Last updated: 31 January 2002
This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Mike here with a reminder: Please use an appropriate subject line on your emails. It helps when responding and when putting them on the Site. Using a subject of "Help" or "A question" doesn't really do anything. I don't respond more or less rapidly to such labeled email but it does slow me down when preparing messages for the Site; I have to change the subject line to something more appropriate so that visitors can get a quick idea of the topic. Many thanks for your help.
Subject:	Clear skies
Sent:	Thursday, January 31, 2002 16:39:55
From: (Fred & Rose Lieberman)
I live in the Norwich, NY area.  Clear skies means the distance between
one's eyes and the bottom of the clouds in this neck of the wood.

A month and a-half-ago, I got the Meade SP26.  I noticed a few days ago,
as I shined the light through the lense that there was a thin film on
the lense.  I took it apart and cleaned it.  The film is now gone. 
Multi-coated is only on the front lens and not the rear lens.

I would like to get a chance to use the scope again.


Subject:	ETX Pedestal
Sent:	Thursday, January 31, 2002 15:04:35
From: (Dispatch)
I'm considering building a backyard pedestal, set in concrete, for my
ETX-90.  In theory (mine) if this was set in alignment, all one would
have to do is attach the scope and start viewing.  Has anyone done this?
 Are there other considerations?  Am I missing something?

Mike here: If you park the scope (using the Autostar) when done observing, then when you come back and remount the ETX, you should be all set.
Subject:	ETX book
Sent:	Thursday, January 31, 2002 12:13:55
From: (d wallen)
I recieved a message from Amazon the other day saying they can't get
your book. Is going to be available from them in the future?
Mike here: They should have it in mid-February.
Subject:	RE: 884 tripod
Sent:	Thursday, January 31, 2002 9:26:00
From: (Ken Krolikoski)
Do you think the JMI offers any advantage over the 884 vs the JMI
Megapod? The 884 seems to fix the shortcomings of the 883 with about a
1lb of weight gain. Also missing a leveling bubble which I'm lot sure if
the 883 had. I can't wait to get in the ETX105 that I have on order,
however being in Oregon there is probably no rush in the wintertime.

Mike here: The Megapod is nice (from reports) and apparently so is the #884. Could be a toss-up.
Subject:	The Book
Sent:	Thursday, January 31, 2002 7:07:06
Dear Mike,

Ray Free thought you might be interested in this book, published by Springer Verlag:

100 Objects You Can Really See with ETX, by Mike Weasner 

Your colleague had these comments to add:
looks like we'll wait awhile longer.

You can find out more about this book at:

We hope you find it interesting.


175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Subject:	Telescope Trade In
Sent:	Wednesday, January 30, 2002 19:39:28
From: (BB)
Love the site!!.....find myself here alot. Have but one and only one
question.I now have a ETX 90  and love the scope alot, but was wondering
if  you would happen to know  if there is a dealer that would take my 90
in on a trade in for a brand new and  larger ETX the 105 or
125. My scope is 1 year old and has been  taken well care of.Keep up the
good work and thanks for all the help over the past year.

Bruce Brooker
Mike here: Shutan Camera and Video has (or had) a trade-in program. Perhaps others do as well. Check with your favorite dealer or the ones listed on the Astronomy Links page in the Dealers section.
Subject:	your website.
Sent:	Wednesday, January 30, 2002 10:15:47
From:	rhill@LPL.Arizona.EDU (Rik Hill)
Did you see my mail a couple weeks ago on the great success I had
aligning the ETX90 I have? The instructions came from your website. That
website is a great resource. I applaud you on maintaining it. That's a
lot of work. I know because I maintain 4.


Sr. Research Spec.
Catalina Sky Survey
Planetary Occultations Group
Lunar & Planetary Lab.
Univ. of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

Subject:	884 Tripod legs extend
Sent:	Tuesday, January 29, 2002 19:54:53
From: (Barry Speronello)
The height of the 884 tripod is adjustable.  Legs are tubular steel and
the lower section telescopes into the upper section and is locked into
place with a knob/screw.

Subject:	Using the Meade ETX
Sent:	Tuesday, January 29, 2002 19:45:42
Ron Tolles in Spring Valley, CA here.  Apparently, I am unable (as well
as everyone else) to acquire a copy of your new book entitled, "Using
the Mighty Meade ETX".  Amazon.Com is unable to fulfill my order, and,
they officially cancelled it recently.  Mike, Is there another source I
can go to obtain a copyof this book;  I would like to have it as a part
of my astronomy home library.  Any help in this matter would greatly be
appreciated.  Thank You Kindly.  Ron Tolles  My E-mail address is
Mike here: They should be taking orders again. Just resubmit it.
Subject:	ETX-70AT Setting Circles
Sent:	Tuesday, January 29, 2002 19:24:37
From: (Thomas Henry)
A recent question about setting circles reminded me of a fun experiment
you can perform on your ETX-70AT.

Put the scope in the Alt-Az home position (use a bubble level for the
altitude and Polaris for the azimuth, for most accurate results). Turn
both setting circles until they read 0 (0 degrees for altitude and 0
hours for azimuth).  Then go ahead and complete the usual setup
procedure to get ready for observing.  Do not touch the circles again.

Later, when you're looking at any object of interest, press and hold the
Mode button for several seconds.  This brings up the local info
(celestial coordinates, local time, Sidereal time, etc.). Scroll down
until you come to the altitude and azimuth readings. Compare them with
your setting circles, and they ought to be the same.  Neat!

By the way, the gradations are in 5 minute intervals on the azimuth
circle, so you may need to interpret/convert to match the Autostar

This is really fun, and has been exceedingly accurate for me, giving
testament once again to the precision of the drives and electronics. 
I'm not sure what use we can put this to (since we usually work in RA
and declination), but it is fun to see the magic at work, and perhaps it
will you confidence that your alignment and equipment are tip-top.  And
if nothing else, it's a nice "hands on" way to learn about coordinate

Best wishes,

Thomas Henry
Mike here: This works for any telescope with a GOTO system.
Subject:	Great site and great work
Sent:	Tuesday, January 29, 2002 0:37:41
From: (Dimitris Rakopoulos)
I just recently found out about your site when I recently found out the
one and only dealer of Meade telescopes in Greece. I am about a week ago
from buying an ETX90 telescope and I'm thrilled. Your site elevated my
anxiety even more. You have done a great job here with tons of
information on every aspect of telescopes. Your site is absolutely
brilliant and very informative.

I was wondering how you manage to maintain it. I am in the web content
business and I find it kind of weird how come and you don't use some
sort of dynamic application to dispaly all this content. I don't
compalint about the way the site works. I am thinking that it must be
difficult to do it. I mean there are ways to make your life easier. I
can think of 1 or 2. I would realy like to help you on that. You have a
great resource and you must lose tons of time to keep it up-to-date. If
you are interested on exchanging ideas on how you can make your life
easier feel free to contact me.

I'll let you know about my new ETX when I start observe the skies. Best
regards. Keep up the good job. You are an inspiring all of us out there!
Dimitris Rakopoulos
Athens, Greece
Mike here: I have considered moving to a more dynamic system but I still want to retain control (sort of like a newsgroup moderator). Since I use a Macintosh, I have several Applescripts that automate some of the processes necessary to maintain the Site. The most time consuming part is actually reading all the email I get every day and responding. And I would still want to do that.
Subject:	Author
Sent:	Monday, January 28, 2002 22:15:17
From: (hpwallner)
I just ordered your book at and I am looking forward to
reading it. Without your site the Autostar controller would still be a
kind of mystery to me. Thanks for your great work (the book will get a
special place on our bookshelf).

Peter Wallner

Subject:	mead etx-60at lens care
Sent:	Monday, January 28, 2002 21:58:22
From: (Jon Nelson)
I recently got a mead etx-60at and i accedently marked up the front lens
by rubing it with a clear see wipe and it made all sorts of streeks in
the lens and the streeks would never go away even after rubbing them
with a soft cloth, so i threw it away and got a nother one but i am
still kind of afraid of wiping the lens, so what i am wondering is how
can i clean my lens? i read the manual last time and it didnt help ,so
please help me!!! ( :
Mike here: See the article "Cleaning Optics" on the Buyer/New User Tips page. I hope you didn't "rub" hard...
Subject:	883 or 884
Sent:	Monday, January 28, 2002 17:43:56
From: (Bob Vilums)
I was wondering if you could tell me the difference between the Meade
883 Deluxe  Field Tripod and the 884.  They appear to be priced the
same.  I can buy the 883 locally, but it appears if I want the 884 I
have to order it.  Is there a major difference I should be concerned
about to use my new 90ec?
Thanks once again,
Mike here: The #884 is more stable. But I don't believe it can be extended in height, unlike the #883. Those are probably the major differences. I don't have the #884 so can't speak from experience. There are some other differences, as noted in emails further down this page.
Subject:	Using The Meade ETX
Sent:	Monday, January 28, 2002 9:23:52
From: (Jerry L. Collier)
I ordered a copy of your new book entitled "Using the Meade ETX,"
through Amazon (dot) COM several months ago.  They have indicated a
back-order problem..

I am really eager to peruse this good book, so was the publication date
pushed back or what?!

Additionally, I've experienced an enormous amount of difficulty getting
my ("new") ETX125 set up and functioning.  I purchased this at a
slightly reduced price from a local dealer as it was a "floor model."  I
understood that no one at the store was familiar with telescopes.  I
subsequently discussed this with the dealer who contacted Meade but got
no help;  they gave me the impression that help from Meade was an
industry joke and (!) furthermore had I selected one of the Celestron's,
I would not have my problem!

I went so far as to send it to Clay Sherrod (per the salesman) for the
super tune up and it performed very well following that...for about two
weeks.  Dr. Sherrod's expertise and tenacity with the various ETX
problems is commendable.

To enumerate the various problems in this letter, e.g., inability to
locate, track, stripped threads, aberrations, etc., would take some

The scope is still under warranty and while Meade was of no help
initially, following my repeated contacts, I am about ready to board a
plane with the ETX125 and personally sit in their factory until this is
"made right."

Short of that what is your recommendation?  I have just retired, have a
limited income and was eagerly anticipating the rediscovery of my hobby
of 40 years ago!

I am really grateful for your thoughts on this dilemma!!

Jerry Collier
Springfield, MO
Mike here: Thanks for the ordering the book. It should be in the stores any day now. As I recently noted on the Book page, I just received my author's copy.
As to your telescope difficulties and the sales person, I suppose if you purchased a used Saturn at a Toyota dealer you'd probably get the same response. I'm not comparing the companies, just noting that people will support what they know. That's why this Site supports Meade telescope users. There are other sites that support Celestron users. If you want to elaborate on your difficulties, we can attempt to work through them. Tracking and GOTO errors can usually be resolved. As to stripping of threads, sounds like that "floor model" description could come back to haunt you.
By the way, a "floor model" may have actually received more abuse than a "used" one since I doubt that the customers read the manual: "Gee, I wonder what happens if I move this big tube by hand with it fully locked down?" "Nice lens. I wonder what the other side looks like? Lets take it off and found out." So, like with many products, buying a "floor model" is a risk and sometimes you get more than you paid for and sometimes less.
Subject:	New ETX Book
Sent:	Sunday, January 27, 2002 19:17:36
From: (Richard H. Arland)
Just put your new book about he ETX on order at Barnes & Nobel. Can
hardly wait to read it. I just noticed your bio in another book I
recently purchased. It said you were a USAF Fighter Jock. IP, no less.
No wonder I like you!! Spent 20 in the AF as a Comm Weenie....greatest
time of my life!

Hey, the site is great. I have retrieved lots of good info on the ETX
90RA from the archives. Many thanks for taking the time to keep this
site current. It is a valuable resource.

Don't supposed you're a ham radio operator, are you? A lot of hams are
amateur astronomers. I think it's this dependency on gadgets!

73 (Best Wishes in "Ham-Speak")

Rich Arland, K7SZ
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Mike here: Yep, the Air Force was a great place to be! Sorry, not an amateur radio operator. Several people have tried to get me interested over the years but no time for that one!
Subject:	Tripod mounting for etx-125
Sent:	Sunday, January 27, 2002 15:10:55
From: (LABARGE, TIMOTHY, Maj, 105OG)
Was wondering if you could help with the following question.  I have a
Meade 114EQ-DH reflecting telescope mounted on a Meade tripod that looks
very much like the pictures of #883 Meade tripod I have seen.  Is there
some sort of attachment or adapter that I can purchase to mount the ETX
on this tripod. The 114EQ-DH has an equatorial mount on it that is not
at all similar to the bracket required for the ETX.  Very much new to
the astronomy game and am looking for the magic items that will make the
experience more user friendly and therefore more enjoyable for me.

If you get a chance to respond, my home e-mail address is

Thanks for your time. I am enjoying picking up information off your very
informative website.
Tim LaBarge

Subject:	JMI Wedgepod
Sent:	Sunday, January 27, 2002 12:48:10
From: (Scott & Ann)
I bought the JMI wedgepod in 1999 for my EXT EC, will the ETX 125EC also
fit on this mount?  Thank you.
Mike here: You should check with JMI. The original Wedgepod probably won't be as stable with the ETX-125EC as the newer ones.
Subject:	Great Site
Sent:	Sunday, January 27, 2002 12:15:35
From: (marc.delaney)
Yours is a fabulous site! I have had my ETX -90EC (upgraded from a small
newtonian) since around two months and used it just 4 times so far
(British weather, not laziness!), but I am generally pleased with the
scope, but already begun to wish I could afford the 125. However, my
enjoyment of it has doubled because of your site --- I visit it almost
every day! So, from me, a big THANKS.
Marc delaney

Subject:	like your site.
Sent:	Sunday, January 27, 2002 11:30:02
From: (Daredevil)
keep up the good work.

Subject:	Author, Author!
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 20:36:22
From: (Steve & Cathy Bedair)
Congratulations on the book !!

Where do you find the time to keep the web site up and running and now
to write a book ?  I am looking forward to reading it and I will be one
of the first in line to purchase it. Thanks for all your hard work on
keeping us informed.

 Steve Bedair
Mike here: Thanks! As to time, I managed to arrange to have time slowed down in my part of the Universe. I've heard that that has caused some errors in the Autostar alignments and GOTOs... My apologies.
Subject:	Another satisfied customer!!
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 20:16:47
Just a little plug for Dr. Clay's supercharge service. If anything is
worth the money then it is surely this. I just spent the last to evening
(under 9/10 conditions) see celestial wonders I had only imagined
before. Great job Dr. Clay. 

Ron Martinkosky

Subject:	884 tripod -can you sit viewing south.
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 16:14:05
For Martyn in the Netherlands...... I have the 884 tripod. When viewing
near direct south, you would have a leg there. If you can lean just a
bit to either side, you can most likely remain seated. The legs are
fairly widespread for stability, so a somewhat tall chair may straddle
the leg. With the ETX 90 I would tell all they may want to sit. This
tripod is lower than the 883 and if you are near 6 feet tall you will be
stooping a lot. Very stable though! Good altitude adjustment, but
azimuth takes moving the tripod left or right until you hit Polaris.
Will easily handle a ETX125. Clear and dark skies to all.    Warren
From: (martyn)
Hello Warren,

Thanks a lot for your experience. I've received also received another
report that I should have no problem. That's great, thanks a lot! It so
happens I came acros a tripod in a hardware store, about 1/3rd the price
of the #884, extremelly stable but I would need to make a
wedge/hinge-like contraption to be able to aim the ra axis at polaris.
Eather way I'll report backt to Mikes' site.

Thanks alot, regards,
And this:
Sent:	Sunday, January 27, 2002 0:50:55
Thanks very much for the site. The existence of this site and the wealth
of ETX info swayed me to finally buy an ETX after about 25 years of
thinking about buying a scope. Got a great deal from Astronomics ($249
for the ETX90RA) and for $100 more for the 884 Deluxe Field Tripod.
Unfortunately the clouds arrived about the same time the telescope did,
so I haven't done much more than pull it out in the back yard for a
quick look at the Moon or Jupiter, but the 884 seems rock solid. The
tubular construction makes for very rigid legs and the angular
adjustment plate will make alignment a snap. The pod drops down
perfectly for seated viewing and the northern leg slides under a chair
for seated viewing in the southern sky (a concern posted by Martyn in a
previous post). Again, I haven't taken it out into the desert yet for a
true field test, but I think it's a quality tripod.

Mike S.
Las Vegas, NV
From: (Barry Speronello)
In response to the question about whether or not one can observe from a
chair objects located due south using an ETX125 and an 884 tripod:  the
answer is, at least for the test I did, yes.  Martyn is correct that the
telescope mounting head of the 884 tripod can't be rotated relative to
the legs, and that one of the legs points north in polar mode.  And the
legs are more widely spread then the older 883 tripod.  But with the
right arrangement, it a chair can work with it.

I used a metal folding chair with no stabilizing bar spanning the space
between the front legs.  That allowed the chair legs to straddle the
tripod leg and approach more closely to the scope than it could if a
stabilizing bar were present.  This chair sits relatively low, and it
required that the tripod legs be lowered to almost their lowest point to
be able to comfortably reach the eyepiece when seated.  That brought the
ends of the legs in towards the center of the scope and allowed me to
reach the eyepiece comfortably when seated on the chair while it
straddled the north-facing leg.

I hope this helps.  Good luck.

Subject:	What does an #884 tripod look like ?
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 14:54:22
From: (Kevin 'Zaph' Burfitt)
I'm planning on buying a #884 Meade tripod, the one that replaced the
883, for my ETX-90EC. I was at the local store last week and they had a
deluxe field tripod there, we opened the box and looked at it, but there
was no model number to be found on the box/instructions or tripod
itself. I've heard the 884 is a better tripod (stronger, more stable) -
and was wondering if there are any visual differences between it and the
883 so that I could tell which one I was getting ?   I've checked the
net and cannot find an image of an 884 anywhere (lots of the 883, none
of the 884).  I don't want to buy the tripod if it is the 883 model, but
don't know how to tell which one it is.

Any help would be appreciated

Kevin 'Zaph' Burfitt - Cthugha, StarLego, and more
Mike here:
Subject:	paul rinni eps
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 9:19:54
i only discovered your web site recently after i recieved etx 125.i have
owned an etx 90 ec for 3 years and never had a seems i was
lucky enough to get the newest version of the for its rather
stiff in the az. but locates ok. i really need to update my autostar but
afraid of computers.anyway after reading comments on rinni eps i began
to feel a bit lucky to have a dozen rinni's.i have other eps but only
use them when a filter is needed.he is a resourceful,helpful person and
i wish him the arecent conversation with paul ,he told me that
he was working on some 4" eps for large teles.again thanks for a place
to vent and find help when needed,a great site.............j.taylor   
south carolina

Subject:	Jupiter
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 8:08:12
From: (Alfred Fink)
Over the last few weeks I have seen several posts about, Observing
Jupiter, and the surprise at accidentally finding a GRS or a moon shadow
transit in progress.

I'd like to pass along an excellent little web-site with a Java applet
that shows the realtime positions of the Jovian moons, the GRS, and
shadow passes. It can also be reset for future dates and times.

Akkana Peck who's page this is in the San Francisco bay area and so is
probably optimized for that Lat/Lon but I find it an excellent ref. for
S. CA and probably for most of N. America if you remember to convert for
the time.


Subject:	Nothing so zealous.............................
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 7:02:23
We started out with an ETX-70AT around Christmas 2001. I have already
sold it & bought a new (from a lady that never used it) ETX-90EC, with
all Meade accessories, 497 Autostar, electric focus, zoom eyepiece, AC
adapter, & several more items. It, however, did not come with a tripod.
I have a new deluxe field tripod & the 8x25 finderscope on order. Last
night was incredibly clear here, so I just HAD to use the 90. I cut a
1"x8" & made an adapter to use my heavy photographic tripod. It was
marginal at best, convincing us ordering the heavy Meade tripod was a
good decision. I thought you might get a laugh from my "rig" Take a look.
Mike Isenberg
Decatur, Illinois

Subject:	field doubler
Sent:	Friday, January 25, 2002 15:26:03
From: (Robert Smerdon)
Hey mike. Do you ever get the feeling that you are the biggest resource
for the etx? well you are ha ha!!!!

Seeing that, I need to pick your brain. Or if everyone else out there
can help me that would be good too. FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME!! if you have
any comments about this.

The subject is field doublers or wide angle attachments for the etx 125.
I've read the review on the shutan model. and it seems to be ok except
the fact that you have to buy a visual back in addition too the wide
angle attachment. the total cost is about $120+ s/h.  I also have been
looking at the scopetronics field doubler. cost $90+ s/h. it is a field
doubler/visual back in one piece. Have you or anyone else used this and
what did you think about it? There is no review on it here.  Here's the
brain picking part!

The scopetronics people say that their field doubler is for astrophoto
or ccd imaging only and not visual use. they say it will not reach focus
if a diagonal is inserted into it. now my question to scopetronics was,
will I have the same focus problem if I wanted to do eyepiece imaging
without the diagonal. I would just insert an eyepiece into the field
doubler and then attach the mod web cam to the eyepiece with some sort
of adapter. scopetronics said that I shouldn't have a problem as long as
it wasn't too far back from the field doubler.  My question to you and
everyone else is how far back is too far?  I am waiting for an answer
from scopetronics. but I would like to know your thoughts on this also! 
 I haven't made the mods to the cam yet. I'm doing the homework first so
I can avoid having to rebuild the home made cam box all over again.

thank for the great site and keep up the good work      Robert
Mike here: I don't have the Scopetronix one so can't comment on its usability for your purpose. And there is no review because no one has sent me one. If you do get it, how about a review!
Subject:	#884 tripod question
Sent:	Thursday, January 24, 2002 9:05:18
From: (martyn)
I am thinking of buying the #884 tripod. When I look at the picture in
the Meade ads it seems to me that when I'd be viewing objects in
Southern direction the one tripodleg is "in the way". Standing, this
would not be a problem but seated on a chair might be? Can anyone tell
me whether it is possible to sit behind the scope/#884 while seated in a
chair and while viewing due south? Or will this tripodleg be in the way?

Many thanks!!!
observing from the Neterlands
52 28.37N  6 24.44E
Mike here: If you are mounted in Alt/Az mode I suspect you'll be able to rotate the telescope or tripod 180 degrees when you mount the telescope.


Thanks alot! I actualy intend to use the 90RA + #884 in "polar mode".
Maybe it's not as big a deal as I fear but you're right, let's see what
others will say about it. It's just a pity I have no address where I can
actually see and feel the# 884 real dealers here do no have it
in stock.
Mike here: Lets see, with the #884 I think you'll need a wedge to go Polar. And the wedge can probably mount in either of two directions.


From what I can see from the ad-pic the #884 tripod has this build in
"wedge", a tiltable plate that will allow the etx90 to be polar-aligned?
but this titltable plate is tilted towards the one leg to put the
noncentred weight of the tilted scope onto this leg to prevent a
possible crash....I think. The whole assembly does not appear to be able
to turn. I hope it will be possible to sit in a chair behind the scope
on tripod  in such a way that the tripod leg will not be in the way.
This ofcourse is an issue only when viewing objects directly south. I am
unable to stand behind the scope for prolonged periods due to gunshot
inflicted hipinjuries some time back in a robbery attempt downtown
Johannesburg. So you can imagine I'd like to sit while staring at
deepskyjewels for  many many  minutes at a time. Maybe the tripod will
actually fit "under a chair", if someone can tell me yes it can, the
deal would be sealed!

Subject:	Help re ETX 125ec
Sent:	Thursday, January 24, 2002 7:10:17
From: (Dignan, Fergus)
I hope you are well and I enjoy the Information you have on your web
site. I am writing to you from the UK and have had an ETX 125 for about
3 months. As a new user I am not sure what is the best solution I should
use to clean the lens. When putting on the lens cap I put my thumb on
the Lenz and left a nice clear thumb print.....

I'd prefer not to see it 

Thanks for your web site, 

Regards from Europe

Mike here: See the article "Cleaning Optics" on the Buyer/New User Tips page. You can also search the Site for "clean" and you'll find lots of comments.
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 20:34:26
From: (Sherry Kraemer)
I found an Excel spreadsheet that converts RA/Dec into Alt/Az
coordinates. The website is

Download Chip Baine's Excel spreadsheet "astro.xls", scan for viruses,
and call it up with Excel.  You enter your Long/Lat and the RA/Dec for
your target star.  The spreadsheet calls for your PCs time to calculate
Julian and Local Mean Sidereal Time.  You need to use one of the atomic
clock freeware packages on the net to be assured you have as accurate
time as possible.  You should also use one of the website like Mapquest
to get accurate Long/Lat for your observing site.

Every time you press the F9 key the Alt/Az is updated. The spreadsheet
is only 36K and is VERY fast. It is truly slick...

Jim Kraemer

Subject:	Kudos on your website
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 19:13:21
Just had to write a short note of appreciation for your site.  I'm in
the market for a 125 and, as a total novice to astronomy and telescopes
in general, this site has been incredibly valuable in shortening my
learning curve.  Thanks.

Subject:	ETX 125 focus
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 14:41:05
From: (Steveo)
I see several people with disconnected focus shafts writing in. I too
have managed to unthread mine and was able to rethread it by simply
pushing the shaft and knob in gently and threading it back in.
Steve O.

Subject:	lens hygiene
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 10:56:01
From: (Slater, Jack)
Do I need to keep lenses in some kind of individual plastic containers
or can I store them in the foam rubber padding areas designed for lenses
in the Meade carrying case I have?

Also, what's the best way to make sure they are clear/clean for use?

Mike here: If you have the original "bolt bottles" use them. If not, several dealers sell them. Alternatively you can use any container that won't "outgas". But for storage you can use the foam in the case. As to making sure they are clean, don't leave them out of the container longer than necessary to actually use. When not in use put them back into their bolt bottles. This reduces the time exposed to dust, hair, moisture, and other evils.
Subject:	RE: RE: Local Outreach
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 6:48:00
From: (Fink,Al)
Hate making changes after something has been published, but due to a
scheduleing glitch, the Outreach at the Madrona Marsh Nature Center in
Torrance, CA has been moved up one week to Saturday evening March 9th

Again, sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Al Fink
RAS Outreach Director
Mike here: This is the one in Torrance, CA, USA.
Subject:	ETX 90 - Deluxe Field Tripod [adapter/converter?]
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 14:10:09
I have the ETX-90 Deluxe Field Tripod, I was wondering if you knew of a
place that would convert this tripod into a tripod that I can attach a
35mm camera on to it?

Thank You Mike.... you have been so helpful in the past, that once again
I turn to you for guidance...

Follow the stars.........

Mike here: Scopetronix used to have one. I couldn't find it just now on their Site but check with them.
Subject:	Focal reducer
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 10:05:54
From: (Alain BODIVIT)
Mike have you ever heard about a focal reducer compatible with ETX 125
for visual application. My local retailer claims that he can provide one
from canadian origin but just for astrophotography.

Mike here: See the "Shutan Wide-Field Adapter" discussed on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page. Vignetting is possible though.
Subject:	Meade 45 degree correcting prisim.
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 9:41:22
From: (Jeff Schock)
Am I missing something.  I ordered the 45 degree correcting prisim from
meade and when I use it it seems to be about twice the power than
without it.  I use a 30mm eye piece and images in the 90 degree position
are half as large than the ones in the 45 degree holder.  Does it have a
Barlow lens or something.

I have a ETX 60

Thank you for any help.

Jeff Schock
Mike here: I never noticed this with mine. But there is likely some image size change; I just never measured it.
Subject:	Tight lens cap
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 1:25:36
From: (David Tindall)
I'd just like to say what a great site / service you provide for all of
us ETX nuts!

I have read in the past few months that some ETX owners are encountering
lens caps that are very tight and difficult to remove. My ETX-90EC has
been OK until recently, however occasionally I do have trouble removing
the cap and I am not guilty of over tightening it once! A simple
solution to prevent the threads binding is to rub a tiny amount of
lubricant over the thread on the cap, not the OTA. In Australia there is
a product called 'Dri-Lube', it is a waxy type material in the shape of
a thick pencil. This product won't run like a liquid based lubricant
(and get into the lens assembly). Perhaps there is a similar product in
other countries too.

I hope this small hint is of use.


David Tindall. -- Brisbane.
Mike here: The only I might worry about is whether the lubricant will "outgas" and deposit a film on the glass.


The lubricant is inert (I think that is the correct term!).

Subject:	Diagonal Mirror Scratches
Sent:	Monday, January 21, 2002 3:56:50
From: (Kevin Shein)
First, let me complement you on your site and the tremendous amount of
useful information found on it.

I have had an ETX 125 for about a month now and am for the most part a
very satisfied customer.  I am very happy with the scope's optics. 
Yesterday, while checking the scope collimation I noticed a slight film
on the diagonal mirror.  I attempted to clean the mirror with isopropyl
alcohol and a lens cleaning cloth.  The film disappeared but I ended up
with several horizontal hairline scratches on the diagonal mirror.  I
have owned scopes for years and have never had this happen before.  My
question is:  Will these scratches adversely affect my view through the
eyepiece? If so, what would I notice when looking at objects (scattered
light, blurring, diffraction rings?).  Any insight you could give would
be appreciated.  Thanks.

Kevin Shein
Mike here: The scratches were likely created from dust particles in the cloth or on the first surface mirror. First surfaces mirrors are easily scratched. Whether you will see any affect on the image depends upon the extent of the "damage"; you may see nothing or you may see some color fringing or lowered contrast due to light scattering.
Subject:	Electronic Viewfinder
Sent:	Sunday, January 20, 2002 20:35:35
From: (Holly Moore)
I received a Meade electronic eyepiece for Christmas (actually 2 - one
for my ETX90 and one that came free with my new LX90).  It has been so
cloudy here that we haven't been able to get outside, but when we tried
it in the house we couldn't get a picture.  Do you have any experience
with this new gadget?  It looks like we'll have to schedule a trip to
see the stars if we don't want to wait until April because of the
constant overcast - and I want to be sure everything is working before
we're on the road.

Thanks for any insights - you have a great sight

Mike here: Nope, haven't used one. However, there are several comments about it on the Site. Search for "electronic eyepiece".
Subject:	NGC Lists
Sent:	Sunday, January 20, 2002 14:09:07
From: (Terry Pierson)
Does anyone know where I can find a list of NGC objects that is suitable
for printing?



PS: Very nice site Mike! 
Mike here: Check:
Subject:	Adding Autostar?
Sent:	Sunday, January 20, 2002 9:24:30
From: (Bob Grabnik)
Have owned an ETX 90RA for some time. Your site has contributed to my
knowledge. I was confused by your response to "Gerald" on January 17. He
was asking your advice on which telescope to buy and you told him he
could buy an ETX90RA and add autostar later on. I had always seen it
stated on your site that this could not be done. What gives?
Mike here: Sorry for the confusion. Where I said "Perhaps you do need on the ETX-90RA (non Autostar capable model, the original ETX model) which costs less than the ETX-90EC (but you could add an Autostar later if you wish)." I was referring to the EC model.
Subject:	major battery power
Sent:	Sunday, January 20, 2002 6:14:43
From: (Alan Palmer)
Mike, thanks for your speedy reply on satellite TLE's way back when....
I found a really good external battery for the ETX. It's called the
"Mighty Mite" and it is made by  Schumacher Electric.  Never thought of
an automotive jump starter; spotted it at Sears when we were down for
Thanksgiving and our annual Christmas shopping trip.  If I recall, the
price was about $50.00.

The unit itself is as close to perfect as one would want- approx. 15 hr
at a 500 mA draw, has a builtin cigarette plug on one side, charge
indicators and 3 status lights. So far, I've only put about 3 hours use
in ( been pretty well overcast by the time I get home at night), but the
unit is still reading a full charge even after sitting in an unheated
porch for the last 6 weeks.

Hopefully, I can provide you with a better report and photos  in the
near future.   Clear Skies, and keep up the good work!


Sent:	Sunday, January 20, 2002 3:41:51
Being a newcomer to the ETX and now owning a 125 could you post this on
your wanted notices for me? or maybe you could answer it? What are the
best eyepieces that you would love to have for your scope i.e.
low,mid,and high power for both planetary and deep sky.
Any help would be appreciated
Marty Collins
Mike here: See the Buyer/New User Tips page as well as the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page for comments on many eyepieces. I have 40mm, 26mm, 9.7mm, and a 2X Barlow Lens that I use with the ETX-90RA and ETX-125EC.
Subject:	re: video ETX
Sent:	Saturday, January 19, 2002 22:19:00
From: (William Schart)
During the Holiday season, I saw this video eyepiece included with a
Meade 60mm refractor being sold at the local Walmart. Total price for
the scope, with usual accessory kit, and this "Electronic Eyepiece" was
about $80,AFAIR. I half toyed with the idea of picking one up, just for
the EP, but ended up going for the SAC IV instead.


Subject:	ETX Supercharge
Sent:	Saturday, January 19, 2002 17:10:29
From: (John Trudell)
Just wanted to drop a line to let you know that I had my new 
ETX-125 supercharged by Dr. Clay Sherrod.  I was able to use it for the
first time tonight ... and it was breath taking!!  Jupiter was
beautiful.  I was even able to focus with a 8mm Brandon eypiece -  WOW. 
Dr. Sherrod was wonderful to me.  He patiently answered all my e-mailed
questions and when he sent the scope back to me, it came with a detailed
list of the items he had checked and the small corrections he had made. 
  I even asked him to install my Meade electric focuser for me and he
gladly did.  I liked what he did so much that I just sent him my LX200
10 inch to Supercharge.  I can't wait to get it back and try it out too.


Subject:	Re:  ETX-90 EC
Sent:	Saturday, January 19, 2002 16:47:37
From: (Streeter)
Thanks again for you quick reply and great web site,

The third scope and barlow went back to the shop, they ordered some more
barlows, the end result i now have a scope with a barlow that fits :-)
it turned out the barlow was just too big, no visible burrs on scope or
barlow, it just was too big. I think it may have been at the max
tolerance size and the scope was at the min tolerance size.

Well all i need is the sky to clear (which in the UK is not very often)
and i can test everything out.

Thanks again

Mr J Streeter

Subject:	Loose Focus Shaft
Sent:	Saturday, January 19, 2002 11:05:13



Mike here: Well, you can fix it but it will take some disassembly. See the article "Focus Shaft Fix" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Mike here: Some email servers are now rejecting the ETX Site Update Notifications as spam. You will need to contact your server administrator and let them know the account is OK if you wish to continue to receive notifications.
Subject:	Video
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 18:30:55
i need to hook up my telescope to my computer. so i can see what i would
see through the lens any thoughts.
Mike here: You need a video camera of some sort. Webcams or CCDs or the Sonfest SAC imagers will work.
Subject:	video ETX
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 11:35:18
From: (Famille Allouche)
I found this new product on two web sites. Could you please help me to
get more details ?
Mike here: What's there is all I know.
Subject:	Thanks!
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 11:07:10
From: (Richard E. Hill)
I clumsily tripped over my ETX90 last Nov. and a telescope that had once
produced textbook stellar diffraction images, then was ruined. No longer
would the pretty close double stars look like disks but rather a
confused pattern of coma and astigmatism more resembling a bird in
flight. It was so depressing.

A call to Meade and I found that for the mere paultry sum of $75 I could
send the whole instrument in for complete refurbishment. I did so and
sent along a short list of some nagging little problems to be cleared up
(like excessive drive hysteresis).

It came back on 12/24 as a welcome Christmas present. I tested it that
night and was a bit disappointed in the results. It was better but still
not like it formerly was. I'm quite picky about that, perhaps more than
the average ETX user. I did notice that the drive was MUCH better and
held object in the field quite well.

I did a net search the day after Christmas and found a site that was
chock-a-block full of terrific information for ETX owners with the
unlikely name of Weasner's Mighty ETX Site at:

If you do nothing else, even if you do not own an ETX, you should go
there to enjoy the photo at the top of the page. It's great.

I used the search engine on that page and searched on "collimation" and
a page full of links on that site was brought up. I went through each
one. Then, on the page at

I found exactly the information I needed. Here were specific
instructions on the alignment of the ETX. But the holidays, and my
telescope making class that I've been teaching, kept me from attempting
to fix the problem. (I had to polish and figure 8 mirrors to get them
done in time for a free coating offer.)

On the night of Jan. 18/19 I set aside time (between figuring spells on
another mirror) to try my hand at the collimation. When I followed the
instruction and removed the optical tube assembly (OTA) from the plastic
housing that holds the diagonal, I was looking at the back of the
telescope with three pairs of screws and the focusing knob. Each pair
had a allen head screw that was flush to the back plate and another that
stood off the back plate. I surmised, with some help from the
instructions, that the flush screw was a hold-down for the mirror cell
and the one standing off was the alignment screw. All six were set in
place with some sort of painted-on material (it looked like nail
polish). Alignment would break the bond but since my instrument is well
out of warranty, and I had no intention of returning it again, I boldly
went ahead.

I should point out that this is not a procedure for those unfamilliar
with the alignment of a fast primary, compound telescope system. The
screws required only on eighth of a turn at a time. In about an hour and
a half I had the star images looking just like a textbook diffraction
image. I was thrilled. My little 'scope was back in form. A look at
Sigma Orionis was wonderful. three of the four components were clearly
visible at 125x. I was fighting clouds so the fourth component was not
visible. The same was true for Rigel. The companion was swamped by
scattered light on the thin clouds or simply obscured by the thicker
ones. Before calling it quits for the evening I braved a look at Beta
Mon, one of my favorites. It was split clearly at 125x with nice
diffraction around each star. I dropped the 10mm eyepiece into a KLEE
barlow (2.8x) to get to 350x so I could study the diffraction and the
light distribution in the pattern (a critical test for the collimation).
It was beautiful. The drive was holding them in the field nicely too. It
was a splendid end to a very productive evening!

My compliments to Mike Weasner for a great resource for all ETX owners
and to Tony Costanzo who's instruction on that site gave me the
information I needed to do the job.


Subject:	was noticing that
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 9:00:08
From: (Slater, Jack)
On the ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY page you have updated 2 links under Basic Info
to 1/17/02.  The 1st is in reverse date order from the way you post
updates to other pages (most recent seems to appear 1st).  On the 2nd
link, even though you updated 1/17/02 the most recent post is 12/29?  No
biggee just an FYI.

                _o     <|\
              _ \<_    _\
 __ --^o- _ (_)/(_) __  /_______ 
|                                   |
|           Jack D. Slater          |
|       |
|Phone 309-752-3503 Fax 847-574-0409| 
|          Cell 309-292-7126        |
Mike here: I purposefully did those pages in reverse order from the Feedback pages. Sorry this has confused people. I guess I shouldn't have done that but I felt the information on those pages would flow better top-to-bottom.
Subject:	Where is Kochab's clock write-up located?
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 6:46:43
From: (Holloway, Darrell L)
I am unable to find "Kochab's Clock - "Tech Tips/Precise Portable Polar
Alignment" web page as suggested on the "Part 5 - Polar Alignment
Position" web page on your ETX site.  I also cannot find Kochab method
anywhere on your web site except in references.  Could you please direct
me to the correct URL?

Darrell Holloway
Project Leader
Systems Integration/LCC Manager
KSC Program Integration, USA
Mike here: See the Observational Guides/References page.
Subject:	ETX90 magnification
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 16:04:44
I got my first quality scope 2 weeks ago (ETX 90) and I've been very
impressed with the optics at low to medium power. My question is
regarding focusing at 250 power. I know I'm pushing the limit, but the
problem doesn't seem to be the atmosphere but rather finding the exact
point of proper focus. Is it normal to have such difficulty finding the
proper focus at high power? Also, does it make a difference if I achieve
the 250 using a 5mm eyepiece rather than the Barlow coupled with a 9.7?
I'm going to play with the Barlow a little more to see if I can get a
better focus- Dan
Mike here: Well, you have not only "pushed the limit" but exceeded it. The theoretical maximum for any telescope is twice the aperture in millimeters, or 180X for the ETX-90. Yes, you can exceed that by a little to a lot but the image will appear fuzzier and dimmer when you do. So, yes, it is difficult to achieve a crisp focus when you exceed the max that much. A Barlow Lens adds another piece of glass into the optical path so achieving the magnification with an eyepiece alone will normally yield better views. However, Barlow Lenses do have their uses and work fine in many situations.
Subject:	Capability ETX 70AT
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 13:39:07
From: (Oc)
Now here's a question.No,don't laugh.How well does the ETX 70AT line up
against telescopes which were used by say Flamsteed or Herschel or some
of their contempories?Can you see more,less or as much  with the ETX
70AT as the luminaries mentioned did with their  'scopes?The ETX 70AT is
a superb unassuming telescope.Given the advance of technology how
exactly does it fair against telescopes from a different age?


Mike here: Well, the electronics and computer system are certainly better! And the optics are coated unlike back then. And we have more color correction now. And it doesn't take as long to make one today as it did back then.
Subject:	Local Outreach
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 13:19:58
From: (Fink,Al)
Just wanted let you know about a public outreach that is to held in your
neck of the woods (city) at the Madronna Marsh Nature Center on Saturday
evening, 16 March.

Location: 3201 Plaza Del Amo (off Crenshaw Blvd.), Torrance, California.

You are more than welcome to join us, with or without a scope, there
will be at least one ETX, mine, with  a variety of others.

This is an outreach to the public where our scopes are there to show the
wonders of the universe to those that don't normally have the
opportunity not a quiet out of the way star-Party.

Ak Fink
RAS Outreach Director
Mike here: Unfortunately I won't be able to make it due to a prior commitment.
Subject:	Star names and translations
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 11:03:27
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Perhaps the most authoritative and comprehensive book available is STILL
"Star Names:  Their Lore and Meaning" which is available as a Dover
Publication through Sky Publishing Corp.

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	A Question
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 9:22:12
From: (neg4321)
I sure do enjoy your site! You really have something for everybody it
seems. I am somewhat torn between buying one of two scopes and your site
has given a lot of insight into what I should by. But...I would still
like to hear from someone who might help me make up my mind.

I am looking at buying either an 5" ETX which will cost around $1500.00
with case, oculars, electric focuser, etc. Or I could go the other way
and purchase a low end ETX 90 for 249.00 new at Astronomics. My viewing
is casual views of the moon, and various planets, but mainly the moon. I
am not much for setting up for automatic slewing with Autostar. Mainly
just to set the thing up and see a few objects during nice evenings.

Do you think I would be wasting my money of a 5" compared to the
simplicity of the stripped down 3.5" model? I read a review at your
sight where "SKY" reviewed the 5" ETX and mentioned because of the light
baffling it is basically a 3.5" inch scope with excellent optics. Do you
think I would gain much from views of the moon and such by spending much
more on a 5" ETX over the 3.5" ETX?

I assume you have used both scope and if you have an opinion, I would
certainly appreciate hearing your reply. I have looked through a 90ETX
before at the moon and enjoyed what I saw. Would the 5"ETX really be
THAT much better under higher magnification?

Thanks to I'll get back to your great web site. Sincerely,
Mike here: For your purposes (at this stage) all you would get from the larger telescope is increased magnification and slightly better details. But you would get a larger telescope that is slightly less convenient to set up on the spur of the moment. And of course, you would be spending a lot more money. Perhaps you do need on the ETX-90RA (non Autostar capable model, the original ETX model) which costs less than the ETX-90EC (but you could add an Autostar later if you wish). As long as you don't catch "aperture fever" (a common occurrence in the amateur astronomy community) you will probably be happy. There are many times when I'm perfectly happy using my original ETX. But whether you will be happy depends upon your expectations of what you'll see.


Thank you for your reply Mike. If I ever make up my mind and will get
one. You probably are right. My goal is to get a scope soon and by
summer try to get into digital photography. If I have any luck I will
send some pics to you. Thanks again and I really enjoy your site. It is
also nice to compare pics taken from the various ETX's. Take care, Lewis

Subject:	Re: ETX electric focus
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 5:23:07
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Mike
Congratulations on a great scope!  The focuser is an excellent addition
and easy to install, provided that you are very careful about making
sure the focus rod is not cranked too far inward and that the tube is
angles lightly "up" on the lens end.

We really hope you enjoy the scope and please keep in touch!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  Dr. Clay: 

  I recently bought a Meade ETX-70AT. My wife & I are enjoying it so
  much, we've already decided to buy an ETX-90EC. I bought a new in the
  box 90 with electric focus accessory from someone that had never used
  it. I just happened to notice the "Warnings" page at Mike Weasner's
  site this AM & read your post about the potential hazards of
  improperly installing such. Many thanks to you for this! With my luck
  & Murphy's law, no doubt I would have had serious problems.

Subject:	Dec Gauge
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 5:05:26
Hello Mike,

When I pulled out my ETX the other night I noticed that the dec. dial
was loose.

I removed the knob and could not determine how it is supposed to be
attached to the scope, glue, slot, or whatever.

When I turned the knob tightly the dec dial held firm, but shifted when
I used the autostar.

I use the dec. gauge for determining home position, but I'm sure you
knew this.

Looking forward to the publication of your book.


Steve Petzold
Mike here: The knob screws on and the scale is held inplace by friction. You can could probably put a piece of double-sided tape on the back the scale to help keep it in place.
Subject:	Home made vibration suppression pads for ETX-125EC
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 3:57:41
From: (Ewan McLellan)
I'm a bit reluctant to spend more money on the Celestron vibration
suppression pads to dampen vibrations etc, so I decided to make my own
using an old mouse mat which I cut circles in and stuck together in
order to double them up.  I've yet to try them as its been rainy here in
Scotland, but maybe tonight will be clear.  I'll post the results when I
can make a good comparison of using my 125 mounted on the tripod
directly in contact with concrete, and then on top of my homemade pads. 
I'm hoping the results will be noticable as essentially I'll have spent

Has anyone else tried this, or could recommend a suitable cheap homemade

Your site has really helped me in these early stages of owning my


Ewan McLellan

Subject:	er: WD-40
Sent:	Wednesday, January 16, 2002 23:07:35
From: (Richard Seymour)
Don't ya love it?

>WD-40 causes rust.  It contains alcohol and alcohol attracts moisture.

Well, from ( )

What does WD-40 stand for?
 WD-40 literally stands for Water Displacement, 40th attempt. That's the name
 straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who developed WD-40 back
 in 1953. The chemist, Norm Larsen, was attempting to concoct a formula to
  prevent corrosiona task which is done by displacing water. Norm's
 persistence paid off when he perfected the formula on his 40th try. Please
 see Our History for more information.

The "our history" link is:

They also state:

While this may vary depending on the application, WD-40 remains effective even
 it appears to dry. The corrosion and rust protection ingredients remain adhered
 the surface. External conditions may, of course, require additional
applications of
 WD-40 for maximum protection.

It's LONG been shouted by the WD-40 folk that it's NOT A LUBRICANT!
But nobody listends to that, either.
They've even finally started listing "light lubricant" in their uses...
but they'd prefer it if you bought 3-in-One for moving parts.

Now, NONE of the above contradicts Richard's claim that it contains alcohol.
But I'm -not- a big fan of "alcohol attracts water".  Alcohol is miscible with 
water (quick chem quiz: is alcohol a Polar or non-Polar solvent?).
Alcohol -grabs- water, and holds one end tight to its lovable little self.
If the left-dangling end isn't the rust promoter, so much the better.

BUT: the wd40 folk also say:

 While the ingredients in WD-40 are secret, we can tell you what WD-40 does NOT
 WD-40 does not contain silicone, kerosene, water, wax, graphite,
 (CFCs), or any known cancer-causing agents. 

Now, if it -contained- alcohol, it would be almost 100% impossible for it to
not -also- contain water!  So i tend to believe it does -not- contain alcohol.

with his acid-splattered no-longer-white lab coat...
--dick (computer geeks can splash acids, too...)
(so the lid doesn't creak when opened...)

You can download the Material Safety Data Sheet

which clearly states that it's petroleum distillates.
not alcohol.

In fact, WD-40 is totally *insoluble* in water... hence -no- alcohol.

propellent is pure carbon dioxide.  (as pure as the air you exhale...)

--dick (creeeaakkk...)
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Thanks Dick...points well made and thanks for the extensive research and
dissertation on this.  Actually you have provided some nifty information
which I did not know.....

Like I said, they will have to pry my cold dead fingers off my can of
it....."If it moves, duct tape it....if it won't WD-40 it."

From: (Richard Hayes)
Clay is soooo right about WD-40 as a rust inhibitor.  The WD in the name
stands for 'Water Displacer'.  The stuff was invented for the U.S. space
program to deter water from entering seals.   You spray it on
distributor caps to get rid of water.  Can you tell I love WD?


Subject:	re: ETX-125
Sent:	Wednesday, January 16, 2002 22:37:11
From: (Richard Seymour)
I saw your note on Mike's site, and though i'd chime in..
first, i agree with you and Mike: your over-the-shoulder Polaris Polar
train ing technique is perfect... the scope is "loaded" the way it
would be in normal useage, and the target doesn't move (much).
Those are the goals...

What prompted this note, however, is/are your warm-up techniques.
Allow me to suggest putting your front corrector cover back on 
-outdoors-, *unless* the glass is dew-covered there.

If you have a dry front plate, putting the cover on out doors traps
-dry- air inside, against it.  Then the moist air indoors won't
deposit moisture on the glass while it's still cold.
The same is true with the eyepeice hole: try to avoid opening that
hole in the warm moist, until the barrel is up to room termperature.
Just dropping a MEade Bolt over the eyepiece itself will probably
serve.  I use pill-bottle caps of the appropriate size as eyepiece
to covers when they're in the scope.  They fit the view finders, too.

good luck

Subject:	Filters
Sent:	Wednesday, January 16, 2002 19:36:22
From: (divenuts)
Quick question about color filters. I purchased a set of inexpensive
color filters to try. They fit perfect on the TeleVue Zoom, but will not
fit the standard Meade 26mm...are filters brand specific? I looked in
the filter section and saw nothing on this subject.
Chuck Callaghan
Mike here: Filters are supposed to be standard and should fit all eyepieces in that size. Check the Meade eyepiece for a burr or other obstruction in its threads.
Subject:	A few queries
Sent:	Wednesday, January 16, 2002 17:48:22
From: (John Hewit)
I am still having a lot of fun with my ETX90. I especially like the
"Find object" command. With this I can try to find a star using a good
old fashioned map and then use the autostar to see if I got it right. My
queries are this, how do I get rid of that stupid rubberbanding it does
when I am trying to zero in on a subject? It only does it on the dec
axis. It seems to do it a wee bit less when I let it beep to say it has
found it. Trouble is when I move it on the RA axis it tends to go
diagonally! And if I move it in the dec it tries to go back. I have
tried training the drives and it helped a bit, ie it stays more or less
in the viewfinder if I make small adjustments but if I have to move it a
bit more, say, after slewing right accross the sky it moves back a bit
more or even doesn't want to go the way I want it to (hence the
diagonals). The other query I have is in reading the RA and DEC
co-ordinates of a chosen object. Say I select Jupiter, when I press the
enter button and scroll down I get the co-ordinates something like
23:27.3 and -04' 27. How do these relate to the position in the sky? I'd
have thought if dec is -(minus) then surely it would be BELOW the
horizon? How does the RA reading relate to North? Is it 23 hours from
due north? Why isn't it in degrees too? Sometimes when I try to get a
position reading it comes up with Zero or damn close to it. I am
confused...Oh, and keep up the good work.

John H.
Mike here: The accuracy of the training effects this rubberbanding so try to be as accurate as possible (don't use a moving target like a star; Polaris is OK) by using as high a magnification as is comfortable. You didn't specific which Autostar version you're running but if you can I'd suggest updating to the newest one from Meade's site (2.3Eb). As to an explanation of the celestial coordinate system of Right Ascension and Declination, it is like the longitude and latitude coordinate system on the Earth. The Celestial North Pole is +90 degrees, the celestial equator is 0 degrees, and the South pole is -90 degrees. So if an object has a Declination of -4 degrees it is 4 degrees south of the celestial equator. Right Ascension is measured in hours, minutes, and seconds from 0h to 24h around the celestial equator. For more information, see a star chart (in your manual or the star charting software or web sites listed on the Astronomy Links page).
Subject:	Ok to use ETX-70 in very cold weather?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 15, 2002 20:27:50
From: (ken vallis)
Thanks for the informative site!

I have the ETX-70 and love it! I live in Michigan and use it on every
clear night. Often in 20 degree weather for 1-2 hours. Is this bad for
my scope?


Mike here: There are some low temp things to be aware of. When you first go outside you must let the telescope reach "thermal equilibrium", meaning that the air temperature inside the tube is the same as the outside air. This can take 20-30 minutes per inch of aperture (or about an hour for the ETX-70AT). This doesn't mean you have to wait that long before observing; it just means that the best views (most stable images) won't occur until then. The Autostar display may (probably will) blank out if not kept warm. It is still functional; you just won't see anything on the display. Warming it back up in your pocket or with a handwarmer will restore the display. The grease on the gears will get "stiff" at low temps, resulting in GOTO and tracking errors and perhaps even "Motor Fault" errors. If you are outside for a long time you should do some large slews at high speed to keep the grease loose. And then when you bring the scope back inside you run the risk of condensation forming so don't cover the optics until the scope has warmed back up.
Subject:	Re: Your Magnification article, re-Mike Weasners website.
Sent:	Tuesday, January 15, 2002 11:18:26
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Steve
Thanks for the nice comments and congratulations on the new ETX 125!!

To determine your magnification of any eyepiece, merely DIVIDE the focal
length of the eyepiece in millimeters INTO the focal length of the
telescope (2000mm);

thus a 10mm will give you (2000 divided by 10) = 200x.

Pretty simple!

You can go upwards to 300x with the 125 without image distortion on
nights of very steady seeing; on poor nights, half that amount is
adequate and all else is likely wasted.

Thanks again, and keep tuning into the Mighty ETX site!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  Hello Clay.

  I have just read your articles on Mike Weasners website, what a great
  website it is with lots and lots of interesting stuff, I usually copy
  and past the articles into a word processor and take them to bed to
  read. I have an ETX125EC, and I'm still learning how to use it, I have
  been the proud owner now for about 5 months and as I work nights until
  about 12:00 I usually get home at just the right time, but
  unfortunately I live close to the centre of Perth, in Wastern
  Australia. Now I have worked in the remote mining town in the north
  west of the state and have used 10X50 and 20X50 binoculars and had
  great results, but as yet have not had the ETX in good dark
  conditions. I'm still very impressed with the ETX and its goto,
  capabilities, but after reading you article wondered just how do you
  calculate the magnification of an eye piece ....?? I know that my 26mm
  lenes that came with the scope gives me about 74X and with the barlow
  added, I get about 148X, now I have just purchased a Sirius 17mm and
  it work great, showing good definition of the rings of Jupiter, but
  the Meade MA9mm seems a long way behind the other two eye pieces ....
  ? Is this a problem with pushing the scope to far with the bad seeing
  that I get in the city and would the 9mm best be suited for darker

  Hope you don't mind me pestering you with these questions, but I'm
  starting my learning, a little late in life as I'm almost 50 ..... :-)
  but I'm very keen to learn as much as possible. I have also sent some
  photos into Mike site that I have taken with my Nikon Coolpix digital
  camera as I have always been a mad keen photographer.

  Best Regards ...... Steve

Subject:	Cleaning the mirror inside the etx 70
Sent:	Tuesday, January 15, 2002 8:10:28
need your advice.....
the mirror inside the scope is a bit dirty (not dust, but  a kind of
'haze' similar to the car's windows when you smoke in the car and do not
clean a long time....)

how could i clean the mirror without damaging it ????
MANY thanks for answer.
B.rgds from Germany
Mike here: Cleaning this mirror will be difficult without damaging it or the mount it is on. Are you sure it needs cleaning? Did you blow smoke on it? It could look worse than it really is. But the safest way to clean that mirror would be to disassemble the rear of the telescope (you sure you want to do this?). (Yes, you could reach the mirror through the eyepiece hole but that is a risky way to do it. You could apply too much pressure and unalign the mirror or scratch it.) Then follow the information in the articles "Cleaning Optics" and "Telescope Maintenance" on the Buyer/New User Tips page. Use extreme caution as you can scratch this "first surface" mirror very easily and make matters worse.
Subject:	ETX-90EC 12v Power Chord
Sent:	Monday, January 14, 2002 7:28:45
From: (Lawrence W. Taylor III)
Radio Shack has a "Radar Detector Power Cord" that has the
5.5mmOD/2.5mmID and a 6-foot coiled cable. Positive tip. The lighter
plug has a power indicator light. (I don't like universal adapters,
because there are more chances for a problem.) The RS number is
270-029A. It cost me $5. I use it with a portable 12v battery with a
lighter outlets that also powers my Kendrick dew heaters and GPS.

Thanks for the great site,
Lawrence Taylor

Subject:	Tripods
Sent:	Monday, January 14, 2002 7:02:54
From: (Mike Francis)
Help! I have a Meade #883 tripod that I purchased at Discovery Store.
They told me I have 90 days to decide if I want to keep it or trade up
to a Meade #887 tripod for my ETX 125ec. I like the 887 and I plan on
getting into astrophotography with my Nikon camera which has a rather
heavy body. The added sturdiness would be good but the only problem that
is holding me back is the non-adjustable legs. How much of a pain is
leveling this tripod? I saw some references to bringing a deck of
playing cards with you etc. to the observing site. Any advice here? As
always, I appreciate your input and am amazed at your response time.
Great site. Mike
P.S.- Will I need some type of counterweight system for this astro-photo
Mike hee: I don't have the #887 so can't comment on leveling. But I would think there is a way to level the tripod head since that is required whether in Polar with a wedge or in Alt/Az. And yes, you will likely want some sort of counterweight system. The Scopetronix Piggyback mount includes a counterweight that is perfect for use with the camera at the eyepiece or prime focus.
Subject:	not WD-40!
Sent:	Monday, January 14, 2002 2:49:12
From: (Richard Foulk)

I just read some of your web page about telescope maintenance.
( Most of
it looks like good stuff, but then it is suggested that WD-40 be sprayed
on the metal parts of tripods to protect them.

Bad idea!

WD-40 causes rust.  It contains alcohol and alcohol attracts moisture.

It's my understanding that WD-40 is strictly forbidden by the US Navy
for shipboard purposes for this very reason.

Don't use WD-40 to protect metal.

Armor-all is another bad `protective' item, but one nasty at a time ...

And from the author of that article:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Well, they will have to pry my cold, dead fingers off my WD-40 and show
me papers where it promotes rust.  I suppose all the tool makers,
machinists, auto mechanics, welders, pipefitters, boilermakers,
plumbers, well drillers and instrument makers are just plain wrong.

WD-40 is a proven rust inhibitor; if it does contain some alcohol (like
as a propellant to assist in spraying from the can and for NO other
reason) that evaporates immediately upon escape from the pressurized

Nearly all spray aerosols contain a certain amount of alcohol for the
same reason....however, for the above-stated fundamental of compressed
aerosols, it is considered an inactive and inert ingredient and will
deposit NO alcohol at the time it is deposited on the metal surface.


Subject:	Finderscope Problems
Sent:	Sunday, January 13, 2002 18:58:13
From: (Michael Wood)
I have an ETX-105 which has the right angle finder scope.   I noticed
while out tonight with the scope that stars in the edge of the FOV of
the finderscope are very enlongated and seem out of focus. Also, it only
appears this way on either the top or the bottom edge depending on how
the finder's focus is set.  I can bring the enlongated stars into focus
by adjusting the focus on the finderscope; however, this causes either
the stars in the center or the stars on the opposite edge of the FOV to
become out of focus.  Tonight was the first time that I've noticed it. 
Is it possible for the finderscope to be out of collimation and if so
how do you go about correcting it???


Mike here: Well, if a lens has slipped you can get this elongation. But this is also typical of low-end finderscopes. If you want to see which, you can tap the side of the finderscope and listen for any rattling. If you hear a loosen lens then it has likely slipped and you'll need to unscrew is mounting, reseat the lens (by tapping the side), and retightening. Don't overtighten or you could damage the lens.
Subject:	New book
Sent:	Sunday, January 13, 2002 17:53:27
From: (BOBCATH28)
Hi Mike!, can you give me an idea as to when your new book-Using the
Meade ETX-will be available??None of the larger bookstores know.(Borders
and Barnes & Noble).Will it be easier to order directly from Amazon or
Springer books?Springer books says it's something like mid-Feb for
availability.  Thanks, Bob D.
Mike here: Wish I knew! I'm still waiting to hear on the date. I'll post an announcement on the Site once I know something official.
Subject:	about your book
Sent:	Sunday, January 13, 2002 12:40:28
From: (Brian Gaines)
How many pages is your book?
Mike here: I don't know since I haven't seen it yet.
Subject:	Re: ETX Tune up
Sent:	Sunday, January 13, 2002 10:11:01
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Jamie
Thanks for the suggestions and great ideas; the wire tie is an excellent
idea and I do know of one person who actually used one when the small
connecting tabs broke from his OTA when reassembling....once he so
fixed, it was better than ever before!!

The washer spacing you refer to should be set for EACH telescope; each
one I have found seems a bit different and you are absolutely correct
that in some cases the wider spaced does introduce some fair degree of
play.  I suggest that people try a variety of materials, washer
thickness, etc. until just the RIGHT spacing and firmness is achieved.

I never look at good input such as yours as criticism and I very much
appreciate your ideas!  Thanks for sharing!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> Dr. Sherrod,
> I'm a regular visitor to The Mighty ETX site and I really appreciate your
intense research into the workings of the ETX scope. I never contribute
because my level of astronimical experience is essentially zero. I have had
an ETX-90EC for just over a year now.  One of the first things I did after I
bought it was to go though the Scopetronix Tune Up and "fix" my new scope.
I've also utilized your additional tune up tips (Teflon tape wraps...awesome
improvement in slop reduction!).  I've come across a couple of things that
may be of interest to you.  One of your fixes is to the declination circle
(the duct tape fix).  One thing that I noticed when I made this fix is that
the addition of the 1/2" diameter nylon washer under the 1' stainless washer
allowed outward play (flexure) in the fork arm (about 1.5mm, the thickness
of the nylon washer).  The fork arms are all but ridgid in their
construction and the addition of the 1/2" nylon washer allows the fork arm a
certain amount of outward flexure.  Whether this flexure would manifest
itself in use I don't know.  However, in my personal opinion, the less
chance for flexure the better.  So, I utilized your fix in that I used the
duct tape and the stainless washer (to move the setting circle slightly
outward and eliminate drag against the fork arm).  This seems to work great
for me and when I grasp the fork arms any pull them apart (lightly) there is
no flexure, everything is tight.  Please don't take this as a critizism, it
is merely my observation.
> Ok, now onto something I found that I feel greatly ELIMINATES slop in the
OTA mount assembly (you might really like this!).  I reviewed your "inner
tube cushion" fix for the location in question.  Here is what I came up with
as my fix.  The BEST fix would be if Meade had an additional couple of
fixing bolts on each side to firmly attach the front of the OTA support
assembly to the OTA, but with the current design this isn't possible, and
thus there is a certain amount of flexure at this junction.  What we are
trying to accomplish here is additional pressure of the support assembly
AGAINST the OTA.  So, I used a long black ZIP-TIE.  Once firmly tightened
down it essentially eliminates the flexure of the OTA support/OTA interface.
The support arms are firmly pressed against the OTA!
> I don't have a digital camera so I'll describe the location of the zip
tie.  In my case it completely wraps around the OTA/support assembly.  It
falls directly over the Sun Warning label on top and falls directly in front
of the foremost 10/24 bolt threat insert on the underside (this is on an
ETX-90EC, it may fall in a slightly different location on your ETX125-EC).
For years I worked as a bicycle mechanic (put me through college :-) and
there is a tool used in the shops called a "cable tensioner".  This tool
works PERFECT for firmly snugging down zip ties and it is very controlabe
(unlike a pair of pliers) it pulls against the cable of the zip tie and
pushes the cable lock (the "clicker" thingy).  In my opinion this fix would
be MOST effective if it was as far FORWARD on the OTA support assembly as
possible. However, to accomplish this would require the use of a Dremmel
tool to cut several (at least 4 and possibly 6 due to an internal pillar on
the OTA support arm assembly) slots in the OTA supports and at this time I'm
not prepared to take that leap!  So I have my zip tie as far forward on the
OTA supports as possible.  I didn't use any inner tube material between the
OTA supports and the OTA, however this may be an even better fix as the zip
tie pressure would imbed the OTA supports into the inner tube material
providing a cushioning rubber friction interface. Personally I would use
VERY thin rubber (latex bicycle inner tube material) to reduce the amount of
additional outward pressure on the fork arms.  I've seen some ugly fixes in
the past and I like clean lines and little clutter.  This zip tie fix is
quick, effective, low cost and "clean".  If you like this and would like to
incorporate it, let me know and I'll get you a cable-tensioner as my gift to
you for all of the immense work you have done for the Mighty ETX Site.
> Now if I could just figure out how to do the downloads without ripping my
hair out (I'm running 2.1Ek).  For several nights I was having truely
outstanding performance, but several nights ago the thing started doing
random slews again - very frustrating!  Last night I did a RESET as per your
instructions.  I re-calibrated and re-trained the motors (Alt-Az on
Polaris).  By the time I was done with everything I was too tired to sit out
in the cold (northern Illinois) and wait to see if a random slew would raise
it's ugly head.  Is it ok if I did this RESET now as compared to immediately
after a download to a newer version?  I've got the new ASU stuff downloaded,
but I have no confidence in my ability to actually pull the trigger and
instal it into my Autostar :-).  Let me know if you want a cable tensioner!
> Take Care,
> Jamie
Mike here: As to the Autostar download, it is really fairly straightforward if you have a good internet connection. Just click to update the Autostar; it will ask if you want to get the file from the Internet or your local hard drive. From there everything is automatic (I just did the ASU 3.0 update to 2.3Eb this morning).
Subject:	JMI MotoFocus
Sent:	Saturday, January 12, 2002 13:33:06
From: (Philippe HAAKE)
here is the answer to your " I believe there is one other little
adjustment on it, but I don't know what it does"......

It is simple a little potentiometer to ajust the speed of the focus....

I like also very much this motofocus...

hAve a nice day...
Best Greetings From SWITZERLAND
ICQ 3128404

Subject:	re: COnverting Coordinates
Sent:	Saturday, January 12, 2002 13:10:43
From: (richard seymour)
One way to "convert" is simply to tell the Autostar to GoTo 
the coordinate set, and then scroll the Status display to the 
Alt/Az readout.

To do:
(a) have scope aligned.
(b) lean on [mode] key for 3 seconds, release.
(c) you're now seeing the RA/Dec readout (unless you have an
      electric focuser.. if so, [scroll down] once)
(d) press [goto]
(e) the screen is now an -input- screen.
(f) enter the RA, press [enter], enter the Dec, press [enter]
(g) the scope will now go there (if it can)
(h) upon arrival, (beep), press [scroll down] once.
(i) there's the Alt/Az readout!  (Changing, since the sky's moving)

One such -book- (although there are probably lots of websites,too)
is Peter Duffett-Smith's "Practical Astronomy with your Calculator"
Cambridge Univ Press, 0-521-28411-2  (paperback).

have fun

Subject:	re: Dew shield sharing telescope battery
Sent:	Saturday, January 12, 2002 11:45:51
From: (richard seymour)
I saw your note on Mike's site..

The answer, of course, is "maybe" and "your mileage will vary".
And it depends upon the design of the dew heater's controller.

The main -cause- of problems would be if the dew controller was
electrically "noisy"... if it used simple mechanical contacts
to open and close the circuit between the battery and the heater.
I think the Kendricks is like that (i'm not sure).

Better would be "mercury-wetted" relay contacts,
better still would be transistor switches,
best is maximum simplicity: it's always on.

The make/breaking action of a mechanical switch is really -many-
makes/breaks... as the contacts of the switch are just -beginning-
to make contact, (or just milliseconds from opening them), ALL 
of the heater current tries to flow through a -tiny- portion of the
metal contact surface (think of your foot dropping onto the next
lower step of stairs.. now imagine ALL of your weight crushing that
 first toe-touch of contact.. you'd have a broken toe).  ALL of that
current causes the metal to heat up and vaporize... breaking the 
contact.  Then a little more metal touches, and it does it again.
Zap..zap... perhaps you've seen wall switches internally flashing..

Each of those make/breaks puts electrical spikes on the battery lines.
Those spikes look like signals to the Autostar (and telescope) and can 
thouroughly confuse it.  Worse yet, they can cause the internal 
voltage regulators -in- the Autostar to mis-guess the voltage, and
dump HIGH voltages into the more delicate innards.  The regulators
were set up to handle "typical" internal battery and AC powerlump
excursions and noise... NOT to handle the (literally) dozens to
 hundreds of volt spikes that switching currents can induce.

You -can- add snubbing circuitry... capacitors of both small and high
values -across- the contacts (and across the power lines to the ETX), 
back-biased diodes across the contacts, and inductors in series with
the power lead to the telescope will help, too.  But at some point it
 becomes -much- easier to simply use a second battery.
*Good* Noise supression is a -difficult- task. "Adequate" is easier
(barn-door approaches do work).  Avoiding the problem altogether
(with a 2nd battery) is the best.

have (careful, noise-free) fun

Subject:	re: Just a bit of advice, please?
Sent:	Saturday, January 12, 2002 11:45:45
From: (richard seymour)
Regarding the weight of an ETX125...

I saw your note on Mike's site, and let me provide a word of
encouragement: the ETX-125 is heavier than the ETX70,
but it may not be -that- heavy.

Without a tripod, it's about 20 pounds.
(hmm... that's twice my ETX90, three times your ETX70)
But it's a third -less- than the LX90's 30 lbs.

You could try hoisting a couple of 10 pound bags of flour, 
but that doesn't quite give the heft and feel of the solid
device that the ETX125 is.  It's firm enough that you can
counter-brace your hands on the forks and base. (Flour
bags are too floppy).  A case (12 bottles) of motor oil is
also about 25 pounds.  There are other household items you
can practice with to see if 20 pounds would be too difficult.

There's also the ETX105 as a "middle-weight" contender.

Good luck

Subject:	Star Names Definitions
Sent:	Saturday, January 12, 2002 10:21:06
From: (sean currie)
Does anyone out there know of a source for the translations of the names
of the stars? I have one book (Nightwatch) which defines some (ie
translations from the Arabic to English). I was wondering if there was a
source on the internet or even a book that could be bought that would
have the translations??


Sean Currie
Yauri Peru

Subject:	ETX-90 EC
Sent:	Saturday, January 12, 2002 9:16:33
From: (Streeter)
I am sorry to bother you as you are no doubt very busy but i have a
question  regarding the ETX-90 EC which you may or may not be able to
help with.

For christmas this year my wife purchased a ETX-90 EC, 126 2x barlow and
the 497 Autostar. The scope was great apart from the barlow did not fit
the scope, it seemed about 1mm to big. I took it back to the shop they
tried it on the display model and it slipped in no problem, so it was
the scope eye piece holder that was the problem, it wouldn't take the

The shop replaced the scope and it fitted but, I found out when i got
home the scope was damaged so they exchanged it again now this one will
not take the barlow so im just about to phone the shop again.

My question was, have you come across this problem before ?

Thank you for you in advance for you time and keep up the good work on
the fantastic site.

Mr J Streeter      
Mike here: Sorry to hear you've had some difficulties. The silver tube on the #126 Barlow Lens and the silver tube on the 26mm eyepiece should be the same diameter. This is the standard 1.25-inch. If the eyepiece fits but the Barlow Lens does not then I suspect there could be a small "burr" on the inside of the eyepiece holder (or on the outside of the Barlow tube) that prevents it from being inserted. There is some tolerance in the eyepiece holder but any obstruction could cause this.
Subject:	#884 tripod
Sent:	Friday, January 11, 2002 15:08:05
From: (Ray Free)
Got a new 125 for xmas with 884 tripod. I mounted it without plate and
got a good fit. Meade said it was alright to do it this way. No problems
at all with scope and the new tripod is very sturdy with the tubular
legs and the free bag for the tripod was a nice plus.

Enjoy your site mike.

Ray Free 

Subject:	The MicroStarII and the ETX125
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 23:10:28
From: (Blais Klucznik)
I was just reading your review of the MicroStar II+ Dual Axis Drive
Corrector and would like to seek your advice.  I realize that tracking
an object in the sky for photographic reasons is not necessarily a
trivial task.  Thus I wonder if you think my purchasing the Microstar
for my ETX125 would provide an advantage over the default Meade drive
electronic/mechanism ?

I plan to use my Olympus OM piggyback mounted on the ETX125 using a
Scopetronix mount.  I will also obtain a Meade Illuminated Reticle (9mm)
to help me attempt to stay on course.

Blais Klucznik
Mike here: The Microstar is not needed with the EC models, only the RA model.
Subject:	Author...Author!
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 15:26:40
I ordered a copy of your ETX book today from Amazon, hope the small
royalty helps you with the website expenses.

Mike Isenberg

Subject:	your new book
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 14:21:52
From: (Bill Wyatt)
I want to buy your new book ONLY on the condition that it has new
information in it besides that which can be found on your web site. Does
the book just consist of reprints of the info on your web site
(observational guides, etc) or is is all new?

Thanks for a great site,

Mike here: I saw no reason to not include some info from the Site for those people around the world who do not have Web access. If this free site has all the info you need then it is your decision to buy or not buy. But based upon your "condition" I suppose you won't.


i may buy it anyway to have everything in one spot!
Mike here: Well, not everything! According to a report from last Summer, this Site takes 3000 printed pages. The book is not that long.


i see!  perhaps a sequel is in order...if steven king can do it, so can

Subject:	Response to Brad Allred's questions (3 Jan 02)
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 12:47:30
From: (sean currie)
I just bought my ETX in July, and I thought I would respond to Brad's
questions, as I assume we are in similar circumstances (ie first
telescope, etc).

I definitely think he is overdoing it. After I bought my ETX 90 EC
(which came with a 2 x Barlow), I have bought the following: polarizing
filter for Moon watching, an 18 mm super wide angle, a 9.6 mm and a 6.7.
I also bought the right angle viewfinder (hard to get your head in their
when you're looking too high up) and the electric focuser. I have found
this to be more than enough for my "beginner status" as there are a
million things up there that my scope and it's capabilities have yet to
discover. Unless he is investing every single night stargazing, there is
no need to have so much (ie all the filters).

As for a flashlight, I have found that any mini flashlight (I use a
Minimag) with a red filter will suffice.

As for starfinders and object finders, their are some excellent books
out on the market for beginners (I have bought Peterson's Field Guide,
and Starry Nights (which comes with a nice CD ROM program) and these are
plenty). There is also a lot of free information on the web, just take a
look at Astronomy Links section on Mike's site or get into a master
search engine and start surfing. I have found excellent constellation
maps (, detailed maps of the moon, Messier lists, etc all on
the web and all absolutely free.

Hope I have been of some help.

Sean Currie
Yauri, Peru

Subject:	Concerning eyepieces
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 11:53:33
I just recently purchased an ETX-125EC.  Right now I only have the
standard 26mm eyepiece.  I am interested in deep sky objects, and with
the 26mm alone, am having trouble with nebulae, etc.  I have seen the
great orion nebulae and other similar objects but at the moment they
only appear as a colorless shape.  What should I buy?  I am encouraged
by the pictures on your site and would like to be able get similar
results with my own scope.  I am new to astronomy and really don't have
the background in it to make an educated choice when buying an eyepiece.
 I know I'm observing in a city, and realize that that's part of the
problem, but still I know I shold be able to get better results.

Thanks for your time,
Mike here: Your eye will not be able to distinguish colors and details on faint galaxies and nebulae. And the fainter the object the less you'll see. Increasing magnification spreads out the light over a larger area, thereby making the object appear even fainter. But with that in mind, take a look at the Buyer/New User Tips page and the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page for comments on eyepieces.
Subject:	Thanks
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 10:55:06
From: (General)
I am new to this science with the recent addition to my family of a an
ETX, and making future plans already for my next scope (but, not until I
learn how to use this one to its fullest capabilities). I'm a geologist
so this science is very related to my own.

I've been looking for good ideas on how to put together a good wedge,
tripod or pier, etc, on the web and somehow, "stumbled", across your
website. I got more good plans, ideas, etc, in an hour for gear I can
now actually afford, than I have in a month of searching elsewhere. You
are now bookmarked and I just wanted to thank you for all of your hard
effort. I notice you have received some well earned respect (awards)
from a couple of the amateur governing bodies. You certainly deserve it.

One only hopes the designers at Meade are visiting your site on a
regular basis and disseminating the excellent (and very practical)
information contained in it. I often work with engineers and know that
engineers can be thin-skinned. The litany of truthful comments regarding
the, "thin and flimsy Meade",...this, and the, "cheap and useless
Meade",...that, from many of your contributors (despite the fact that
I'm sure they are all true) might make them somewhat defensive. However,
if I was on the Meade board of directors, I would probably award you a
medal! Thanks again.

Ron Mills, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Subject:	Just a bit of advice, please?
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 4:53:17
My wife & I bought our first ETX just this past Christmas. An ETX-70.
We're both bitten so hard, we're considering buying the ETX-125 outfit
from your used classifieds. I have already listed our 70 on eBay, but I
am concerned about the 125, as set up, will be so heavy it will just
sit. You don't know me, but as an objective person, is this realistic?
The 70 picks up & goes quickly, what do you think? Many thanks again for
your great site!
Mike Isenberg
Mike here: Yes, a telescope which is not used is not very useful. And ease of movement is a serious factor in this. Yes, the ETX-125EC is a much larger telescope than the ETX-70AT and is more cumbersome to move around, especially when mounted on a sturdy tripod. You can remove it from the tripod but then you have two things to move and you have to remount it. That might be more effort than some want to go through for that quick few minutes of viewing before the clouds come in. So they don't bother.
Subject:	Using the ETX
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 0:41:58
From: (Stanislovas Uscinas)
I am a begginer in Astronomy and own an ETX125EC. I am in Australia and
I'm very interested in buying your book. Do you know of any dealers in
Australia who stock it?

Yours Sincerely,
Natalie Uscinas
Mike here: I'm sure that any dealer who carries the Springer line of books will have it. Many telescope dealers carry these books.
Subject:	Where's North?
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 0:26:46
From: (Marvin C. Sumner)
Responding to Jack Slater's question of 1 January:  The magnetic
variation at Moline, Illinois is about 3.7 degrees east.  That means
that Jack should point his telescope just that far to the LEFT of where
his compass points.  This assumes that there is no heavy iron such as
belt-buckels or tripod parts nearby, and no electrical wires carrying
much current.  Many phenomenon can cause a compass to fool you.  Boatmen
and airplane pilots go to great lengths to compensate for the anomalies,
then still use other sources to double-check on a compass's performance.

Folks who have no alternative to using a compass might go to a local
airport or yacht basin and buy a navigation chart (a map).  The
salesperson can show how to determine the angle between true and
magnetic north for any location on the chart.  Note that along a line
from the Florida Keys, through Georgia, then up the middle of Lake
Michigan, the variation is zero.  Then when you get to the MAGNETIC
north pole, the variation switches to 180 degrees - but up there its too
cold out to do much stargazing.

Marv Sumner
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Excellent advice, Marv.  Here in Arkansas,particularly south of Little
Rock and north of Texarkana, as well as in many pockets in the metal
heavy Ozark Mountains, we have many lodestone deposits with heavy
magnetic flux; thus the user of a compass for magnetic deviation is

Thanks again.

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Spotlight on David Levy on the AstronomyOutreach network!
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 19:32:48
From: (Scott Roberts)
David Levy, a veteran comet discoverer, and lifelong ambassador of
outreach in astronomy is the spotlight on the AstronomyOutreach network!

David has given hundreds of lectures, authored dozens of books,
befriended the astronomy community at large, spends untold hours
promoting Jerry Lewis's efforts to stamp out Muscular Distrophy, and
discovered 21 comets in his spare time. :-)

He is always someone who lifts your spirits and I am proud to have him
grace this website. Learn more about the astronomer at

Scott W. Roberts

Subject:	9mm eyepiece etx-70
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 18:48:56
From: (Bo Byrd)
i dropped my 9mm MA eyepiece for my etx70 and the 2 lenses fell out and
the plastic piece fell out and the ring fell out.  one lens is
significantly thicker than the other and they both could go back in 2
different ways, leaving 4 possibillities to get this thing put back
together right.  i got a 3x #128 barlow and it seems to work ok with the
25mm eyepiece but i cant seem to get it to focus right with the 9mm so i
guess i put it together wrong.  to keep from scratching it up in future
attempts can someone tell me the way it goes?


btw, what does "telenegetive" mean in regards to a barlow?
Mike here: Sorry to hear that. I haven't disassembled my eyepiece but if there is a smaller diameter lens, that (probably) goes on the eye end. And its flatter surface (probably) goes closest to the eye. The other lens goes on the telescope end but I don't know which direction. Try both. "Telenegative" is just a term to describe the optical design of a lens that causes the focal length change in a Barlow Lens.
Subject:	New web site
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 16:22:55
From: (David Birmingham)
Although it isn't totally done I have my web site up. It can be found at
the following URL,

My slant on astronomy is geared a little more for the younger amateurs.
Right now there isn't a lot about me or my stuff but there are some good
links to sites with information ranging from the Messier deep space
objects list at seds site to NASA's SpaceKids. There's even a link to a
self-paced astronomy course on the internet.

I've learned a great deal from your site and my association with Dr.
Sherrod. I really wish now that I would have kept my 125EC, well it's
water under the bridge now. I am looking forward to providing ASO with
observational data from my location here in Michigan when I get the
scope up and running. It won't be the first night though, first light is
going to be a personal experience with me and my Meade!

Dark Skies!

Dave Birmingham

Subject:	ETX-90 ec finder
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 13:03:13
From: (T. Jones)
Being an eyeglass wearer, I find the stock Meade finder almost useless. 
The Celestron NexStar 5 has a much more sensible red dot.

I just bought a ScopeTronix LightSight red dot finder from ScopeTronix
for $25+shipping.  It looks as though it will work fine by using the
supplied sticky tape to mount it a bit off center on the right side of
the main tube.  Going to put it on today.
Mike here: There's some comments about the LightSight on the Accessory Reviews - Finderscopes page.
Subject:	Where is North?
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 10:40:27
From:	Marv.Sumner@ONIZUKA.AF.MIL (Sumner Marv C Contr CWNO)
For those having trouble polar aligning their telescope:
A compass will help you face roughly north so that you can find the Big
Dipper (if you need such help).  That's all a compass is good for!  They
don't really point North, and there are more forms of uncertainty in
accurate use of a compass than we would like to bother with.  Once you
have found the Big Dipper, the "pointer" stars will lead you to Polaris
(the "North" star).  For visual star-gazing, having your 'scope's Right
Ascension axis pointing close to Polaris is good enough.  For
photography work with longer exposures, see Dr Clay Sherrod's "Kochab
Clock" procedure.  It will lead you to precise polar alignment with the
RA axis pointing to the real North pole, about  degrees away from
Marv Sumner
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Thanks Marv.....the Kochab Clock is becoming very widely used, even for
some serious imaging and CCD photometry.  It is so quick and easy, it is
a wonder that the procedure had not been widely used before!

Keep in touch!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
And this:
Clay -
You might add a feature to the Kochab Clock procedure pointing out that
Alkaid, the tail-star of the Big Dipper is in line (nearly) with Kochab
and Polaris.  It can help assure that its really Kochab that you are
using.  The Big Dipper is much easier to recognize than the little one. 
Now we need a finder 'scope with a  degree radius circular reticule and
mechanically rotatable cross-hairs.  The user would observe the angle to
the horizon of Kochab, match it in the finder, then adjust azimuth and
the wedge as needed.
Marv, that is an excellent suggestion and I am forwarding essentially
your explanation unaltered so that Mike can add to the Kochab Clock!

Thank you so much.  That is a very helpful note.  I suppose that after
using the method so much, you just ASSUME that the user knows that; it
is interesting because that is the alignment that I have always used to
quick reference the very position myself!


Subject:	Power pak question
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 08:11:19
From: ()
Have a question about the scopetronix power pak. I have read the posts
in that section and have gotten totally confused....about the polarity
etc. I have a 90-ra and a 70-at and am wanting to power them with the
paower pak. It has the cigarette adapter and am wanting/needing the
correct radio shack part numbers for the plugs I need. Will they both be
the same ?
 Thanks for any help !
    Enterprise, Al. 

Subject:	ETX repairs/maintenance
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 2:25:50
From: (don t)
Does your book or any others contain info on how to dismantle and work
on ETX's????
Mike here: To some degree but it was not intended to be a repair guide (that's what the Site can provide).
Subject:	StarTrek's 3 n 1 accessory tray...
Sent:	Tuesday, January 8, 2002 17:03:52
I was wondering if you (or anyone else), has an opinion on the StarTrek
3 n 1 accessory tray that is made for the 887 Advanced Field tripod?

I am thinking about getting it, because my current tray is way too large
(has holes for 2 inch eyepieces)...

Also, if anyone has a picture of the 3 n 1 tray, could you please send
it to me?  Thanks.

Mike here: I'm not familiar with it.


I actually found some nice pictures, from Star Tek's web site...
Take a quick look, you might be interested...


Subject:	Your Book
Sent:	Tuesday, January 8, 2002 16:46:31
From: (Gerald Mullen)
I too have been anxious to purchase your new book. Springer Verlag In
New Jersey, told me this afternoon that the release date is Feb 15,2002.
Thought you might want to know this in view of the number of people
messaging the site.
I Cant Wait!!! to get mine.
Clear skies
Gerald Mullen

Subject:	coupling to c8
Sent:	Tuesday, January 8, 2002 12:48:21
From: (larry16)
I was given this marvelous instrument by my oldest son daughterinlaw and
two granddaughter's for Christmas

i have a CAD workstation and would like to dual control the c8 and its
wedge to the ETX 60 using the ETX as a guide scope with 2 35mm cameras
attached from the cpu to probably 50' out side the house also with a
camera for remote viewing

is this a reasonable request?

Thanks for your time

Larry W. Ostrander
Escondido, Ca 92025
Mike here: I'm unclear what you are asking. Do you want to control the Autostar from your house? If so, yes, you can with the right software, cable, and a cable extension.


just want to pair the small unit with my c8
Mike here: Well, yes, the appropriate bracket you could mount the ETX on the larger scope.

Subject:	Your Book.
Sent:	Tuesday, January 8, 2002 12:18:08
From: (
I have been reading and enjoying you website for several years.

As soon as I saw you wrote a book on the ETX, I immediately bought it on
Amazon several weeks ago.

I still have not received the book.  Is it on backorder or are there any
problems?  My order is still pending.


Steven Fruchtman
Mike here: I have no control over it once it goes into the publishing cycle. The last I heard it was due out January 2002.


No problem - I'll wait.  I thought perhaps you were publishing it yourself.
Mike here: Nope. It is part of the famous "Practical Astronomy" series from Springer-Verlag.

Sent:	Tuesday, January 8, 2002 03:15:24
From: (Gerhard Fourie)
A cross hair on my finderscope 9ETX 90) broke the other day. I live in
South Africa. The local agent can only help me with a new finderscope.
Is it possible to glue a new crosshair in. What can I use?


Gerhard Fourie
Mike here: Well, you would have to disassemble the finderscope. Once you do that you'll see what type of thread is used. You could use a similar or thinner thread or hair.

Subject:	ETX 90
Sent:	Monday, January 7, 2002 15:25:08
From: (TPGoetzman)
After finding your web site right before Christmas, I had decided that I
would finally break-down and buy the ETX 90EC scope that I have wanted
for so long, but after reading your comparison of the 90EC and the
NexStar5 and finding the note about the 90 NOT being recommended for
photography - I am at a loss.

Would another ETX scope be better or am I looking at the wrong type of
machinery alltogether ? While astrophotography is not my major purpose
for wanting a scope, in a previous live I was a photographer, and I'd
like to try photographing the heavens ( and I know I'd be picky ).

Suggestions ?
Mike here: As you can tell from the all the astrophotography on my ETX Site (much taken with an ETX-90), while the ETX "is not recommended" for astrophotography, it can be done. The NexStar5 is in the same boat (regardless what Celestron says); it is also not a recommended platform for astrophotography. Can they both do it? Absolutely. Do you have to work a little harder at it? Yep. Do they both have limitations. Absolutely. So, decide upon your criteria for a telescope and then make your decision based upon your usage, expectations, and what the telescope can deliver.

Subject:	Dr. Sherrod's Super Charge Service
Sent:	Monday, January 7, 2002 05:21:38
From: (Schfer Werner)
I really enjoy your excellent site and would like to share my experience
with Dr. Sherrod's supercharge service with your readers:

I'm from Switzerland and bought my ETX-90 EC last spring. The optics are
excellent, but I had some problems with the mechanics. Special troubles
I had with the GoTo accuracy. Sometimes most of the objects were in the
FOV of the scope, sometimes there were outside of the finderscope.

In November 2001 I planed vacancies in the USA and I decided to bring
the scope with me for a Super Charge Service by Dr. Sherrod. The Email
correspondence with Clay was fast, friendly and competently, although my
English is not the best. Dr. Sherrod gave me a slot just during my

Arrived in the USA I sent the scope to Arkansas, made my trip from New
Orleans to Los Angeles and found my Telescope 3 weeks later in the Hotel
in L.A.

I found very good paperwork: clear descriptions of the findings and all
made measures, a disk full of interesting tours and a lot of good

Back to Switzerland I could hardly wait to test the ETX. The GoTo
accuracy is now much better: always most of the objects in the FOV of
the scope (85%), the rest in the finderscope. Also the tracking is
excellent (Mars remained fixed in the center of the 18 mm eyepiece
during 30 minutes, and it was -10 degrees Celsius outside).

In summary I can say Dr. Clay Sherrod made a very good job, the result
makes all the effort worthwhile. Now the scope is in such a condition as
it should leave the production line and the Quality Control at MEADE !

Thanks Clay

Werner Schaefer
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland
SFrom: (Clay Sherrod)
Thank you is a great scope and I am glad that all worked out
well for you.  Take care of that scope in those cold Swiss Alps!  
.....and please keep in touch!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Astro Club Question
Sent:	Sunday, January 6, 2002 19:47:47
From: (Larry & Caren Cohen)
I have looked in all the data bases that I know of, do you (by any
chance) know of an astronomy club in Anchorage Alaska? I have been
unsuccessful!!! :-( the closest I could find is fairbanks and that is
375 miles away.

Larry Cohen
Mike here: If you have checked Meade's site and the Sky and Telescope site, then you have exhausted my sources.

Subject:	Using the Meade ETX
Sent:	Sunday, January 6, 2002 13:22:48
From: (a.hatwood)
Any news on when the book will be available in the UK.
 Your site has been a great help to me over the last 12 months, and I
 appreciate having somewhere to show off my attempts at
 astrophotography! So I'm itching to get my hands on a copy.
Tony Hatwood
Mike here: I'm checking with the publisher and will post something once I hear.

Subject:	Power sources
Sent:	Sunday, January 6, 2002 10:40:12
Meade is nearly ready to send back my ETX125 after I fried it by
reversing polarity with an external 12V battery. I have since bought
protection for the line in to prevent another disaster. Something that
Clay Sherrod mentioned when I described this accident to him has caused
me to scatch my head. He said that one should never operate a dew
removal system and a telescope off of the same 12V battery. I can
understand underpowering and losing function but is there the
possibility of damage with such a set up. I cringe at carrying 2
batteries for field operations. Have you or any of your readers
encountered problems using a single battery in this situation?  Thanks
for all your hard work at this site and good luck with your book.  

Subject:	Getting Started
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 19:32:53
Found your website and thought you might help me out.  I'm a beginner. 
After hearing me tell her that I liked to look at the stars and would
someday get a telescope, my wife actually bought me an ETX-90 with
AutoStar control for Christmas.  So now, I'm trying to figure out how to
get the best use out of them.

I live in the Pacific Palisades.  Can you recommend any LA area
astronomy clubs?  Also, can you recommend any idiot stargazing books or
guides?  Finally, the ETX manual is a bit much -- is there a simpler
guide on the ETX?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Joe Kouri
Mike here: There are several LA clubs; I'm only directly familiar with the South Bay Astronomical Society (Torrance area). Meade's site and Sky and Telescope's site have group listings. As to getting started, there are some tutorials (Tutorials page) on the ETX Site as well as alignment tips (Autostar Information page). You might also want to look at the Buyer/New User Tips page and perhaps even the FAQ. Enjoy the ETX; it can provide you with hours and hours of viewing pleasure.
Subject:	ETX 90 dust cover
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 14:48:36
From: (d wallen)
How do I remove the dust cover on the back of the unit. It seems to be
screwed in, but it is very tight. There is no grip surface around the
outside. And I dont want to have to use pliers on it. Or does it pry
Mike here: It unscrews but unless you are planning to attach an accessory there, don't remove it.
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 14:16:19
From: (nestor acosta)
I was wondering where to find a simple equation to change from RA Dec to
Alt Az. If you know could you be so kind to tell me where to look for

Many thanks
Mike here: Don't know how simple it will be since it has to take into account latitude, longitude, time of day. But I'm sure there is such an equation; I'm just not certain which of my multitude of books will have it. If I weren't getting ready for a trip I'd try to find it. Perhaps you'll have some time to search the web for such an equation before I return.
Subject:	Dr. Sherrod's Supercharge
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 13:08:32
From: (Bill Wyatt)
I must tell you, I agree wholeheartedly with all the expressions of
support and confidence in the Supercharge Service offered by Dr. Clay

He is a knowledgeable, decent fellow who understands that customer
service means the customer is first.

A pleasure to do business with.  Oh yes, he supercharged a new ETX-125
and its tight as a backlash and smooth as silk -- what Meade
promises outta the box (but rarely delivers).


Subject:	which way is north...
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 10:54:47
From: (Richard Seymour)
A simple magnetic compass is all you need (although learning how to find
Polaris (the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper) is -far- more 
What Mike is referring to (re: variation) is due to the fact that the
Earth's magnetic pole is in far northern Canada, nowhere near the
  rotational pole.

> Moline Illinois.
Well... I don't know -exactly- where Moline is, but Chicago happens
to be almost -dead- on the "no correction required" line.
The line runs roughly due north/south from there.
Zero variation.

At worst, if you're on the western edge of Illinois, the variation
is only 2 degrees east (i.e. your compass will point 2 degrees
EAST of true north.)
I doubt you can accurately -read- any cheap compass to 2 degree 
accuracy, so just calling "north" north will certainly be good 
enough for the Autostar to compensate for.

Here in Seattle the compass "error" is 20 degrees... so i -do-
have to remember that the compass points 20 degrees east of
true north.  And true north is what the telescope wants to hear

have fun
From: (Slater, Jack)
I really did solve all my alignment problems the other night by 1st just
using the compass to get north, but MOST importantly, using a small
level to make sure scope base AND tube were EXACTLY level in ALL
directions (had to adjust tripod legs!).  EZ align went right to the 2
stars and 1st target of Jupiter.  Also, I used my 2xBarlow for the 1st
time and saw a better picture of the planet and moons. I actually saw
very feint gray belts.  The downside here of course is that I already
want to see more and more and bigger and bigger.  Wont be long and I'll
be asking for your opinion on what to buy next.

Subject:	Setting circles in one minute
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 10:32:45
From: (Richard Seymour)
How to set the RA circle:  Polar align your scope, GoTo (or aim at)
 a known, bright star (Rigel? Betelgeuse? Aldebaran? (real close to
Saturn right now)).

With the telescope aimed at that star, spin the RA circle to bring
-that- star's RA value to the pointer.

That's it!

  As the scope follows the star (assuming the motor is
running), the RA circle  and pointer will move -with- the telescope 
to keep the correct value indicated.
When you slew to a new target, the pointer will move differently
than the circle, until it points at the new target's value.
(i use a small piece of blue masking tape to anchor my RA circle
to the moving parts, to keep my Autostar's cable from accidently
shifting the tape).

>RA is measured in HR:MIN:SEC: Starting from where??????????

The spot in the sky where the sun's tilted path 
carries it north of the celestial equator.  Where the ecliptic
crosses the equator heading north...  Where the sun is at the
moment of northern hemisphere's spring (vernal) equinox.

It's -called- the "first point of Aires", based upon the ancient
location of that crossing... but precession since the definition
of the terms has moved the physical point to about 2 RA hours
(30 degrees) westward... so astrology still calls it "Aires",
but the sun and earth have cooperated to move it to the west
end of Pisces (sounds fishy to me).

> and going around the celestial sphere to the east.
ummm .. yeah... the "rising" RA value increases as the night

have fun
From: (Wesley Trimble)
Hi Dick.

I follow all your postings and print off all your recommendations and
keep them in a binder as I find them to be most informative, especially
to a novice like me. Thanks for your time and patience to answer my
inquiry. I have rework my 125 in accordance with Mike and Jordan's
recommendations and the unit works great, but being relatively new at
astronomy I still have trouble understanding some things, especially the
celestial sphere.

I have an astronomy library here at home[my wife's ready to disown me]
but most do not cover the important basic of explaining the most
important item of all, the sphere.

Many thanks again. Hope you don't mind if i contact you now and then. I
am 59 and have a technical mind but some things I need help with, and it
seems most books are fantastic on the more advanced things which I have
no problem with.

Happy New Year and clear sky's.
Wes Trimble
Toronto, Canada.
From: (Richard Seymour)
>... being relatively new at astronomy I still have trouble understanding
> some things, especially the celestial sphere.

One of the nicest "books" explaining it (and graphically showing our
place in The Grand Scheme) is Guy Ottewell's Astronomical Companion.
It's a tabloid-sized publication (11x15", us$18 plus postage)
which also serves as a permanent backgrounder reference
  to his annual Astonomical Calendars.


You won't be able to get to sleep until you've finished reading it.
Your head will be swimming, and the night sky will never look or
 feel the same again.

> I have an astronomy library here at home[my wife's ready to disown me] wife has a larger libary than i do (well, did... we've merged)

> but most do not cover the important basic of explaining the most
> important item of all, the sphere.

I can't recommend Ottewell's two Astro publications highly enough... 
he has another book (To Know the Stars) ... but i've never seen it.
I frequently use the Astro Companion (and Calendar) as Xmas gifts.

have fun

Subject:	Dec motor failure after cleaning RA clutch plate
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 5:11:09
From: (Teddy Johnson)
I was having trouble with my RA clutch slipping and requiring excessive
force to tighten it so I took the plunge and cleaned the clutch bearing
surfaces.  Pleanty of grease residue there! When I reassembled the base
and tested the ra lock I noticed the Dec motor will not move the scope! 
There is a slight sound coming from the motor but no movement.  There
was nothing in the various post about cleaning the clutch plate, at
least not that I can find, concerning the Dec drive wires below.  I
thought I would get some advice before I dig deeper into this.  Do you
think I'm looking for a wire pulled loose or a fried board.  Has any one
else reported this before.


Teddy M. Johnson III
And from our resident hardware expert:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Two possibilities here:

1) the wires going up into the declination are bundled (4 of them) to a
blue wire clip that should have been detached when attempting to clean
the RA clutch.  If the clip in some models is put back on backwards (it
will attach either way to the control board), that could give the effect
he is seeing....that would be what you should pray for.

2) the scope was NOT put into "home position" when the clamp lever bolt
was "unscrewed" to release the clutch from the drive gear assembly.  If
that is the case, then likely the DEC wires are broken off inside the
turntable and that is something that the average user should not and
typically cannot fix.

NOTE:  for ANYONE attempting to clean or modify the RA drive in any way,
I strongly recommend thinking twice....the assembly is made now is such
a way that taking the clutch off the main drive gear involves turning
the bolt through which the DEC wires must pass; hence the wires turn
too.  If MUCH care is not exercised when releasing the clutch from the
gear, the wires WILL shear completely and these cannot be fixed by the
average user.

It is of utmost importance that the telescope be place in HOME POSITION
prior to any such disassembly and even then, that the amount of
"unscrewing" necessary to release the clutch away from the gear be
absolutely MINIMUM necessary to the final thread....any more and you
will turn those wires enough to break them.  Then off to Meade.

Quite frankly, with the close tolerances that are now being built into
the ETX bases regarding wire lengths, I do NOT recommend ANYONE getting
into the drive base for any reason except to check wire connections.

Clay Sherrod
P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Your new book:
Sent:	Friday, January 4, 2002 19:23:22
I'm very anxious to obtain a copy of your new book.  After placing an
order with Amazon some weeks ago they just informed me that that they
could not fill my order.

Can I purchase from you directly? Incidentally, thank you for your fine
site- wonderfully helpful to a new sky watcher.

Robet Reyom 
Portland, Oregon
Mike here: Thanks. Sorry, I don't have any to sell. As far as I now the publishing date is still January 2002.
Subject:	Meade catalog
Sent:	Friday, January 4, 2002 13:13:07
From: (Brian Gaines)
Where can I order a Meade 2002 catalog!?!
Mike here: From Meade. Many dealers also have them.
Subject:	Book Question: Using the Meade Etx : 100 things....
Sent:	Friday, January 4, 2002 7:05:07
From: (Matthew R, Versaggi, MS, MBA)
I've ordered this book from Amazon and they not once but twice delayed
the order then canceled it due to not being able to get the book from
providers. Has there been a glitch in the release date?


Matthew R. Versaggi, Founder & President
Versaggi Information Systems, Inc.
Adjunct Professor of eBusiness DePaul University
URL:         (Academic 1)
URL:         (Academic 2)
URL:         (Academic 3)
Mike here: I have not been informed of any change in the January 2002 publication date. Today, Amazon is showing a ship in 4-5 days.
Subject:	Update
Sent:	Friday, January 4, 2002 6:18:13
From: (Monty Coward)
Do you have any idea as to when the new updates will appear on your
site, time wise. I do not have computer at home ( refuse to ) .. and
only have access at the office from Mon - Fri.  I am probably 5 or so
hours ahead of you (GMT).

Enjoy the Mac Conference!


Lewis Montague Coward
Mike here: I normally do updates about 2100 Pacific Time (USA time, or 5 UT). However, sometimes they may occur earlier or later than that. Or even on some mornings. Just depends upon the extent of material to do and my schedule. I do updates every 2, 3 or 4 days although I strive for 3 when possible.
Subject:	Meade ETX 90 Assessories
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 21:54:51
From: (ivoryqueenowner)
I hope you can help me with suggestions as to what assessories I should

Last August I bought a ETX 90 RA.  It came with a 9mm and a 25mm lens
(these lenses are by Meade and say multicoated on them).  I also
purchased a moon filter and correct image diagonal.  I bought the #883
Tripod and #774 Carrying case.

I am now considering the following assessories:
An Orion *2nd* Eyepiece, Lanthanum, 8-24mm # , Cost approx. $190.00 Vs
Meade 8-24 #07199-2 Cost approx. $220.00
An Orion Barlow Shorty Plus 2x, 3 element, Cost approx. $55.00 Vs. Meade
Short Focus #126 Barlow, Cost $50.00
An Orion Solar Filter, Cost approx. $60.00
An Orion Stargazer's Filter Set which includes a variable polarizing
filter #5560, Sky Glow broadband light pollution filter #5660, a #15
Deep Yellow Filter, a #25 Red Filter, a #58 Green Filter, and a #80A
Medium Blue Filter, Cost approx. $130.00
An Orion Red Beam II Astro Flashlight, an Orion Star Target
Constellation & Celestial Object Finder, Discover the Stars, and Moon
Map, Cost approx. $30.00

The total of these assessories will almost cost what I am presently in
the scope.  Am I investing wisely?  Am I overpowering the capabilities
of the scope?  Will I be able to see the rings of Saturn?  Where can I
get a lens cap for the finder scope?

Thanks again and I really enjoy your site

Brad Allred
Salt Lake City, Utah
Mike here: I have no experience with these Orion accessories (except some of the filters; reviewed on the Accessory Reviews - Filters page). You might want to check the Buyer/New User Tips page as well as the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page for some ideas and user comments. I will also post your message on the next site update; perhaps someone will respond. Do keep in mind the maximum usable magnification for your telescope (see the FAQ if you are unsure); having the 2X Barlow in addition to the 8-24mm zoom is probably overdoing it. Since you have a 26mm and a 9mm eyepiece you should already be able to see the Rings of Saturn. I'm not aware of any company making a cap for the finderscope. You could make you own though.
Subject:	Incredible experience with Dr. Sherrod's Supercharge!
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 14:49:25
I'm not sure what the proper venue for posting testimonials is, but my
experience with Dr. Sherrod's supercharge service was so impressive that
I feel I must share it with your readers.

First of all, I made a TERRIBLE mistake, and bought the cheapest
ETX-90EC I could find using an internet price compare engine, from a
non-authorized dealer.  My thinking was as follows: least expensive
scope + supercharge = good as new scope.  Bad idea - the company I
bought it from sent me a damaged scope (unbeknownst to me, although
alarm bells went off right away - it was packed terribly).  Apparently,
they purchase aftermarket returns from Meade and sell them as new
scopes.  Mine had good optics but the motor drive was severely damaged.

Dr. Sherrod recognized immediately that this was a damaged scope and
encouraged me to return it.  Alas, this was not to be - the company I
bought it from conveniently vanished when it came to returns - calls not
returned, answering message warning of hefty restocking fees, etc.  Once
it was clear I was basically "stuck" with the scope, Dr. Sherrod
promised to do his best to fix it, but he also offered me another option
- have Meade repair/replace the damaged motor drive for their standard
fee of $75 (since I didn't buy the scope from an authorized dealer, I
essentially had no warranty).

I pondered my options for a couple of days, but finally decided that
going cheap was what got me into this mess.  I decided to go ahead and
pay Meade to repair the motor drive.  What I didn't realize was that Dr.
Sherrod had already spent a great deal of time trying to fix the problem
with the existing drive.  When I learned this, I insisted that he let me
compensate him for this additional work, but he flatly refused to take
more money.

Getting my scope working became a passion for Dr. Sherrod.  He made
personal contacts to people he knew at the Meade factory and arranged
for my repair to be expedited.  He checked up on it to make sure it was
being handled with appropriate urgency.  When it first came back, the
new motor drive was still unsatisfactory and Dr. Sherrod made sure Meade
repaired it with due diligence.

I hope your readers walk away with two important pieces of information
from this email:
1) Learn from my mistake - buy your scope from an authorized dealer!  I
think I "saved" 30 bucks by buying the cheapest scope I could find. 
Sheer stupidity.
2) Dr. Sherrod's Supercharge service is everything it's cracked up to be
and more.  He treats your scope like his own child and simply will not
be satisfied until it works perfectly.  I couldn't be happier with his

--Bob Conyne

Subject:	just a question
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 14:41:30
i just recently purchased the lx200gps 10" <<<<<>>>
and would still very much like to participate with your page ....would
this be possible say with "astrophotography?" i would hate to step on
any ones toes.. I visit the page at least 4 times a week and would hate
to think i couldnt belong because of scope type?
Mike here: Well, actually I don't like posting photos from non-ETX or DS scopes. I have occasionally done that when there was some tie to the Autostar. And yes, the new GPS LX scopes use the new Autostar II (which doesn't work on the ETX or DS models unfortunately). But as a regular practice, I decline those. Thanks for visiting the Site and I hope you keep coming back. But I just can't handle the workload of opening up the Site to general telescope support! Now maybe if the pledges became real good and I could quit my day job...
Subject:	Polarity Woes
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 12:45:44
From: (Fernando Pertuz)
I've heard many horror stories about fried ETX & AutoStars caused by
reversing the polarity of external power supplies.  Although I use extra
special care, it still scares the daylights out of me every time I take
my scope out to the boonies and hook it up to a 12v car battery.

I was wondering if there isn't some kind of gizmo or circuit that can be
added to the power cable that would inhibit power going to the ETX if
the polarity is wrong.

Any ideas ??

Fernando Pertuz
Mike here: Not being an electrical engineer I don't know. I suppose if there is such a device, Radio Shack (in the USA) or similar outlets around the world would have it.
Subject:	OTA
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 12:02:17
From: (Brian Gaines)
what does OTA mean?
Mike here: Optical Tube Assembly
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 11:08:04
From: (Jim Stout)
I ordered your new book from on December 4, 2001

Every time I check on the shipping status via their web site I get a
message that the shipment has been pushed back even further. How many
ETX owners are patiently waiting for this book from ? Any
information you can provide to all of us who are patiently waiting would
be greatly appreciated. Perhaps you could put a notice on your web site
regarding the long delay and when shipments will start from

Thanks  alot,   Jim Stout    and many other  ETX owners patiently
waiting for this book.
Mike here: Thanks. Unfortunately I have no new info over what I previously mentioned on the December 2001 General Feedback page or on the Book Announcement page. When I do, it will be posted.
Subject:	Setting Circle Use
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 9:48:34
From: (Wesley Trimble)
I am confused in regard to using setting circles from my location. I am
at 79.272W longitude. When setting the RA circle on the base of my 125
where do I set it for my location 0hrs0min0sec's? I realize that Ohrs is
at the celestial equinox but where is that in relation to my location?

By the way, love your site and love my ETX.

Wes Trimble
Toronto, Canada
43.7234N 79.272W
Mike here: See the FAQ for info on the Setting Circles.


RA is measured in HR:MIN:SEC: Starting from where?????????? and going
around the celestial sphere to the east.
Mike here: This should be described a little bit in your manual. See a chart of the sky to see how RA is measured.
Subject:	Rick Krejci Now Moderating the Astro-Imaging Forum at the ASO
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 7:04:02
From: (Clay Sherrod)
I am very pleased to let the group know that our own RICK KREJCI is now
moderating the Astro-Imaging Forum on the Arkansas Sky Observatory web

We all know (and love...!) Rick from his remarkable contributory
attitude, ideas and concepts....not to mention his splendid

In addition, note that Rick has supplied some of the ETX
astrophotography for the cover of Mike Weasner's new ETX book as well!

What has always amazed me about Rick is his inability to accept "NO, it
can't be done..." as a result of any challenge.  Take his breathtaking
images of Jupiter with the little ETX 90.....the wonderful deep sky
images of his piggybacked 4" refractor or the splendid CCD images his
first time out!

You can find his forum at: 
and a bit about and from Rick at:

Please visit Rick and the team at ASO are always welcome!

Dr. Clay
P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	SAC Imaging ?
Sent:	Wednesday, January 2, 2002 19:52:17
From: (Thomas Shmalberg)
Is there a maximum exposure time for the SAC Imaging system you have


Thomas S.,

"keep looking up"
Mike here: I don't recall it. I was always trying for short exposures. Longer is not necessarily better as longer "exposures" allow for image movement to creep in and destroy the image. You can make a video for as long as you have available disk space.
Subject:	the new sac-imaging camera sac7 and other products by that co.
Sent:	Wednesday, January 2, 2002 8:59:17
From:	Robert Viergutz
I have a Meade LX90 and  I',m locking for a low cost ccd camera to use
with it.Can I trust this company? My email adress is green-quack @ thanks DP.
Mike here: I've not heard any complaints. Products seem solid.
Subject:	ETX vs LX-200
Sent:	Wednesday, January 2, 2002 8:24:54
From:	Marv.Sumner@ONIZUKA.AF.MIL (Sumner Marv C Contr CWNO)
Folks -
Let me second Mike's comments on ETX vs LX-200.  I too (had) $3K burning
a hole in my pocket.  I have succumbed to the lure of High-Precision
tracking and (nearly) automatic GPS setup, and have ordered a 7 inch
Mak-Cass LX-200/GPS.  Now that I have seen the size of Lumicon's floor
model, I realize that it's a monster in terms of portability. As Mike
has recently suggested, there is a risk that it will get less use than
my ETX-125.

Dr. Clay Sherrod has suggested that this Meade GPS line is "...the
'scope of the coming decade".  But my first impression is that if you
think you'll just toss it into the car trunk and buzz off to the city
park for observing - think again.  I expect to do my observing from
remote mountain tops, set up next to my RV motorhome.  I picked the
smallest of Meade's LX-200 models, but even this one might be a struggle
to get in & out the door each session.

Marv Sumner

Subject:	Your Book
Sent:	Wednesday, January 2, 2002 4:34:48
From: (L.C.)
I'm wondering if the book is released as yet. I ordered it from Amazon,
and it's been back-ordered.
Any insights?

Thanks and Regards,
-Larry Curcio
Mike here: Nothing new to report. I'll update the book page on the ETX Site when I know something.
Subject:	Weight vs. convenience of ETX 125EC
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 20:00:22
From: (Thomas Brown)
I've noticed several people asking about whether they should go for the
125 or for a larger scope like the LX 90.  As you point out the size and
weight of a scope may be much more important than one might think at
first.  When I "upgraded" from the ETX 90 EC [which weighs 9.2 lbs] one
factor I took into account [as well as cost] in going for the 125 rather
than the 8" scope was weight.  With the 90 I could take the entire unit
including the scope, #883 tripod, with eyepieces in the accessory tray,
and the Autostar attached to the base by velcro, up from the basement,
through the back door, down to the end of my yard about 50 yards away,
pretty much with one hand, extend the legs, and after a cool down period
be ready to go.  The 125 which I ultimately got, weighs 18.8 lbs without
tripod etc. It is too heavy to carry attached to the tripod for any
distance [and is also top heavy], I have to bring up each piece
separately and assemble the whole thing at the bottom of my yard, after
cooldown.  Not that daunting, but it does involve several trips, and I
carry the scope in my arms like a baby so there is no chance of dropping
 it, and use extreme care while putting it on the tripod for the same

From the moment I first did this, I realized that doing the same thing
with the LX 90 [33 lbs without tripod] or the 8" LX 200 [41 lbs without
tripod] would be just that much more cumbersome, and the frequency of
use of the scope might suffer.  To some this may sound trivial, but for
me the 125 is about all the scope I want to lug around, and the light
gathering capacity has been sufficient to satisfy my observing needs
[planetary details like Jupiter's GRS, Saturn's Cassini Div; resolving
globulars like M-13, splitting fairly close doubles, seeing brighter
galaxies and some farily faint objects like M-1 or the "little
dumbell"]. While the greater light gathering capacity of the 8" scope
would be desireable, I doubt that I will be upgrading to a larger scope
in the forseeable furture in part due to the weight issue.

Tom Brown

Subject:	Polar Alignment
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 19:27:23
From: (Mike Francis)
I have the ETX 125EC with the meade #883 field tripod. Having trouble
with the polar alignment procedure.When I mount the ETX on the tripod
with the proper leg facing north the scale on the head is in the rear
preventing me from adjusting the tripod for my latitude of 42.356
deg..I'm sure there is something simple I am missing here but I keep
reading the instructions over and over and still come up with this same
orientation.What am I missing here?
Thank's again for all your help.
                     Mike Francis
Mike here: I'm confused by your statement. When the tripod is set up in its proper orientation, the tilt head will only tilt towards the North or South, with the scale on the side. It should not be in the rear of anything.


I'm looking at my etx125 & 883 tripod sitting here.The proper leg points
north,the bubble level is on SE leg & the fine latitude adj. knob is
south.The latitude scale readout is on the east side of the tripod in
this orientation.The OTA is pointing north,and (almost)level.In order to
adjust to my latitude of 42.36 deg I have to tilt the OTA towards the
ground in front of the north tripod leg. I'll send a pic.Hope it help's.
Sorry for the confusion. Clear Skies         Mike Francis-newbie
ETX Alt/Az mount
Mike here: You have the correct starting point. For polar alignment the tube should be parallel to the forks so it will be at 90 degrees declination once you tilt the base for your latitude.
Subject:	Re: ETX tuneup part 1 vs part 4 -- plus...
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 18:03:54
From: (Stan Glaser)
In regard to Mabry Tyson's discourse on Clay's tuneup instructions, I'd
like to suggest for everyone who sends in tune-up instructions,
modifications, build-it projects, etc. that if at all possible, and as
appropriate, supply actual photos (close-ups preferred, obviously) to
your write-ups. It may slightly increase bandwidth and page rendering
times, but as the old adage goes, "A picture IS worth a thousand words."
So many of us today have digital cameras -- why not use them? I've read
a number of Clay's helpful hints, and even though most of his
descriptions are exceptionally detailed (and drawings were supplied),
one photo could have cleared up any misconception as to where to apply a
washer, grease, tighten a screw, or whatever -- no offense to Clay, and
I don't mean to pick exclusively on him, but he IS the sites leading
supplier of mechanical mods and cleanups :-) Just a suggestion...

Clear skies eveyone, and Happy New Year!!

Stan Glaser

Subject:	Further to 'scratch' on ETX 70AT front lens.
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 10:58:55
From: (Oc)
Thanks for your prompt posting of my query on the 'scratch'.

You ask ' Is the "scratch" into the glass or just into the lens coating?
'The 'scratch' (I use parenthesis because I am really not sure if it is
a scratch.No it is not into the glass and as far as I can see not into
the lens coating either.It is so imperceptible as to be almost
invisible.You really have to look VERY closely to see it.I fear I am
making a mountain out of a mole hill here.It is the faintest little less
than a hair's breadth about this long  ------>  ..... ..  .. and a lot
fainter.As I said in my first e mail I noticed it after I had taken the
telescope in after a few minutes' viewing.There was some dew on the
glass and like an idiot I began to clean the lens (using a soft cloth)
instead of letting the dew evaporate as per  cleaning
instructions.Perhaps this tiny little mark came from that.or perhaps it
was there before and I hadn't noticed it.Anyway I don't think it is
anything to worry about.

As a matter of interest how badly smudged or, God forbid, badly
scratched can a lens be before its viewing capabilities are impaired?

Best regards and a happy New Year!

Mike here: Don't worry about it. A lens has to get VERY smudged or dirty before any noticeable deterioration will occur. If you see halos or blurred images, then worry about it.
Subject:	what to buy?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 8:46:24
From: (Ryan Davies)
I have just recently bought a new meade etx 90EC and i looked at saturn
last night on the new year and i saw the rings and i saw jupiter and i
just want to see more than that. they were no more then the size of a
star. what eyepiece(s) can i buy that will improve the power of my
telescope without costing a lot?
Mike here: Well, stars will appear as pinpoints and Jupiter and Saturn should show a disk. But you can get more magnification by adding shorter focal length eyepieces and/or a Barlow Lens. See the Buyer/New User Tips page as well as the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page for info. Keep in mind the maximum magnification for any telescope (if unsure, see the FAQ).


I was thinking of getting a series 4000 super plossl 6.4 mm eyepiece to
see farther than i do now and it says i will see 195X. then maybe i
would get a barlow lense to double it. what do you think would be best
to see farther. Another thing, i seen some pictures of galaxys and i
wonder how they see those with a telescope if they are almost just as
far as stars. what eyepiece to i need to see galaxys and nebulas and
more deep space things?
Mike here: Keep in mind the theoretical maximum magnification (see the FAQ). As to the difference in human eyes and film/CCD, the eye does not store up the photons it receives whereas film/CCD do. Also, the eye is not as sensitive to low light like film/CCD, hence objects look dim and less detailed.
Subject:	Another new question - north or north???
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 7:58:14
From: (Jack Slater)
When trying to set up the scope to the home position, I'm reading that I
need it to set to "true north" and then later I read about "magnetic
north"! What north do I need to use?  Some poster told me that using a
cheap compass worked just fine so I bought one.  If true north is
different, which should I use and how do I find it?
Mike here: The sky "rotates" around True North, not Magnetic North. So yes, you need to use True North. However, depending upon your location, you may be able to get away with using a compass. The difference in the two "norths" is called Magnetic Variation and varies from 0 degrees to nearly 20 degrees, depending upon your location on the Earth. If you are in a location where the difference is 15 degrees, your alignment stars will be a similar amount off. Once you get properly aligned the error is fixed. But it is obviously better to start with the proper North. In the Northern Hemisphere, the star Polaris (the "North Star") is within a degree of True North. See a star chart to find it. If you can't see it due to some obstruction, you can use a compass and just compensate for your Magnetic Variation (see one of the links on the Astronomy Links page). Don't forget to compensate for any nearby metal or magnetic sources!


I'm in Moline Illinois.  Is compass ok for here or do I need to de
better for the Autostar to be right on?
Mike here: As I said, you can use the link on the Astronomy Links page (it is "Magnetic Variation Calcs") to get this value yourself. Remember, that any difference will show up when trying to point to the alignment stars.


LOL boy we are in way over my head now!  I went to the link you mentioned
(Magnetic Variation)and it looks to be math/astrophysics or sumthin I have
no knowledge of!  Not sure how this would benefit me.
Mike here: The first value "D" is the one you want. That's the Magnetic Variation, as described further down the results page. Simple math also described there. Nothing to be afraid of.
Subject:	Meade finderscopes
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 7:21:28
From: (Clay Sherrod)
The two Meade finderscopes are essentially the same optical units and
both have essentially the same field of view;  other than a small
aperture reduction diaphragm, I have found no differences in the
inherent magnification, light gather NOR field of view of either unit.
P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Light Leak Fixes
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 7:30:23
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	tyson@AI.SRI.COM
If you use dark colored foam, the outgassing is minimal; very soft
corrugated foam (i.e., mattress pad type foam) that is typically lighter
colored and very soft) is not advised for that very reason.

Also, remember that light leaking at the camera tripod mount area is NOT
a problem with the ETX 125 and 105....only the ETX 90 which has an
opening directly beneath the right angle mirror area that opens below
the tripod plate.  There is no such opening in the other models.

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
From: (Richard Seymour)
Fascinating analysis.  The volatility of many foams is a very good

Personally, i've had black electrician's tape sealing both the
screwholes -and- the big frontal gap of my ETX90 for the last two years.

No problems in any sense that i've been able to detect.

The -rest- of the system is by no means air-tight.  The eyepiece holder
alone has enough looseness (i.e. air passage) that at best/worst the
limited airflow serves as a "shock absorber", letting eyepieces drop
gently into place.

On the trapped-air versus trapped-moisture, it's actually -better- to
have the tube sealed... when you move from outside (cold air, little
moisture trapped in tube) to indoors (warm, moist), then the -slow-
change of air helps prevent that moisture entering the scope until the
tube has warmed up to a non-condensing temperature.  In the same way, if
the front lens does -not- have dew on it, it's better to put on the
front cover before coming indoors.

It is true that it might be nicer if you could move cold air into the
tube faster (when you go outdoors), but only a single gap isn't going to
help that much either... fans are becoming a (not quite) common feature
on larger scopes (even 8").

Since there's always two sides to every discussion about telescopes, are
you aware that Meade (and others) sell "scope savers"?... covers to be
screwed onto the rear port adapters so that the barrel -remains- sealed,
when things are swapped (or removed from) the rear port. (mainly to
avoid dust entry, i'm sure).(and insects)

Now, why do i seal the front gap?  Because i do solar observing, and
that gap is aimed at the sun.  I hadn't noticed it until i started doing

Since the sun makes it -critical- that the seals remain in place, i've
chosen to use the security of glued tape.  For "normal" viewing a
separate piece of cardboard, such as you suggest, is a perfectly good

The tripod screwholes -did- show up as light leaks during nighttime work
(the neighbors' porchlights).  They were covered first (by moving the
ETX90's tabletop tripod screwcovers into those holes).

have fun

Subject:	Your site is excellent
Sent:	Monday, December 31, 2001 23:52:23
From: (Alfredo Salazar)
I search information about the ETX telescopes and i find your page... is
incredible!!!. With your page i have all the information about the ETXs.

Thanks for your work.

Alfredo A. Salazar Orellana

PD:  Sorry for my english.

Feedback Archives

Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the Feedback page.

Return to the top of this page.

Go to the ETX Home Page.

Copyright © 2002 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittals Copyright © 2002 by the Submitter