserting the eyepiece slowly expels itself around the
eyepiece.  If you can, take it back and try another (it is a great
barlow).  Good luck, and clear skies.

-Sandy Broadfoot

Subject:	etx-90ec meade telescope
Sent:	Saturday, February 17, 2001 07:55:42
From:	rchandru@vsnl.com (S.Ramachandran)
I was able to access your excellent web site thro' yahoo search for
meade etx telescopes.

My name is Ramachandran and I am from Chennai(formerly Madras) , the
prime metropolitan city in South India.

I am 55 years old and I have been an amateur astronomer since nmy teens
I have  a 7 inch reflector in my house for the last 25 years. I recently
 visited my son who is working with Microsoft in Bellevue, Washington
state. I came across the Meade etx90ec telescope and was impressed by
the opticals and the compact nature of the scope. I have definitely
decided to purchase one thro' my son.

The latitude of Chennai is 13 degrees North. Taking this into account
what is the minimum configuration(inclucing accessories) of ETX-90EC you
would reccomend in the light of your experience ? I read that at lower
latitudes there may be some problems with bottom end of the telesope
fouling with the tripod or table. BTW, yuor links to sites like special
discounts etc.' were very useful.  Looking forward to hear from you.

With kind regards,

Mike here: At lower latitudes you really need a sturdy tripod/wedge combination designed for low latitude use BUT only if you need to mount the ETX in a Polar (or Equatorial) mode. If you can live with an Alt/Az mounting and get the Autostar GOTO computer, you can use the ETX-90EC (and other Autostar-capable models) with the base flat and not tilted. There are some issues with Alt/Az mounting, such as when using the rear port and Finderscope when the ETX is pointed near the Zenith. So, depending upon how you plan to use the ETX you may or may not need a good tripod/wedge. As for additional accessories, most users quickly add a 2X Barlow Lens and perhaps another eyepiece. Some will add a 1X or "red dot" finderscope. You can find reviews of many of these accessories on this ETX site.

Subject:	GTO eyepieces
Sent:	Saturday, February 17, 2001 05:50:42
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	tierheimer@earthlink.net
I have had the opportunity to use the GTO eyepieces you are inquiring
about on several occasions and ultimtely purchased their 40mm wide field
Plossl and the "short" 2x achromatic barlow lens.  They are both superb
optical pieces, and the price is great considering the quality.  They
are fully coated and machined almost identical to those of Meade and
others (probably made in the same Japanese optical house).  My barlow
does NOT have quite the coatings that my Meade does, but actually
provides MUCH sharper images of planets and close double stars.

The 40mm is an outstanding low power, wide field eyepiece for my ETX
125, with slightly under 1 degree FOV; star images are wonderful and
there is a little spherical aberration around the extremed edges, but
nothing that was not expected in such a wide field design.

Overall, the GTO eyepieces are an exceptional value and can greatly
assist you in filling voids in your eyepiece collection without breaking
the bank!  The optics and the machines are to be commended; you would
not be sorry you invested in them.

I hope this helps.
Clay Sherrod
And more:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
No, I have not used the 4mm as I really have trouble with such a short
focal length; if you have never used a 4mm before, you might want to try
one out first before you invest.  I suggest using, say a 10mm or so and
a good 2x barlow to achieve nearly the same magnification.  This way,
you do not have to squeeze your face against the eyepiece and your eye
relief and comfort are maintained.  Also, with a 4mm you can rarely get
your eye close enough to enjoy the entire field of view!  You can,
however, with a longer focal length/barlow combo.

I HAVE used the GTO 6mm; my brother has one with his ETX 90 and it is
super....I couldn't believe it and I'll tell you why.  When we first
looked through it toward a bright light (testing for flaws) I noticed
that the perimeter was not sharp, but rather fuzzy;  I was concerned but
did not say anything until after our first test in his scope. WOW -
Saturn was fantastic, with great color and sharpness.  It took the power
very well, and sharp tiny stars were visible all the way to the edge.

They have good eyepieces....matter of fact I used my big 40mm Plossl
last night in Orion and just loved it!  (Also the barlow with my 12.4mm
Plossl for 310x of Saturn....just beautiful - that barlow from then is a
great investment).
Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    Thanks for the info.  Have you ever used their 4mm version?  That's
    the one I'm most considering right now.
And this update:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
You've made a great choice, both in a good eyepiece at a good price and
with a reasonable focal length as well; the 9mm would have been my first
recommendation; actually, with a barlow added in the future, you really
can get by for along time without any additional eyepieces; you will
like the 9mm; too much power is wasted anyway.  On good nights, you will
see just as much (probably more) with the 9mm than with high power that
really does nothing but magnify unsteady air.

Good luck and good skies!
Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    Being new to the whole telescope thing, I didn't realize that 4mm
    would be tough on the eye relief.  Thanks for clearing that up as
    I'll probably get a 9mm and go from there.

Subject:	Comet McNaught-Hartley
Sent:	Saturday, February 17, 2001 05:45:57
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I thought all of our ETX users might like to get a look at a reasonably
bright comet - "McNaught-Hartley" - which is very favorably placed in
our skies throughout the early morning hours.  It rises at about 11 p.m.
local time in the constellation of Hercules and reaches a great  65
degrees altitude above the EAST horizon by dawn, making it very
observable; details in the coma, or head, are visible in the ETX 90 and
125 at low powers.  This includes a distinct, but fuzzy nucleus, the
bright central component of the comet.  A very faint extension of a tail
is visible in a WNW direction from the comet's head, and this is best
seen telescopically at very low magnifcatins (i.e., use your 40mm!) 
Binoculars clealy show the comet and it is barely visible in the 8 x 25
Meade finderscope.

The comet is about 7th or 8th magnitude right now and should be viewed
before fading; for all the new additions to the Meade ETx family, this
is the first moderately-bright comet probably since your scopes came at

For Thursday, Feb. 23, 2001, the position of the comet in Hercules is: 
R.A. 17h 22'; DEC +36 degrees.

I would appreciate hearing from ETX viewers who spot the comet with
their impressions and photographs if possible.

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	ETX-80?
Sent:	Friday, February 16, 2001 20:46:30
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
I was in a science store today [can't remember the name] and saw an ETX
80 EC, that's right 80 it was a small Mak that looked identical to the
90 but noticeably smaller.  I've never heard of this scope before and
the Meade web site, of course doesn't mention it.  Why would Meade
release a scope of this size?


Subject:	Cases
Sent:	Thursday, February 15, 2001 18:45:10
From:	gbonner@home.com (Gerald bonner)
I just reviewed your site again, and found it as interesting and
informative as the first time.  You give a great service to the
Astronomy community.

Thanks to your site, my firm, The Case Place, www.caseplaceusa.com, has
received several orders for cases, particularly the Doskocil seal tite
all weather case.  Thank You.

We are available to discuss cases with any of your friends anytime.
Doskocil is our starting point in quality cases.  All our cases are hard
sided, airline approved cases and include manufacturers such as
Doskocil, Pelican, SKB, Americase and others, all at discounted prices.

Should any of your readers have questions regarding cases, have them e
mail us at Sales@caseplaceusa.com, or Gbonner@home.com.  We will be
happy to answer their questions with no obligations on their part.

Gerald Bonner
The Case Place
(817) 784-9138

Subject:	gto plossle eyepieces
Sent:	Thursday, February 15, 2001 18:14:59
From:	tierheimer@earthlink.net (Harley & Nicole Tierheimer)
I've just taken up this hobby and found your site today.  It's probably
the best ETX site I can expect to find.  Here's my question:  all I've
got is the standard 26mm lens that came with the scope and a Barlow
doubler.  I found a site that is selling some plossl's at a good price -
here's the link.


Have you ever heard of GTO eyepieces, and if so what's the word?

I appreciate you feedback and look forward to hearing from you.

Mike here: I seem to recall hearing of GTO eyepieces but don't remember any specifics.

Subject:	ISS with ETX90
Sent:	Thursday, February 15, 2001 08:29:01
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
I recommend viewing http://members.nbci.com/analemma/english/ccdgal.html

There are some excellent images taken with a Quick Cam on an ETX90.  The
ISS images are extraordinary.  Makes me proud to own an ETX!

Dennis Persyk
Hampshire, IL

Subject:	12Volt motorbike battery on 883 struts
Sent:	Thursday, February 15, 2001 06:13:13
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
I saw some of the traffic on the 883 tripod stability and vibration when
using the 125 or 90. I too had a similiar problem with my 125 until I
placed a small 12 volt battery on the struts that now runs my 125 and
autostar along with the electric focuser. All vibrations vanish! Someone
mentioned the center of mass - that is correct. By lowering it with this
heavy and small sealed lead acid  battery, that changes the dynamic
stability tremendously. It works, and has for me for the last 4 months!

Paul Boudreaux

Subject:	I gotta level with ya...
Sent:	Wednesday, February 14, 2001 14:50:30
From:	etx-90@pinefields.com (Autostar Software Review Project)
In taking the scope outside to train it, I put a nifty little two-axis
level (T-shape) on the deck for the base (where the RA clutch is) and
found a small surprise.  Even though the level on the tripod said it was
level, the two-axis level said "not hardly!"  I moved the level around
in case the deck's surface is off but kept seeing the same results.  I
assume, therefore, the two-axis level is telling the truth or something
close to it.

The two-axis level came from Home Depot and cost all of $3 with Pa.
sales tax.  I might even glue the thing in place once I check the level
against a 2' carpenter's level.

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I have found the same thing and I am glad you reported it; I had been
meaning to pass it on.  There is a pretty good discrepancy in three ETX
bases that I have used my level on!  That is a significant problem in my
viewpoint and I choose to use my tripod base or pier plate for level
rather than the ETX base.  The base (and the scope) has proved itself to
be prone to error so I assume the problem is with the level on the base
plate and not on the mounting surface.

By the way, be sure to check your LEVEL as well; I have about six small
shop levels and found that two of them are not reliable, with their
bubbles being easily "coached" in or out of position; I also tried
buying "off-the-shelf" RV levelers for a couple of my scopes and found
the same thing.  You can MAKE them read level even if they do not want

thanks for the report -
Mike here: I'm getting confused now. What is the source of this level variation? Tripod mount, rubber feet on the bottom of the ETX base, the couple of the rotating base with the fixed base?

And from Clay:

It has been my experience that using a tripod with a bubble level on it,
like the #883 or #887 (or my pier) that has a built in level - and that
level has been used to survey a true level of the tripod, the scope base
(the top of the turntable, where the RA clamp is, is not always level; 
My ETX 125 is slightly out of level w-e more than n-s when the stand it
is on is showing level;  you can place a small bubble level on the flat
surface and move around and see variations in a true level on some
bases; my ETX 90 is true, my brothers' is off pretty noticably, and my
-125 base (the "turntable") like I said, is off West to East slightly.

Of course...this assumes that the bubble level on the tripods are
From:	etx-90@pinefields.com (Autostar Software Review Project)
This explains something I saw while waiting this afternoon for the Sun
to stop playing hide & seek.  I trued up my tripod by putting a 2' level
under the OTA and parallel to it.  I then compared that with the little
"T" level I picked up the other day.  Not too surprisingly, they agreed
along the same axis.  So far, so good.  But when I turned the OTA 180 in
azimuth, the bubble in both levels wasn't centered! Rotating the scope
somehow knocked the scope out of level?  I dunno. The error is typically
about half a bubble but it's there.

That the deck of the base (where the RA clamp is) doesn't need to be
level, although I'd expect a long level to bridge over any minor
ripples, doesn't completely surprise me.  But that the level shifts when
rotating 180 degrees, that troubles me.  Is something out of true with
the axle?  Does half a bubble even matter?  Beats me!

Mike here: Well, back in the early Autostar days, perfect leveling was bad. It was only necessary to be close. But how close was always a question.

And from Clay:

You're experiencing the exact same thing I do when placing a level on
the turntable (so I've sort-of quit doing that!).  I, too, can get a
true reading in one orientation, but way off by rotating to another; it
is more important to have the OTA level to the ground of initial
alignment and the tripod TOP PLATE level than the scope turntable.  I do
not think the axle is bent, I simply believe that the plastic casting
for the turntable and/or top portion of the base is less than "true."  I
wouldn't worry too much with it; I think if you get it level in an
EST-WEST orientation, then leveling the OTA would take care of the
North-South leveling.  That's the way I would proceed each night.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	ETX questions
Sent:	Wednesday, February 14, 2001 07:58:21
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	ajc@christie.demon.co.uk
Concerning the magnetic field you are experiencing as you attempt to set
up your ETX, this does happen from many sources as Mike Weasner has
pointed out;  large masses of metal surfaces typically can offset
sensitive compasses as can the electric motors within a telescope base;
electric current nearby can likewise cause flux disruptions.

Although a compass is good to generalize your pointing toward north, it
is not a good idea to use the NORTH reading for polar alignment with
your ETX, particularly in Scotland, where you magnetic offset (from true
celestial north) is particularly significant.  Although you can get a
"jump" on setting up, say when it is still daylight, with the compass,
always use Polaris as it becomes visible (about 35 minutes after sunset
usually in twilight) to reckon true north.

On another note, your concern with offsetting the weight of a camera,
whether prime focus or piggyback on the small ETX telescopes is a very
wise one, for two reasons:

1) your telescope needs to maintain a degree of its "engineered balance"
(it is intentionally a bit front heavy to torque the telescope motor
response) in order to not strain the drive motor(s) and to allow for
proper sidereal tracking of the telescope/camera combination; and,

2) without proper weight offset, you will indeed have difficulty locking
down both (or either) or either axes of your telescope as you indicated.
 I usually correspond with at least one person each week who has broken
off the azimuth (RA) clamp, or clamp the Altitude (DEC) knob so tightly
to engage them they they no longer function.  By adding a proper
offsetting balance, you DO NOT need to tightend ANY MORE than you would
without the camera attached.

The Meade dealer Scopetronix makes a wonderful combination piggyback
camera adapter and counterweight assembly; this is a well machined ring
(looks great on the scope and does not scratch) that comes with four (4)
weights that can be attached to the camera plate on the bottom of the
ETX for piggyback offset, OR on the piggyback ring itself to use as a
tube counterweight set for prime focus attachment!  I use one all the
time and it is super.  The weights can be "stacked" in any combination
of the four to allow exact balancing.

Enjoy your ETX and give us some feedback so we can post on the site when
those astrophotos start rolling in!

Clear skies...
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Electric focuser for ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, February 14, 2001 07:29:55
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Ranier -
My electric focuser is, likewise, much too fast for my liking and I have
studied ways to alter its speed via reducing the direct current from the
handbox (or from the control panel if that is where you have it plugged
in).  However, I have spoken with others who say that the #1247 and
similar focusers do not respond well to speeds less than the slowest
speed that you already have!  That is unfortunate; indeed, I have noted
that there is NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever (if you use the Autostar key pad,
from "1" [supposedly the slowest] to "9" [definitely the speed of
light]) when you attempt to slow below a setting of "5".  If you are
using the standard handbox for the ETX EC, this corresponds to that
handbox setting of about "2".  By the way, I have checked the "slow"
speed on the little hand control that comes with the focuser and that of
"5" and below on the Autostar, and the speed is identical; it makes no
difference what button you push.

It seems you have "fast" and "very fast" on the control, and the handbox
settings are merely for convenience between them.  Those who HAVE
adapted their focusers to a slower rate have experienced VERY erratic
focusing, speeding up and slowing down unpredictably with "jumps"
throughout.  That is the main drawback I wanted to inform you of.

Good luck..if you are successful in slowing down this runaway train,
please get back with us and show us how you did it....we all need a good
tip on this one!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	focus knob blues
Sent:	Wednesday, February 14, 2001 07:17:12
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	hallyhb@snowcrest.net
Sorry to hear about your frustration experience with the little ETX
focus knob.  We seem to have all been there.

The wrench that comes with the electric focuser is to blame; it is a
cheap import and strips every time; the one that comes with the ETX (for
what?) is good and is the only one that can get the knob off!  (a little
late to be telling you this!)

If you still have not gotten it off, try using a drill with a bit
slightly larger than the reamed-out allen head, forcing the bit tightly
against the screw and REVERSING THE SCREW out of place.  I know on
ETX-er who heated the knob for about 10 minutes using a sandwich bag
filled with boiling water which expanded the knob (aluminum) faster than
the screw (steel) and used the reverse drill to get it out.

Anyway, once you get the electric focuser on, you will take a deep sign
and realize that it was all worth it...I think that's why they make it
so difficult!

Good luck; you'll be glad you spent the time.
Clay Sherrod
And a reply:
Thanks for your reply to my message.  Well, I finally did get it off.  I
ended up cutting the thing off with an emery wheel connected to my
drill!! It took a long time, but it worked.  The work, frustration, and
anxiety were all worth it.  The electric focus attachment is the only
way to go.  This is probably the best addition you can make to the

Why doesnt Meade change their design for the focusing knob.  There is
absolutely no need to make that screw so small and install it with such
force.  Oh, well I am glad I am done with it.

Again, thanks for your interest.

Subject:	Weighing Down a tripod for increased stability
Sent:	Wednesday, February 14, 2001 06:16:19
From:	etx-90@pinefields.com (Autostar Software Review Project)
While the Meade Deluxe Tripod is fairly stiff, there's still some
looseness in it.  Particularly when I set up my ETX-90 (set up in polar
mode) on a cement sidewalk, the scope was "lively".  Nearby footsteps
caused images to dance and tapping the scope caused "ringing", too.  A
friend suggested using carpet protectors (round plastic disks with
pointy bits on the bottom) but the results were ambiguous; maybe they
helped but not by much.  Placing 5 pounds of lead shot on the accessory
tray between the tripod's legs, however, stopped much of the lively
motion.  The weight pre-loads the legs, taking out up much of the
looseness in joints and pulling the leg tips firmly against the ground.

While anything that adds 5 lbs can be used, I recommend using a bag of
lead shot for a couple of reasons.  First, lead's density makes a
smaller, more managable package.  Second, although 5 lbs landing on
something such as someone's foot is still 5 lbs, shot's flexibility
avoids some of the risks from a solid block landing on the same
unfortunate target.  The best source for a bag of lead shot is to shop a
local scuba diving shop.  Bags of lead shot are used as ballast for
diving and are commonly available.


Subject:	Problem with Celestron Ultima Barlow
Sent:	Tuesday, February 13, 2001 22:03:51
From:	justin@rockout.com (Justin E. Kagan)
First off I'd like to tell you what a fantastic web site you run.  It's
really first-rate and has helped get me up to speed since I got my
ETX-90EC a few weeks ago.  I had a telescope when I was a kid, so this
isn't exactly new to me, but a lot has changed technologically since

After reading many comments about the quality of barlow lenses, I
decided to purchase the Celestron Ultima Barlow 2X, mainly because it
boasts an apochromatic 3-element design , while the Meade #126 is only a
2-element achromat.  My only problem now is that the stock 26mm eyepiece
which came with the ETX won't fit into the barlow!  Is this common?  Has
anybody else experienced/reported this problem?

Thanks and keep up the great site.

- Justin
Mike here: If the Celestron Barlow is for 1.25" eyepieces your 26mm should fit. Check for metal burrs on outside of the eyepiece tube or the inside of the Barlow Lens.

Subject:	ETX-90RA Schematic
Sent:	Tuesday, February 13, 2001 19:07:25
From:	rarland@earthlink.net (Richard Arland)
I have been wandering around your site and others that deal with the EXT
scopes but I've not found a schematic diagram of the RA motor control in
the ETX-90RA base. Any ideas on where or who might have a copy of this
schematic that I could get my hands on?

73 Rich K7SZ
Mike here: Well, Meade has one but you're not likely to get a copy of that!


Also, is there such a thing as a "Service Manual" for the 90RA? Many
times in ham radio we can get service manuals for our radio gear. I
don't suppose that Meade would allow us mere mortals to have such
things...being of the Great Unwashed and all.

Rich Arland
Mike here: I suppose you suppose correctly!

Subject:	Focusing Knob Removal
Sent:	Tuesday, February 13, 2001 17:24:38
From:	hallyhb@snowcrest.net (Hal Bonillas)
I just purchased a electric focusing device for my ETX-125.  I am having
the same problem that many others have had.  The #@! focusing knob wont
come off!  The hex wrenches could not remove it.  The screw ended up
being rounded off and cannot be remove by any means I am aware of.  I
then attempted to drilling the thing off.  That did not work either.  I
have even considered a hack saw!!  Does anyone else have any ideas?  I
am considering taking it to a machine shop and have them remove it.  I
would appreciate any suggestions you might have to offer.  By the way, I
really appreciate this site.  I have found it very helpful.
Mike here: Be certain you are using the correct one. It is small and goes way down inside the opening where the hexscrew is. If you use one too large you don't get it inserted into the hexscrew.


Thanks for the advice.  I used the correct allen key.  I plan on getting
an emery wheel tomorrow and grinding a slot in the knob.  I can then
insert the tip of a screwdriver and twist the thing off.  If I need a
replacement I will order one.  Again, thanks for the swift reply.

Subject:	Strong mounts and Pleiades recheck
Sent:	Tuesday, February 13, 2001 05:12:15
From:	edutton@infi.net (Ells Dutton)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)

> I'll give you two points on the pier and a hundred on the epoxy (tough
is sexy, right?).

Okay, so my pier isn't too versatile, but it was my own design,
fortunately starting with an old cast iron Edmund pedestal, and it is
STRONG (wife found the bird feeder.)  Sure wish I had allowed for the
option to mount Alt/Azi, like you.  Could redo, in fact, just decided I
will. There are some southern stars the Polar mode won't allow and some
of the those northern objects about break my neck.

I suppose every ETX-125 could benefit from the mount brace I've attached
to mine, see previous photo.  DFM engineering (maybe you know them, see
S&T add) makes quite a point that that is the one place the greatest
strength in an equatorial mount is needed, but it is the weakest on the
125.  Having had mine all apart, I concluded that there will never be a
reason to have to access the inside of that left arm so the epoxy brace
will not interfere, unless someone wants to disassemble into as many
original pieces as possible.  (might not do much for the warranty
though, but mines past, now)


I rechecked the Pleiades limiting mags, and sure enough, concentrating
on higher magnification helped, I used 300x (S. Plossl 6.7mm, and a good
night.) I could hold the 13.5 star in view most the time.  The 13.6 was
there but I was specifically looking for it.

I understand that assigned stellar magnitudes do vary with who does the
meas. and what catalog they are listed in.  I thought I'd look up the
Pleiades test stars in the Hubble Guide Star Catalog (Sky Map) and
compared to your chart. Did this after all my field checks.  The results
follow. (the GSC gives a magnitude error of between 0.30 and 0.40 so not
sure why they give the second decimal place.)

Sherrod          H-GSC

10.8                10.12
11.1                10.62
11.3                10.62
11.7                11.02
12.4                11.54
13.2                 12.57
13.5                 12.89
13.6                 13.03
14.4                 13.70
14.8                 14.19

Seems like GSC uses a difference reference?
Not sure of the significance of this but thought I'd pass it along, in
case you don't have.

Clear and steady nights,
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Ells - Great comparisons on the stars!  Thanks.  I believe, and I will
check at the observatory today as I have to go up there anyway, that the
GSC uses Mp method of star magnitude, which is a photo-sensitivity
scale.  This means that the star magnitudes are rated at photographic
B-V (thus, spectrally differentiated) values RATHER THAN VISUAL.  This
would account for the discrepancy, and I believe that this is what we're
seeing.  The magnitudes from the chart I circulated are for VISUAL (V,
or Mv) only and are corrected for spectral responses to the human eye
and not photographic emulsions.

Nonetheless, your double checking on the mag. 13.5 star is appreciated;
I had no doubt after you told me (and I also spotted it on a moon-lit
night) that you were seeing it.  Also, the "13.6" counts....does really
not make any difference if you "know its there" or not.  You still saw
it.  The only reason I want observer typically not to look at the
reference charts is because of bias:  "...you know I think I DO see that
14.8 star after all....yep, I'm sure I do."

By the way.....I stick by my preference of my high performance ETX 125: 
I have three reports in from 8" users (Schmidts), two Meade and one
Celestron, and all only one year old more or less....limiting magnitude:
 13.2 best, 12.9 worst on good conditions with no moon in sky.  I told
you these scopes are good....

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	question
Sent:	Monday, February 12, 2001 10:41:31
From:	jacqueline_o_nei@hotmail.com (Jacqueline O'Neill)
First off, I would like to thank you for creating such an informative,
fun, and interesting website....A+++!!!

I have a little situation, I'm 19 and wanting to start a career in
Astronomy... especially studying the planets atmospheres and the planets
themselves. Is there a specific career name for that? But here in
Florida, its hard. Im on a budget..(college students would relate with
me regarding this:) and I haven't found any good schools or courses for
them.  I was wondering how to get REALLY started with this career and Im
interested in purchasing the ETX 90EC, would that be a good starter
telescope???? I've heard so many praises about it:) Thank you so much
for your time and consideration of this e-mail.

Sincerely yours,
Mike here: The ETX-90EC makes a greater starter and keeper telescope! As to planetary atmospheres, that was something I planned to get into when I was going to school. I started out in Astrophysics (BS degree) and went to grad school to get a Masters in Meteorology. My intention was to combine my love of astronomy and weather into a career in planetary atmospheres study. But the Air Force got me into flying jets and so developed another love. I really can't help find a college that gets you want you want but Arizona comes to mind.


mike, mike, mike...i'm in that same situation, Meteorology is my other
love. As long back as I can remember, I was always boggled by weather
and even in High School, I took a full year course 'Astronomy and
Meteorology"...(a lot of calculations involved though:), but thanks for
your reply and keep up the good website work!!!


p.s. just a question, does the ETX 90 come with the table tripod or does
it vary with the retailer?? thanx:)
Mike here: The original model ETX came with the tabletop tripod legs but they were made optional when the ETX-90EC was released. Since the ETX-90EC can be used in Alt/Az mode with an (optional) Autostar, it made sense to make the legs optional.

Subject:	Electric Focuser #1247, Speed
Sent:	Monday, February 12, 2001 09:52:40
From:	rainer.nothdurft.rn@germany.agfa.com
First of all: Great site. Found a lot of tips and tricks.

But ...
Does anybody know, ho to reduce the "microfine" speed of the electric
focuser? Its much too fast. I'm not that bat in soldering, but I don't
want to invent the wheel again (not sure, whether this makes sense in
English, ist does in German) So, if there is a way, please let me know!

Thanks in advance
Rainer Nothdurft, Germany
Mike here: There have been reports that the slow speed is too fast. See the "Meade Electric Focuser Mod" on the Tech Tips page.

Subject:	Keeping Eyepieces Warm
Sent:	Monday, February 12, 2001 06:49:00
From:	etx-90@pinefields.com (Autostar Software Review Project)
I asked my buddy Geoff for a hot tip (pun intended) on keeping EP's from
fogging up.  "You're using that tray, right?  Forget it.  Put the EP's
in their containers and stick 'em in your pockets when you're not using
them.  If the EP stays slightly warmer than ambient temp, they'll stay
clear longer."  It works.


Subject:	sexy and not
Sent:	Sunday, February 11, 2001 16:24:41
From:	edutton@infi.net (Ells Dutton)
I vote my pier sexier than Clay's (note matching bird feeder in the bg)
but easy to see that my scope isn't.

The right-angle the brace epoxied on the left upright of the scope yoke
is a result of repairs but really stabilizes the OTA.  The combination
gives practically no vibration on focusing at  > 200x, but my image
shift (unrelated) is getting annoying.  Note also the solution to the
dangling flexi-focus that a number of people have complained about.

Clay, you are missing a dew shield, protects the finish in storage.

Pier Pier


Ells - I'll give you two points on the pier and a hundred on the epoxy
(tough is sexy, right?).  I KNEW I forgot something to put on my ETX! 
Now I've got to go and buy a dad-gummed DEW SHIELD!  Darn!

Subject:	ETX-90EC FOR SALE
Sent:	Sunday, February 11, 2001 14:48:09
From:	RandyMcKnelly@cs.com
I have the following for sale:

PAID $1300 12/99
ASKING $1000

FYI, I will be using the proceeds to buy accessories for my LX200,10". 
Are there any good LX200 web sites?

Thanks   Randy McKnelly
Mike here: For LX200 sites, check MAPUG.com.

Subject:	More general comments
Sent:	Sunday, February 11, 2001 14:40:47
From:	etx-90@pinefields.com (Autostar Software Review Project)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
[Clay sent two notes under this Subject: that are closely related. I've
pulled them together into one quoted message.  - RBE]

It really is hard to objectively say how much better things were "back
then" compared to "how it is now" but I do think that more people work
to a standard of "good enough is good enough".  But it's not a
unilateral shift in work quality.  A number of things combine to let
this become the accepted standard.  One can argue that it's the fault of
stockholders wanting every last possible penny of dividend (so the
companies cut costs past the bone), the fault of a failing school
system, and on and on and on.  But I'll lay some of this situation at
the feet of those who accept that work product without saying "this just
doesn't get it".

Think about it.  How many people send back a really bad meal, return an
inferior product, or send back a poorly written report?  And how many
people who do say "this is just flat not acceptable" are admired or at
least understood for standing up and saying "no"?  If an inferior
product is accepted, then it's easy to assume the work is, in fact,
acceptable and not just tolerated.

So, what's all of this got to do with ETX's?  My point is that I have an
item that doesn't meet major parts of its basic design objectives, at
least as it now stands.  Pointing is unreliable, at least to the level
of the claims made.  The scope moves when it isn't told to move and it
moves, without my input, in directions that hinder simple visual

If I had bought a telescope from Tasco and it didn't work well, I'd at
least understand I bought a product from a company that doesn't claim to
be a superior optics producer.  But Meade presents itself as a maker of
superior equipment.

We've already gone through chapter and verse on at least two routine
problems that degrade the telescope's functionality (snap-back slewing
and un-commanded two-axis slewing).  Putting aside the issues that
Tonite's Jewels uncovered, in my experience the 2.1Ek firmware is still
seriously flawed.

The debacle with A2.3, and there really is no kinder description for
that release, again says there was a serious lapse in quality control.
A2.3 should never have reached the general public, period.  If
something's on the web site without a warning about suitablity or
reliability, I'd call it in general release.

The problems with the ETX and Autostar manuals that are described below
further underscore that Meade too often presents an inferior work
product as a finished (in the sense of "in general release for sale")

My experience to date with Meade Customer Support is that it's a black
hole; reports and requests for information or clarification go in but
nothing comes back out.

What I don't know at this point, except in a very limited way, is how
common any of these problems and issues are with a wide range of ETX
owners.  If my problems are typical, then Meade is potentially in deep
trouble.  At some point people start to say "I'm gonna buy one of those
telescopes" and run into people who'll say "I owned one and it was
trash".  Sometimes word of mouth reputations don't move very far or
fast, particularly in a very limited and diffuse potential customer
base, and sometimes it moves like wildfire.

If, on the other hand, my experience is unique, frankly, it's my tough
luck.  Meade won't get rich off of me but neither are they going to feel
the pinch.  Not every customer is a repeat buyer.

At this point I need to assess the problems in terms of how common they
are, figure out how to get Meade to listen, and fix the problems or sell
the scope as a bad idea and money wasted.

A sidebar on how remarkable the ETX is in terms of "we have technology
that pros would have died for 15 or 20 years ago, but COULD NOT HAVE
even paid for at ANY price, much less $499!"  That's true in all
respects but a) hey, that's what we have progress for and b) it's only
remarkable if the product really delivers on the promise.  Sometimes
progress gives us 8-track cartridge machines and sometimes we get CD's. 
Right now, I'm hearing the sound of tape heads clunking around in the
middle of Led Zepplin's "Stairway to Heaven"...


 > Rick - The LX 200 Meade scopes have a very, very good reptutation, but that
 > is not to say they are not without flaws; I think anytime you get a
 > sophisticated instrument like the LX or ETX for that matter, there will
 > inherent problems.
 > You mentioned something that I think is the crux of the problem with the
 > Meade telescopes:  THE INSTRUCTION MANUALS, both for Autotstar and ETX
 > scopes are pitiful; whoever wrote them knew the product, but did not
 > remember that the CONSUMER does NOT know the product!
 > Another thought regarding the complex problems that we are experiencing with
 > the Meade ETX or any other GO TO telescope on the market:  Just 12 years ago
 > in professional astronomy I would never have dreamed that such technology
 > would be available outside of the huge Soviet and Kitt Peak alt-az
 > computerized scopes, much less to AMATEURS for under $500!  Think about
 > that....we have technology that pros would have died for 15 or 20 years ago,
 > but COULD NOT HAVE even paid for at ANY price, much less $499!
 > To me, that sort-of puts it back on a more level playing field!
 > Just a thought -
 > Clay Sherrod
 > -----Original Message-----
 > From: Autostar Software Review Project (etx-90@pinefields.com)
 > >It is precisely for this reason that I expect Meade products to be a
 > >cut above the competition.  The EXT-90 manual is, compared to the
 > >NexStar manuals, pretty sketchy and not a little misleading in some
 > >regards.  Still, I can see where having dealt with experts for so
 > >long, remembering how to write to novices would be a problem.  But
 > >that's not my central complaint with Meade.  Their product, as I
 > >experience it, is simply not reliable on staying pointed where I point
 > >it.  This failure isn't over a span of let's say a few tens of minutes
 > >but over the span of a few tens of seconds at the most and often less.
 > >
 > >I've said it before and I'll say it again: based on my experience with
 > >this ETX, I can't see dropping the cost of an LX-200 on Meade without
 > >a lot of proof the same problems won't show up all over.
 > >
 > >Cheers,
 > >   Rick
 > >
 > >etx@me.com writes:
 > > > Clay Sherrod (sherrodc@ipa.net) said on 2/10/2001 04:28:
 > > >
 > > > >I WILL go back to what I have been stressing is Meade's greatest
 > problem:
 > > > >the NOVICE consumer, who does not understand what is happening with a
 > > > >defective scope and what to do; they are trying to LEARN
 > ASTRONOMY.....not
 > > > >be a mechanic!  If it were not for Mike's ETX site, there would be a
 > LOT of
 > > > >people in the dark.
 > > >
 > > > That's an excellent point.  Meade has been in the high-end telescope
 > > > business for a long time now.
 > >
 > Rick, unfortunately you've made some very good points, but let me toss out
 > one observation that - regrettably is fact in today's world.
 > No matter WHAT you buy today, it seems that there are problems when you get
 > it home, from unpacking and finding missing components, to lousy instruction
 > manuals, to parts that don't fit and an end-product that does not work as it
 > should.
 > This is "life in America."  Am I proud of that?  Nope.
 > Should Meade be proud of it?  No way.  But as long as consumers just "give
 > up" and quit pointing out the errors of their ways (griping), nothing at all
 > will be changed.  So....without OUR help in slaying dragons, how many
 > "Michelles" are going to get burned?
 > Regarding customer support, we are dealing with people who are earning a
 > paycheck and don't give a rat's behind about your previous night in the
 > freezing cold; not just Meade - every customer support group it seems you
 > call today.
 > "Life in America....."  Am I proud.  Not in the least.  But at least I have
 > the right and the opportunity to voice my opinion.  In my case, knowing that
 > my opinion may not matter, I understand that UP FRONT and chose to correct
 > my problems (with the ETX) myself.
 > Frankly....based on what I've seen, I can do a BETTER job and have a much
 > finer product by providing my "own warranty."
 > Ultimately, because I have the freedom and capability of creating a phoenix
 > from the ashes, I have exactly what I expected in the first place....only I
 > did not come about with that product the way I first expected.  For it to
 > come to me from the factory the way that I ultimately was required to MAKE
 > it.
 > "Life in America."
 > Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Siebert eyepieces
Sent:	Sunday, February 11, 2001 10:24:40
From:	JRGriggs01@aol.com
I've been visiting your site for about three months since finding out
about it from members of the Meade4504Telescopes Group that I formed
back in September.  So many of the questions that our beginner members
pose get answered by a simple reference to one of your site's pages. 
Thank you for such a vaulable resource.

One personal question:  I noted in your eyepieces section, reviews of
numerous commercial eyepieces.  Nowhere do I find any references to
Siebert Optics (Harry Seibert) eyepieces.  Harry has been very active in
our Group, and I have ordered several of his eyepieces.

Do you or any of your affiliates have any critiques on Siebert's
eyepieces?  I'd appreciate any feedback you can provide.

Regards, and keep up the great work!

Jim Griggs
Meade4504Telescopes Group Moderator/Owner
Mike here: I searched the entire site and only found one reference to Seibert eyepieces (March 1999 Feedback) and it was a question like yours. So, once you get eyepieces, would appreciate a review.

Subject:	limiting magnitude
Sent:	Sunday, February 11, 2001 09:49:55
From:	edutton@infi.net (Ells Dutton)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)

Finally got my first chance to try out the Pleiades limiting magnitude
test last night.  Had about 1 hour to work with before moon rise. Seeing
was better than normal for here, about 7 out of 10, but had been hazier
than unusual during the day plus we had several inches of fresh snow
brightening up the sky a bit (inversion).  Even though the scope was
stored in an unheated garage, it did not quite get to equilibrium before
the moon came up.  I followed your guidelines and had only peeked at the
"answer" sheet a few days earlier to note that there were a lot of stars
not on the test blank.  I spent an entire hour using every trick I know
to view dim objects and came away a little concerned that I had only
plotted 9 additional stars.  Much to my surprise I  got every one that
you identified down to and including the 13.5 but missed the 13.6.   I
had the 13.2 slightly misplaced and did plot one star where there is
nothing on the chart.  I had another one placed near the 14.4,14.8 pair,
which has to be a mistake, and two more had been plotted outside the
boundaries of your area.  The dimmest that I saw continuously and
steadily, sufficiently say to monitor an asteroid occultation, was down
to the 12.4.  The others came and went with averted vision, imparted
motion and whatever else.  Doubt if anything dimmer than about 12.5
would contribute to any interesting views of any deep sky object,
although the 12.4 was obvious and easy.  I suppose limiting magnitude as
a specification of performance is a bit subjective depending on what is
considered "visible" and individual situations. Equipment used was the
ETX-125 with a Meade UWA 14 mm e.p., the site elevation is 5300 ft ASL
35 miles northwest of Denver. I tried some different eyepieces and
Barlow combinations to considerably higher power and did not pick up
anything more, although that is not definitive.

Of course now I know the star field, but will try again for
repeatability and will try for the 13.6, not fair according to your
guidelines.  Thanks for the test and I'd be eager to hear about other's
experiences with it.

Sounds like you have taken care of the timing and tracking problems of a
week ago.

By the way, I did find a copy of your book that I should have it in a
few weeks.  If we meet a Mike's star party, I'll need to get an
autograph on it.

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Ells, good to hear from you -
After our last discussion and "dusting off" my old charts, I too
attempted the limiting magnitude tests on the Pleiades, even with the
nearly full moon rising in the east.

I was able, just like you, to barely hold the mag. 13.5 star steady over
a long period of time at 256x (15mm Plossl + barlow).  Lower power did
not show it at all.  We had a Meade 2080 Schmidt Cass. alongside that
reached magnitude 13.2 only in glimpses....so my overall evaluation of
the ETX 125 optics stands pretty proud.

The spurious stars that you were observing are "really there," and not
part of the Pleiades cluster and therefore not used for limiting
magnitude (i.e., spectral variations) purposes.  Good you marked them
anyway....proves that you are an honest man!

I have heard from several people already with a wide variety of scopes
(MIKE - it is amazing how many non-ETX users with other telescopes are
using your site!!) with their results, and most are fitting pretty well
within the norm.  I really hope to get enough data to publish a curve of
the results to reduce to new formulae that applies to TODAY'S technology
in optical design!

Clay Sherrod
And from Ells:
Thanks for the response.  I find the concept of limiting magnitude being
somewhat dependent on magnification to be interesting.  Gives those big
aperture hounds something to think about.

SFrom:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Hi again, Ells -
The magnification factor in limiting magnitude is related to CONTRAST,
which will increase the eye's ability to discern the subtle.  There is a
limit at which time contrast no longer increases vs. sky brightness
(that is what you overcome by increasing magnification); once you have
reached that, magnification is no longer effective.  Smaller telescopes
do have a "mathematical" advantage over larger ones when factoring in
theoretical limit to magnification and air penetration (resolution
through adverse seeing conditions) with the smaller telescope not
subject to disruption of the point source light path under indentical
magnifications of larger telescopes whose light path of the point of
light are intermittently interupted by zones of unsteady and moving air.

Be in touch -

Subject:	Re: Can "Thank you" be enough..??
Sent:	Sunday, February 11, 2001 05:15:54
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Wayne
Wayne - 
I can't thank you enough for your very kind message.

People ask me why I spend so much time doing what I do?  Getting a
message like yours sums it all up...it doesn't get any better.

Thanks, and keep up the great work on the 4504 site...getting great

P. Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Wayne
    the excitement i get when i see a new tip you post at Mikes site is
    hard to explain..but i shall try..

    ...its not just that i know i'm going to learn something valuable
    and useful..something i can use to enhance my understanding and
    enjoyment of my 4504..and the wonders i find by pointing it at my
    little patch of the sky..not just that.

    ...or, that i find myself smiling and nodding as i read your
    narration..comfortable and warm..with a friendly..optimistic tone..
    so..so rare in today's world

    or even that i will find a new lesson to explore when i find myself
    staring up at an increasingly familiar night sky..

    all that yes.. but more

    This 50-something brain is working again..fed by the enrichment you
    share..the inspiration you continue to provide and the curiosity of
    finding dreams long forgotten..gently woken by your wisdom.

    ..so i ask, can a Thank You.. be enough..??

Subject:	Re: Question please....
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 19:20:09
From:	bobc1111@home.com
Mike, You have both, correct??  Do you still use your 90 or 125 or have
you graduated to the LX200 16.
Mike here: Yep, have the ETX-90RA (the original model ETX, purchased in 1996) and the ETX-125EC. For ease of setup (lighter, faster) I tend to use the -90 more than the -125. However, for more serious observing or to impress visitors (like last night when we had a party and there were viewing opportunities through holes in the clouds), I tend to use the ETX-125EC for its higher powers and brighter images. Couldn't lift the LX200 16" but do I wish... Site Pledges haven't been that good!


Thanks for your reply and suggestions.
This was a Christmas gift from my wife, and she got an exceptionally
good price (Christmas special) from the Discovery Channel store.  The
ETX90EC and the #883 Deluxe field tripod, for $499.  But since I had not
taken it out of the box yet, and did not fully realize that what you
were getting with either the 90 or 125, was just the basic system.  To
enjoy all the "power", etc. you needed to purchase the "add on's". 
Something I had over looked. While reading the "reviews" someone would
say something like "it begged for higher power and at 350X it was
stunning".  This led me to believe I would have this with my basic
system.  Now that the truth be known, rather then up grade to the 125, I
think I will stick with the 90 and add the extras. This will be more
inline with what I want to spend at this time. Since you are the "90
pro", besides the Autostar which I purchase already, what options,
eyepieces etc., would you suggest I get?  Electric Focuser sounds nice??

You say you were outside last night "showing off".  Unless I just
skimmed over it while reading through your "site", I never saw were you
are located? I live in a suburb of Salt Lake City, UT., too cold and
snowy here to give it a try now. Or maybe because I am 57 and just don't
WANT to be cold.

Mike here: Like many hobbies, you can never have enough add-ons! But there are some to be considered before others. But which comes first will depend upon how you want to use your scope. Options are: alternative finderscope, eyepieces, Barlow Lens, filters, camera mounts, books, and astronomy software. When I purchased the ETX in 1996 I immediately added a couple of filters (little used), the Meade 9.7mm eyepiece (frequently used), the #126 Barlow Lens (2X; occasionally used), and the Meade softsided carrying case (little used now as I have a better case). See the Buyer/New User Tips page for some other thoughts on accessories. I live in Southern California, between Celestron and Meade.

And this:

Sorry to take up so much of your time. But what you say below is just
the information I have been looking for. Being a "virgin" it is hard to
wade through the "tech" info to find the basic's.
I am originally from Arcadia, Calif.  And spent 13 years as a field
service engineer traveling the western states, based out of So. Cal. 
(Injection Molding) So even though I am envious of your weather, I am
not of the traffic.

Subject:	Plastic as protective covering
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 19:11:43
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
Dennis -
Good comments.  You are right.  We did a study through the Carnegie
Foundation concerning "acid fog" of all things, forming in dew and frost
in river valleys close to paper mills and similar acid-emitting plants. 
It was unbelievable the acid content, since a particle of fog requires a
coagulant particle around which to condensate....in this case, a
particle of chemical debris!

However, I am still leary of putting plastic tightly around a telescope
for the simple reason that many people are prone to leave it on there
too long; by nature there are two problems here:  1) plastic of all
types (as you I am sure are aware) also emits gaseous debris from a very
slow decomposition process through oxidation; this gas is harmful when
allowed to accumulate on optical (or even painted!) surfaces; and 2) 
when tight plastic is finally equalized with any trapped moisture within
and the ambient air temperature OUTSIDE begins to rise, the condensation
begins to form INSIDE the plastic and can be harmful to mechanical and
optical components, just as you mention with the trapping of moisture
through small openings throughout the tube and mounting assembly.

I guess, what BOTH of us are saying is:  Be CAREFUL and aware of the
damage that moisure and air impurities can do to a delicate optical

Great to hear from you, and your comments are welcome anytime!

Best skies for you-
Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Dennis Persyk (dpersyk@worldnet.att.net)
    Thank you for all the great tips and information you supply to Mike's site!
    2) In winter months, ONLY IF moisture HAS NOT formed on your lens,
    cap it up securely (do not overtighten the lens cap) and bring
    indoors with all optics covered; condensation will immediately form
    on the outside of the telescope and mount; don't worry about this
    right now;

    I'd suggest putting a thin plastic bag over the scope while it is
    outside to entrap the low-dewpoint air inside.  Then there will be
    no condensate when the scope it brought inside. On the ETX90-EC,
    there are several non-visible (from exterior) gaps around the forks
    where outside air can communicate with the inside optics.  This is
    covered on the Jordan Bessling (sp?) site.  Hence water vapor can
    find its way inside.

    I used to think that condensate was just like distilled water.  In
    fact, in polluted areas, it contains mainly acidic components that
    can etch glass.  Bad stuff!

    Keep up the good work!

    Dennis Persyk -- retired physicist turned amateur astronomer

    Hampshire, IL
Mike here: I've always avoided plastic as a cover/protector, except that which comes with optics packaging, which I've always thought was OK. I was always concerned about the outgassing.

Subject:	zoom eyepieces
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 18:26:13
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	bryan@softdisk.com
Bryan, good evening!

I saw your inquiry on Mike Weasner's ETX web site and thought I would
give a very concise viewpoint on zoom eyepieces.  It sounds like you
have done a lot of good research and are a very smart consumer.

Having been in astronomy, both professionally and now as an amateur,
here is my recommendation:  DO NOT INVEST IN A ZOOM EYEPIECE.  Rather,
pick three wide ranges of focal length good Plossls that cover your
viewing range and perhaps a good telenegative barlow.

Zoom eyepieces have inherent optical rotational (axial alignment
problems), have too many elements, internal reflections and many, many
more problems leading to poor contrast and resolution, loss of brightnes
and color....and on and on.  Many people like zoom eyepieces because
they are convenient, but they are also very expensive.  If you are set
on getting one, go to a star party and compare a zoom set on, say, 20mm
and get a good 20mm Plossl eyepiece right next to it and compare; you'll
be shocked.  Now take a friend's 40mm Plossl and put it in a good 2x
barlow and compare it to the 20mm setting of the zoom....you'll be

All the claims are there, but keep in mind they are selling expensive
"quick fix" eyepieces.  I would be happy to recommend eyepiece focal
lengths and types that will suit your viewing requirements.  You will be
glad you shopped through this, believe me.  (BY THE WAY....I happen to
use only three (3) eyepieces and a good 2x barlow, and guess what?  They
are all made by the same company that makes the best selling zoom on the
market today!  I like their eyepieces, but I would never use their - or
anybody's -zoom).

Good luck and be patient in your choices -
Clay Sherrod
And from Bryan:
Thank you for the great input.  I am still considering which lenses, and
(I currently own a Meade 4" reflector which is very inconvenient and
slow and poor quality view and was originally looking into the ETX-125
but now am also considering a larger scope -- I'm looking at 8" scopes
right now - including the Nexstar 8 -- I wonder if that excludes me from
Mike's site ;)

In any event, I have a question:.

Personally I don't know the difference between 9 "coats" vs 2 "coats"
and Plossl vs super-plossl and the difference between series 3000 (which
appear to be less expensive) and series 4000 Meade lenses..

What do you think?

I went to scopetronix site and they recommend the 2x barlow, then the
40mm then the 15mm..

with the 26mm supplied, that makes:

7.5, 13, 15, 20, 26, 40

Does that make sense?

With the Nexstar 8, there is a 40mm included.  Does this still apply? 
What mags are nice for an 8" scope?  I imagine not the same for a 5".

Which manufacturer of lenses did you buy?  Meade? and what 2x Barlow is

Thanks for all the help!
And a response from Clay:
Bryan - good luck making your decision; think it through very carefully
and I am sure you will make the right choice;  you are doing the right
thing in choosing eyepieces that may be used for appropriate powers with
another upgrade later.

Forget all the talk about "2" and "9" layered coatings;  sometimes, too
many is simply too much; I prefer BRANDS over advertisements. 
Personally I very much like the entire Meade line, and that is what I
will always use; I have used virtually every eyepiece out there and - in
my opinion - PEOPLE PAY TOO MUCH for their eyepieces; The Meade 4000
series Super Plossls are the best you can buy; there are equivalent
brands out there, but for the price they cannot be beat; also simpler is
better; the more lenses (and sometimes coatings) the more light that is
absorbed, reflected and improperly aligned by the time it gets to your

You selection is excellent; Scoptronix steered you correctly; even if
you opt for the 8", your selection is still what I would recommend; stay
away from any eyepieces of shorter focal length than around 10mm; use a
barlow (which you are wisely considering) instead of the very short
focal lengths.

I also use the Meade "short" barlow to my upmost satisfaction; I have
recommended it to scores of people who likewise are very happy with it.

One final and VERY IMPORTANT POINT:  go ahead and get whatever telescope
you choose....that's why there are so many choices!  We're behind you
100% and ABSOLUTELY NOT does it exclude you from the fantastic web site!

In case you haven't noticed, there's an awful lot on this web site that
does not pertain just to ETX scopes....it pertains to ALL telescopes and
all observers, and we want you to log in anytime.  You'll learn more
astronomy and telescope use here than anywhere else you can go!

Keep in touch....you're on the right track.  (ps:  I love my ETX 125 and
its performance; I wouldn't be happy with an 8" Schmidt!  But that's
just me....I've been around too long and had too many years of telescope
use, all the way up to a 102" telescope for four years.  My ETX is
portable, quality, and provides me with the recreation an old retired
astronomer deserves!

Let us know, and don't hestitate to seek advice....no matter what scope
you end up with!

Best skies and bright comets....
P. Clay Sherrod
And more:
There are two things which I don't entirely understand..

Intuitively, I think they are (please help if I totally miss the mark):
1.  Eye relief - appearing that you are using a lens with less mag (e.g.
12mm with eye relief of 10 seems like you are using a 22mm lens)

2.  Focal reducers - basically reduce the magnification (which I don't
see the point -- use a lens with a longer focal length)-- are there
other advantages to this that I am missing?

Are there any sites which may explain these for me?

And from Clay:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Yes, there IS a web site that you can log onto to answer your questions
regarding eyepieces and focal reducers.  It's the Weasner Might ETX Web
Site!  and you are there!  I'll be happy to take a shot at your two
questions; you are smart to ask BEFORE you buy with so many options and
bells and whistles out there.

1)  Eye relief - this is simply a comfort zone measurement; eye relief
is the offset outside the focal plane of the eyepiece (between the last
- outside - lens element of the eyepiece) and the lens of your eye. 
There are many variations, but Plossl eyepiece give the best "average"
combination of: a) field of view; b) magnification potential and c) eye
relief of all the eyepieces; many of the Ultra- and Extreme- wide angle
eyepieces suffer from SERIOUS eye relief and loss of
contrast/brightness.  The same  is very, very true for zooms.

You are essentially correct in that using a 26mm with a barlow will
provide you with the MAGIFICATION of a 13mm, but will give you all but
about 1/4 of the eye relief of the 26mm alone;  the 13mm, on the other
hand, if it were the same design of eyepiece can result in eye relief
reduced more than 70% of the 26mm.

There is another VERY IMPORTANT reason for the eyepiece + barlow
combination, although image quality and eye relief are great pluses for
this combination.  The barlow (I use the short version and really like
the quality and offset) "pushes" the eyepiece away from the back of the
telescope (no matter what type you are using) and thus your face is not
scrunched against the back of the telescope and your are not breathing
on the finder (this is a big problem in winter).  In addition to the
added length of the barlow, the longer-focus eyepieces are longer in
dimension as well, thus extending your eye to a much more comfortable
position relative to the scope.

For fun, we'll call this "face relief."

2)  Focual reducers - these units increase the effective f/speed or
focal ratio of a telescope; they are not reducing magnification per se.
The increase in focal speed does not come without a price however:
    a) the glass elements in the focal reducer scatter and absorb
    precious light, therebuy reducing contrast, color and brightness of
    b) most suffer from serious spherical aberration at the edges of the
    field of view which might be bothersome in photographic use.

What the focal reducer actually does (instead of merely reducing
magnification, which it does as a "by-product") is to take the cone of
focusing light after being reflected off your secondary mirror and
intercepts it prior to reaching the focal plane of either you eyepiece
or camera/ccd.  The light path is then refracted into a optical pathway
that mimics an f/6.3 system, with a degree of lost light and contrast.

I personally do not use them with my larger telescopes, except when I
set up for cometary or deep sky photography.  Visually I prefer a good
40mm or 32mm Plossl eyepiece.

Regarding your question about the ETX 125 compared to the 4"
scope....don't listen to them.  I own four telescopes and have used
many, many more.  I have a 24" Newtonian-Cass., a 6" Unitron refractor,
and one each of the ETX 90 and 125.  I have never, for its aperture,
seen a telescope perform optically as outstanding as my ETX 125 (and the
-90 for that matter!).

It out performs 8" and 10" schmidts on the planets and for deep sky it
is truly beautiful with extremely sharp contrast and perfect star
images.  I wish you could look through one to convince you just how good
they can be. There is NO comparision between the ETX 125 and a 4"
reflector (or good refractor in my opinion!).

As to eyepieces, I think your decision to go with the Meade (provided
you get the Series 4000) is great...they are my favorite and very
wonderful for the price you pay.  I haven't seen a bad one yet!

Write back if you need further help...you've come to the RIGHT website!

Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Regarding the LX 50 tripod for the  ETX 90
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 18:16:10
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Etxstargazer@aol.com
Hi Taylor -
The LX 50 tripod, although it is the same as the "Heavy Duty" tripod
sold as teh #887 Meade tripod for the ETX 125 DOES NOT come with a
wedge, NOR does it come with the model #889 adapter assembly to couple
the ETX to either the tripod (Alt-Az) or wedge (Polar); if you buy them
separately for the LX 50 tripod, you will be spending about $470 total.

The combination is available as a unit with the #887 tripod which
includes the wedge and adapter assembly, which you MUST have to
adequately and safely mount your telescope.

The #887 will certainly accept your ETX90 with no modifications, but it
may be overkill, as the heavy duty tripod is massive even for the ETX
125.  A lot of people are misled into thinking that they can get the LX
50 tripod separately and then add the wedge and save money....this is
not the case.

It is better to save and get the #887 package in its entirety; don't let
anyone tell you otherwise.  By the way, it is a wonderfully sturdy and
well design system.  It also will allow you to move up either to the LX
90, the ETX 125 or any of the LX 50 telescopes, as the wedge is the same
for all!

P. Clay Sherrod
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Etxstargazer@aol.com
Taylor -
Hi, and thanks for the comments; I can understand why you would want the
adjustable model; it is very substantial and firm, even with the sliding

If you observe frequently on uneven terrain, you may need it; I do a LOT
of observing in the mountains of Arkansas and use the #887 fixed leg but
carry several interlocking 2 x 6 boards that have been cut into squares
(the largest goes on bottom and pyramids to the top with a small indent
at the middle of each block to accept the tripod leg firmly; each block
has pegs which slip into holes on the bottoms of the preceding block to
lock tight. I made about nine of them, painted them flat black and
pegged them in under one hour using scrap lumber.

Regarding the 32" height, I have found it perfect for viewing; I, too
was worried at first, but it is great once you have added the wedge.

Good luck...
Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Etxstargazer@aol.com (Etxstargazer@aol.com)
>That was what I was trying to do,   but the 887 does not some with the
>adjustable tripod. That was what I was wanting because I read the fixed
>hieght one is only about 32" tall.  It isnt very tall, plus the location I
>usually use my scope is on sloping ground. But I guess I could settle for the
>fixed hieght. Its not that big of a set back.
>Thank you all for the quick responses.
Mike here: ...and with a chair like the Starbound Observing Chair (see the Showcase Products page)...

Subject:	surveyors tripod
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 16:08:20
From:	arthurok@ameritech.net (arthurok)
i  wonder  if  there  would  be  a  market  for  an  etx   to surveyors 
tripod  adapter???   at  the  present  time  i  only  own a meade 

Subject:	Question please....
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 16:00:03
From:	bobc1111@home.com
Got the ETX90EC for Christmas.  Have not taken it out of the box yet, as
I am considering trading it in for the 125.  I have searched you site,
but have not located info on how much I would gain, for the double the

I will be a casual user,  but I want the most "bang" for the buck!!!

Just how much better will my viewing be over the 90?? Or should I spend
the difference on extras such as, barlow's and filters, etc. for the 90?
(I already have the Autostar 497 and ETX deluxe field tripod).

Any insight would be appreciated.
Bob Chapman
Mike here: Well, there is no single concise report. The whole site is the report! But seriously, it comes down to small size versus 5" aperture. The ETX-90EC is more portable than the -125 but you can see more details, fainter objects, and use higher magnifications with the ETX-125EC. Is that worth the extra money to you? Only you can say.

Subject:	Re: Thanks for the Lessons
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 13:46:16
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Mark
Thanks for the kind comments; the reward is hearing from folks like you
(particularly when you include the kids in the fun!)

Be sure when viewing Andromeda to have the darkest, moonless, sky that
you can muster, and avoid proximity to any street or extraneous lights. 
It is visible to the naked eye, so be sure and show your son the
incredible sight with the naked eye (or even binoculars) first,
explaining he is looking at light that is 2.3 MILLION years old!  If he
traveled faster than anyone will ever travel perhaps, 186,000 miles per
second ("warp 1" for the trekkies), it would still take him over 2
million years to reach it!

In your ETX use the LOWEST power possible and try to get the image of
Messier 32 (another satellite galaxy to Andromeda) in the same field of
view; it should appear as a roundish bright ball of gas immediately
below and slightly to the left as you would observe the Andromeda galaxy
this time of year; it is only slightly farther than M 31 from us and is
also a (smaller) spiral.

Enjoy your ETX and be sure and contribute BACK to us as YOU learn....and
you will.  The Universe is filled with discoveries!

The best in clear skies and bright galaxies -
P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
    -----Original Message-----
    Clay, thank you from a very amateur astronomer... Your articles on
    Weasner's ETX site are very helpful to me.  I am a new ETX user and
    trying to understand why I can and cannot "see" at various times.  
    I promised my son I will show him the andromeda galaxy sometime this
    winter but so far no dice.
    Thanks again,
Mike here: My best ever view of M31 was from a dark sky using 7x50 binoculars. That was about 30 years ago.

Subject:	LX50 Tripod
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 09:09:02
From:	Etxstargazer@aol.com
I was wondering if since the LX 50 is not sold with the 295 dollar
tripod, does the tripod when i purchase it (from Astronomics most likely
over the net) come with the wedge, or not? I am curious,  because I am
going to buy the LX50 tripod for my ETX 90 and mount it on the LX 50
tripod. But I need the wedge because my main reason for buying this
tripod is for a more steady platform so i can take better pictures of
the moon and planets. SO when I buy the tripod, does it come with the
wedge or does it include just the tripod. Thanks for the help.

Taylor Chonis
Mike here: I could find no info on this in the info I have. You'll have to check with the dealer.

Subject:	General Comments
Sent:	Saturday, February 10, 2001 07:44:29
From:	etx-90@pinefields.com (Autostar Software Review Project)
Two of my friends expressed interest in buying an ETX and at some point
I have agreed to do dog and pony shows for them.  Neither of these
people know beans about astronomy.  Both are passibly competent
technical people with some understanding of working with computers. Even
so, I'm trying to figure out how to cope with the slewing issues. 
Frankly, if I were trying to make a living selling ETX's based on the
performance of my ETX, I'd be living on putting McDonald's ketchup in
hot water to make soup.  Now, if I were plugging my ETX as a prototype
with the assurance that when it comes to market things will stay in
place *for visual work*, there might be some hope.

I can make the scope work and I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of
the scope when it works.  As I said earlier, though, I've spent a lot of
time in troubleshooting what are represented to be finished products. 
And that's the part that really causes me some real problems with Meade
and Meade products.

In answer to your "another telescope" question, I'm still working
through that question.  In part, the choices really come down to Meade
or Celestron for GOTO.  I've read the Celestron material closely (FYI,
all of the NexStar and Ultima manuals on Celestron's site as PDF's to be
downloaded) and NexStar has its own issues.  Try pointing a NexStar at
Aldebaran to see what I mean.  See S&T's review of the NexStar 8 for
what happens with a 2" diagonal in the viewing port.

I knew, going into the ETX, that I'd go for something bigger at some
point and, in part, buying the ETX was a way to find out, first hand,
about life with Meade.  On that score, Meade has been a major
disappointment.  No matter how great their scopes are, if I can't trust
them for support (and to date their support is pretty minimal, witness
unreturned calls and the AU A2.3 debacle), spending more money on them
doesn't strike me as very wise.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been interested in astronomy for years and
although there are huge gaps in my knowledge, I don't consider myself a
total novice.  Nonetheless, if I didn't have Geoff Chester (ex-Einstein
Planetarium presenter) to mentor me through using a scope and had to
rely on "Astronomy for Dummies" and e-mail to get started, I'd be back
to watching Survivor on TV at night.

My point is, getting started in amateur astronomy pretty much is a
mentoring process.  I don't mean that as a negative comment but just a
statement of how I see things.  Now, factor that situation in with a
scope that seems to have a mind of its own and I see why my friend
Michelle ditched her ETX after a couple of weeks.

I'm certainly very grateful for WMES, too.  It's certainly helped with
all the reality checks the ETX needs (demands?) and it's certainly
helped with the mentoring needed.  When I first started reading comments
about the ETX, I was struck by how many of the comments were less than
glowing about Meade and I spent some time in trying to sort that out.

It's become fashionable to write, in e-mail or news groups,
disparagingly about almost anything (Emerson's Internet Observation:
"Too many people mistake the Internet's freeddom to write as one pleases
for an obligation to do so.") and I approached the complaints about
Meade as "just more e-mail flaming".  Things look somewhat different a
few months into owning an ETX.

Summing up, the basic idea of the ETX certainly offers, quite literally,
a revolutionary idea for amateur astronomy.  The optical train is
superb, and even better than that given the base price of the scope. 
Would I invite a friend to have a look through the scope? I've done that
and even showed an inquisitive passer-by the Sun one afternoon.  Would I
tell a friend to go out and plunk down the money for the product as I
know it?  Not only wouldn't I suggest it, I'd tell them to wait until
the product's sorted out.

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Rick, unfortunately you've made some very good points, but let me toss
out one observation that - regrettably is fact in today's world.

No matter WHAT you buy today, it seems that there are problems when you
get it home, from unpacking and finding missing components, to lousy
instruction manuals, to parts that don't fit and an end-product that
does not work as it should.

This is "life in America."  Am I proud of that?  Nope.

Should Meade be proud of it?  No way.  But as long as consumers just
"give up" and quit pointing out the errors of their ways (griping),
nothing at all will be changed.  So....without OUR help in slaying
dragons, how many "Michelles" are going to get burned?

Regarding customer support, we are dealing with people who are earning a
paycheck and don't give a rat's behind about your previous night in the
freezing cold; not just Meade - every customer support group it seems
you call today.

"Life in America....."  Am I proud.  Not in the least.  But at least I
have the right and the opportunity to voice my opinion.  In my case,
knowing that my opinion may not matter, I understand that UP FRONT and
chose to correct my problems (with the ETX) myself.

Frankly....based on what I've seen, I can do a BETTER job and have a
much finer product by providing my "own warranty."

Ultimately, because I have the freedom and capability of creating a
phoenix from the ashes, I have exactly what I expected in the first
place....only I did not come about with that product the way I first
expected.  For it to come to me from the factory the way that I
ultimately was required to MAKE it.

"Life in America."

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Re: Thanks for your wonderful sight.
Sent:	Friday, February 9, 2001 20:33:32
From:	dto@home.com (Daniel T. Ostheimer)
Doing a very close examination of the eyepiece, it had a small bubble of
air dead smack in the middle of the eyepiece. The dealer I purchased the
scope from gave me a new eyepiece from a new 125. Works great, thanks
again for taking the time to update your sight as often as you do.

Subject:	Zoom Lenses: which one is best?
Sent:	Friday, February 9, 2001 14:38:54
From:	bryan@softdisk.com (Bryan Vekovius)
I am curious, have seen user reviews of the three zoom lenses from
Nikon, Meade and Celestron (also Scopetronix)

Nikon 9-24mm zoom

The Meade Series 4000 Zoom Eyepiece
Conceived by one of the world's leading designers of photo-optical
instruments, this 7- element system provides an apparent field of 40? at
the 24mm setting, increasing continuously to a 55? field at 8mm. The
internal zoom optics move on smooth, precisely machined surfaces which
maintain optical collimation at all zoom settings. A scale graduated in
1mm units indicates the zoom focal length in operation. All lenses are
multi-coated for maximum light transmission and image contrast, while
minimizing internal reflections. The chromed brass barrel is threaded
for filters.

Celestron LV #3777
This super premium zoom eyepiece has a focal length of 8mm to 24mm. It
is the finest zoom eyepiece for low to medium power observing. It's an
excellent zoom eye-piece that performs superbly, with fully multicoated
surfaces. It offers an apparent field of 40? at 24mm and 60? at 8mm. Eye
relief ranges from 15mm to 19mm.

has anyone used these and which one is best?

from the specs, the celestron opens up to 60 degrees of field at 8mm
whereas the meade only opens to 55 degrees.  They are both at 40 degrees
at the 24mm setting.

From a price standpoint, it seems that they are all about the same (the
Nikon requires some work to get-- special order but it is only about 10
bucks more)

Which do your readers recommend?


Bryan Vekovius

Subject:	(nessun oggetto) RA slide
Sent:	Friday, February 9, 2001 12:12:06
From:	savoia@unive.it (Manuela Savoia)
I have some problem with the tape of the RA around the basis of my ETX
125 :it is very slack and some time it went of from the track. What I
can do ? I found the precision of the Autostar  really amazing. 
A salutofrom Venice, thank' you, 
FRancesco Rizzoli
Mike here: Well, unless you actually use the RA setting circle you can not worry about it. But the strip is just lose in the track and connected at both ends with some glue. So can work it back into the track and reglue the ends. Be careful to avoid getting any glue on the strip anyplace where it touches the track.

Subject:	 Site Helpers
Sent:	Friday, February 9, 2001 04:21:20
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
CC:	etx-90@pinefields.com (rick etx)
Hey Dick -
Thanks!  Golly, it's good to get some feedback, particularly from such a
great "go-to" guy as yourself.  I really like to help folks in the astro
efforts and this is just my way.  I have a lot more time to help folks
that others, and Mike, God bless him, must be getting overwhelmed with
the web site by now.  There are MANY other regular contributors out
there that - in my opinion (are you listening S & T???) make this web
site the MOST USEFUL astro tool available for amateur astronomers!

I think we ALL work incredibly well as a "team" and quickly get those
rolling....you from the electronic and computer end, Rick from the
Autostar watchdog, Mike for the quick tips and the remarkable web, and I
hope I am, indeed, keeping a handle on the "astronomical" needs of our
ETX community out there!

Thanks again....we all get a lot of questions but little feedback, which
is okay:  in the long run, the satisfaction the ETX-ers are getting
finally getting their pride-and-joy up and running should be enough for
all of us. I think that is why Mike started the web site back in '96!

Let's go get 'em!
-----Original Message-----
From: richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>In reference to some unknown and over-wordy author :>
>>>>lordy, when are we going to start listening to the man!?
>>> we hear but sometimes don't listen!
>Well, listen up: Clay's contributions to this discussion, and (what
>i really wanted to shout about) his "Limiting Magnitude", "Alignment
>Charts", "Peerless Pier" and 4504 contributions are **GREAT**.
>Us software folks may -sound- like we never lift our eyes from
>glowing screens... but the reason we're here is amateur astronomy
>and the means to achieve and enjoy it... and Cray is addressing
>that primary mission with skill, style, grace and unbounded
>enthusiasm (and risk of missing dinners).
>Well done, and -greatly- appreciated.
Mike here: My thanks go out to these people and all the contributors to this site. The information and photos that people send are what make this site what it is!

Subject:	 Re: Re: star resolution and your out-of-focus star image
Sent:	Thursday, February 8, 2001 20:22:17
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
Thanks to Clay for the fine articles on seeing and star testing.  I
cannot emphasize enough the encouragement which these articles give,
because I, as with many others tend to think there's something wrong,
when the problem is probably seeing or other things I'll mention in a
moment.  One thing, I hadn't realized was the length of the cool down
time necessary for a 5 inch scope.  I generally put the scope out about
30 minutes before viewing, but obviously I may still be getting
artifacts due to temperature at that point. Last night a very extended
session [in a tiny patch of snow free area near my house, hardly dark
sky, but it's a full moon anyway] looking at a few items, primarily
Saturn and Jupiter, I noticed a significant improvement as time went on.
Also, the slightly warmer conditions made me realize that in super cold
conditions, I was getting clouding of the eyepieces and filters due to
the cold conditions [presumably the moisture of one's own face near the
eyepiece was clouding them when the temp was about 15 degrees].  I got
some good views of Jupiter including several bands more than the NEB and
SEB, and apparent irregularities in the darker belts, no siting of the
GRS, but I don't know that it was visible on the disc at the time.  I'll
have to check Sky and Telescope for the transit times for the spot.  As
for the apparent tripling of double stars,  I may have been seeing an
artifact created by the diffraction rings in Castor themselves.  Last
night I was able to get a good double image of this star, with care in
focusing.  Also got fine images of Beta Monoceroous a nice triple star. 
The seeing versus transparency issue is most interesting, I'd heard of
this before, but I'll pay it more attention now.

Other interesting things which affect viewing, when the stars are near
the zenith, I note the bent over position I use to see into the scope
makes steady seeing very hard, because it is hard to hold that pose for
long, obviously I need to try seated observation.  Similar the things
like the bouncing of the Scopetronix flexi-focus require significant
damping time, all little things which affect the ability to get steady
images, which add to the unavoidable ones like atmospheric turbulance
[incidentally I love the flexi-focus, it is a vast improvement over the
scope's focus knob which really moves the OTA and is hard to use
accurately, but the bounce of the spring, especially if you let go of
the flexi focus is worth noting].

Not to burden Clay, but can you post your experiences with the advanced
field tripod.  As with Mike, I have the Deluxe Field Tripod with the
Shutan EZ mount [which thankfully eliminates the use of that stupid
mounting plate on the 125] and even using supplemental leg clamps in the
Alt Az position, I am never satisfied with the stability of the Tripod. 
I've seen your posts on building an astro pier, but I'm no handyman.

Thanks for your continued support and posts.  While I will reserve my
judgment on whether my ETX is properly collimated until conditions allow
a proper star test, my most recent experience is encouraging.  In part,
I am surprised how different conditions affect the 125 over the 90, it
was, in part that difference which has had me worried about the 125. 
Hopefully without need.

Tom Brown
Mike here: I really like the Starbound Observing Chair I reported on (Accessories - Showcase Products).


From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
First, thanks for the kind comments; I'm happy to help - I can only
image frustrations with some folks out there if there were not others
willing.  I think your scope is just fine....I have never seen
collimation as a problem in the ETX Maksutov since the primary is fixed
(moves in and out on a finely threaded focusing shaft which is firm) and
the secondary is also fixed - as is the corrector - in its threaded
cell, you are not required to collimate and it takes dropping from a
balcony to upset the factory set collimation (which is excellent, by the
way);  indeed, one of our ETX-ers out there dropped his ETX on a tile
floor and it fully recovered!

Concerning the #887 tripod and wedge assembly with the #889 ETX 125
adapter - you will NOT BELIEVE the difference it makes in your viewing
satisfaction.  I am very much against attempting to use the ETX 125 on
the #883 Deluxe field tripod...it is simply too heavy and offset.  You
cannot introduce vibrations with the -125 on the Heavy Duty tripod.  It
is a very well engineered and machined accessory; it should be standard
equipment. The tripod is very massive with an extremely low center of
gravity, even in Polar mode for the -125.  Yet it is remarkably

Further, it allows micrometric adjustments in both altitude (replace the
standard bolt with a thumb screw, 1/4-20 for ease of adjustment!) and
azimuth (very, very nice assembly.

I know it's a lot of money, and I balked at it at first....but I hit
myself for waiting as long as I did; it is every bit as portable as the
#883 as far as moving and weight, but does take up a bit more floor
space in my sunroom when indoors.

Concerning leaning over the scope, I have two comments:

1)  your breath will cause condenstation both on the eyepiece and the
finder on the ETX, particularlly with short focus eyepieces; this is why
I highly recommend to everyone using a longer focus PLUS a barlow to get
the same magnification (plus better eye relief) and be able  to move
your face AWAY from the back of the scope; you are right....it is a

2)  I am writing a feature coming up very soon I hope, concerning eye
fatigue when observing which is a common problem with all of us; you
mentioned your inability to maintain scrutiny while in a bent position;
another HUGE factor when observing bright objects at high power is a
situation that we all have realized, yet know little about:  EYE
FLOATERS. These are always there, but become particularly annoying when
the eye becomes fatigued and REMAINS IN CERTAIN POSITIONS for lengthy
periods.  Be looking for this article!

Beta MON is really a pretty sight, isn't it?  Your comment about a
spurious image resulting from diffraction rings is an astute and correct
one. Diffraction rings - when they converge on nights of not-perfect
seeing - CAN indeed, cause spurious flares and "light shoots" which can
give the appearance of faint objects near the other brighter object(s);
this is particularly true with double stars of nearly equal magnitude!

Sound like you are off and running.  I wish you could see the #887
tripod assembly before you buy....but you better have your checkbook on
you when you do, because you'll LEAVE WITH IT!

Keep in touch!
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	 astrophotography question
Sent:	Thursday, February 8, 2001 17:22:46
From:	poje@att.net
Hi, Thanks for compiling such a great archive of inormation on the meade
etx.  Your time and efforts are greatly appreciated by all of us.  An
idea recently "came to light" and I was wondering if anyone had tried it
before.  Use the photo adapter on the etx 90 to attach a night vision
scope, and in turn attach a ccd imager or digital camera to the NV scope
for use in viewing deep space objects, or faint stars.  I have just
purchased my own etx 90(should arrive in a few days) and hope to try
this idea when I get some $$$.  Let me know what you think, or if it has
been done before, what the results were.

Thanks for your help, and for being an outstanding member of the etx
community.  Great site,
Mike here: I don't recall any night vision scopes being used with an ETX. There is an expensive imager that pretty much does the same thing (reviewed in Sky&Telescope some months back). I don't know if the ETX can support the weight of a night vision scope and camera but it would be fun to try out.

Subject:	 Skyglow Filter
Sent:	Thursday, February 8, 2001 13:32:25
From:	nolrun@earthlink.net (Jeffrey Kilmer)
After many frustrated looks at Jupiter, I have found a solution that
seems to help resolve many of the cloud details that I had missed with
both my ETX-90 RA and my ETX 125. In the Fall I had bought a Skyglow
filter for my light polluted backyard to help me take a better look at
even the bright nebulae that populate my northeast Ohio skies. Last
night while looking at M42, I turned my ETX 125 to Jupiter and with the
Skyglow filter on a 10mm Lanthanum eyepiece I saw the most detail I had
ever seen on Jupiter. I believe the improvement in the views of Jupiter
are due to increased contrast on the planet. Jupiter has always loooked
rather washed out and while picking up the equatorial belts has always
been easy there has not been much detail. While I did not see lots of
whorls or festoons, the detail on the cloud belts was greatly enhanced.
I am anxious now to try this filtering process with other low contrast
objects to judge the improvement in contrast.

Thanks for the Great Web Site

Jeff Kilmer
Akron, Ohio
Mike here: I had noticed a similar result in my "Light Pollution Reduction filter" comments on the Accessories - Filters page.

Subject:	 Re: ETX70 vs 90
Sent:	Thursday, February 8, 2001 10:44:47
From:	hydrokinetics@home.com (Hydrokinetics)
Thanks Mike .. I may go with the  90 just because it seems to be a more
flexible instrument.  Many of your users compare it favorably with the
Questar, which I believe is a pretty high complement for a "relatively"
inexpensive scope.    By the way, you have a great site.  I'm going back
through the comments now looking to see if anyone has any experience
trying to use a ETX-90 with one of the pictor imagers.
Mike here: I don't recall any Pictor comments but search the site for "CCD" and you'll find lots of hits.

Subject:	 Heavy duty tripod and the ETX 90
Sent:	Thursday, February 8, 2001 07:25:00
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I am using my ETX 125 on the Heavy Duty Meade #887 tripod and wedge
assembly with the #889 "adapter plate" that couples the scope base to
the heavy tripod (which is absolutely fantastic, by the way!  what a
difference in the field!).  The mounting plate is the key, and it DOES
WORK with either the ETX 125 or the ETX 90 (but the tripod assembly
might be considered a bit of overkill for the ETX 90 - you can hang off
this thing!)

The mounting plate BOLTS (they send you two hand bolts (with plastic
knobs) to attach the scope to the adapter) to the bottom of the ETX base
using teh SAME TWO holes necessary to mount the scope directly to the
Deluxe Field Tripod #883; therefore, the alignment of these two 1/4-20
bolts is identical.  (I actually fastened my adapter using 1/4-20 SS
bolts and lock washers and leave it on).

At that point, the entire assembly (the ETX - whether the 90 or 125 - 
and the adapter base) can be fitted to the wedge (via three nice hand
knobs supplied with tripod #887) for Polar use, or directly to the
tripod for Alt-Az use via a wonderful large 1/2" bolt with two nice
"turn wheels" to tightly secure the base of the scope using only ONE

I suppose that Meade does not advertise the #887 for the ETX 90 simply
because the tripod is so large, and weights about twice that of the -90.
 But if you want support and NO vibration.....wow!

Absolutely NO adaptation is needed to use the #887 with the ETX 90.  It
is quick and easy to assemble and set up and includes a wonderful
azimuth vernier adjustment and a altitude (on the wedge) to center on
Polaris.  I took out the 1/4-20 allen bolt in the altitude wedge
adjuster and changed it with a 1/4-20 bolt with a thumb knob so that I
could align to north using no tools whatsoever.

Hope this helps....Meade should get the word out; I have had several
inquiries.  The tripod is a "must investment" for ETX 125 users, and I
have found it puts the competition to shame.  The only drawback is that
this tripod is NOT adjustable in the legs; I must use wooden notched
shims in the field to attain level. (it does have a nice built-in bubble
level, though!)

Thanks, more later I am sure....

Clay Sherrod
And more:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Etxstargazer@aol.com
Taylor - glad I could help...I happened to think after I sent the
message out that this actually is a great investment.  Not only will it
serve as an outstanding base for your ETX 90 now, but this tripod/wedge
combination will accomodate ANY Meade scope up to 10" adequately (the
wedge is a bit light for the 10").  You will be amazed how wonderful
this tripod is in terms of design and portability.  It's expensive, but
a good investment if you chose to move up....maybe to an ETX 125????

Glad to have helped on let me know you first impressions!
Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Etxstargazer@aol.com
>Thanks Clay,
>This is exactly the answer I wanted!!!
>I think this is the way I am going to go, because my deluxe field fripod
>isnt holding up. I think meande should take it off the market.
>Thanks again.

Subject:	 Re: Seeing Conditions and Transparency,  Group for 4504 users
Sent:	Thursday, February 8, 2001 04:21:50
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	e_suty@yahoo.com (Evan Sutton)
Evan, glad you found help with the "seeing/transparency" information; it
is something that every amateur astronomer needs to fully understand to
appreciately the capabilities of his or her telescope.

I am very familiar with the web site to which you refer and it is
providing a great service to all those with the 4.5" Meade scopes! 
Combined with Mike's site, it is the encyclopedia of telescopes for
amateur astronomers worldwide!

Good luck with your observing and keep checking out our posts of the ETX
site; there is something for everyone, whether you own an ETX (which you
might someday in addition to your 114) or any other telescope!

Best regards,  Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Evan Sutton (e_suty@yahoo.com)
To: sherrodc@ipa.net (sherrodc@ipa.net)
Date: Thursday, February 08, 2001 2:41 AM
Subject: Seeing Conditions and Transparency, Group for 4504 users

>I read your description of Seeing Conditions and
>Transparency on Mike Ws site. Thanks, its all getting
>clearer now!
>I also saw a responce you gave to "Christopher" who
>owns a 114EQ-DH4.  I belong to a yahoo group -
>that has lots of stuff for users of Mead 4.5"
>relectors (including 114EQ-DH4).  I would invite
>Christopher to check it out, but I didnt see his
>address.  Please feel free to refer anyone to this
>group at the URL above. Along with Mike Ws site its
>one of my favorite hang-outs.  Thanks, again for you
>excellent info. -Evan

Subject:	 ETX70 vs 90
Sent:	Wednesday, February 7, 2001 19:09:32
From:	hydrokinetics@home.com (Hydrokinetics)
I have a C-8 Powerstar, but its heavy, bulky,  and hard to polar align
from my viewing site.   I want a smaller portable scope with a GOTO
feature to use when I don't want to spend an hour assembling the C-8,
and to use to help me point my C-8 when it is set up.  Both the ETX-70
and the ETX-90 generally fit the bill, at least on paper.  However,
there is a significant price differential once both scopes are
outfitted, at least 2X.  As a second, portable scope, am I going to see
enough difference between the scopes to make the cost differential
worthwhile.  I understand the formulas and  can calculate max power, and
I understand the benefits of a larger aperture.   I also know what
things look like in my C-8, so I'm not overly optimistic of the views a
small scope will provide.   But I'm having a hard time evaluating the
cost-benefits of going with the larger aperture and Mak-Cas design vs.
the slightly smaller aperture ETX-70 with it's shorter focal length and
refractor design.  Any thoughts or suggestions?

Mike here: In my personal opinion, having briefly looked through an ETX-70AT, I prefer the views through my ETX-90. However, there are many comments on my site from pleased ETX-70AT owners.

Subject:	Advanced Tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, February 7, 2001 17:49:13
From:	Etxstargazer@aol.com
Can the ETX 90-EC be attatched to the Advanced tripod (the LX200 tripod
and wedge) like the ETX 125 can (with the appropriate adapters from
meade)? I would like the sturdiness of that tripod, but the
advertisements say it is for the 125 and mention nothing about the 90
being used with it. Thanks.

Taylor Chonis
Mike here: I don't think Meade currently makes an adapter plate for the ETX-90EC. But if you made one I would think it should work nicely.

Subject:	 re: Film
Sent:	Wednesday, February 7, 2001 05:33:49
From:	afink@kaiserep.com (Fink,Al)
To:	etxstargazer@aol.com
For an excelent rundown on astro-photographic films check out
http://www.astropix.com/INDEX.htm	look at the "Astrophotograhy
Articles" specifically, But to answer your question about the Fuji 800
Superia, it does have fine color range for nebula phography.

Al Fink

Subject:	 12 volt external power
Sent:	Wednesday, February 7, 2001 05:33:24
From:	mikef@strobe.co.za (Mike Field)
I have the Mead ETX 125 and recently purchased from the agents a 12volt
25ft power plug for car cigarette lighter ( ref #607). I have checked
that the centre pin is positive and tried to operate it from a gel cell
12volt 10 amp battery but get no response. I also tested it form the car
power still no response. If switched on with power from the internal
batteries the power light lights but goes off as soon as the lead is
plugged in. I have tested the lead to ensure there is no break and that
a current is flowing. Can anyone advise me what the problem can be? The
suppliers who are in a town some distance from where I reside are unable
to offer an explanation.
Many tks

Mike Field
Cape Town
South Africa
Phone (+27 21)6855004. Fax (+27 21) 6855159.
Mike here: Since you've verified that power is reaching the plug that goes into the ETX it sounds like the power port on the ETX base might be bad or disconnected. I think (but don't recall exactly) that the battery disconnect is mechanical and not electrical so just plugging the adapter into the ETX would disconnect the batteries. Can you try it on another ETX?

Subject:	 ISS
Sent:	Tuesday, February 6, 2001 16:44:32
From:	gsalgado@adelphia.net (Geyzer J. Salgado)
I just came inside from using my etx90 and I saw the ISS. It was
incredible! The space station was visible with the naked eye from 7:11
pm to 7:13 pm on 2-6-01.All you needed to do was look nnw and you would
have seen it moving east acrros the horizon. I wanted to see what it
looked like with my etx so I decided to take it along with me. I was
lucky enough to spot it early enough to catch it with my etx. I used
just the 26mm and no barlow. I saw a round very bright dot. I could tell
it was the ISS because of the fast pace it had and also cause even
though I saw no detail, you could see that it had some shape to it. This
was my first time seeing the ISS. Just wanted to share this expirience
with everyone.

Subject:	 Re: buying in the US
Sent:	Tuesday, February 6, 2001 06:57:32
From:	daniel.gordon@uk.pwcglobal.com
thanks for yeour reply

Global economy - well

Scopes are really expensive here - about +100%

Unfortunately Meade does not permit dealers to export products to the UK
(they want the extra margin)

Any idea - how I can get an ETX  without paying the high UK prices


Mike here: Other than flying (or sailing) over the Pond or getting someone to buy it for you and ship it, you're likely out of luck. In any case, any warranty would be voided. I don't know if Meade is that much different than some other companies whose products cost more outside of the USA. We all pay for products sold outside the country of origin.

Subject:	 star resolution and your out-of-focus star image
Sent:	Tuesday, February 6, 2001 06:40:30
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	teb1013@hotmail.com
Good morning.  I read with interest your posting on Mike W's ETX site
concerning your star images.  Keep in mind that seeing conditions are
critical, and MANY TIMES lead to spurious, or secondary, star images. 
This could explain your "triple star" image of the double star Castor. 
You should be getting two easily separated stars (bluish) of nearly
equal magnitude.

If the "seeing" is bad (see my discussion on Seeing and Transparency on
the ETX site) you may not be able to resolve the stars, and even if you
can - for example if HEAT is rapidly rising from something toward your
observing direction - you may end up seeing distorted or MULTIPLE

Out-of-focus star images should be very "flat", and steady; if you
detect ANY MOTION whatsoever in the bright disk of the unfocused star,
forget about even trying this test.  1)  Make sure the star is nearly
overhead;  2) if stars are twinkling overhead, do not bother;  3)  if
your out-of-focus star image oscillations or is not steady, do not
bother;  4) make SURE your star is exactly centered.d

The offset of the dark "donut hole" seen in the unfocused star is due to
the star NOT being centered in your scope;  if the star drifts to the
right, the black dot will appear offset to the LEFT; if the star drifts
to the left of your FOV, the dark spot will creep to the RIGHT; the
closer the star gets to the edge of the FOV the worse is the offset of
the central obstruction shadow.  IF CENTERED, THE SHADOW WILL BE

Let me know if I can assist further;  I think your scope is okay, but
your reference to Castor and the "three" stars worries me a bit.  Try it
again after selecting a very STEADY night (see my discussion) and let me

Good luck....
Clay Sherrod
And a response:
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
Thanks for your response, I intend to check this out carefully before
contacting Meade.  As my area here in the East just got walloped with a
huge snow fall, it'll be a while before I can set my scope up in the
best site for proper testing [in the lower part of my garden].

Thanks, also for your numerous posts.  Having input from an expert in
these areas is an encouragement for all of us.  I've been reading Mike's
site for over a year and it is my favorite site on any subject.  Your
posts are a fine addition.

Tom Brown
And more from Clay:
Good morning and thanks for the kind comments; we all find Mike's ETX
site as a "savior" for frustrations and enthusiasms of our telescopes! 
You made a comment which really hints that your telescope is fine (see
my upcoming article on the webpage regarding "Seeing and Transparency")
and you will see that you perhaps have hit the proverbial "nail on the

You mentioned your heavy snowfall, which indicates you are having some
very cold, and likely deep clear and crisp nights.  Such nights, as you
will read are usually plagued with curious images in telescopes very
much like you have described!

I think you are in good shape; check out the article and pick a night
that has "perfect seeing" as described and do a good test.  Get back to
me with the results and I will pass on.

I'll bet you will be pleased with the overall performance of your ETX on
a really good and steady night.

Keep in touch, and good seeing!
P. Clay Sherrod

Subject:	 focus aids
Sent:	Tuesday, February 6, 2001 00:46:08
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
In response to Clay Sherrod's remarks to Paul St. Amand:
>Regarding the flexible focus cable, stop
>and think about that one....when you focus, the cable is curved, right? 
>You get your focus just right and let go of the cable; what does it do? 
>Finds gravity and rotates out of the curve, hence turning the focus knob
>and changing the focus.  I have tested all of them and cannot use them.

Clay has continually supported the electronic focus as a Godsend, and I
don't want to detract from his opinion. It's obvious that the device
eliminates completely any manual "touching" of the focus knob and should
therefore do away with the jiggles and wiggles inherent in focusing. But
having decided to try my hand at making a home-made "flexi-focus"-type
cable, I can attest to the fact that what Clay claims to occur by having
the flexi-focus does NOT occur on my setup. When I stop turning the
knob, the focus stops; it does not continue to rotate out of the curve
and change the focus. At the same time, I would suggest that it is quite
possible that different flexible focusing cables behave differently for
each person, and perhaps Clay never had success at getting one to work
for him. There were two reasons I tried one -- 1) when pointing to high
altitudes with an ETX90, it is almost impossible to reach two fingers
into that confining space to turn the focus knob and 2) the electronic
focuser from Meade is, for me at this time anyway, "prohibitively"
expensive. I decided to build one and see how it worked, and for about
$8.00 in parts, it seems to fit the bill, although I will admit it is
not as jiggle-free as an electronic focuser would be because there is
still manual touching of the knob. If at a later time I can justify the
cost of the electronic doohicky, I won't hesitate to purchase one.
(Every story has two sides, huh?)

Clear skies...
Stan Glaser
Mike here: Thanks for pointing this out. I've not experience the gravity shift with my Scopetronix FlexiFocus although I can see how it can happen.

Subject:	 Thanks for your wonderful sight.
Sent:	Monday, February 5, 2001 22:34:49
From:	dto@home.com (Daniel T. Ostheimer)
Your sight has saved me a lot of time. I do have a question for you.
When I center a bright object in my ETX125, I see a slight smudge. This
is with bright objects like Jupiter using the 26mm eye piece. Jupiter,
Saturn look great but not dead center. This is not a ring around the
planet but a distortion like clear jell, ununiformed smudge. I have
cleaned everything I can, and see nothing internal using my naked eye.
Mike here: Well, one possible source of the problem IS the cleaning. Unless you did an excellent job per established procedures for telescope optics (I hope you didn't use a glass cleaner), you may have made the problem worse. However, now that I've scared you, lets assume you did the cleaning properly. Have you done the star test posted on the Buyer/New User Tips page? If not, do that and let me know the results.

Subject:	 RE: Light flares in ETX telescope
Sent:	Monday, February 5, 2001 20:42:27
From:	dschre@goodnet.com (Richard Schreiber)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)

I looked at the baffle with a flashlight last night, but got home too
late today to inspect it with sunlight.  I can't detect - so far - that
it shows any slippage, but will do some careful inspection under better

Last night when we had Jupiter right on the edge of the field of view,
just visible at the edge, the flare extended at least 1/3 of the
distance from the center.  The flare is eliptical at that point, but as
we moved the planet towards the center of the FOV, the flare gradually
became more circular and finally disappeared.  However, we both noted a
fair amount of haziness around it and some high magnitude stars, but in
reality this could have been moisture in the atmosphere.  Yes, even in
AZ there does seem to be a lot of moisture up there interfering with

To give you an idea of what the scope is capable of seeing:  can resolve
the four stars of the Orion trapezium, can distinguish a couple of dark
bands on Jupiter; cannot make out the Cassini division in the rings of
Saturn; can barely make out the Crab nebula.  This is under fair
conditions, fringe suburban though not really very dark skies (we are
about 30 miles from the downtown Phoenix).  The only eyepiece we have at
this point is the 26mm which means about 48x magnification.

Are there any other symptoms that we should be looking for that would
confirm or reject the likelihood that we have an optical aberration?

Thanks for your continued assistance.  By the way I will avoid looking
down the scope with the flashlight - probably would be like the retina
tests I recently experienced and I don't need that pain again.

Dick Schreiber
And from Clay:
I went outside with my ETX 125 last night to run some tests on a couple
of hardware items and - while out, since it was an overall very
frustrating night - I thought I would try to duplicate some of YOUR
frustrations with your light glare.

Keep in mind that, optically I have been brainwashed into thinking my
telescope is "perfect" (actually it IS perfect...very proud of it).  So
I felt that, regardless of the degree of glare and/or internal
reflection, the scope would be operating normally.  For the record, I
have check mine out optically and it performs to, or way past, all
optical tests for correction, alignment, resolution, contrast, chromatic
aberration, limiting magnitude and empirical magnification limits.

First, I went to Jupiter (& Saturn) with both the 26mm eyepiece (the
standard Meade 4000 SP, which is my best all-round eyepiece) and the
26mm PLUS the Meade "short" achromatic barlow.  (remember that I have a
"second" barlow made just like, except another brand and UNCOATED which
I consider far better than the Meade).  I put both bright planets at 73x
and 156 xin the following modes:

    1) planet 1/2 way east of center in FOV, 73x:  no reflections of any
kind,no arcs at either power;
    2) planet 1/2 way west, 73x,  of center in FOV:  same results;
    3) planet right on east edge of FOV, 156x, brightening of eastern
1/3 of FOV, but no flares or arcs;
    4) planet right on west edge of FOV, 156x:  brightening of western
1/4 field of view, no flares or arcs;
    5) planet OUTSIDE field, but just on east edge at 73x:  glow seen on
east, but no arcs or flares;
    6) same on west.
    7) planet OUTSIDE field like (5) but with 156x:  a slight bow of
light seen SE;
    8) same as (7) but west:  a bright glow in west 1/2 but no glare or
    9) replaced barlow with second unit (uncoated) for #3,4,7,8:  bright
glow on all tests in same direction as offset, but NO arcs or glare;
    10) MOON: (one day from full) - with dark limb of moon magnified
156x with Meade barlow, many arcs and flares visible and distraction
like crazy; 2nd barlow still shows flares but not as many.

At 73x, NO residual flares nor arcs were seen; the image was very crisp;
however, when the moon was placed OUTSIDE the field on either side (Az
or RA), I could see much brightening (not sky) as I allowed the moon to
drift into the field of view, followed by a bright flare of light that
was simultaneous with the moon's bright limb appearing in the FOV.  Far
more extreme at 156x.

BRIGHT STAR:  absolutely NO light arcs or glare with Rigel nor Capella
located either on EDGE or just outside FOV.

In other words, from this I believe that what you are experience is
normal for these designs;  I, honestly, was surprised to see so much
residual glare around the moon at medium power (using just a 12.4mm
eyepiece and no barlow, by the way, cut down CONSIDERABLY on the glare
and aberrations on the moon).

Regarding Cassini's division, even though it SHOULD be visible, very
fleetingly in your ETX 90 with the 26mm (that's pretty low power), more
power is really advised to see it clearly; keep in mind that you ARE NOT
going to see Cassini's every time you go out, even in a 16" scope!  If
the seeing conditions are not really good (like I had last night) you
ARE NOT going to see fine planetary detail (look for my discussion on
"Seeing and Transparency and Your Telescope" on Mike's ETX site this

I think you are okay; glad your baffle is in place.  I think that we are
merely going to have to "put up" with some deficiencies when observing
near bright objects;  if i were you, I would start a coin jar and
beginning putting away for a GOOD 9.7mm eyepiece and good barlow to use
in combination with your 26mm;  that would be enough power range for a
long time.

Good seeing, and bright comets (no flares)....Clay Sherrod
And more:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Dick, good for you.  Stick with the scope until I have a chance to view
further and replicate your reflections.  I really think you are okay;
please give me an update on some other objects and the performance
overall and that will indicate whether your problem is something
liveable (my guess, everything else being okay) or if it needs to be

Concerning eyepieces and barlows, I think for the money and quality
returned, the Meade 4000 series SP Plossls are the best buy on the
market. I have used and/or tested all brands and there is little
difference.  I personally do not like the ultra-wide and super-wide
varieties;  when using high power, you are not necessarily looking for
wide field, so what's the point?!  Also they are 2x and 3x the price. 
the Meade 2x shorty barlow is what I use; I have compared it (I have
three others that are in teh $125 to $175 range) to others and still use
the Meade - it gives crisper and by far brighter images.

You indicated you might download some newer software; I believe that the
new Meade A2.4 version has been out and tested enough now that it has
proven about as "bug free" as you can expect;  you probably are
operating on the older 2.0 firmware in Autostar which had some problems;
the new A2.4 utlizes the database and ephemerides from the later A2.1
version and is MUCH better; downloading is now very simple and quick
with your patch cord; just follow the instructions.  You will be glad
you upgraded.

Keep in touch, hope the scope works wonderfully!
Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>I found the description of your experiment very interesting, though my
>impression is that the flare we are seeing is a lot more pronounced and
>brighter than what you described.  Unfortunately I am unable to photograph
>it or even provide you a drawing, and my verbal description is probably not
>very accurate.  However, it is more than fuzzy light - it is a bright
>elliptical halo,  and definitely obscures anything in its vicinity, and is
>rather well defined, not hazy.  Since the situations and conditions in
>it occurs are predictable, I think I will just continue enjoying the scope
>for awhile, and see what develops.  Plenty of time left on the warrantee.
>Incidentally, I had been thinking about the 9.7mm eyepiece and the 2x
>Barlow.  Should I stay with Meade products or do you have others you would
>Tonight I may get started building the PC interface cord.  Bought all the
>parts I need and am looking forward to downloading some updates from Meade.
>A cloud front is moving in so I can't be out observing tonight anyway.
>we get some good viewing I plan to try to duplicate some of what you did,
>with the obvious limitations, i.e. only one eyepiece.
>Dick Schreiber

Subject:	Question about film
Sent:	Monday, February 5, 2001 16:50:07
From:	Etxstargazer@aol.com
Do you have any experience with Fuji Superia 800 speed film? I would
like a film that records the red of nebula well, and I have heard that
800 speed films do it well. I saw that the pics you took of the orion
nebula turned out with color. I dont know why, but the 200 speed film
that I used before in piggy-back images never recorded the pink of that
nebula, It was just blue, like what you see in the eyepiece. Will the
800 film do any better? Thanks.

Taylor Chonis
Mike here: Individual films vary as to color responsiveness. Also the duration of the exposure will influence the color saturation. I've not used that type film, but for my tastes, everytime I tried Fuji film the images were too green for me. I always wondered why they picked green for their box color but then when the film was developed I knew why! (Your mileage may vary.)

Subject:	 buying in the US
Sent:	Monday, February 5, 2001 03:47:34
From:	daniel.gordon@uk.pwcglobal.com
I have browsed you website with interest and found it great to gather
information on the ETX

I am planning to buy an ETX 90 - however, in the UK, where I live,
dealers ask ridiculous high prices

Do you know any way I can buy one in the US and have it shipped to

The problem being that most US online delaers do not ship overseas


Mike here: The problem with buying in the US and shipping to another country comes if you need warranty work. You'd be out of luck. So, unless you are willing to take that risk, you'd be better off purchasing from a local dealer. One of these days we'll have a global economy. (Yeah, right.)

Subject:	 Desktop posting
Sent:	Sunday, February 4, 2001 17:29:37
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)

I read with interest your "how to make a desktop" posting at
Mike's site.

Operation may differ, depending upon how your PC is set up...
(i get no "flyout" double-clicking on the image... in either browser)

But your 15-step procedure can be compressed a bit:

(1) click on the image with the -other- mouse button.
(2) a Menu will appear.  Click on "Set as Wallpaper"

Finished. Done.  Soup to Nuts.
 Behind the browser, your desktop has just become an ETX125.
Works for both Netscape (up thru 4.75) and Microsoft Int Explorer.

Yes... your procedure is correct... (except, perhaps for the first 
step... i use the alternate-mouse-button menu to "save image as...")
but "us gurus" take a far shorter path.

(not to forget macintoshes: just hold the mouse button down for a bit
 over the image... your menu appears...)

Subject:	 Re: limiting mag
Sent:	Sunday, February 4, 2001 15:09:01
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Ells, I do have a star chart of the Pleiades that we used to use at
McDonald Observatory to monitor asteroid intercepts with a 6" theodolite
refractor. It goes down to magnitude 14.8, using a star field in the
Pleiades at about 150x and above.  I will dig it out in the near future
and re-work it and send a JPG to you as well as posting it for all
enthusiasts on the ETX web page.  It gives an empty star field with
primary (brighter) stars noted as a pattern and you merely sketch in
those that you are able to see; you must be unbiased and NOT look at the
master field ahead of time; once you have drawn in the faintest stars
you can see and completed the star field, you compare - that will show
you your actual limiting magnitude.

The beauty of this test is that it USES STARS OF THE SAME SPECTRAL
CLASS, type "O" and "B" early stars which are good limiting magnitude

I will dig it up and see.  In the meantime, you may really have acute
eyesight and some sensitivity to a color which you detect easier than
other people;  you are right, a magnitude of 13.8 is about it for a good
8" scope on a good night.

Speaking of "good," yes it does required perfect conditions for a 5" or
even a 10" to resolve Encke's, but I have seen it many times in a 10"
when I COULD NOT see it in a 32" within a block of it!  The difference
is in atmospheric resolution in larger scopes; only when perfect do the
larger scopes reach the limit; many times smaller telescope can "see
through" the resolution limits of the big ones.

Anyway, I've been meaning to dig out the limiting mag. star test to post
on Mike's great ETX site, so this will give me an excuse to dig through
the files (pre-computer era, kind of dates me, huh?) and find a hard
copy of it. I'll get it to you as soon as I rework it (it probably is in
LATIN as old as it is).

-----Original Message-----
>Actually, due to some light pollution, my naked-eye limiting magnitude
>is only about 5.8, at least for my visual acuity.  The star sightings at
>and around 13.5 magnitude in the ETX intrigued me because that is a big
>jump from the usual 12.5 value, roughly equivalent of going from a 5" to
>8" aperture.  The GSC is suppose to be quite good with magnitudes on
>most of its entries.   It does not seem possible that the altitude alone
>could do it, especially given my low naked-eye limit.  With the altitude
>difference (you to me) there is only a 20% difference in Rayleigh
>attenuation, maybe up to a factor of 10 less water vapor that is mostly
>inconsequential in the visible wavelengths, about same ozone
>attenuation, leaving mainly only aerosols that are typically a lot less
>here than in Arkansas, but which could maybe explain up to about one
>stellar magnitude difference in the extreme.  But, the naked eye limits
>should also be similarly affected.  I can't say that I have carefully
>documented my naked eye limit each night of observing but  I'm still
>wondering if I am really seeing 13.5 stars.  Guess I need some reliable
>test stars at that level.  Got any?  To pursue this, would be
>interesting if we could identify a few test stars and over a period of
>time both check them out, realizing of course that there probably more
>interesting things to be doing with our scopes, just an idea.  By the
>way, North's formula, yielding limiting mag of 13.8 for 5", is for
>supposedly normal conditions, he observes from England.
>On Encke's -
>Gerald North, apparently quite an astute and experienced observer, using
>amateur scopes up to 18" and some professional scope time, claims he has
>never seen Encke's division.  I too been looking hard for it.  I do
>notice that the A ring has a different appearance (texture) than the B
>ring but never seems to be quite steady enough to actually see the
>division.  Your report intrigues me.  Maybe just need those 6.5 seeing
>conditions, a big problem at this altitude and downwind of the Rockies.
>I couldn't see it in the 10" either although did not concentrate on it
>like with the ETX.
>An aside -
>I've seen the Mighty ETX site referred to elsewhere on the web as "a
>support group for ETX owners"; if so, you are becoming, if not already,
>the Guru.  Man, talk about prolific.  Retirement is looking more
>appealing to me.
>Clear steady skies,
And more from Ells:
Okay, great.  Only seems fitting since many people seem to use Pleiades
for naked eye limits too.  Your test would be more rigorous than what I
have done where I looked up the star first on the charts and then tried
to see it, with the dimmest ones only blinking in and out with averted
vision.  Probably would not have identified a star there if I had not
been biased to the chart. However, I have seen clearly and steadily what
GSC calls 13.4 to 13.5 mag., recalling that GSC does list errors of
around +- 0.3.  I don't think I have any particular visual capability;
have a hard time finding my way out of the room without glasses, but
guess that would not address color sensitivity.

I have just recently read about the scale of scopes vs atmos turbulence
relative to seeing, in G. North's Advanced Amateur Astro. actually, and
find that phenomena most intriguing.  (Many courses in aerodynamics,
atmospheric science, and real life and it never occurred to me.  My
defense has to be that my optics b.g. is real weak.)   I would think
that in the vertical integration that there would be so many different
sized eddies and waves that it would all wash out so as to be
independent of aperture, apparently not.  You did of course see the
recent article in Sky and Tel about Encke's division being a real test? 
I need to find and reread that.

Subject:	 Collimation question
Sent:	Sunday, February 4, 2001 14:03:23
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
I have written a couple of times about my 125's optics, half of the time
I'm thrilled and half of the time I'm worried that the thing isn't
collimated properly [or that my 26mm eyepiece is defective or
misaligned].  As I've mentioned before I can see things like the Cassini
Div in Saturn's rings fairly easily and details like the "straight wall"
near the crater Birt on the moon [despite fantastic cold here in the
East, I had a great view of this last night, a tiny hairline].  However,
certain things I had no problems with when I had my 90 are problems with
the 125 in particular the appearance of bright stars.  Sometimes these
seem irregular, even like little arrows.  Other times the out of focus
image seems to have the mirror shadow off center, but it seems to depend
on where this is in the field of view.  Last night I tried using my
Kendrick Kwik focus, supposedly if the spots don't line up it indicates
miscollimation.  I ended up aligning the three spots, but they seemed to
come in to alignment in a lop sided way, and when the scope was
supposedly focused and I removed the Kwik focus, I found that the image
was completly out of focus.  Having had a good experience with this type
of focuser when I had my 90, I'm quite confused with how it might not be
working with the 125.  Also some double stars [like Castor] end up
looking like triple stars.  I don't know if it's normal but when I look
at very bright objects, like Jupiter [or even Sirius] I get a bright
"eyeball" effect washing out the image.

In any event, do you know any site on the web which has a description of
a comprehensive program to test the optics of the scope, including
actual images of optical defects.  I'd hate to send the scope to Meade
only to find out that the problem is in the eyepiece [most of the
problems I've mentioned, but not all, are most visible with the 26mm
eyepiece].  I know that there is an entire book on this subject, but I
really don't feel like spending close to $40 if there is an alternative.
This is a time that I wish I knew someone who had an identical scope so
that I could take a look at what the image is supposed to look like.

Thanks for your help and patience.

Tom Brown
Mike here: See the "Performing Star Tests" article on the Buyer/New User Tips page.

Subject:	 Re:  focusers
Sent:	Sunday, February 4, 2001 12:02:29
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Paul Valent
Paul, thanks for writing.

There are different opinions on various brands of electric focusers; I
personally use a Meade brand ($119 at discount) and like it very much. 
I have heard complaints about the slow speed ("1" with Autostar and with
Standard Controller) being too fast, but this seems to be the case with
all of them;  at high  magnification, even the slightest movement in
focusing seems too fast.  After using it for some time, you get very
much used to the delicacy that must be used to achieve crisp focus, but
it is well worth the investment.  I use Michael Webb at
www.mshwebb@hotmail.com at Sight and Sound; he is an authorized Meade
dealer who is honest and has good prices (located in Crossville, TN). 
Use much caution when taking off your manual focusing knob, as the set
screw tends to strip out allen wrenches (the one that came with the
SCOPE - not the one included with the focuser - is a better and more
solid wrench).

You'll be glad you made the investment, whichever unit you choose!

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    Dear Clay:

    I saw your post on Mike's site regarding auto focusers.  Can you
    recommend a dealer and a manufacturer, Meade or JMI?  Thanks

    Paul Valent

Subject:	 Star-testing the ETX-90
Sent:	Sunday, February 4, 2001 07:14:06
From:	iegle@inforamp.net (Ian Egle)
Dear Mike and Clay,

First of all, I have to thank you both for your efforts in supporting
the amateur astronomy community in general, and ETX users in particular.
Mike, your website must be an ENORMOUS amount of work, I do not know
how you do it, and Clay, it is pretty clear that users of Mike's site
are finding your experience and willingness to help invaluable.  I
apologize for adding further on to your workloads....

I have owned an ETX-90EC for about six months now and have enjoyed my
experiences with it immensely.  As I live in the city (Toronto), and it
has been a rather cool winter, most of my time has been spent on
planetary/lunar observing.  It is just too cold to justify the trip to a
dark-sky site right now, and Jupiter and Saturn have been putting on
quite a show lately!  For planetary work I have been able to push the
magnification of my telescope to 167x using a Tele-Vue 11mm Plossl and
Tele-Vue 2x Barlow, provided that the seeing is good.  I also use the
Meade 4000 9.7mm SP (129x) and Tele-Vue 11mm Plossl (114x) on nights
when the seeing will not permit 167x.  Using 167x, I have been able to
tease out a suprisingly impressive level of detail, to me at least.  On
several occasions I have seen Saturn's Crepe ring, the Cassini division
is so easy that I would think something has gone horribly wrong with my
scope if I ever miss it.  I have also seen Jupiter's GRS, also quite
challenging due to its washed-out colour right now.  On a recent night
of somewhat poor seeing, three craterlets in Plato were flickering in
and out at 114x when the terminator was just past Copernicus.  This
being said, I have yet to obtain a satisfactory out-of-focus star-test
with my scope.  I have tried on many occasions, with several different
eyepieces, always with the same result.  On one side of focus, the
diffraction pattern looks great, but on the other it is blurry and the
rings almost do not look concentric. I am not sure which is intra-focal
and which is extra-focal, sorry.  I have looked for information on this
test, and the problem that most closely matches the symptoms that I see
is a turned-down edge on my mirror.  In focus star images seem OK to me,
there are several diffraction rings (too many maybe?), but I do not have
the experience to tell what is truly "OK".

Well, that it the rather lengthy background.  My question is this. 
Given what I have been able to see with the scope, do you think that
there is a problem with the optics that needs to be addressed?  I am
happy with what I have seen so far, I just want to make sure that I am
not missing out on something more.

Thanks a million to both of you for any advice that you can offer in
this matter.

Kind regards,

Ian Egle
Mike here: Since you can see the Cassini Division, my opinion is "don't try fixing what works". If you are happy then don't worry about it. Of course, if there is a problem and it were fixed, then you could be happier. Maybe. You might not even notice the difference in infocus images. And see Clay's article "Performing Star Tests" on the Buyer/New User Tips page.

Subject:	 Light flares in ETX telescope
Sent:	Sunday, February 4, 2001 05:51:28
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	dschre@goodnet.com (Richard Schreiber)
Dick, I thought I would take the liberty of writing as you may have a
potential fault (or maybe not) with your ETX 90.  Let's hope you do not;
if so it is easily correctable.

You mentioned the bright glare you are seeing off to the side nearest a
bright object when that object is outside the field of view; having used
catadioptic telescopes of all sizes and types, the problem is a familiar
one and, contrary to the advise to "check your eyepiece", is inherent in
the telescope optical system.

It has (most likely) nothing to do with the optics themselves, but to
the BAFFLING of the secondary mirror, the small one located immediately
behind the meniscus lens.  Anytime that bright-object glare is extreme
(and from your notes, it appears that it may be), there could be a
problem from two sources:

1)  The baffle is inadequate to effectively block stray light that is
reflected from the meniscus surface or from a bright object extraneous
to the telescope (street light, moon, etc.); or,

2)  The baffle is mis-positioned to the secondary mirror and is slightly
offset from your true axial alignment of the telescope's optics.

The first possibility is remote, as Meade has engineered the specifics
of the ETX optical system to perfection.  Optics and optical systems
just don't get any better.  More likely, your secondary baffle is
off-centered or has come separated from the glass surface.

Take a close look right behind the meniscus lens and look from all sides
at the black short baffle tube surround the small mirrored surface.  Now
look at it dead-center from the front of the scope.  Does it appear
centered?  Is it slightly off to one direction relative to the other? 
Now go to the Meade Web site (www.meade.com) and click on "Meade Tours"
(or something like that) and scroll through it; there is a photo of a
detached secondary baffle.  Does yours look like that?

The small aluminum baffle is merely cemented with a glue strip against
the curved meniscus surface;  over time, heating and cooling of the
surface (and glue) will cause that strip to dry out, become more
viscous, or generally just simply detach from the surface!  I have seen
about half a dozen completely come loose, including my brother's ETX 90

This was quite a problem in the older ETX RA and ETX-M models, but they
have gotten better; however, the problem still persists and will because
there is simply no better way of attaching the baffle!  Unless they have
changed their policy, Meade is very good about rush-mailing a
replacement strip (a small circular piece of "tape") if you call their
customer service.  I have heard from at least three users who have
re-attached very successfully their baffle using commercial adhesives
such as Loctite and even Loctite Epoxy (after his fell off several
times).  I would attempt the replacement tape from Meade first.

Access is very simple; merely unscrew the front element (never do this
unless you absolutely have to!) and remove to expose the inner surface
of the meniscus; gently remove the baffle and residual tape (rolling
gently with your finger pulls it up, but it is a slow process). 
Carefully center the new tape, and then the baffle, using the small
silvered mirror as a concentric guide; press firmly in place and
re-installed the threaded cell onto the scope.

You may not have a baffle problem unless the glare is very excessive; my
ETX 125 has MINOR glare of very bright (i.e., Jupiter) objects when
placed out of the field of view;  nonetheless, so did a $32,000 german
refractor that I used about 14 years ago....even worse!  In some cases,
the glare may seem excessive, but if the images are clear and sharp and
otherwise satisfactory sometimes the old adage:  "...if it ain't broke,
don't fix it!" is perhaps best observed!

Good luck....check out the baffle!

P. Clay Sherrod
Mike here: The photo is actually on my site: http://www.weasner.com/etx/fun/meade_tour.html

And a response:


I just read your very complete description of the possible problem and
solution for the glare.  It's a bit late tonight and I've just gotten in
from some observing (almost short-sleeve weather here in AZ), so will
examine the baffle in some detail within the next couple of days to see
if it shows any signs of having slipped. The scope is very new - does
that have any bearing on this problem?  I note the problem even when the
bright object is brought slightly inside the field of view, not just
outside. Also I noted last night and tonight that observing close to the
moon is quite a challenge - I suppose that is to be expected, but how
close should I be able to get?  Do those conditions shed any additional
light (bad pun) on the possibility of the baffle being off axis?

I'll be getting back to you.  Many thanks for taking the time to share
your experience and knowledge.  I am enjoying the scope a lot and having
very good luck with the Autostar.

Dick Schreiber
And from Clay:
Dick, thanks for getting back to me.  It sounds like you've done some
more checking on the glare problem last night; glad you were able to get
out!  We are still in the 20's here with much frost and wind.

You should be able to observe within about 2 degrees (four widths of the
moon) to the bright moon; even at that distance when the moon is largely
illuminated like tonight you will see some glare coming from that
direction.  Part of that problem is not your optics but the atmosphere
which is scattering moonlight in all directions; when there are very
high cirrus in the sky (many times that you cannot even see in Winter)
the scattering can be quite pronounced and puzzling as the culprit
cannot be detected visually except through the scattering of light and
hence the brightening of the (should be) dark sky immediately around the

I would hope that your glare from a planet while in the field of view
(what power are you using, and exactly WHERE is the planet located
relative to the center of field?) is not too pronounced; it should be
minimal as it would be directly out of the field of view.

Please check your secondary baffle using the angles which I specified
when you get a chance; use a flashlight to illuminate the darkened sides
of it (do not wory about what may appear to be "imperfections" in some
of the optics when shining the flashlight....they mean nothing.  (I
usually tell people to NEVER look down their scope with a flashlight or
other bright light, for fear of cardiac arrest!  it can be quite
shocking; try not to look, as again I will stress it means nothing).

Do your baffle examination in bright conditions (daylight) and be sure
an look dead center as well at the symmetry based on the circular

Since yours is relatively new, I suspect that the secondary is
relatively centered and performing fine; many times some reflection is
common and right now with the bright moon up, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn
and so many wonderful bright winter stars to see, your tests are pretty
critical.  I think, if the baffle looks okay then you are good to go and
will get used to a little extraneous light when around bright stuff.

Keep me informed....I think you are probably okay!
Clay Sherrod
Mike here: By the way, there can be one "light leak" in the ETX. Check the tripod mounting hole on the bottom of the tube. Be certain there is no light reflection sneaking in that way.

And from Clay:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike - VERY good point, particularly if observing near any extraneous
light sources from the ground!  This could be porch lights, street or
shopping center lights or a flashlight nearby.  Indeed, this also could
be, for example introduced in Alt-Az mode from say, the moon or a light,
if the moon was rising, or the bright star was, in the east (low on the
horizon) while the scope was positioned nearly overhead, exposing those
open bolt holes toward the light source! This has been a problem and is
easily recitfied through plugging the two mounting holes and inserting
foam at either end of the tripod mounting plate.  Glad you thought of

Subject:	Re: Help with Vertical Lock
Sent:	Sunday, February 4, 2001 05:50:25
From:	Margoodie@aol.com
It is the ETX-90EC and that appears to be exactly the problem.  Thanks
for you help.


Subject:	Help with Vertical Lock
Sent:	Saturday, February 3, 2001 10:45:30
From:	Margoodie@aol.com
The vertical (declination) lock does not lock.  It keeps turning.  Any
suggestions on what to do?  Can I fix myself?

Thanks for your assistance.

Larry Goodman
Mike here: You didn't specify what model telescope you have but you might check the bottom of my ETX-90EC Comments page (right below the boxed in paragraph) and see if that sounds like what might be wrong. If so, contact Meade to get the part. As you can see from the photos, it is a pretty easy repair if you have the ETX-90EC.

Subject:	 ETX's & Satellites (was: type of telescope)
Sent:	Saturday, February 3, 2001 08:40:46
From:	rick@pinefields.com (Richard B. Emerson)
Mike, a good friend asked the enclosed question.  As best I can recall,
there aren't any comments about satellite tracking experiences on WMES
(http://www.weasner.com/etx/menu.html - URL quoted here for Jay's
benefit).  Got any pointers to experiences?  TIA!


James P. Anderson III writes:
 > What type of telescope did you get?
 > I want to see what people are doing with it in terms of
 > sat tracking.
 > thanks,
 > j.
Mike here: Well, actually there are some. See the "Satellite Tracking" and "Tracking ISS" items on the Autostar Information page. Searching on "satellite" will also yield some pages that have comments.

Subject:	 New Telescope
Sent:	Friday, February 2, 2001 16:36:50
From:	srife@swbell.net (Stan Rife)
Well, I received my brand new ETX-125EC on 02/01/01...my very first,
ever, telescope of any kind. Only one problem! It was damaged and
unusable. It seems that the focus knob/shaft/mirror assembly all came
apart and the mirror was drifting around inside the telescope, along
with the associated loose parts. There was actually a spring between the
mirror and the front aperture lens and had severely scratched both in
several places. And to top it all off, the dealer I ordered from
(Shutan) stated that they did not have any more 125's and could not send
me another one. They refered me to Meade.

Well, I got ahold of Meade customer service (Mark) and he was VERY
helpful. I have read some stories on this site about some bad
experiences with Meade customer service so I did not hold out too much
hope of a quick resolution. But Mark proved otherwise! He said he would
send me another telescope, via UPS second day air, and have UPS come by
and pick up the damaged one. Wow, what service! I'll have my new
telescope middle of next week...and I am not out any additional expense.
I should not have had to go through this in the first place. If Shutan
would have done a quick inspection of the scope before they shipped it,
this could have been avoided, maybe. I'm inclined to give them the
benefit of the doubt, though, because this could have been the result of
a combination of the focus knob not being tight on the shaft, as well as
rough handling in shipping.

I don't know exactly how all of this is put together inside, but it
seems that if the focus knob is taken off of the shaft everything can
move forward into the tube and the shaft disappears along with it. Also,
the spring I saw floating around in there tells me that it is all under
spring pressure and that pressure will aid everything in moving forward
to an extent.

So, a happy ending (next week hopefully) and I'll only be delayed a week
in playing with my new toy.

Stan Rife
Houston, TX
Mike here: If the focus knob does come off, the focus shaft can slip inside the tube, creating all kinds of havoc, as you noted. Thanks for the positive report on Meade's customer service.

Subject:	 subscribe
Sent:	Friday, February 2, 2001 17:46:23
From:	corkey@islands.vi (Corkey Mcgaughey)
Mike here: Corkey, your subscription request bounced with a "user unknown" error. If you see this, please resubscribe using a valid email address.

Subject:	 ETX90 Optics Question
Sent:	Friday, February 2, 2001 11:32:43
From:	Dick.Schreiber@aexp.com (Dick Schreiber)
As a relatively new user, sometimes I'm not sure what I should be able
to see, nor what quality to expect with the ETX90.

Recently I became aware of a relatively large flare that is noticeable
when a bright object (e.g., high magnitude star, Jupiter) appears near
the edge of the field of view or just outside the FOV.  The effect is a
large elliptical halo that is visible perhaps up to 1/3 of the way into
the FOV.  As the object is brought closer to the center of the FOV it
diminishes and then disappears, but is disconcerting when trying to
observe, either near the edge of the FOV or a weak star near such a very
bright object.

If this is a chracteristic of the optics, I can live with it.  I have
contact Meade, and they asked me to try rotating the eyepiece (26 mm is
the only one I currently own) to see if it was a fault in the eyepiece
optics.  The phenomenon didn't change as it was rotated.

Bottom line: Do you believe this is an optic fault and the sope should
be returned to Meade?  Meade sounded willing to check it out, if the
eyepiece didn't seem to be the culprit.  The technician was very
responsive, but needed to confer with a supervisor to come up with an
answer - Therefore I would appreciate another opinion before shipping it
off, for who knows how long it would take to get it back.

Thanks for the website - it made the experience of getting started with
the ETX90 much, much easier.  Overall I am having a good experience and
learning how to minimize my frustrations and enjoy viewing.  Your
website is the best source of information to achieve this.

If you could also direct any reponse to my home e-mail as well
(dschre@goodnet.com) I would be very grateful.

Thanks very much.

Dick Schreiber
Buckeye, Arizona
Mike here: It sounds like an internal reflection. I've seen some indication of that but nothing as serious as yours sounds. In fact, I've used it to an advantage when the object is just outside the field of view; it points the right direction to get to the object. But once the object is in the field of view, no such flare is visible.

Subject:	 Electric focuser for ETX-125EC
Sent:	Friday, February 2, 2001 05:42:17
From:	bdavies@beauint.com (Brian Davies/Beau)
I love your site!  Having all this information available has greatly
improved my learning curve and enhanced my enjoyment of the ETX.

But, the 125 it is a pain to focus over 100X, even with the Scopetronix
flexi-focus and tripod clamps .  The time to settle down is very
annoying so I am looking into an electric focuser.  The big question,
JMI or Meade? Pro's  Con's.

One interesting note, after doing some viewing of Jupiter and Saturn the
other night (not an excellent viewing evening) I decided to check out
the Orion Nebula so I threaded my Lumicon Deep Sky filter onto my
Televue Radian10mm.  The nebula looked great, super clear trapezium with
excellent nebula contrast and dark lanes.  I later decided to swing back
to Jupiter without removing the filter.  The increase in contrast was
amazing! Earlier I had only seen clearly the equatorial bands but now I
could see many, many bands and could clearly see their irregular edges. 
If the great red spot had not been around the back it would have been
plainly visible. I then swung over to Saturn and very clearly saw the
Cassini division and even more ring detail where earlier it had been
difficult to identify the division itself.  The pale blue/green effect
of this filter was perfect.

Brian Davies
Mike here: I have the JMI focuser on my ETX-90RA and like it. I don't have the Meade one. There have been some negative reports on the speed control of the Meade one.

Subject:	 ref:focus problems with etx 70
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 23:42:01
From:	rick@hockey2.freeserve.co.uk (Rick)
Just a little update for you,seeing how you answered my question so
promptly.As you said in your reply to my disappointment with the etx
70,could it be that my expectations were beyond the capabilities of the
scope that i'd just bought.In short, yes!

I sent my etx 70 back to the supplier and exchanged it (plus cash!) for
an etx 90ec.I'm well impressed by the performance of the etx90 in every
department and i'm looking forward to upgrading it in the future i.e
focuser,auto star etc.

Anyway many thanks for an excellant,well informed web site,and here is
thanks in advance for my future questions(of which i'm sure theyre'll be

R.THORNTON     (England)

Subject:	 Observing Chair
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 23:36:33
From:	DLD@westminster.sa.edu.au (Dean Davidson)
I have been checking out your site for a couple of years as an owner of
one of the earlier ETX's, and I have found it very useful. Well done! I
wanted to comment on your recent review of the adjustable "Starbound"
observing chair. I made a wooden chair working on similar principals
several years ago (before the "Starbound" existed), and have found it
very useful (it also has a padded seat!!). I have made a number of these
for members of my local Society (Astronomical Soc. of South Australia; 
www.assa.org.au/why.html). If you are
interested, I can send you details of my chair (and a photo) for your
readers who, like me, find it difficult (or very expensive) to get
equipment from the US.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Dean Davidson

Subject:	 Clay Sherrods Star Charts
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 19:39:14
From:	screi@peoplepc.com (Wayne Scharphorn)
thought i'd pass on a little tip i tried and found useful when i printed
Mr. Sherrod's Star charts..i used glossy photo paper and laminated them
as suggested..the photo paper was a perfect heavy and durable quality
paper to use..i'm sure that a matte finished photo paper would work
also..i just had the glossy handy..

I now have eight beautiful and useful charts to help in aligning my
scope..my thanks to you and Mr. Sherrod for providing such a useful aid

Wayne A. Scharphorn
And from Clay:
One tip, though for those who print on glossy stock, no matter what the
subject (although the star charts must be protected if used in the night
air).  Ink jet printers do NOT use indelible ink and the slightest water
spot or condensation will leave noticable marks and smears; therefore,
for permanent images, I ALWAYS spray mine down after they have had about
five (5) minutes drying time with artists' arcylic spray by Krylon, the
flat or non-gloss type.  It puts up a wonderful protective barrier that
will preserve the print for decades.

It is a very strong suggestion for the star charts!
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	 ETX - 125  How do I know it's working correctly?
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 18:02:05
From:	maxsnow@livenet.net (Max Snow)
Many thanks for a wonderful site.   I bought an ETX-125 last October and
seem unable to get crisp images at any mags above the 26mm eyepiece.
Using the 26mm plus 2x Barlow, the lunar surface looks OK , but images
of Jupiter and Saturn never seem to sharpen right up. The lunar surface
with the 9.7 SP has never really been sharp.   I do live in a major city
(Virgina Beach) and it has been unseasonably cold for some time which
has restricted my viewing occasions.  I use a home made dew cap, so
think that can be ruled out.

I have looked at stars using the 26 SP and Barlow, but do not know what
an Airy disk is or what it looks like.  This may seem a dumb question
but how do I know if it's working coorectly.  Is there any way of
testing the quality or set up of the optics? Very grateful for any
advice. Thanks.

Max Snow 
Mike here: There are many factors in image quality, especially at higher magnifications. Atmospheric conditions at your location are a major factor. Heat rising from rooftops, roads, or parking lots can seriously degrade the image. But so can poor collimation. Check the collimation tests on the Tech Tips page. An Airy Disk is a series of concentric rings surrounding a bright star image. This disk is small so you may have to really look for it.

Subject:	 photography
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 17:27:18
From:	gauthalb@euregio.net (Gauthier Halbardier)
1- is there any mean to make photo by projection (etx90ec) (thus
including an eyepiece in the accessories)?
In case of yes, what is the reference number by meade?
2- what is the magnification using a 35mm canon ae1 and the #64 camera
t-adapter (the 2 pieces)?
3- why are there 2 pieces composing the #64 camera t-adapter?
thank you
Mike here: See the Accessories - Astrophotography page. As to the magnification at prime focus, this allows the telescope to be just like a telephoto lens of the same focal length. So, for the ETX-90EC you'll have a 1250mm telephoto.

Subject:	 Various (in response to other emails)
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 15:10:26
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
As yet I have not put A2.4 onto my Autostar.  I have in downloaded on my
PC but I am waiting for others to "field test" before I make any
mistakes....that is always my philosophy.  It paid off great when they
released A2.3 version about a month ago; it has been killing Autostars
ever since and wiping out Ephemide libraries.  I downloaded it, too, but
waited to transfer to Autostar until I could see if it had bugs....it
was infested.  So far, A2.4 sounds good.

Concerning large scopes:  really the "big" ones you hardly ever look
through; those days are past and until getting back into amateur
astronomy, you pretty much get lost and begin to lose your fascination
with the sky.

I still have some big scopes, but in today's bright sky world, what's
the point?  I really enjoy taking a small compact little package up to
the mountain and finding some cove where it is truly dark and still.
Yes, I am seriously looking at the LX 7; I have heard tremendous things
about its optics, and a little about the mechanical aspects.

Based on what my 5" has done compared to the Schmidts, I will most
definitely take the chance when it comes.  However, there is one
drawback to the LX 7, and the main reason I probably will never part
with the ETX 5. The LX 7 tube assembly (with fork) weighs 57 pounds!  I
have a lift-and-carry handicap that restricts me being able to carry
heavy weights of that nature; I can lift it....just can't take it too

I really favor the Meade Maksutovs for the size; I had a 7" Questar some
years back and it was optically and mechanically so bad, that Questar
actually sent their V.P. from Pennsylvania down here for four days to
check it out; he brought a replacement with him just in case and guess
what.....they were BOTH so bad and uncorrectable outside of the factory
that he took BOTH of them back (actually shipped them) and gave me a
full refund check on the spot!

That was supposed to be my "portable" scope; it looked impressive, but
so does the Meade ETX 125!

Curiously, I did not invest in another small scope for portable use
until the Meade ETX 125; don't even know what made me get the urge to
take another chance, but I did and very glad I did.  My wife said it is
like having a "new outlook on life."  Might be an exaggeration, but it
has really been a FUN telescope to own.....

....and THAT is what amateur astronomy SHOULD be:  FUN and exciting! 
Larger scopes are great, but many times they become the white elephants
that never gets played with.  Many times a person can come up with the
darndest excuses NOT to take out and set up that HUGE telescope tonight.
 But a small one that has tremendous optical capability?

That is a different story altogether; it's hard to find an excuse to NOT
take the telescope outside!

Clay Sherrod
Conway, Arkansas

Subject:	 Should I buy a ETX-90EC Scope
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 13:24:48
From:	rorford@eurobell.co.uk (Robert Orford)
I have been looking at your Web-Page regarding the Meade ETX Telescpes,
and I have found the comments and reports very interesting.

I would appreciate some advice regarding the purchase of a Meade
ETX-90EC GO TO  Telescope.

I have a budget of  about  800 and this will buy a ETX-90EC with
Autostar controller. I would prefer the ETX-125EC etc, but at  1100 is
out of my budget.

The ETX-90EC is a GO TO system, but will it give good views of the
planets (Mars, Jupiter,and Saturn etc) and the 'Deep' Sky objects
contained in the Autostar database.

The second choice is either a Meade 8" Dobsonian reflector, and a Meade
Magellan1 - Telescope Computer System attachment costing about the same
price as the ETX-90EC.

Is the Magellan1 computer system a GO TO attachment similar to the

Mike, I would value any comments or advise regarding the best Telescope
system to go for, and considering I want to spend more time observing,
and less time searching the night sky.


Mike here: I have no experience with the Magellan system or the Dob. From an aperture perspective, the 8" will allow higher magnifications and fainter objects. But is less portable than the ETX-90EC. So, depending upon your expectations (as I've frequently noted on the site) the smaller telescope may or may not be what you want. As many have described on the site, you can see planets and deep sky objects with the smaller telescopes. You just have to set your expectations at the right level.

Subject:	 baffle on front plate
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 08:51:29
From:	jgettis81@earthlink.net (John J. Gettis)
I was looking at the baffle if that it was it is called that is glued to
the underside of the front of the telescope I had not notice before but
it seems to be a bit off center and looks like it is slipping. I have an
original ra model.  Is this a common problem and I would assume that
this is a send it back to Meade type of thing.  Any Idea of what they
would charge to fix this.  John Gettis
Mike here: Take a look at the photo on the Meade Tour page. If that is similar, then contact Meade for a repair. I don't know if they are charging for that now. Let me know what you learn.


Yeah that is what it looks like so.  I will let you know what Meade
charges me thanks John

Subject:	 Site
Sent:	Thursday, February 1, 2001 16:25:06
From:	gueanil@prtc.net (Paco)
Hi my name is Francisco Gonzalez.

I think that your side is good and help me a lot. I buy a Meade ETX 90mm
one month ago and in your site I learned to using the telescope, and as
using a video camera to take picture the same as a CCD.

My EMail is gueanil@prtc.net

Subject:	 ETX90 Purchase
Sent:	Wednesday, January 31, 2001 20:39:21
From:	hak@sympatico.ca (Howard Kameka)
I've done all the number crunching and the current ETX90EC and Autostar
497 promotion makes the combo over $300US cheaper in the States than
here  in Canada.  I will be in Florida in March and I will surely want
to pick one of these babies up. My question is, given the random
problems with the ETX that I've read about on your site, would it be
wise to purchase this product outside of my home country?  Would th
warrenty bs vald in Canada, nd would I b able to take it to anzuthorized
Meade dealr should the nesd arise without a problem? For those
wondering, the average price here is $925 Canadian for the ETX90EC and
$249 Canadian for the Autostar. Add 15% tax to that [yes, 15%] then
convert to American dollars and you will see that the savings is quite
substantial for me. Based on your best guess, what are my chances of
getting a lemon?

Thank you for your time.

Howard Kameka
Mike here: I doubt that any warranty would be honored if the telescope was purchased out of country. As to the percentages, remember that we only see a small fraction of user comments here. We have no idea of the total number of ETX sold worldwide but it is obviously a much larger number than visitors to this site.

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