Last updated: 31 January 2004
This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject: ETX convert
Date: 1/31/04, 18:27
From: Kaustav Bhattacharya (
I stumbled across your ETX web site through pure chance. The wonders of! I am on the verge of purchasing my very first ETX. I plan on
getting the ETX105. I am from England and as with all things here,
especially astronomy equipment, things are more expensive compared to
the USA. Right now, Meade are doing a special offer on the ETX 105 for
£699 (approx $1258 US Dollars).  This includes the steel tripod, the
autostar system, one super plossl eye piece and a couple of other bits
and pieces. How does that price compare to US prices for this telescope?
I am going to be in New York City in a few weeks and might hold out
purchasing this scope in the UK and might just go buy it in the USA and
bring it back with me which is more than doable given the scopes
relatively light weight which I'm sure I can sneak in to my carry on
luggage.  If you know of any decent and trusted US dealers, especially
in the NYC (Manhatten) region, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could
send me some URL's or simply give your own personal opionion on things.
It's always good to hear from an expert on these things :-)

Kaustav Bhattacharya
Mike here: Current price (at OPT) for the ETX-105AT/UHTC is $870 (USD). I can't speak about any New York dealers. For URLs for dealers, see the Astronomy Links page; there is a dealer section there. As to carrying it on, remember that the shipping boxes (telescope and tripod) will probably not qualify as carry-on.

Subject: Lunar Tracking in Polar Mode
Date: 1/31/04, 15:47
From: Paul (
I was wondering if it makes any difference to switch from sidereal to
lunar tracking when observing the Moon in polar mode?


Mike here: Yes, if viewing the Moon over a long observing session or when using very high magnifications. But I never switch.


Maybe I will engage Lunar tracking for when I want to try high
magnification photography of lunar features then.


Subject: ETX info
Date: 1/31/04, 13:33
From: "A.J. VanDorn" (
Hello...wondering if you could help me. Im looking at buying an ETX-90,
but I see they have an ETX-90EC and an ETX-90AT - I cant seem to find a
difference between the two.

By chance, do you know the difference?

I have contacted Meade to find out but have not received a response

Any help would be grateful .... THANKS
Mike here: See the Announcements - Meade page.


Got it...thanks.

Subject: Strange ETX-90 Behavior
Date: 1/31/04, 11:04
From: R&JS (
I am copying Clay Sherrod on this message -- I submitted this question
earlier and I'd like to try the suggestion Clay made then.  Here's the

Once or twice a week, my ETX-90, while tracking an object, will drop
dramatically in altitude.  It continues to track in azimuth and
altitude, it just drops far down below the object being tracked.  When
this happens, I set it on a fast slew rate -- 8 or 9 -- and hold the UP
arrow until the object appears in the finderscope -- whatever it was
tracking is always centered in azimuth -- I center for altitude, SYNCH,
and return to tracking.

Today was an example.  At 0545 I turned on the scope from where I had
left it in PARK SCOPE, did a GOTO Jupiter, and started tracking Jupiter
-- I centered Jupiter and did SYNCH.  When I went out for my morning run
at 0630, it was tracking just about perfectly -- Jupiter was still
almost centered in the 15mm eyepiece.

When I returned from running at 0715, the scope was pointed as far down
as it could go -- the tube was resting on the base, pointing at the
ground.  It was still pointed at Jupiter's azimuth -- it was just
pointed at a spot on the ground below Jupiter.  I pushed 9 for slew rate
and held the UP arrow and it slewed up to Jupiter, which became centered
in the crosshairs on the finder as the scope moved up.  I checked for
center in the eyepiece -- it was centered, I did not have to use the
RIGHT or LEFT buttons to center it, just UP and DOWN -- did SYNCH -- and
it tracked without a flaw until 0830, when the sun wiped out Jupiter.

I did RESET, CALIBRATE, TRAIN 10 days ago -- and re-entered the alt and
az ratios from Clay's tune-up.

This happens enough to be mildly annoying -- I can live with it but it
bugs me when it happens!!  If I observe seven nights a week, it will
happen two nights out of seven.  It seems to happen only once a session
-- when it happens, I leave the scope running for a couple of hours even
if I am not observing, just to see if it will do it again -- it does

When I asked about this earlier, Clay suggested there may be a piece of
debris in the tracking mechanism.  Where would I look for this and what
am I looking for?  I am not afraid to dig into the scope -- I am quite
handy with small tools and small assemblies.


Joe Schlatter
Mike here: Possible causes: low battery power (due to low outside air temperatures?), intermittent connection (someplace), or a dirty encoder. The first is easy to check; try it indoors or use new batteries (or AC power). The second is more difficult but removing and reinserting the Autostar cable (or even reversing it) might help. The last one might be easy to fix; unlock the altitude axis and move the OTA up and down full range by hand several times. This can loosen up the grease and may remove the dirt. Lets try these first before going deeper.

And from Dr. Clay:

From: "P. Clay Sherrod" (
This is not at all an issue with training nor settings; you are really
wasting effort going through training and resetting the scope.  Your
clutch and clamping assembly are slipping (and pretty badly from the
sounds of this....) in Altitude (declination).  I suggest that you get
inside carefully using the guidelines I have posted on Mike's site under
the Performance Enhancement Guides, Parts I and II....this should
eliminate the problem.  Best of luck in this.  This is not an electronic clearly is a mechanical failure that can easily be
remedied on the next cloudy weekend!

Best of luck and keep us posted on progress.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)

Subject: Book
Date: 1/31/04, 07:41
From: shirley m feickert (
Mike  I read your BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT  that your BOOK has been updated. I
called Banes & Noble,  They said  they had no knowledge of the January 4

Can you tell me when or where it can be found ?

Also we got that problem solved, the printing of  "AUTOSTAR and your
computer" ( all 34 pages)

  Thanks again        Jim
Mike here: Glad you solved the printing problem. The book hasn't been updated, it just got its third printing run. I know that OPT has it in stock.

Subject: Marco from Spain
Date: 1/31/04, 02:43
From: Marco Garcia (
My name is Marco. Im from Spain, and I wrote you some months ago asking
for the best system for astrophotography with my ETX-125. (you were on
holidays and it was not the best moment). Above all, thanks again for
your web site and your book. A great help for all of us!

I write you because I have a trouble. I make a beginner mistake with I
bought the telescope (as we said in spanish, I began the house by the
roof. The scope is the last thing that an amateur astronomer must buy.
But it was for me the first one, because I find a new ETX 125 EC for 690
euros (more or less, the same in dollars). My ETX 125 came with a very
normal 26 mm eyepiece, with the base made of rubber (not the steel part
that have the Super Plossl Serie 4000). When I bought a Meade Barlow
lens, I saw that the eyepiece danced in the Barlow. The barlows
thumbscrew was too short to fix the eyepiece and look through it. Well,
and If I change the screws (the thumbscrew that fix the eyepiece to the
eyepiece holder is much longer). I put the eyepiece holder thumbscrew in
the barlow lens. No problem. But I put the barlow thumbscrew in the hole
of the eyepiece holder. It seems that goes OK...

The screw broke itself. I tried to take out it, but it was impossible. I
made a hole with a drill in the eyepiece holder (I promise you that its
made of a very strong material), and with a cut normal screw,  I have
survived since that day. But the screw has made much bigger the hole,
and now it doesnt fix the eyepiece if I put a filter in it.

So, I need a new eyepiece holder. I will call  to Meades dealer in
Spain on monday, but I dont expect so much, because they only sell to
the shops, not to the people. And in the shop you bought the scope?,
perhaps youre thinking. Although its the best company of commercial
centres in Spain, I dont want to know anymore of them about the scope.
I put in charge a 9.7 mm eyepiece. Oh, its a very rare eyepiece. It
will arrives in two months, they said. It happened on may, 2003. Few
months ago, I called Scopetronix. The eyepiece cames in one week. Im
still waiting the call of the commercial centre.

I dont know if Meade sells these kind of pieces. Looking in Internet, I
have similar pieces. One of them is the Apogee 125 ETX Adapter, of
Optcorp. It seems that perhaps its not appropiate. But its the best
thing I have seen.

What can I do? I know that its a very strange problem. Its not
serious, because the scope works fine. If I use the eyepiece without
filters (they fit perfectly in the eyepiece holder), no problem. But the
problem arrives with the filters.

If you wish to help me, please write me to

Thank you for your attention and best regards from Spain.

Marco Gª Vidart.
Mike here: If I understand your problem correctly, you have damaged the eyepiece holder on the top of the ETX tube. This is not a part that Meade would provide for a repair. Alternatively you can use an eyepiece holder on the rear port. There are two choices: Meade 45-Degree Erecting Prism (see the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page) and a Visual Back (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page).
Please note that due to the volume of email I get, using the normal reply-to address is what I prefer. I will add that to the Email Etiquette page.

Subject: Protecting the interior of the scope
Date: 1/30/04, 21:14
From: Ken Martin (
I've seen references (perhaps here on your site), about putting a small
pouch of silica disectant (spelling??) in a film canister with some
holes punched in the canister and leaving it inserted in the eyepiece
holder, to draw any possible moisture out of the OTA after observing,
and while the scope is in storage. Any thoughts on this practice?
Thanks, Ken
Mike here: I don't do this but many products will ship with those small packages that reduce moisture accumulation. But I won't put them INSIDE the tube. Air drying is the best way.


I was not suggesting putting it INSIDE the tube, but as I heard others
suggest, putting it in a film canister with holes punched in it, and
inserting the film canister in the eyepiece holder.

I'd be concerned about dust or other debris getting inside the tube if
not protected in some way.
Thanks, Ken
Mike here: Sorry, I didn't mean "loose" inside the OTA but I was concerned about it leaving the filmcan through those holes...


I don't want to sound like this is a debate ... I was thinking of very
small "air" holes punched in the bottom of the film canister, a small
pouch of that crystal stuff put in the film canister with the lid on the
canister attached, and then inserted into the eyepiece holder. Since one
of my scopes is an LX90, I store it with an empty film canister in the
diagonal, so I don't have to remove the diagonal and put the cap on it
when not in use.
Mike here: Nope, not debating. My concern is that over time "crystal dust" will fall out of the holes into the OTA. I can't see any way to prevent that. I also use filmcans as "plugs" and I always worry about plastic "scrappings" getting inside the tube. Maybe I'm just paranoid!


Excellent thoughts and valid concerns. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
Ken Martin

Subject: ETX
Date: 1/30/04, 13:35
From: shirley m feickert (
these sub cold Iowa nights are very clear.  Would these temp hurt the
ETX 125 ?

Jim the freezing Iowan
Mike here: See the "ETX and the weather" message further down this page.

Subject: ETX 105 DC CHARGER
Date: 1/30/04, 06:47
From: Larry (
Recenly got my ETX 105. I ordered it with a DC charger. Was in Pep Boys
Auto the other day and saw a Coleman Powermate Jumpstarter. Dual DC
outlets. It also came with battery charger cables and an air
compressor.All for $50. Then went to Home Depot and bought a 16"
Builders Tool Bag for $20.  I think this is a great solution for
portable power , low cost too. Now if only I can figure out all  the
manuals . LOL.  

Larry Schlaefer , Jupiter Fla 

Subject: Meade #1240 Electric Focuser
Date: 1/30/04, 03:47
From: "Hutchings, Mike" (
Through your excellent pages I am seeking some help.  I am looking for
the Meade #1240 focuser to help make focussing easier when imaging. I
have failed get anyone in the UK to get me one and all US outlets who
have them in stock quote the restrictive practice of Meade that stops
them from exporting Meade products even though they want to sell me one.
I would appreciate help from anyone on this issue particularly a
supplier who is prepared to deliver.

52° 25"N 0° 31"E
replies to:
Mike here: All I can do is post your inquiry on the next ETX Site update.

Subject: noisy drive motors
Date: 1/29/04, 21:31
From: drew (
the drive motors on my etx 90 ec make loud whirring squeaking noises
when tracking.

are they always this noisy or is something wrong.

i did buy it second hand but never set it up to track at that time.

any help would be great
Mike here: It could be that the lubrication is shot or just needs to be redistributed. Lets go for the latter first. Unlock both axes and move the OTA by hand, hardstop to hardstop, back and forth several times. Let me know.


thanks for the quick reply
i did as you said,set it up,still makes din, BUT with some strategic
pressing of the dec buttons up and down,mostly down,i can get it to run
virtually silent
thanks again

Subject: Viewing in SubFreezing Tems
Date: 1/29/04, 16:30
From: eric (
Just the other night, I took my scope (ETX 90 EC) out to enjoy an
absolutely fabulous night.  I arrived with the temperature being just
below freezing.  After 3 hours, my scope just stopped  temp was then
about 27 degrees.  I also noticed that the focus ring on my finder scope
was nearly impossible to turn.  Now, I suspect the cold stiffened the
grease in the scope.  How do you keep this from happening?


Eric Smith
Mike here: Low temps are not too friendly to the lubrication nor battery life. There are dew heaters you can add-on to help keep dew off and may also work to keep the overall telescope temperature more acceptable.

Subject: Re: Question about optics of ETX-125 with UHTC
Date: 1/29/04, 13:12
Upon using Dr. Clay's technique, the coatings on the front lens of my
etx 125 remained "smeared."
( I contacted meade
today and they kindly issued me an RGA. I will probably be shipping the
scope out tomorow and I can hope to have it back in roughly a month. Its
not really a big deal though, we have been having so much snow lately it
will probably be virtually impossible for me to use the scope for at
least another two months anyway.

Thank you very much for your suggestions and help, and I will most
likely be coming back to your wonderful website for all my etx needs ; )

- Jacob Berv

Subject: Home made case
Date: 1/29/04, 12:50
From: Mikel Stoer (
I've taken on the challange of building a case for my ETX-125.  Is ther
any reason you know of why I shouldn't use foam from a mattress top
cushon (new) cut down for the protecting foam.  I know this isnt
exactaly about telescopes but I thought you might have heard somthing.
Mike in Dallas
Mike here: Other than sleeping on it, I have no familiarity with this foam. But as long as it doesn't "outgas" or shed you should be OK.

Subject: ETX and Solar Observing
Date: 1/29/04, 10:48
From: Paul (
Just wanted to let you know that all is well with my ETX 90EC now. It is
slewing properly and I have been practicing polar aligning with Polaris
and also slewing to the alignment stars! It is a lot more fun than using
my old ETX 90RA!

Oh, and I took some pics of Jupiter, Saturn, Orion Nebula, and the moon
too and I really like how well this new scope tracks compared to the
90RA! I have included a pic I got of the Great Red Spot the other night
(you can include it on your Guest Gallery if you want).

Now to my question. I have been reading in your book about the dangers of exposing your scope to high levels of heat. And it occurred to me that solar observing (I have the proper filter) would subject the scope to quite a bit of heat (especially in the summer months!) and might not be too good for it? I have used the 90RA for solar observing last year but now I am a bit worried about using my new 90EC for the same purpose. Any thoughts about using the ETX for solar observing? Thanks, Paul
Mike here: The heat damage referred to usually is from trying to project the unfiltered sun's image on a piece of white cardboard (or paper) held above the eyepiece (eyepiece projection). This unfiltered sun is the problem. If you use a quality solar filter over the aperture (and cover or protect the finderscope) you will be OK. HOWEVER, I won't leave it outside in the Sun the whole day unless it is protected from the exterior heat.


Thanks Mike!

The scope is working like a charm now! It is too bad Meade can't make a
more positive mechanism for the clutch because it is pretty easy to over
or under tighten it.

I do have the JMB Identiview Class A Solar Filter so I should be ok
then. Thanks for helping set my mind at ease. And I made one of those
cardboard shields like you have so that helps protect the finderscope
from the sun. and I have a feeling that about 30 mins to an hour in the
sun should be about all I would need.


Subject: Re: etx-90
Date: 1/29/04, 00:20
From: Saber Properties Limited (
thanks, found it on underside of OTA

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Weasner" (
> Welcome back!  UHTC should appear on either a label on the OTA (possibly
> on the bottom side) or on the shipping box.

Subject: My New ETX 90...need help
Date: 1/28/04, 23:05
From: Intelli (
I am having trouble doing the easy align with my telescope...

It's actually a used scope I bought on ebay.  I realize you don't know
what your getting but I took my chances.

here's my question...since It looks to me, to be the problem...

When I set the scope in HOME position  0 degrees is supposed to level
the Optical tube right??  well when I line up 0 degrees at the bottom
arrow the scope is pointing down at the ground below the horizon... 
when I level the tube approximatly with my eyes it shows to me about 15
degrees off. what's wrong? and how can I fix it?  the same goes for 90
degrees ...supposed to be straight up??  it's not.

I sure hope this is a simple problem.

Mike here: Simple fix; see the FAQ page.

Subject: etx-90
Date: 1/28/04, 13:00
From: Saber Properties Limited (
Long time no speak. I used to contact you quite regularly about 18
months ago, when I had an etx125, I since deserted and bought a
beautiful Televue 76 apo, but alas although it gave great images, it was
too expensive to drive properly, so I've sold it and bought a new etx90,
so that I have the driven scope in a compact form.

I live in London UK and had my cousin buy it for me from focus camera in
New York for roughly half the UK price because of the $ rate at the
moment. My question is, the offer was for a UHTC scope, how would I tell
on the box or the literature or the actual scope that it is actually the
UHTC version.

I've not been out with the scope yet, so I'm looking forward and will
let you know how it goes.

Warm regards,

Mike here: Welcome back! UHTC should appear on either a label on the OTA (possibly on the bottom side) or on the shipping box.

Subject: ETX or Refractor..
Date: 1/28/04, 12:31
From: joe carvalko (
Hello, just checking out your site.
I had a couple of questions...hopefully you could answer.....

I currently use a LX200 scope. I'm in the market for a
refractor....never had one.

The question is...your opinion....

If given the choice, would you buy a regular achromatic refractor (6 in
for $700) or just get the ETX125 meade series scope off ebay for the
same price, or opt for a smaller aperature APO (80mm or 102mm)
achromatic. At this time, I'm not buying the scope for photography
(although that may happen...mostly for me porting around back and forth
to my kids place).

I ask only opinion...I'm on the fence  and since I've never had a
refractor, I'm wondering.
Mike here: Since you have an LX200 you should consider whether a low end or high end refractor will meet your visual expectations. Low end are typically short focal length and have some (to a lot) chromatic aberration. High end have higher quality optics and longer focal lengths (and cost more). You need to decide just how you plan to use the telescope and then make the decision based upon that and capabilities of the telescope system.

Subject: ETX-125 EC
Date: 1/28/04, 12:29
From: MSN/mjrdoc (
I have a two year old ETX-125EC. At that time, I was an active user of
your forum, and an avid user of the telescope.  I own your book on the
"Mighty ETX" (First Version), Starry Night software, as well as just
about every accessory and lens for the ETX then offered.

Over the past year I have not had the opportunity to use my ETX, and so
I now that I have set up the telescope to use again, I am considering
myself a novice.

I would like to ask a few elementary questions, if you would bear with

First of all, my telescope is an ETX-125EC. I now see on Meade's web
page the ETX-125AT.  What is the difference between them? I also see a
new optic coating system (UHTC) which I understand cannot be retrofitted
but must be ordered at the time of purchase.  I am certainly not going
to purchase a new unit, but so that I am up to date, what are the
advantages of this, or to put it another way, the disadvantages of not
having it?

I am re-reading my manuals, your book, and am trying to get back up to
speed.  I hope you do not mind if I post a question or two to you while
I am doing so.

Thank you.

Best Regards,

Dr. Miles J. Rosenthal
Mike here: See the Announcements-->Meade page for info on the EC vs AT models. UHTC increases light reaching your eye by about 20%. See further down the Meade page for a test report on UHTC.

Subject: etx 105 uhtc
Date: 1/27/04, 19:49
From: Jeff Mayovsky (
I have an etx 105 with uhtc.  I really like the portabiltiy and the
images are sharp.  I find that when viewing Saturn and Jupiter, that
there is so much reflecttion that the colors don't seem to come through.
 My experience with colored filters is that they make the image blue,
yellow, red, whatever.  How can I effectively get the contrast.  Anybody
have any ideas?
Mike here: If you are talking about reducing the glare you can use Neutral Density filters, a Polarizing Filter, or a Moon Filter (which is a Neutral Density one). See the Accessory Reviews - Filters page for more info on some of these. You could even make a mask to "stop down" the aperture to reduce the brightness reaching your eye.

Subject: Question
Date: 1/27/04, 03:55
From: David Harvey (
First, you have a great site and it has been very helpful for me so far
(a newbie to astronomy).  I have a question and I can't seem to find an
answer anywhere and thought you might be the place to go.

I'm looking at the purchase of a new (used 4 times) ETX-125EC with quite
a few accessories.  It looks like a good deal.  My question though is
this...the box says it is an EC, when I go to Meades main website page
they also have the unit listed as an EC.  Clicking on the product page
for the 125EC, takes me to the page for the 3 scopes, but from here on,
Meade refers to the scopes as AT's, not EC's.

What is the difference in the EC and AT?  Is the EC an outdated model
and one to be avoided?

This has confused me and I sure hope you can help me and I definitely
want to be sure of getting the latest model.

Thanks a lot!
David Harvey
Youngsville, NC
Mike here: See the Announcements - Meade page for info on the EC vs AT models.

Subject: ETX Autostar - Any Plans for GPS?
Date: 1/26/04, 05:05
From: Michael Masters (
As a new ETX-125 owner, I am very very impressed by Autostar after
having to do everything manually with my old Celestron. However it could
be even better . Does anyone know if Meade have any plans to incorporate
GPS? It would then be possible  of course to travel anywhere without
having to do the location part of the setup. Similarly being accurate
with the time setting is not always easy, so a built in chronometer
would be great. Finally how about improving the point North startup
positioning. I try to do this with a compass, not easy in the dark and I
am not clear on how accurate you need to be with this. It should be
possible for Autostar to locate North itself with a built in compass. I
am a relative novice so perhaps these ideas have already been
incorporated into the top range beasts. I guess there may be an issue
with power.

Regards...Mick Masters (UK)  
Mike here: The LX200GPS series has GPS incorporated. But as yet Meade has not announced any plans for a GPS-enabled Autostar #497. However, see the article "GPS for Autostar #495/497" on the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site.

Subject: Re: Replacement ETX125 random slewing
Date: 1/26/04, 02:14
From: Allan Macdonald (
Just a quick update, I rang the suppliers and they want me to return the
scope. I told them I was a little apprehensive of receiving a 3rd faulty
scope ( although I am sure the next one will be fine,) so I have
arranged to exchange it for an LXD55 8"SC when they get them in stock.
Apparently, they have new mounts fitted and delivery is delayed a bit
over here, awaiting the new stock from Meade.

Again, you are to blame for this, after seeing your LXD55 site, I just
had to have one!!

Thanks again for your help Mike.
Kindest Regards

Subject: Meade Customer Support
Date: 1/25/04, 20:33
From: Robert Welsh (
Dr. Mister Weasner

I am writing in order to bring forth an issue that I see as a new
telescope buyer. No where do I see an honest report on Meade customer

I will explain.

I purchased an ETX 125 from Discovery, the scope is great and I have no
complaints. But the ability of dealers to obtain the accessories is most
disturbing, nor do I see Meade addressing the issue. I have searched
many dealers on the web, called them and get the same response, it will
be a few weeks maybe!!! I can not e-mail Meade to get information, they
put an 800 number that I have to call.

I believe Meade products are great but where is there integrity? and
truth in advertising?

If you have any insight to this I would greatly appreciate it. I am
trying to buy many items approximately $1000 dollars worth of
accessories. And I want them now I have cash.

Thank You

Robert Welsh
Mike here: Well, there is a supply and demand problem. For many products (whether from Meade or other companies), demand exceeds availability at times. I know it seems like Meade is a large company but in reality it is rather small when compared to many other companies you likely deal with. Yes, they don't provide email support but they are not alone in that respect. I'm sure this isn't the answer you were looking for but then I'm not certain exactly what you want from me.


Just Curious as if you had any insight.
I understand supply and demand. I am a Production specialist, make
factories go faster, recently in the Silicon wafer arena.
Thank you very much. Your sight is awesome.


Subject: DC Power Question...
Date: 1/25/04, 14:51
I am sure the answer is in here somewhere, but I thought you could
answer it faster than I could find it.  I want to make a DC Car adapter
for my ETX-90.  Is there any trick.  What is the output voltage and is
polarity an issue here?  Being DC I would think that it would.  If there
is anyone with schematics on making one, I sure would like one.   I
figure, if I can make it, 1. it is money saved, and 2. I can make is as
long as I like.  I already made a Flex focus from the info on your site.
I changed it a little and used 2 part epoxy for the knob and spacer
mounting to the cable.  There is a nice knob at Home Depot for about
$0.40.  I used a larger knob than the OEM knob. I am hoping this will
help with the fine tuning/focus.   I then drilled the spacer an
installed 1 set screw. I will send pictures ASAP.  Thanks for all the
hep and I look forward to your reply.
Roy Yount
Waddy, Kentucky
Mike here: See the "Power" section on the Telescope Tech Tips page.


I am looking at the Power section now, but I am not finding anything
about a Car adaptor.
Mike here: Nothing specific to a car adapter; just hopefully useful info.


Will 12VoltsDC be fine for the input power for the ETX-90?  What is the
rated power and what will happen if the polarity is reversed?  I would
hate to fry it.
Mike here: 12VDC will work. 1.5A. And yes, you can fry it with reversed polarity. Check some of the power articles for more info.

Subject: UHTC Coatings
Date: 1/25/04, 13:14
From: Kenley Gard (
Great Site!, but you already know thatJ.

I was wondering is it possible to get UHTC on a scope after the fact.
Does Meade provide any service to do so. Ive found  nice deal on a none
UHTC scope and Im wondering if this upgrade is possible.

Mike here: No such service available.

Subject: Replacement ETX125 random slewing
Date: 1/25/04, 06:22
From: Allan Macdonald (
I emailed you towards the end of last year about a problem I was having
with my 125. It was jumping when tracking. I sent it for repair, and it
was replaced with a new one. Now the weather hasnt been so good in the
UK lately, and all I did with the new scope was to check the optics and
train the drives. Everything seemed fine. So, a couple of days ago, we
had nice clear skies, and M42 was beconing. I set the scope outside,
placed it in Home position( alt-az)  and went through the easy align
procedure, but I`m afraid thats as far as I got. I start Easy align, it
finds the first star, spot on in the eyepiece. Press enter and it slews
off to find the second star ( It was Rigel, then Pollux) Finds the
second star, and I press Enter. It tells me the alignement is
successful, then a few seconds later, the motor starts and the OTA moves
up or down a few degrees. It repeats this a few times, then I get a
Motor Failure message displayed.

This has happened about 15 out of 15 attempts. I have used 2 different
power supplies, same result. Indoors, outdoors, again, the same. This is
not just a one off, this is everytime I try to use the scope.

Autostar was version 30e when I got it, and I have upgraded to 31e,
hoping this would sort it,but, its still the same. I also get a clonk
from the motor sometimes when it starts slewing, so, I am guessing
something is seriously wrong with this scope.

What I need to know is, is this a common fixable problem? I read that
other people seem to suffer from random slewing, but mine is a set
pattern that is repeatable every single time.

I am afraid I am losing confidence in these scopes. 2 out of 2, faulty,
and I am really worrying if I get another replacement, what problems
will I have with it.

So, before I ring the suppliers, do you have any ideas why this scope is
misbehaving? Or is it just poor quality control, or, as I suspect, is it
just me? My new car has been back at the garage more times than I have
had it parked in mine!!
Allan Macdonald
Mike here: Since you have the older ETX-125, is everything OK when you use the Standard Handcontroller? If so, try reversing the ETX-Autostar cable. Also, check the telescope model and do a CALIBRATE then TRAIN DRIVES (again). What you are experiencing is not the random slew problem nor does it sound like the low power problem.


As far as I know, I have the latest ETX 125.( delivered Dec2003)  It
came only with the Autostar controller. It has the new fork arrangement
and UHTC coatings sticker attached.

I just tried as you suggested, calibrated, then trained the drives.(
tried a RESET earlier, too ) First star aligned ok, tried for the
second, and that aligned ok. Pressed ENTER and got the Align Successful
message. ( didnt get that far last time, it started moving UP then, just
as the scope was doing its final slow slewing to the second star). So I
waited a minute with the autostar screen waiting for me to select an
object then the motor started moving the tube down, 4 or 5 degrees at a
time, every half second or so. After about 40 degrees, it stopped and I
got the Motor Unit Fault displayed again.

Does this sound terminal? I also noticed, when I was training the drive,
it was jumping as it slewed sideways, and the flip mirror under the
eyepiece doesnt seem very positive. You seem to have to fiddle with it
to get it in line properly, it doesnt have a nice sharp "click" as it
lines up.

I darent look any further, something else might go wrong!!

I appreciate your time to answer my e mail, and your views on this. I
will have to ring the supplier again tomorrow, I am pretty convinced now
that there is something wrong.

By the way, if I dont try and align the scope, it sits there fine and
doesnt move about at all ( yet!) But of course, I cant use the GoTo
Mike here: One other thought: loosen the lubrication. Do this by unlocking both axes and moving the telescope by hand back and forth, hardstop to hardstop, in both azimuth and elevation.


I`ve done this quite a few times now, and its still doing the same thing
when I try the alignment procedure. I am fearing the worst here!

Subject: Buyer Scams
Date: 1/24/04, 18:29
From: "Kieran J. O'Hagan" (
I was reading your alerts, and I noticed the stories about the foreigner
scams willing to send money, etc for telescope. Anyone who gets these
should forward the original email, along with the message source, to the
Federal Trade Commission..
They have been successful in stopping a number of these scams.
Clear skies!
Kieran O'Hagan
Senior Court Officer
NYS Courts

Subject: Question about optics of ETX-125 with UHTC
Date: 1/24/04, 13:06
I was wondering if you had any idea what happened to my scope...or what
that i am a beginer and am still learning alot about my etx 125
with UHTC. also the products in the other picture were recomended to me
by my local camera shop to use when cleaning the optics. I wanted ask
some professionals how I should go about using them if they are

thanks alot!
-jake berv

clean? clean?

Mike here: EGADS! Go immediately to the "Cleaning Optics" on the Buyer/New User Tips page and give Dr. Clay's solution and technique a try. If that doesn't remove the smearing, you may have ruined the coating. Another option, maybe even preferable if you just purchased the telescope from the same dealer, is to return the telescope to them and ask why they sold you a "cleaning product" that doesn't follow the directions in the ETX manual. Let me know.


I havent gotten a chance to pick up the parts to make dr. clay's
solution but i am fearing the worst anyway... my etx is still under
warentee so im hoping i can get it fixed for free if need be... what do
you think i should do if dr. clays method does not work?
Mike here: If you don't get satisfaction from the dealer who sold you telescope and the "cleaning" components for that telescope, you could contact Meade and tell them what the dealer did for you. Where it goes from there is difficult to say.

And a clarification:

Ohh! wait I dont think you understand what happened. I saw the smear and
then went to the camera shop, where they recomended those products that
i sent you a picture of.. i have not used them on the scope yet

Mike here: Oh yeah, that DOES make a difference. DON'T use those products; use Dr. Clay's along with his technique. But lets worry about this one step at a time. Let me know what happens.

Subject: "parking" and "airing" an ETX
Date: 1/24/04, 04:08
From: Kelleher (
I'm still getting to know my ETX-105 and coming up with more questions I
hope you can help with:

In the GENERAL FEEDBACK section, on 29th November 2001 you said: "Mike
here: Couple of points. Keeping the axis locks locked for LONG periods
of time is probably not a good idea, especially if there is stress, such
as on the Altitude lock with the OTA in a raised position. However, if
you Park the scope using the Autostar Park command you HAVE to keep the
locks engaged."

I have also been wondering about the possible negative effect of
tightening the axis locks outside in the cold and then later bringing
them indoors to the warm where components expand - presumably creating

Because of all of the above I have started leaving the scope between
viewing sessions with the horizontal lock off.

However, would you also recommend leaving the scope with the vertical
lock off and the OTA resting on the bottom hard-stop (i.e. OTA pointing
down at 30 degrees)?

Also, where I live it is very damp and dew is often heavy. I have
sometimes noticed it form on the silver part of the eyepiece that fits
into the scope. Once the scope is back indoors and after the moisture
has had plenty of time to evaporate off the outside should I remove the
eyepiece to allow the inside of the scope to "air" or just leave it all
closed up?

Thanks for your ongoing help...
Mike here: I leave the OTA "drooping" with the lock unlocked. And yes, you should let the interior "air out" as well.

Subject: ETX ??
Date: 1/24/04, 02:43
From: shirley m feickert (
Under your main page,  go to "under helpful info.) the autostar update, 
We have a problem getting "Autostar and your computer" We used IBM and a
Mac computers  the IBM froze up and the Mac will only print the fisrt
page then 2-34 print out the same as first page. We tried POWER POINT
PRESENTATION and we're not getting anywhere. Is this by Bob Pasken ?

Is there any way to, have these printed out for me ?

Mike here: Yes, these are from Bob Paskin. It prints fine on my Mac. If you have Mac OS X, have you tried saving as a PDF? Does the first page replicate that way? If it is OK, what happens when you print the PDF?


i have mac os.x. when i tried saving it as a pdf it does a download
manager then there is an icon on my wallpaper (screen) which i click
onto. it just gives me a virus check screen and then it goes through a
virus check and that is it. is there something i am doing wrong.
Mike here: Did you unZIP it to get the PowerPoint file?


yes i did and that is what i got.
Mike here: Did you download from a Mac or a PC? It shouldn't matter but I suspect that you may have gotten a corrupted download. When I download it, it comes over OK (as the ZIP file). There is the alternative of the web page version.

Subject: motor failure
Date: 1/23/04, 19:48
From: eric (
Tonight I was out with my ETX  90 EC.  I had just charged the batteries
last night.  It was about 30 degrees, and I had been out for about three
hours.  All of a sudden, the slewing stopped, and the autostar handset
read motor failure.  I pressed MODE, and the unit performed some brief
tests and then began to re-initialize.  Whats going on here?


Eric Smith
Mike here: Low temps affect battery performance and the gear lubrication. Either can cause this.

Subject: Max's JPL Solar System Ambassador Bio
Date: 1/23/04, 19:32
This is to inform you know that I was selected and am greatful for your
support, or as proof that I was selected and capable of faithfully
accomplishing the programs we have discussed.
Please see the hyperlink:


Subject: ETX and the weather
Date: 1/23/04, 09:52
From: Kathy Koerber (
I was hoping to do some stargazing with my ETX-90 soon, but it's been
really really cold here in SE PA at night.  Temperatures have been
consistently below 20 and get into the single digits sometimes (F). 
Will such low temperatures harm my telescope permanently at all?

Mike here: Low temps will affect battery performance and lubrication. These could ultimately result in "motor failure" being disabled on the Autostar or other strange things happening. Sustained low temps can cause plastic to become brittle. But under normal use the ETX won't be damaged. Just use common sense. Since the telescope doesn't have the advantage of wearing the same amount of clothes as you do when observing in such conditions, have some sympathy for it. Also, let any moisture evaporate by leaving the ETX uncovered after bringing it back indoors.


Thanks, I will be sure to have the fire burning and some hot chocolate on the stove when I bring it back in!

Subject: Confusion About Models Of ETX
Date: 1/23/04, 08:33
From: Raymond (
How can I tell if my ETX 90 has the standard or the UHTC coating.
Mike here: Check the shipping box. Check for a label on the bottom of the tube. Judging the color of the coating is not conclusive.

Subject: Tracking
Date: 1/23/04, 08:32
Is there a way to get the ETX to track an object which has been found
manually rather than through the Goto procedure?
                                  Thanks     TFortune
Mike here: If you set up the ETX in Polar Mode (and set the mounting mode in the Autostar to Polar) you can just turn on Astronomical from the Setup->Targets menu. But since even doing a "fake alignment" (where you just assume the alignment stars are centered) only takes a couple of minutes, why not do an alignment (in either Polar or Alt/Az).


Thanks. In other words if I do say an easy alignment in alt/az the scope
will automatically track whatever i manually point it too?   Thanks  
Mike here: Yes, as long as you use the Autostar slewing keys to manually move to the object.

Subject: Re: Who's RIght?
Date: 1/22/04, 22:03
From: "P. Clay Sherrod" (
To: Greg Nolan (
Thanks to both!  Note that I have posted an automatic converter that
will change the coordinates given in my Constellation Guides AND those
found throughout the wonderfully helpful Burnham's Celestial Handbooks;
this is found under the TOOLS section of the Arkansas Sky Observatory
( website.  You are welcome to visit there for other data
as well, but this will be a very useful item for you to have in the
constellation guides....Enjoy!

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


Thanks to both of you. The two of you have provided resources that is
making the ETX experience both fun and easy for a newbie like me.

Subject: Focus
Date: 1/22/04, 20:57
If you can help with this it would be greatly appreciated!!

I can not get to a fine focus with my ETX 90 I do not know if it needs a
cleaning or?????????

I know you can not colamenate//spelling them??

If looks like its just about to come into focus then it goes back of of
focus, its getting me nuts!

What are you thoughts, Fixes for this nasty problem???

Thanks anyway in advance,
Peter Camilloni
Mike here: Yes, the telescope COULD be out of collimation. BUT there are several other possibilities as well. You didn't say if the problem was with all your eyepieces (assuming you have more than the included 26mm); but try another eyepiece. You didn't say what objects you are using and seeing this problem on. Are you letting the telescope reach "thermal equilibrium" (temp inside the tube the same as the outside air temperature)? That can create distortion in the views. You didn't say where in the you were looking. Objects near the horizon will suffer more atmospheric turbulence than objects near the zenith. Also, don't forget that seeing conditions (clouds, even if you can't see them, temperature differentials in the column of air you are looking through, and more) will affect the views. But back on the collimation, you can do a "star test" IF you know the telescope has reached thermal equilibrium, you have a good eyepiece (one that is in collimation itself), and the local seeing conditions are pretty good. If you look at a bright star through the eyepiece and then change the focus slowing in and out on either side of in-focus, you will see some (hopefully) concentric rings. If they are close to concentric the optics are OK.


Thanak you for the reply......Outstanding!
Yes it is the scope I have tried multiple EP's, at night as well as
daytime I just cant reach focus!!! I can't send it back to Meade its
second hand and it worked well when I got it, I lent it out to a fried
who told me "I can't get anything to focus i told him to try and focus
with the EP moving it up/down ect. So I got it back from him and thats
wher I am stuck at. Will try one  of the focus tips on your page
(Excellent Site) and hope I do not make things worst.
Thanks for the reply,
Take Care,
Peter Camilloni

Subject: Who's RIght?
Date: 1/22/04, 19:52
From: Greg Nolan (
Me again with my silly questions. I made a #505 cable and am enjoying
inputting my own user objects and locations. I have been using Dr.
Sherrod's constellaton information for objects that I want to create in
my user objects. He is very helpful with information about what I can
expect to see and gives coordinates for inputting gotos. I am noticing
that the coordinates he gives are different from the coordinates that
autostar provides. For example, he lists Messier 102 as RA 15:05, DEC
+55:57 but the autostar has it listed as RA 14:03.2, DEC +54:21.

Which one should I believe??

Thanks as always from a question submitting lunatic  :)


Thank You,

Gregory J. Nolan
Mike here: I believe Dr Clay's coordinates are Epoch 1950 and the Autostar is probably using Epoch 2000.

Subject: Motor Unit Failure
Date: 1/22/04, 19:09
Had my ETX 105 out for a spin on this cold night . Power was from an AC
to DC converter (purchased from Meade) plugged into a wall socket.
Everything was going well with reasonably accurate go to's. After a
successful goto to Algol the scope suddenly began slewing to the right
and upward for about 10-15 seconds before stopping. The autostar message
then read "motor unit failure" or something to that effect. It was
getting late so I didn't bother to try setting the autostar back up. Any
ideas why this should happen?  Thanks.   TFortune
Mike here: A power glitch can cause this. A loose cable, a dirty encoder, or even "stiff" grease (from the low temperature) can also cause it. If you continue to see it I would suggest loosening the grease by unlocking both axes and moving the ETX from hardstop to hardstop, in both directions by hand. Do this several times.

Subject: Star Diagonal for the ETX????
Date: 1/22/04, 11:39
From: david lee hawkins (
Everything going good for you?  I hoping to attend the the Star party at
The ASO, if my funds allow it.

I have a question regarding the ETX125 and Meade's #929 or earlier model
star diagonals. Will they thread onto the rear cell of an ETX125 to
allow the use of 2" eyepieces?

Thanks David

And as always, Thankyou for the Great ETX Site!!!
Mike here: They won't thread directly. You would need a SCT adapter. BUT you would probably not like the vignetting that would likely occur from using a 2" eyepiece.

Subject: Past help
Date: 1/21/04, 12:23
From: Lee Leader (
A few months ago a wrote you regarding a broken tube support mount for
my ETX 90 and problems I was having with Meade in trying to secure a
replacement part.  I finally gave up and submitted to thier blackmail
and shipped my scope to them along with $75.00 for the repair.  I now
have my scope back.

I tried to write to them twice and even put a letten in with the scope
explainging how I felt about having to pay $75.00 to get a peice that I
could install myself and that they (per a few dealers I spoke with) were
replacing for free when they discovered they had a manufacturing defect.
 I never recieved any reply back!

I did get a kick out of having to re-install the electronic focuser that
was on the scope when I sent it to them - they needlessly removed it!

I thank you for answering my e-mail I sent you - Meade ought to follow
your example.  Needless to say I will remeber this experience when I
look into purchasing a larger scope - even a note back explaining there
policy would have been nice - but I know that has nothing to do with
you.  You run a great site - many many thanks from a novice star gazer.
Lee Leader
Mike here: Each manufacturer, whether telescopes, computers, cameras, software, etc, has their own policies on what is user-replaceable and what's not. And that policy may change over time.

Subject: ETX-125EC or LXD55 SN-6
Date: 1/20/04, 12:40
From: Nicolaos Vernicos (
I need your expertise,
I am about to buy one of those 2 telescopes (ETX-125EC or LXD55 SN-6),
which one would you recommend for a person which main interest is to
look at the sky at night for Astronomical purposes (no day observation,
landscape observation or bird watching) and who would like to be able to
observe some interesting features of the planets i.e. Saturns rings
and/or Encke division, Jupiter satellite and/or Great red spot etc...

Dimitri Vernicos (Greece Athens)
Mike here: Nearly any (reasonably good) telescope will show Saturn's Rings; larger ones will show divisions. Jupiter's Great Red Spot (more a faint orange spot right now) can be seen with 60mm telescopes and up. So which of those two you should get depends upon with you want a GEM mount (the LXD55) or something that works in Alt/Az (the ETX). Most new users find Alt/Az easier to work with. Then you have the optical design differences of those two telescopes. Schmidt-Newtonian telescopes will work better on Deep Sky Objects whereas the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes do better at planetary work. Either can be used for any objects though. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Keep in mind that the best telescope for you is the one that gets used.

Subject: etx connector
Date: 1/20/04, 07:38
From: stanley barton (
Do you know what type connector plugs into the ETX 125 12 volt power
supply? I'm trying to put together a power source and I really don't
want to carry the whole unit to radio shack. Thanks for your help. 
S. Barton
Mike here: Check the Telescope Tech Tips page.

Subject: What to buy?
Date: 1/20/04, 06:58
From: dl (
I know this is a hard question to answer blindly, but what should I buy.
I bought a Meade DS2130 from Wal-Mart and was not too thrilled with it
so I took it back. Now Im looking at the ETX-125, LXD-55 8SC, or LX90
8. I want to get the most bang for the buck, I have 3 small kids and I
want them to get some good use out of it and I think I want something
that I could do some photography with in the future. I pretty sure I
want a goto scope and I want to take advantage of the Meade eyepiece
deal too. Would you buy any scope off eBay? Any advice would be great.


Mike here: Personally I wouldn't buy anything from eBay. Too many scams there. As to what telescope you should buy, you need to consider your budget vs what you plan to do with it vs your expectations of the views through it vs setup. Remember that the best telescope is the one that gets used and not stuck in the closet. So ease of setup and portability may be factors to you (or not). The 8"SC is a nice scope (I have the LXD55-8"SC (which you can read about on my LXD55 Site ( The focal length difference between the 8"SC and the ETX-125 isn't that much different although the aperture (5" vs 8") obviously is. So under normal circumstances the recommendation would be to go with the largest aperture you can afford AND will use.


Thanks for the quick reply. What mount would you recommend? I guess my
question stems from the LXD55 8SC vs. the LX90 8SC. It seems all the
GOTO scopes can track well enough for photography, I think. I've checked
out your site and found it very useful. I think we would use any scope
quite a bit, I just don't want to buy one and now and wish I got a
better one later. I want buy a scope that will last for years to come
and we can grow into, ie. Photography down the road. Would you also
recommend getting the UHTC coating? Where from your experience is the
best place to buy. I think my choices are:

ETX-125 for approx. $1100
LXD55 8SC for $1370
LX90 8SC for $1600

Again what makes the two 8in scopes so different? And is the LX90 worth
$500 more than the ETX? I guess price is an object but I would like to
make the best pick the first time.

Thanks again,

Mike here: The LX90 and the LXD55-8"SC have the same 8"SC telescope; only the mounts and electronics are different. The LX90 is a higher end telescope than the LXD55 or ETX. People who have them seem to love them. And yes, I do recommend the UHTC option. However, to do long duration astrophotography with the LX90 you will need either a wedge to mount the fork arms in Polar (equatorial) mode or get a "field derotator". Otherwise you will get field rotation in your images when tracking in Altitude and Azimuth.


Can the ETX-125 be used in polar mode out of the box? It sounds like the
LXD55 is the one to get since it has the same autostar 497 as the LX90,
I guess the LX90 cost more because of the mount. But the LXD55 is ready
for photography right out of the box. Since you have a LXD55, how is it
to move around? I guess the ETX is a piece of cake to move but the
performance of the LXD55 is worth the extra $200 bucks. I have 3 small
kids and I plan to set up the Autostar suite with the LPI so they can
see on a computer or small TV. From your experience how well does the
GOTO work with the equatorial mount?

Is the LXD55 your main scope now? Do you recommend buying from one of
the Meade dealers from their website?

Thanks for your time,

Mike here: The ETX-125AT comes with a tripod that can be used in Polar or Alt/Az. It also comes with the #497 Autostar. I like my LXD55-8"SC but my most used telescope remains the ETX-90RA. I have no problem moving the LXD55 outside (I leave the OTA attached to the mount) but moving and setting up my ETX-90RA is a trivial operation. As to dealers, purchasing from a local dealer is preferable but if you don't have a local dealer, there are many excellent mail order ones including OPT, Shutan, and Scopetronix (I've dealt with these; note: I have a relationship with OPT as described on my telescope sites).


Wow, I would have guessed that once you went to the LXD55 you would not
use the smaller scope. I guess I can't go wrong with any of the choices
I picked. I would bet that 80% of my viewing would be in my driveway, so
maybe the ETX-125 would be best, and since it comes able to do either
alignment and I guess it can do some descent photography it may be the
best choice for now. I looked at the ETX site as well and you seem to
like the 125 as well. One last question, I think, is the UHTC coating
still worth it on smaller scopes?


Mike here: Yep, you can do some pretty amazing astrophotography with the ETX-125; lots of examples on the ETX Site. And yes, UHTC still recommended. See the Announcements - Meade page for a test report by Dr. Clay Sherrod.

Subject: Breathtaking
Date: 1/20/04, 05:41
From: kate / Tom (
Take a look at

(this is a photo NOT a painting! It was taken by the High Resolution
Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express orbiter on January
14th. It shows a portion of a 1700 km long and 65 km wide swath which
was taken in south-north direction across the Grand Canyon of Mars
(Valles Marineris) from two perspectives. It is the first image of this
size that shows the surface of Mars in high resolution (12 meters per
pixel), in color.

The idiot press is calling it the Mars Grand Canyon, but this sucker is
colossal! The Valles Marineris is a system of canyons located just south
of the Martian equator. The system is about 4000 km long, and, if on
earth, would extend all the way across the United States. The central
individual troughs, generally 50 to 100 km wide, merge into a depression
as much as 600 km wide. In places the canyon floor reaches a depth of 10
km, 6 to 7 times deeper than the Grand Canyon.
Mike here: Yep, awesome! Reminds of views I've seen through my Mighty ETX.... ;)

Subject: re: Autostar Setup For ETX 70
Date: 1/19/04, 23:04
From: Richard Seymour (
Locations east of Greenwich England use positive time zone
offsets (the number is the number of hours to -add- to GMT).

Use your -standard- (winter) time offset.. and use the
"Daylight Savings" question to make the shift in summer
(so it's NO in winter, and YES in summer)

have fun

Subject: Polar Alignment...
Date: 1/19/04, 16:36
From: Elizabeth Rose (
What is the best way to set your scope in a polar alignment?  I have a
Meade ETX 125 with the field tripod.  Can you please describe in detail,
step by step so I can get this right?  I am interested in
Astrophotography and want this to be as easy as possible.  Please
respond to my email address:
Mike here: See the Polar Alignment articles on the "Observational Guides/References" page. If you are using the Autostar, you should also see the Polar Alignment articles on the Autostar Information page.

Subject: Can't read Japanese?
Date: 1/19/04, 15:37
From: Ian King (Ian.King@Zen.Co.Uk)
I read an interesting posting under the BUYER/NEW USER TIPS that took me
to Yoshi's ETX site which is in Japanese. No problem, I simply drop the
URL into AltaVista's Babelfish
translator at and bingo. A bit pigeony
but does the job. I have great fun with my friends sending each other
emails in all sorts of languages!


(Of course, you need to be a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fan to
understand the significance of the Babelfish !!).

Subject: ETX-90AT
Date: 1/19/04, 10:52
From: Ken Banner (
I really am very grateful for your website.  I am a beginner in the
telescope world and your site is making it much more enjoyable.  I
received my ETX-90 for christmas and I have only been able to view
celestial objects manually thus far.  I found your TECH-Notes on how to
make the ETX a truly "Go To" instrument.  I was wondering if I need to
go through the three step procedure to beef up my scope, or if Meade has
already done this.  (I only ask because of the date of the report being
2001.)  I also tried to perform the Home Position Alignment (in alt/az
mode), and every star it tried to slew to was below the horizon.  Have
you experienced this and if so how do I fix it.
Thanks again,

W. Kenneth Banner, Ph.D
Mike here: Not everyone will need nor want to do those performance enhancements. I suspect the problem you are having is one of proper setup (either in the settings in the Autostar) or in the HOME position. Check that you have the right date (especially the year), time (check AM/PM unless using 24 hour time), Daylight Savings (which is now OFF for most locations), and your site location (pick a nearby city). As to the HOME position, see the various alignment tip articles on the Autostar Information page.

Subject: Mighty ETX star party
Date: 1/19/04, 01:22
From: Tommy Lim KW (
Actually I like the concept of Mighty ETX star party. I wish I can
organize a star party like yours.

I have ordered a Mighty ETX 125 recently. It will arrive on mid of
Febuary with some of the accessories.

* I just saw all the previous star party photos, I really like your
mighty ETX logo cap that you always wear. Can I request it one from you
for free? Or as a souvenirs. Maybe it is for Malaysian ETX team...

It just a small request. Thanks a lot.

Tommy LKW
Mike here: Thanks. The cap was a special thing. Not being offered.

Subject: Tripod LED lights
Date: 1/19/04, 00:39
From: D Petrus (
Somewhere on your site I saw and/or read something about tripods LED
lights.  The kind that warns people that they're about to trip over your
tripod and knock over your telescope, especially useful for star

Love your site, keep up the great work!!
Dave from Edwards AFB
Mike here: Orion and maybe others sell them. Or you can probably get something similar at HOME Depot. Also see the article "Tripod Leg Lights" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.


Thanks Mike.  I guess my mind went numb trying to find that article from
Dr. Sherrod.


"Lovin' my ETX!!  Now, one day I hope the wife understands." 

Subject: Power connector
Date: 1/18/04, 15:04
From: Paul Tadros (
I just bought an ETX 90, and so far, I am quite happy with it.  I must
say that your site was very influential in my decision to purchase this
scope.  Thanks so much!!

I would like to hook up a nice big 12 volt battery I have into the DC
jack on the side, however I don't know the correct diameters
(inside/outside) of the connector.  I don't want to spend $30 for
Meade's power wire.  Can you help me out?
Paul Tadros
Mike here: See the Telescope Tech Tips page for power info.

Subject: ETX 90 Hair-Cracks ?
Date: 1/18/04, 14:23
From: Torsten Pichler (
beeing a new owner of an etx90, i found your site and daily check back
to see whats new.

Examining my etx a little bit deeper, i found 4 hair-cracks. each of
them staring at the screws that hold the tube in the 2 plastic pieces
that fit in the fork, running about a 10mm to the edge.  i send the
scope to mead germany and was told, that this is normal und has no
effect to the scope.

i don´t know what i have to thing about this statement ? are there any
ohter scopers that hav/had the same problems ?

greetings from germany and again, many thanxs for your teriffic site.
Mike here: I update it normally every 2, 3, or 4 days. You can subscribe to Site Update Notifications as indicated on the ETX Site Home Page. As to the "cracks", such "cosmetic" flaws have been reported before. Apparently they are just surface tension lines.

Subject: ETX 125AT
Date: 1/18/04, 13:23
From: yagi (
Faboulous site, most rewarding.

I am in Ireland and am thinking seriously of buying the ETX125AT. will I
encounter any problems with the different Voltages (240) over here. I
would love too buy it from the USA. can you give me any advice on
dealers etc.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Best regards,
Mike here: The ETX works on DC (batteries or an AC Adapter). So your local power voltage won't matter as long as you have a proper AC Adapter. See the Telescope Tech Tips page for more info on power.

Subject: Computer outdoor protection
Date: 1/18/04, 07:53
Is there a way to protect your computer when used out doors with your
telescope from the elements. There are many nights of high dew. I don't
want to ruin it but keep it safe any suggestions please.
Marty B
Westlake, Ohio
Mike here: Heat lamps (at a distance) like you see in outdoor restaurants. HOWEVER, that would create turbulence in your viewing if the telescope is in the heated area or viewing through the heated air. So, a better solution would be to have a cover for the computer.

Subject: Declination setting not at zero??
Date: 1/17/04, 07:58
From: Sid (
Greetings! I have an ETX-90EC and am waiting patiently for my recently
ordered #497 autostar controller so I've been reading up on aligning the
scope. It sounds like the way to go is the Alt/Az alignment but I've
already ran into a problem that I'm not sure about. I've leveled the
base and set the declination to zero but the scope is at a 5 degree
angle. This has me a little confused because I thought the scope should
be at a zero degree angle also. If I level the scope itself then my
declination reads around -5 degrees. Does this mean my declination
circle is glued in the wrong position?

Update: just tried taking the scope to 90 but it stops dead at 85. I
guess this means the worse. Any ideas?
Mike here: See the FAQ page on my ETX Site.


Got it. I was worried it was glued. Thanks for setting me straight! And
sorry about not seeing that already in the FAQ.

Subject: good 6x30 finder!?
Date: 1/17/04, 07:02
From: Jay Moynihan (
Got a new 6x30 finder from . it is made for
the etx and comes with a replacement bracket. Three straight weeks of
clouds,have not tried it yet. But look/feel much better. They are
selling out the finders/bracket, $65. Phone number on site may be wrong,
they are moving offices.

Jay Moynihan

P. O. Box 253
Ashland, WI 54806  U.S.A.
(715) 682-9047

Subject: RE: Excessive "play" in ETX-125EC RA/Azimuth
Date: 1/16/04, 15:12
From: Ian King (Ian.King@Zen.Co.Uk)
Thanks for the reply. BC&F have taken the telescope in for repair - they
suspect there is a problem with the drive mountings internally. It was
previously working flawlessly for a couple of months so I'm satisfied
that the drives were properly trained and all. It's fairly new and under
warranty and they were very good in arranging collection. I hope to get
it back next week duly repaired. I'll let you know how I get on.

Thanks and regards

Subject: Autostar Setup For ETX 70
Date: 1/16/04, 11:42
From: kevmarmc (
This may sound a stupid question but I live in Germany and when setting
up the ETX 70 I'm not sure what time zone to select.  Also can anyone
suggest a web site to get earth co-ordinates on so that I can look up
the longitude and latitude of Moenchengladbach, Germany.
Mike here: See the Astronomy Links page; there are sites listed there.

Subject: RE: More questions
Date: 1/16/04, 04:13
From: "Nolan, Gregory J." (
Thank you once again for answering my questions. I am still a little
confused about the lat/lon. For example, If I am in Chattanooga, TN,  35
degrees 20 minutes is equivalent to a decimal value of 35.33. A can
choose Chatt as my closest city and then edit the location lat/lon but
which do I enter? 35.20 or 35.33?
Mike here: Decimal is decimal. Everything else is not decimal. I've never seen the divider in DD:MM:SS coordinates expressed as a period.

Subject: How do I - - -
Date: 1/15/04, 22:57
From: Russell E Pollack (

How do I post a reply to a message on the board?  I noticed a bunch of
messages regarding image-shift with the ETX125 and I have just
experienced the problem and sent the scope off to Meade for repair, and
got it back. I'd like to help these folks but I don't know how to post
something to the discussion.

Uncle Russ
Mike here: Please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page; your message was almost deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the ambiguous subject. As to sending items for posting, as noted on the ETX Home Page, "ETX and DS user comments, technical tips, accessory reviews, or links to other ETX and DS web sites are greatly appreciated. Please send them to Mike Weasner." The address is in the link on my name.

Subject: ETX-125EC Polar Alignment
Date: 1/15/04, 20:34
You have a great site!  I had given up on backyard astronomy until the
ETX line came along.  I had a 6" f-10 Newtonian with GE mount and clock.
 I hadn't had it out in 15 years and sold it 5 years ago.

I kept reading ETX info on the web and purchased an ETX-70EC at Wal-Mart
(my wife made it a birthday gift) 3 years ago.  Upon moving from
Minnesota to Ohio (the seeing here STINKS) my little ETX was swiped from
the barn!  We don't have to lock up in southern Minnesota.  Everyone
left their keys in unlocked cars, too.

A year ago Christmas I received an ETX-125EC as a Christmas gift.  Nice
upgrade, don't you think?  70mm refractor to 5" Mak!  I have used it in
AA and polar alignment with great results.

The question is that you indicate the manual shows the wrong way to do
polar alignment (mounting) with the telescope.  I have found nowhere on
your site that shows a picture of a properly polar-mounted ETX of any
size.  Since my scope aligns and tracks well in my polar mount, could
there be more than one alignment (mounting) technique that works?

I have the new deluxe field tripod with the round legs.

Thanks for the site!

Rick Tenan
Tallmadge, Ohio
Mike here: Check the article "Part 5 - Polar Alignment Position" on the Performance Enhancement section of the Telescope Tech Tips page.


Thanks.  Compared to most sites I visit, yours is extensive.


Date: 1/15/04, 14:30
From: Luigi Papagno (
We have a website that may be of interest to ETX fans in the UK. We
regularly sell Meade UK's own ex demo scopes at attractive prices. Here
is a link to our special offers page.

We are official Meade agents and only sell officially imported scopes so
the full UK guarantee applies.

If You feel that it would be appropriate to bring this to the attention
of your readers please let them know!

Kind regards

Luigi Papagno

Subject: More questions
Date: 1/15/04, 11:24
From: "Nolan, Gregory J." (
I have more questions. There may be answers to these on your site, but I
was unable to find them.

1.) I see people getting good quality images by using a webcam and
stacking the frames. I am impressed with the quality but really have no
desire to lug around a laptop (not to mention I don't own one or want
to). The nikon coolpix 4500 will record 40 seconds of video at 15 fps (I
think the 995's will record video as well). While I realize this will
limit me to 600 frames and a resolution of 360 x 240, is there any
reason that I could not use this process?

2.) I intend to create my own list of user objects on my scope. Is there
a way to backup the user data (locations and objects) just in case I
have to reset the scope? I don't want to have to recreate the
inforamtion twice.

3.) (Easy one) When I set the exact lat and lon for my location. Is it
looking for minutes or decimal?

Thank you,

Gregory J. Nolan
Mike here: Image source won't matter as long as it is in a format (or can be converted to a format) that the software can use. You can use the Autostar Update application 3.61 to save a copy of your Autostar libraries locally. The best method to enter a Lat/Long is to edit an existing location nearby. That way you don't have to remember the format and time offset. Just follow the example of the existing city you are editing.

Subject: What Is It?
Date: 1/14/04, 11:29
From: "Nolan, Gregory J." (
I am out of town this week and, unfortunately, without my scope. I have
noticed an amazingly bright object in the west southwest sky as soon as
the sun goes down that sets at approximately 8:30 pm (EST). Can you tell
me what it is?
Thank you,

Gregory J. Nolan
Mike here: The planet Venus.

Subject: ngc objects
Date: 1/14/04, 11:10
From: Cox SMTP west (
I don't know if you will find this of any use but I compiled a list of
NGC objects of 10.5 magnitude and brighter. Put them in order of there
constellations. I also made a list of the double stars that are in the
autostar if you want that list       e-mail me back and I will send it
to you.  Brian
Mike here: As to the Double Stars list, a list is already available on the Autostar Information page. Is yours different?


What I did was put the stars in there constellations and in alphabetical
order. Which is how the list is on the autostar.  Autostar Double Stars by Constellation

Subject: ETX Counterweight needs
Date: 1/13/04, 17:35
From: David Guibert (
I have a problem, one that I hope you can either answer or find the
answer to. I have two telescopes a Meade SN-10 and a ETX-105. Needless
to say the ETX gets the lion's share of use. I just got a Denkmeier
Binoviewer with all the extra's for my Schmidt-Newtonian. But it will
also work with the ETX. One problem is the binoviewer is heavy. Add
either Meade or especially the new Orion EC-2 series lenses and we're
talking lots dead weight. Same thing with attaching an SLR to the back
of the scope. The poor little motors just can't get the steam up to do
what they need to do. Does anyone make a counterweight that places the
counterweight  up front or made to attach to the two screw holes
underneath?  I'd prefer to have a nice looking well made product, not a
old lead weight from some old diving belt like I've seen some people use
(make). Also I don't know about you but drilling the tube scares me to
no end. Rails are pretty much out because of that. I did see somewhere
on the net a product or home made job that used the screw holes
underneath with a forward facing rod and a sliding counterweight on it.
Looked pretty cool. I can't find it again (of course) anywhere on the
Web, also at the time I didn't need it.

Hope I didn't box you into a corner with my statement above but I've
spent days looking on the Internet without any luck. Even Russ Lederman
from Denkmeier Optics was intreged with the idea of producing specialty
counterweights, but he said, their plate was pretty full with the
binoviewer and the new lenses they are coming out with. I really like
the look of the ETX and making something that looks nasty and woefully
homemade doesn't sit well with me. Any ideas you can come up with will
be truely appreciated.
David Guibert
Melbourne, FL
Mike here: There are two choices that I know of. You can buy the Scopetronix Piggyback Camera Adapter which doubles as a counterweight system. I don't know if it will be sufficient to offset your equipment. OR you could make one; there are several articles on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page.

Subject: Re: Can't focus anything in the sky
Date: 1/13/04, 14:55
From: Bruce Duysen (
FYI:  I had to return the ETX and get another one, which works fine. 
The distributor told me that it is the second unit with this problem
he's seen within the last year.  Meade has not yet explained to him how
a gross focussing was able to get out of the factory.

Bruce Duysen

Subject: Using the ETX Guide
Date: 1/13/04, 12:24

Tried to order your book through Swotbooks in the UK. They are telling
me that the book is out of print, do you know if this is true and if so
whether or not it is going to get a rerun?


Mike here: No, it is not out of print. In fact, it is now in its third printing. OPT in Southern California has some (at least they did when I was there in November). Amazon UK may have it.



I will try Amazon


Subject: Saturn comparison in ETX -70, -90 and -125
Date: 1/13/04, 06:00
From: Peter Roelofs (
first of all let me say, i'm still learning and enjoying your site every

Now my question, or more a request. I own an ETX-70, which I really
like, but lately i've been thinking about going a little bigger,
hopefully a -105, but the ETX-90 is great too. I mainly want to buy a
bigger scope, because i am a little (and i mean little) disappointed in
the planetary views with my ETX-70. Now i know it is more a wide-field
telescope, but my interests lately have shifted to the planets,
espacially with Saturn being this close and "big".

I would like to ask you if you could make some comparison photo's of
Saturn with your -70,-90 and -125, like you did with Mars, which I think
were very helpful. Hoping this will help me decide what scope to go for.
If you could do that, that would be great, and i think not only for me,
but for other potential scope-buyers aswell.

Looking forward to your reply and hopefully some nice photo's.
Kind regards,
P. Roelofs
Mike here: Don't know how soon I will get to that. But for comparison purposes, when I took the Mars photos, Mars had a diameter of about 20". Saturn's planet (not the Rings) has a diameter of about 20" now. So the Saturn would appear very similar in size to the Mars photos.


Thanks a lot Mike, for your quick answers. It's really helpful and i'm
now going to call my dealer to see if we can work things out. I'll let
you know and send you a report of my new scope's first light.

Kind regards,


Subject: Buying a telescope
Date: 1/12/04, 19:03
From: Sue Brown (
As a neophyte celestial observer (other than celestial navigation with a
periscopic sextant years ago in the US Navy) I am in the market for a
telescope.  I would like one that is portable, compact with terrestrial
as well as celestial capabilities.  In your opinion would the Meade
ETX90AT (with UHTC) be a good instrument to start with?  It appears to
fill the bill, but seems many people (according to your website) are
having problems with initial alignment and the Autostar drive unit.  Is
the image upright or inverted in this type telescope?  If the image is
upright what is the advantage of buying the optional 45 degree angle
erecting prism?
Cheers, Brownie
Mike here: Learning to use the Autostar does take some time but people do master it. It isn't that hard. The ETX-90 is a fine instrument, as long as it meets your expectations. As with most astronomical telescopes, the image is reversed; in the case of the ETX-90 (and -105 and -125) the image is upright but reversed left-to-right. See the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page for info on the Erecting Prism.


Thanks for your rapid response.  Your website has been very helpful.  I
will buy your book in the near future.  I am considering the ETX90AT
(with UHTC) or the Celestron Nextstar 4.  Email inputs from users are
quite varied as to their likes/dislikes between the two telescopes. 
Seems the most negative comments are about the ETX90 with its
("cheap"-their words) metal reinforced support yoke and the nylon gears
in its Autostar system.  If you have experience with both telescopes
which do you think is superior, and why?  Would probably purchase from
Oceanside Photo & Telescope as most of the dealers here in the Northwest
(Idaho), are sold out from the Christmas rush.
Cheers, Brownie
Mike here: The only direct comparison I did was the original ETX-125 vs the original NexStar 5. My comments are linked from the top of the current ETX-125 feedback page.

Subject: Excessive "play" in ETX-125EC RA/Azimuth
Date: 1/12/04, 16:57
From: Ian King (Ian.King@Zen.Co.Uk)
Great site! I recently went auto and bought an ETX-125EC and have been
visiting your site for tips ever since - I've even bought your book!

Alas, I'm having a few problems with this scope and am considering
sending it back but before I do (with the obvious loss/time/postage
costs) I was wondering if you could pass me your expert opinion. I've
cruised through your tune-up guides and general annoyance pages but
can't seem to pinpoint this particular problem:

When the RA/Azimuth clamp is fully locked I get about 5mm play east/west
- I can turn the scope by hand without moving the base. This also causes
the drive motor to play "catch-up" each time I move left/right with the
Autostar. I believe the technical term for this is "slop"?? Should this
be doing this? Is there a simple adjustment I can make without
invalidating any warranty?

Keep up the good work and clear skies!

Thanks and regards
Mike here: Have you tried repositioning the azimuth lock lever to allow more movement? Lock the axis, loosen the setscrew on the lever, move the lever to allow more movement towards the locking side, retighten the setscrew. That may be all that's needed. Let me know.

Subject: ETX 125
Date: 1/12/04, 12:56
From: Ashley Eagles (
I look to you for advice as im new to astronomy and have just purchased
an ETX 125 with autostar! Brilliant scope and am really pleased with it.
However I have heard a great deal of talk about the use of a focal
reducer that may enable me to see more deep sky objects. Is this true
and if so is there anything you can recommend? From what I have read, I
believe that f15 is not essentially the best ratio to have although; I
have had some good shots of the Great Orion Nebula from my back garden
in the UK, I am however having a little difficulty locating anything
else, I only have the standard 26mm eye piece at the moment but am not
sure whether this makes a great deal of difference.

Secondly just wanted to congratulate you on the book - brilliant, just
purchased that so no doubt you'll be getting some royalties! On a
serious note it has been very helpful!

Look forward to hearing from you
Ashley Eagles
Mike here: A focal reducer (or wide field eyepiece or even a wide field eyepiece) can help when viewing some deep sky objects. See the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products and the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces pages for more on these. However, keep in mind that these don't really capture more light; they just compress the area of the existing light, making some objects "appear" brighter.

Subject: Re: EXT 125 and Orion Color EP Camera
Date: 1/12/04, 09:00
From: "Dr. W. Sumner Davis" (
I have tried the scope software. It is easier to use the hand held unit.
I just want the best imaging camera I can get without spending a
Mike here: Digital Cameras will always be easier to use than imagers for many objects. But imagers and software will always give the best results once you master the techniques involved.

Subject: Jupiterseeing
Date: 1/12/04, 04:18
From: Martin Lewicki (
My Jupiterseeing page is up now on

You might like to add it to your links page.

Martin Lewicki

Subject: EXT 125 and Orion Color EP Camera
Date: 1/11/04, 17:31
From: "Dr. W. Sumner Davis" (
Orion now has a color "Eyepiece" ccd for about $120.00 that they claim
will work as well as their $80.00 Black and white. Has anyone had the
opportunity to test one out? I have a Galileo B&W on my etx 125, but
would love to go color.

Dr. W. Sumner Davis, Author
Mike here: See the "Orion Imagers" on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page. But for only a slightly higher price you can get the Meade Autostar Suite, which includes the Lunar Planetary Imager and some nice software.

Subject: Broken gears in ETX series
Date: 1/11/04, 11:07
From: Bob Morris (
There have been reports of broken gears in the ETX-90/105/125 series.

Can any of these be directly related to cold weather operation?

Was there failure during actual operation at reduced temperatures, and
if so, at what temperatures?

Bob Morris

Subject: ETX Home Position
Date: 1/11/04, 08:02
From: Charles Jagow (
I am a new owner of an ETX-125.  I have been reading much of the
information on setting up the initial Alignment Home Position and I am a
little confused about the Home-Position when using the Autostar 497

The following assumes that the optical tube has been leveled.

I have observed used three different means to set up a Home-Position for
the scope:

1. If I start with the scope turned fully ccw to the stops and then turn
it cw until the vertical lock is centered over the control panel and
then turn it ccw 180 degrees until the Dec setting circle is above the
control panel.  In this Home-Position the scope has less than 180
degrees turning radius in the ccw direction and over 360 degrees in the
cw direction.

2. If I start with the scope turned fully cw to the stops and then turn
it ccw until the vertical lock is centered over the control panel and
then turn it ccw 180 degrees until the Dec setting circle is above the
control panel.  In this Home-Position the scope has less than 180
degrees turning radius in the cw direction and over 360 degrees in the
ccw direction.

3. My ETC-125 will rotate a total of 43H 02M (using the graduated scale
on the body of the base) from stop to stop.  If I start with the scope
turned all the way to one of the stops and then turn the scope towards
the other stop exactly 21H 07M, it will have equal amounts of travel in
either direction.

Does the Autostar 497 compensate  know that there will be a hard stop
in less than 180 degrees in one direction if the Home-Position is set by
means of either the first two methods described above?

My guess is no, it does not know.  So I have been using it after setting
the Home-Position as in the third method described above.

Which one is correct for use with the Autostar 497 controller?


Have a Nice Day K Chuck...
Mike here: You are making it harder than it is. The control panel should be on the West side of the mount. Rotate CCW to the first hard stop and then back CW to North, which is movement of about 120 degrees. The DEC (Altitude) scale will end up over the control panel. The Autostar assumes you have put the ETX into the proper HOME position and then uses that as its known starting point. And yes, there is slightly less than two full rotations hardstop-to-hardstop.


Thank you for your reply.  I will set it up that way from now on.

Subject: Moving scope from cold outdoors to warm indoors
Date: 1/10/04, 20:17
From: Andrew McKelvy (
I read that story about the guy that damaged his eyepieces with hot air
from a hair dryer and I got to wondering.......

Would moving a telescope out of the cold and into a warm house cause any
damage to the mirrors or lenses? Or is that even possible? The telescope
sat outside in the cold 30 degree air for a few hours while i went to
town so I could use it when I got home. Now that I am done using it, I
want to bring it inside so that the moisture in the air doesnt freeze on
the scope but I'm also concerned about the sudden temperature change and
the potential effects it could have. What do you think would be the best
thing to do in this situation? I was going to leave it out, but that
might not be best. Anyway, thanks Mike.
Mike here: I doubt that you will cause any damage. The problem with a hair dryer is the RAPID temperature change. Warming up normally to room temp should be OK. However, do watch for condensation; keep the covers off until any moisture evaporates.

Subject: Novice: advice on which Meade scope please
Date: 1/10/04, 03:53
From: Martin Day (
Hello, discovered your site from 'Warehouse Express' and is great.

Would very much appreciate some advice on which telescope I should get.
I live in England, on the south coast 16 miles north of Eastbourne, in a
town called Heathfield. There is not alot of light pollution, but I do
have access to a farm 2 miles away which has 360 degree view of the sky
and is dark.

I wish to use my digital camera to take exact pictures of what I see.
The camera is a Fuji S602 Pro with cable release and Fuji lens adapter
ring. I also have a Olympus C700UZ, again with adapter ring. So any
telescope able to handle one of these cameras will be good.

I have my eye on a Meade ETX 105 or 90. Which one would you recommend?
(if any) Would like to see deep sky star clusters (if you know what I
mean) and planets (Mars, Saturn etc...) Only know that I don't want to
spend more than £1000.

Also what is now standard equipment for these Meade scopes? Warehouse
Express have these on special offer with Autostar 497 and 884 field

Basically I would like to buy as a whole kit in one go so to me these
scopes seem ideal, but your advice would be great..

Many thanks


ps, have pictures of Moon taken with just my digital camera, would you
like to see them, if so how do I send them?
Mike here: If you don't need the extra portability of the ETX-90, go for the -105. The standard equipment for the ETX-90AT and ETX-105AT is the 26mm eyepiece, the #497 Autostar, and the #884 tripod. You should seriously consider getting the UHTC option. You will probably want to get some extra eyepieces and/or a Barlow Lens. If the Meade $99 Eyepiece Deal is available to you (check the Meade site) then I would highly recommend that. Would love to see the photos; see the Email Etiquette page on the ETX Site for info on sending image files.


Thanks for the advice, in my own mind I decided on the 105 :-)

Can it definatly take the cameras I described though do you know?

And is it 'portable'?
Mike here: update. The ETX-105 is less portable than the ETX-90 but not by much. Likely won't fit into a backpat unlike the ETX-90. Cameras should work OK. See the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for more on the Fuji and Olympus cameras.

Subject: orion and andromeda
Date: 1/9/04, 16:49
From: matthew green (
I was wondering if you knew why objects in my ETX-70 like the andromeda
galaxy and orion nebula appear in black and white and not in color.
Mike here: Simple answer: the design of your eyes does not allow it. But don't feel bad; all humans have this problem. It is called "night vision" where sensitivity to light is increased but at the expense of color.

Subject: Probably the 65535th "thanks" email
Date: 1/9/04, 16:34
From: Peter Huppertz (
Mainly because of your website, we decided to take the plunge, and
select the ETX125EC UHTC as our upgrade path.

"We" is "my wife and I". Astronomy (like many other unlikely and
expensive hobbies) is an interest we share. In fact, my wife's interest
in astronomy is higher than mine. Up to today, we had a 114/900 Newton
(the standard beginner scope?), but as of now, we have the above ETX at
our disposal. With the #884 tripod and the Autostar controller thrown

Our main reason for considering this little device is that my beloved is
only 5"1 high, and weighs in at a mere 118 stone. Her chances of
carrying, say, an LX200 out and back in without falling over are quite
remote, but the ETX is very manageable. Since I've already picked her up
off the driveway with the Newton once (which both she and the Newton
survived), I shudder to consider the consequences of having to pick her
up after she's dropped an LX. With that in view, the ETX seems like a
smarter choice - less expensive, and more portable. From a manageability
point of view, I would recommend the ETX's for the svelte among us. In
the end, the best scope is the one you can get to your viewing location
without being afraid to drop it. Plus, I am already considering what to
do to our camper van to turn it into a mobile observatory ;-)

As I said, your web site has been instrumental - it provided me with the
feeling that whatever problem I'd run into, there would be a solution
available. As I expected, the Meade manuals were suitably disorganised,
and the "local dealer" provided the wrong answers to the right
questions. On top of that, my technical knowledge of astronomical
telescopes can best be described as "useless, bordering on dangerous".
Yet, with the help of your site, I was able to set up the ETX in 2 hours
flat. Plus, I was able to discover that yes, the Autostar controller CAN
be used in polar mode, whereas our dealer (who would be supposed to KNOW
about these things!) told me that it could only be used in Alt-Azimuth

One thing I may miss is the "starhopping experience" - the satisfaction
that comes from manually locating a deep-sky object. I will never forget
how my wife woke me at 2 am when she had successfully located her first
deep-sky object in the Newtonian and she urged - no, forced, me (not at
gunpoint, but close) to get out of bed and dress up warmly and bloody
well look at it. The Autostar unit seems to make locating objects so
much easier that I can imagine that it takes some of the excitement of
actually finding objects out of the equation. I guess that we are yet to
discover the excitements which will replace this. I know that it
would've taken us a fair number of years of new discoveries to exhaust
the capabilities of the Newtonian - I guess that we both just couldn't
wait any longer ;-)

And then of course there is this particular thing that is BOUND to
happen when one acquires a new scope - as soon as it comes in, the skies
get overcast - probably for the next two weeks to come. Grrr.
Thanks a lot,
Janny and peter
Mike here: You can star hop once you have done the initial alignment. You could even bypass that if you mount in Polar Mode and just turn on astronomical tracking.

Subject: Re: Home Position for the ETX 105
Date: 1/9/04, 07:13
Meade Instruments Corporation - Autostar Computer Controller Instruction Manual

Thanks for your reply. If you would, go to above link which is from
Meade's online Autostar instruction manual. There is no mention of
rotating to a hard stop. Any comments? Do you have a written reference
to the method you suggest - which method is better? and which method
should I use?

                                  Thanks TFortune
Mike here: The manual wording is incorrect; the photo is correct. My previous comment was also correct.


Now I'm completely confused - what is the proper way to put the scope in
home position step by step?   TFortune
Mike here: I think you keep misunderstanding the steps I sent earlier. So perhaps the article "Autostar Altitude/Azimuth HOME Position" on the Autostar Information page will help.

Subject: I need some help
Date: 1/9/04, 05:00
From: Yenal Ogmen (
My name is Yenal Ogmen from Cyprus. I am planning to built a small
observatory for my ETX (and later for my bigger scopes also) in my
garden. So I surfed on internet for tips and comments about how to built
and which materials should be used for observatory. But I am not
satisfied right now. I have a few questions, if you answer me i will be
so glad. To help you answer my questions I want to say a few words:
Cyprus is very hot in summer. 40-50 degrees of celsius under sunlight.
And winter time is not so cold. Never snowing. I am planning to built a
dome style observatory with cylindrical base.

1) Is it good to built cylindrical part of the building (walls) with

2) What sort of floor is suitable for me as I will not use Pier but
tripod. I dont want the telescope to move (shake) while walking around.

3) What material is suitable for dome? Plastic? Wood covered with metal?
or only metal?

Thank you for your consideration?
Yenal Ogmen
Clear skies
Mike here: I have no experience on making observatories. But you might want to check out the SkyShed Observatories (link on the Astronomy Links page; watch out though, there are two "SkyShed" links).

Subject: ETX through the paces
Date: 1/8/04, 19:29
From: Ken Polischuk (
Wanted to say that your sight has been invaluable to me as I have spent
the last several months investigating which scope to purchase.

I recently purchased a used ETX 90EC and wanted to ask if you had any
guidelines for testing the scope to see what condition it is in. It
appears to be in excellent condition, however, is there any way to
verify that the motor drives are working up to speed? I have noticed a
small amount of play in the Declination lock and fear that I may have to
disassemble the unit as guidelined in the Tech tips.

Thanks for the help.
Ken Polischuk
Mike here: Don't have any specific published article on that but check the collimation, check the condition of the optics, if you have an Autostar do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Then see if you have any significant problems.


Thanks for your quick response. One other thing I have noticed, just
using scope to look at moon here in Boston. Drives move pretty well,
using standard electronic controller. Waiting until I have time to set
up Autostar #497. Scope stops, small amount of backlash? Then scope
makes sound that continues for period of time. Is this possibly the
drive still trying to engage. It has not happened all the time but not
sure if I should be concerned. Possible that align drivers and calibrate
with autostar will remedy this? I had planned on resetting entire unit
to start with a clean plate. TIA
Mike here: If you mean the sound of the drive running, that is normal since the azimuth (or Right Ascension) drive is running to compensate for the Earth's rotation.

Subject: Home Position for the ETX 105
Date: 1/8/04, 09:45
I have seen the home position for the 105 described in two ways:

1. turn the scope counterclockwise until a hard stop is reached, etc.


2. turn the scope counterclockwise until the alt tightening knob is     
   positioned directly above the control panel etc.

Which is it?

                           Thanks  TFortune
Mike here: With ETX models that have hardstops (all but the -60 and -70 models currently), you rotate CCW to the hardstop and then back to North (a rotation of about 120 degrees). The DEC scale (not the lock knob) will be over the Control Panel).

Subject: Problems with Autostar "out of te box"
Date: 1/7/04, 17:14
From: "Fernandez De Lara, Ulises" (
My kids got an ETX-90 telescope for Christmas. I went ahead and perform
the set up routine and everything went fine up to the Autostar

At first, it turned on and everything light up just fine. Then I went
and did the tripod set up and turned off the back panel (obviously the
Autostar too was turned off too). When I was done, the telescope turned
on but not the Autostar. I noticed a weak red backlight light but no
screen information.

I checked the batteries, the coil cord, the on/off switch and it does
not work.

I called Meade and they offer some advise but it basically the same
steps I had taken. Then they offered me to send the damaged unit to get
a new one but my frustration is that this happened in a brand new model
right out of the box.  Does this happens frequently?

My second question is: I purchase this ETX with standard coating instead
of ultra coating. Am I missing too much for such a short price

Ulises Fernández de Lara
Mike here: By any chance did you try to increase the display brightness and/or contrast? As to UHTC, yes, it is worth it.

Subject: From Stardust spacecraft and comet Wild 2
Date: 1/7/04, 16:56
From: "P. Clay Sherrod" (
Absolutely unbelievable.....

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)

Subject: scared of wrong upgrade.
Date: 1/7/04, 02:21
From: Trinity (
First let me thank you for your site as a whole. I've been

coming to your etx web site for a year and am subscribed to your
newsletter and have found it invaluable. Your lxd55 site has be a great
place to learn information on a viable upgrade too.

Last year I purchased an etx-70 and quickly realized that it was not up
to par with what I wanted and left alot to be desired in the
learning/teaching department. (I'm just learning all this) I've always
had a fascination with astronomy and until last year found reason upon
reason to not get started, after reading your site heavily one nite I
finally decided it was time.

as money at the time pushed me to the absolute low-end I figured the 70
would at least hold me steady till this year, but when I finally got
Saturn somewhat focused (2 months of trying and my seeing conditions
according to my friend are prime) what I saw was disappointing.

So now I'm trying to get something that can teach me things that I never
thought I'd ever see. (seeing the horsehead live one time in my life
fairly clearly would make me a happy man!) I've been searching and
reading everything on "how to buy a scope", and "what makes scopes work"
unfortunately most of these contradict each other or will actually not
mention something another article says is integral.

What I'm wanting is probably unattainable but if I can make my '72 chevy
nova run low 10 seconds in the quarter mile, by god I should be able to
get real close to what I want on this. I would like to look at "our"
planets with some good detail (from what I understand this needs a scope
with a high focal ratio. I'm guessing upwards of 8 to 10) and still be
able to see deep space objects (m31, m43, ect, ect) clearly.(from my
understanding deep space requires a low focal ratio around the 4 to 6

I guess I just want the planets big enough to see the detail and still
be able to view say the Andromeda Galaxy with some certain clarity.

I was trying to stay in the $1000 to $1600 range and hopefully get it
from discovery as they have a store 6 miles from my house in town. This
is what I came up with and was hoping you might be able to point me in
the right direction?

option #1:

planets scope:

deep space scope:

Option #2

planet/deep space scope:

Option #3

planet/deepspace scope:

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and any help you can give.

Joe reply: 
Mike here: Do you have me confused with someone else. I don't publish a "newsletter" that you indicated you are subscribed too.
Anyway, to answer your questions, you might want to visit my LXD55 Site. The LXD55-8"SC (which I have) is a nice system that has the same OTA as the LX90 but at less price. If you can afford, go for the LX90 but if not, consider the LXD55-8"SC. I do suggest adding UHTC. Also, right now you can get the Meade $99 eyepiece deal on some telescopes (check the Meade site).


By newsletter I mean the email indicating that updates have been made to
the etx website ;)

Thank you for your insight! I was leaning towards the LX 90 with the
UHTC, but was worried about the views of both planets and deep space
objects. Thank you for clearing up those worries. I did search for the
SC8' LXD55 model, however all the prices I got were $1500 so I figure
the lx90 worksout as the same price after adding in the shipping for the

again, Thank you very much for your help,
Joe Kolley

Subject: Clubs and Events?
Date: 1/5/04, 14:42
From: Greg Fraker (
Thanks for the response back.  And thanks for the suggestion on the
filter. I've enjoyed your website so far.

Do you know where I can find a listing of astronomy clubs / star
parties?  I am in the Phoenix, Arizona area.


Greg Fraker
Mike here: Meade has a listing of clubs on their Site. I also show some on the Astronomy Links page. Events are at the Sky&Telescope web site.

Subject: Many Thanks
Date: 1/6/04, 21:26
From: Michael Fuller (
Many thanks for maintaining a great site.

Heres my story.

I bought my Might ETX90 2 years ago, hoping to rekindle my childhood
hobby.   That darn scope just couldnt seem to track squat.   I
re-aligned, re-calibrated, etc etc.  Nothing seemed to work.  I couldnt
even keep the moon in the FOV for more than 10 seconds with Autostar.

Okay, well Im a busy guy who travels for a living.  So, I pulled the
scope out only a few times over 2 years and just manually tracked
(basically figured Id wasted money on that autostar).

This Xmas, the wife bought me a compact Meade 60AZ-T to take on my
travels.   Now that rekindled the spirit!   What a great little scope!  
For its size and cost, I was elated.   It fits in my suitecase too!

So, now I pulled out the ETX with new energy determined to get it
operational.   No Joy!

So I started to scour the web surely others were having problems.

I stumbled across your site downloaded every page of comments, advice,
reviews.   Read it all, re-read it, and started to give my scope an

The information I found here saved my investment.   I came home from the
office late today (8pm) and the sky was clear.   Grabbed my scope (which
I had parked from the night before), pointed it kinda toward North,
said goto Moon, centered the moon by moving the tripod(remember it was
parked from last night so why re-align the long way) and said goto just
about everything in the sky bam.bambam  it was all there and it was
tracking darn near perfect.

Thanks again

Mike Fuller

Subject: Your telescope set-up
Date: 1/6/04, 17:31
From: Jack Fox (
Can you tell me what the components are on the back of the ETX on your
home page photo?

Are they a visual back and an erecting prism? Which models are they?
Does this combination affect the electric focuser?

This set up seems to solve the finder scope interference with the

Thank you.

Jack Fox
Mike here: I have the Visual Back and Wide Field Adapter from Shutan. See the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page. There should be no problem with the Meade focuser but I haven't actually put them on my ETX-125 since I got the focuser.

Subject: 3-D Star Maps book
Date: 1/6/04, 01:00
My name is Kurt Foge and I would like to have my e-book's web site added.

Kurt Foge

CONTACT NAME:   Angela Adair-Hoy
CONTACT FAX:    207-262-5544


PO BOX 2399
Bangor, ME 04401

TITLE OF THE BOOK PAGE: 3-D Star Maps of Nearby Stars, the Pleiades,
Orion, and the Local Group: How to Make Stellariums, a Scale Model of
the Solar System, and a Brief Explanation About Interstellar Travel

CATEGORY: e-book / astronomy


How to make 3-D star map displays.

How to make museum quality 3-D displays of stars near our Sun plus a
synopsis on interstellar travel.

How to make museum quality 3-D displays of stars near our Sun, the
Pleiades, Orion, and the local group of galaxies.    The book also
contains a synopsis on interstellar travel that is not shown in
astronomy books.    Great reference material for amateur astronomers,
sci-fi writers, science fair projects, and UFO enthusiasts.
KEYWORDS ABOUT THE BOOK (20 WORDS): 3-D star maps, nearby stars,
stellariums, Pleiades, Orion, space travel, astronomy, science project,
astrometry, science fiction reference, astronomy displays, space
exploration, local group

Subject: Right Ascension Drive Problem
Date: 1/5/04, 20:10
From: Manuel De Sales (
I'm hoping you might be able to help me.  I tried contacting Meade
direct but notice they don't have an e-mail address on their website for
customer enquiries, and the system they do have is not meant for
customers outside of North America. Being in Australia, that counts me
out.  I have had Meade ETX-125EC for about two years, and it has now
developed a problem with the Right Ascension motor drive.

The telescope has begun to make an uncontrolled slew to the left
whenever I use the electronic controller to slew either to the right or
left.  This unwanted slewing varies from approximately a 25degree turn
to almost (on occasions) a 45degree turn.  I haven't been able to
discern if there is any pattern to the amount it will slew by.  It will
commence to slew to the left almost immediately after I have made a
change in its Right Ascension.  The problem doesn't occur when the
controller is used to change the telescope's altitude.  I don't have an
Autostar in use.

At first I thought that it was preventing me from making any adjustments
to the right as I might be trying to exceed its rotational limit. 
However, a check with the Right Ascension lock released showed that this
isn't the case, and the problem was occurring with at least 180degrees
of rotation still available.

Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated. 

Manuel de Sales
Mike here: Couple of thoughts: Replace the batteries (assuming you are using batteries). Unlock the axis and move the telescope in azimuth from hard stop to hard stop, back and forth, several times. This may help clean off the encoders.


Thanks for the (amazingly) quick reply.  I'll give it a try.
And an update:
A follow on from my previous e-mail.

Followed your advice, and it worked - the drive is back to normal.

Thanks for the assistance.  Meade should be paying you for running your
website.  It provides more useful information than their's does.

Once again, thanks for the excellent (and very prompt) advice.
Manuel de Sales 

Subject: Re: Finder scope when blind in right eye
Date: 1/5/04, 16:58
From: "Craig M. Bobchin" (
I have another possible solution. It may not be the best, but it is
workable. Being left eye dominant, I run into the same issue that you
do. I simply turned the tube of my finder scope about 40 degrees to the
left so the  eyepeice of the finder points to the side. I have found
that this works fine. I did have to get used to the difference in motion
when I use the autostar, as well as taking a step to the side to use it,
but it is free and it does work.

Hope that helps.

And another idea:
Thankyou for the idea. I was wandering though, if by tilting the finder
scope you run into problems with it hitting the fork when say using the
Go To and the scope slews to near its vertical stop?


Ian Baker
I have not yet run into any problems with the finder hitting the fork.
The OTA stops at 90 degrees, and the finder scope is short enough that
it won't hit the fork at that point.


Thanks Craig

I will try that once my 105 comes back from being repaired. After about
5hrs use it was slewing and went clunk resulting in about 7deg free
vertical movement with the motors engaged. They have informed me that a
nut on the worm drive that normally has lock-tight (a type of glue) on
the thread to stop the nut from unscrewing was only on the nut causing
the nut to come loose.

Subject: Re: ETX 125EC New User Problem
Date: 1/5/04, 12:52
From: Pete and Maggie Kasper (
Just wanted you to know that I finally got Meade Customer Service today.
Apparently my focus knob was slipping and that's why I couldn't focus on
anything.  They are sending me a new one and the manual gratis. 
Hopefully that will fix my problem.  I want to thank you both for your
quick response to my problem.  You do have a great site, especially for
a novice like me.

Next question.  It looks like I have a version 1.1 Autostar.  Can that
be upgraded to the latest version just by downloading from the internet? 
Do I need the special cable or can any computer cable work?

  Thanks again,
From: Richard Seymour (
>   Next question.  It looks like I have a version 1.1 Autostar.
>  Can that be upgraded to the latest version just by downloading
>  from the internet?

Yes, but with a starting version so old, you will have to invoke
the "Safe Load" procedure to convince the Updater to work with it.
(that merely involves pressing Enter and Scroll Down when powering up the scope)

>  Do I need the special cable or can any computer cable work?

"Any"?  Cables with a DB9 on one end, and rj22 on the other are fairly rare...
You can -make- the "505  type" cable at home (see:
for how to wire it), or you can buy one on eBay for cheaper than Meade's
price, and/or one comes "free" with the AutostarSuite kit. ($150).

have fun

Subject: Re: Happy New Year for the ETX header and friends.
Date: 1/5/04, 07:17
i stay tuned with your site, happy new year again, the spirit rover is
on mars after the bouncing checklist ok.


Subject: Re: ETX-90 Electronic board
Date: 1/4/04, 13:09
From: JL COAM (
I did it. For more than a month and a half, I was exchanging emails with
a Meade employee from Export Sales Dept. Finally she sent me to Otero,
Meade authorized dealer in Spain. I'm still waiting from beginning of
September for Otero to solve this problem. I call them from time to time
but I suspect they are not even ordered the board. I see no interest.

Should I forget the whole thing, sell the OTA and buy another ETX?.


Jose L
Mike here: If you want to keep the ETX-90EC you will likely have to have Meade repair it. As I noted, they (like many other companies) will probably not respond to a user request for such parts. They do provide some user-replaceable parts (like the Right Tube Adapter) but I doubt they will supply a circuit board.

Subject: ETX-90 Electronic board
Date: 1/3/04, 11:41
From: JL COAM (
My ETX-90EC is ruined, well, at least to track in Right Ascension. I
plugged an adaptor and some components of the RA electronic board were
fried. Bad news. Since August I'm trying to find a spare, either a new
board or the whole base. I've been looking through USA Meade, this web,
my local distributor, Astromart, Ebay, astroforums, etc. No solution.

It seemed to be a problem due to reverse polarity connection of the
adapter. A simple diode would have prevent that. I'm really dissapointed
with Meade policy, which does not support spare parts to solve this

Any help?.
Thanks!. Happy New Year.
Jose L. Chinchilla
Mike here: Supplying spare parts to the end-user are a manufacturer's decision. Have you ever tried to get a replacement component for a computer or a digital camera? If you fry a circuit board you are likely out of luck. I would suggest contacting Meade or let your local dealer handle the repair.

Subject: New Telescope Purchaser here....
Date: 1/3/04, 09:30
From: JM Marconi (
I was wondering what the difference is between the eXT-105AT and
ETX-105EC.  From what I have gathered so far, the AT is the '03-'04
model and the EC was in '02.  Is that the only difference?  Also--what
is your position re: UHTC coating?  Thanks much!
Best Regards, Jon-Michael
Mike here: See the Announcements - Meade page on my ETX Site for info on the EC vs AT change. While you are there, scroll down the page for info on UHTC (which I highly recommend).


Thanks so much!  I've located a Meade EXT-105AT UHTC at Bel Air Camera
near my house and I'm going to pick it up shortly!  I can't wait to use
it and am certain that I will be using your announcement page.
Mike here: Congrats! Read the manual (three times), play with the telescope system indoors until you know how to use it (easier than trying to learn it in the dark with the pressures of wanting to see something!), go slowly, and have fun! Feel free to visit my ETX Site when looking for answers to any questions you may have.

Subject: Happy New Year for the ETX header and friends.
Date: 1/2/04, 23:37
Last week i have getting some sense about arqueoastronomy (arqueo
'ancestral') and capacity as UHTC of meade to get more light. this
preliminary document (1.8MB) is something about cosmogony as article for our
mexican astronomy association SAJ-SAM, and to our free lives and
relativity fo amateurs; but today is in spanish. I hope you have some
friend or computer translator to understand my spanish while i get my
own translation to english.

I hope this 2004 i send to your web site more shots with the ETX and
wide field. There are a very interesting site in
about how with a Microchip PIC programming and stepper motors, amateurs
can do 'GOTO' as learning and self-experience. Also there are another
K3CCDTOOLS that have a very nice freeware software to do long exposure
ccd imaging. With those support and UHTC Meade-Kodak KAF-0402E tool for
fotography, thats more better than last year. in sfn Space Flight Center
News, are showing the ultraviolet shot from GALEX of andromeda m-31, is
very nice for look and thinking.

I wish more better times for you and your family into the New Year,
Happy New Year: 2004.

Subject: Many questions
Date: 1/2/04, 23:34
From: Greg Yeomans (
I have four rookie questions, which I would very much appreciate some
advice on. I can't glean the answers from the Meade web site or the
manual I have:

a) For most uses, it seems the alt/az home position is adequate when
using the autostar. Assuming I have it set up right, I understand there
can be some variability in how accurate the GoTo centres an object. I
guess I am supposed to slew the object to dead centre if it is not
already there (naturally I'd have to recognize the object for what it
is). Does this mess up subsequent GoTo's, or does the machine
continually monitor its position, whether computer driven or manually
moved (using the hand set)? I guess related questions would be: if in
easy set up it does not centre Rigel, Pollux, or whatever, do I slew it
to dead centre before confirming its location by pressing "enter"; if I
GoTo an object, then decide to go on a joyride with the manual controls
to a different object I spot, can I then GoTo a different programmed
location, or must I first re-do the set up from home position?

b) In establishing home position, I am supposed to point the scope to
true north. No problem if Polaris is visible (although the tube will be
pointed well below the star), but I could imagine some good viewing
conditions when that particular star is obscured. I noticed in one of
your tips a home made wedge to ascertain true north based on magnetic
north. Is that a good standbye under the conditions I mentioned, and can
you suggest where I could look up the appropriate correction for true
north for my (or any) latitude (mine is a shade above 49 degrees)?

c) I attached a t-mount and adaptor ring for my Nikon. It all seems to
work (a quick check through a window at night in the snow - not much of
a test), but the weight causes me some concern about overloading the
motors, and the vertical lock definitely needs to be cranked to keep it
from spinning out of location and potentially causing damage if the
scope should rotate too much and the camera crashes into the base. The
camera is a manual/autofocus SLR and quite light as they go, but do you
think these are serious issues, and is there a standard technique to
address them (eg. a simple counterweight)?

d) In your experience, can the ETX 90 handle a 6 mm eyepiece, or is that
too much magnification? Most of the books suggest it might be a tad over
the practical limit, yet I keep seeing testimonials about going way over
200 power. I don't want to buy an eyepiece that is useless for my
equipment (I have a 26 mm super plossl, an 18 mm WA plossl, and a 9.6 mm
super plossl)?

I don't intend on pestering you with more question - you must get many.
After I get these basics straight, I'll shut up and go into the field.
Thanks for any help you can provide.

Mike here: a) As long as you use the Autostar to slew the telescope, it keeps track of its position. You can "refine" its accuracy by doing a SYNC; which updates the current RA/DEC to be that for the object centered in the eyepiece. This update improves GOTO accuracy for that portion of the sky. The accuracy of the initial alignment will affect the accuracy of subsequent GOTOs, so yes, center the alignment stars when asked to. b) Use True North. See the Astronomy Links page for sites that let you determine your local Magnetic Veriation. c) Yes, extra weight can be a problem. See the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for info on making counterweights. d) Under really good seeing conditions when viewing bright objects (like the Moon or brighter planets) you can exceed the theoretical maximum magnification. Never hurts to try.

Subject: Polar vs Alt/Az alignment
Date: 1/2/04, 21:03
From: Andrew McKelvy (
Hey I was wondering what the advantages of polar alignment and Alt/Az
alignment are. I normally use Alt/Az alignment and have never tried the
polar set up with my ETX-90, what are the differences in each
configuration? Thanks! 

great site, by the way.
Mike here: Alt/Az has three BIG advantages: stability, all the sky is accessible, and it is easiest. Polar has two BIG advantages: no field rotation (but not important for visual work) and only one drive runs to track objects (resulting in less or reduced image vibrations).

Subject: Website Connection
Date: 1/2/04, 19:06
From: Jody McCollough (
Just in the last few days I have managed to (finally) post my new
website and establish my domain name. (

I hope you dont mind but I put a link to your ETX site on my main page.
I own an ETX125 and got tons of helpful hints from your site and I
wanted to make sure that if anyone was roaming around and managed by
luck to find my little site, they would be able to find your wonderful
resource. I want other to be able to benefit from your efforts as much
as I have.

My site is still very much in the early stages and will, over the next
few months, grow a lot. It isnt a commercial site and I wont be making
any money off it. It is purely for my pleasure and for the pleasure of
the little group I belong to. I hope you can take a few minutes to look
at my pages and offer me your experienced view. Any suggestions you
might have will be very welcome :o) If you do not want a link to your
site on there, just say the word and it will be gone right away. I
assumed it would be ok with you but if not, no problemo! :o)
Clear Skies!
Jody McCollough
Aurora, Colorado

Subject: request resource for data on orbists
Date: 1/2/04, 16:00
From: "Rua, Jose (DHS)" (
Thank you again for your site and Happy New Year!  

Can you point me to a resource that indicates the day to day orbital
positions of planet satellites.  Thanks.
Mike here: I don't have one but you can probably find one if you search the Web. Let me know what you find and I'll add its link.

Subject: Re: The rings of Saturn
Date: 1/2/04, 08:32
From: Chuck Sowers (
I star tested the scope and all is well.  I do let the scope cool down
for a few hours.  I think my problem is with turbulent air because last
night the air was calm and Saturn was just beautiful!  I could see two
divisions in the rings and belts on the surface.

I think my eyes just need to learn to SEE better also.  The averted
vision technique is really improving my seeing.

Thanks and Happy New Year!
Mike here: Yes, the atmosphere can definitely create havoc in the views. And learning to "see" is also important.

Subject: Question
Date: 1/1/04, 14:17
Hi. I just purchased a Meade 8" LX90 for my son for  Christmas. I have
now found your website. To what extent are the
comments/advice/opinions/suggestions that deal with the Meade ETX scopes
applicable to the LX90. You have a wealth of information on your site,
but since I have no experience whatsoever with telescopes I am not sure
what info is applicable to my son's scope. Sorry to bother you, but your
opinion is valued. Regards. Vernon FAirchild in Cape Coral, Florida
Mike here: Information on the Autostar Feedback, Autostar Suite Feedback, and Autostar Information pages are applicable when they discuss the #497 Autostar. Most of the astrophotography information will be applicable. Only a few of the Telescope Tech Tips would be applicable to the LX90. Many of the items that get posted on the General Feedback, Announcements, Buyer/New User Tips, Observational Guides/References, and Accessory Reviews pages are applicable to almost any telescope.

Subject: re: ETX 125 Help
Date: 1/1/04, 12:31
From: Richard Seymour (
I do notice an ambiguity in your son-in-law's instructions:
He does not appear to distinguish between the Declination CLAMP
(which he never explicitly mentions)
and the knob which holds the Declination SCALE in place.

You loosen the Clamp to let the barrel move up and down easily.

When setting up before powering up, you want the Declination
SCALE to be over the power panel (after locating the hard stop).

However, as you noted, if you only have 360 degrees of free
base rotation from stop-to-stop, something's amiss hardware-wise.
It should be able to spin a bit more than a full turn and a half
(the normal hardware stops are with the scope pointing in the
southwest (after spinning counter-clockwise) and 1.5+ turns
later (clockwise), with the scope pointing vaguely southeast.

good luck


You can open the base of the telescope and -look- for obstructions.
Sometimes they are very obvious.

Remove the batteries.
The screws which hold the base plate on are hidden behind the
rubber feet... just peel them off and unscrew the plate.
Carefully remove the plate... the wires to the battery compartment
are short and fragile.

There are many photos on Mike's site under the Tech Tips page
under the topics centering on: "tune up"

good luck

Subject: re: Eyepiece Deal
Date: 1/1/04, 12:24
From: Richard Seymour (
> how long will it last?

Mike Fowler of OPT posted on another group that the deal
is expiring in Feb 2004. (but i forget the -date- in Feb)

good luck


Thank you guys, we sent away for the pieces shortly after your first
reply and hopefully will receive them soon.

Subject: re: ETX 125EC New User Problem
Date: 1/1/04, 12:21
From: Richard Seymour (
> ships, etc. thru my sliding glass doors.


The glass used for house windows and doors is -extremely-
poor optically (when viewed through a telescope).

The distinction between sea and sky is also a problem if
there's -any- haze (and it'll affect the cruise ships, too).

You can try extending your focus range by simply pulling
the eyepiece out of the telescope's holder and holding it
away from the scope a bit (it's hard to keep it in the
light path, but this is only for quick-check testing).

Also: without an eyepiece in place, simply LOOK down into
the eyepiece holder... you should see the front mirror
"obstruction" centered in the hole.  If it's off to one
side, your telescope is in need of collimation (not simple
with an ETX125 for a first-timer).
Also look at the flip-mirror for contamination or
finger prints.. but do NOT try to clean it without
reading Dr. Clay's instructions in the Tech Tips section
of Mike's site.
(those are "front surface" mirrors... the reflective coating
is on top of the glass, and -extremely- fragile.

If you are near a good telescope shop or astronomy club,
take it there for assistance.

good luck

Subject: An "Oh my God" moment......
Date: 1/1/04, 06:31
As reported, my wife and I set up the telescope, 'trained the drives'
and prepared for a our first look at Saturn.

Ok, so the AutoStar still is not working as advertised - me thinks, user
error and we will deal with that through trial and error. But, we did
follow Meade's directions on finding Saturn to the left of Orion and,
'OH MY GOD'. Seeing the incredibly recognizable shape gave us both
goosebumps (ok, so it was as small as you thought) but, for our first
sighting it ranks up there with the births of my three sons and meeting
my wife's eyes for the first time.

Thanks for your doubt I will be back to request assistance in
the future. Are there members of the ETX family in Massachusetts?

Happy hunting,

Larry Simpson
Lakeville MA 
Mike here: That first look at Saturn is one of life's memorable events. I still remember mine from 1962 when I saw it through my new Edmund 3" reflector (as shown on the "Ancient History" page; As to the alignments, read through the various articles on alignment tips on the Autostar Information page; perhaps something will "click".

Subject: A New Year....ASO in 2003
Date: 1/1/04, 03:57
From: "P. Clay Sherrod" (
Hello to all....
The year 2003 was a remarkably successful year of observation and
transition for ASO.  As most are aware, this past year saw the
development and changes of ASO Petit Jean Mountain (Harvard/MPC H41) as
well as ASO Cascade Mountain (Harvard/MPC H44).  We are now entering our
33rd year and are very proud to still be going strong.....

A complete review of this wonderful year 2003 has been written and
posted under CURRENT NEWS at the ASO website
which demonstrates our dedication to both outreach and education and
astronomical research in a variety of fields.

I wanted to share this review with you, since in my opinion each of YOU
have helped make this successful year richer in the rewards of discovery
and outreach.  Hoping that your 2004 offers the darkest of skies, the
brightest of comets, and a universe filled with astronomical discoveries
that can only be matched by your imaginations...
Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)

Subject: RE: Error on your website, Mike.
Date: 1/1/04, 03:35
From: Marcin (
In the posting on time format [Dec 03 Feedback] Ron Cook wrote: "Only
one sequence that is right."  To that I say: WRONG!  I'll even venture
to say: every sentence starting with the words "only one" and ending
with the words "is right" is wrong; in most cases its author simply has
a bit of a problem with the greatest of human virtues - tolerance...

Is the dd-mm-yyyy notation illogical?  Undoubtedly.  So what?  Many, if
not most of human measurement systems are illogical: is it logical to
divide the day to 12 hours instead of 10?  The reasons for it are purely
historical, not logical.  Our whole calendar system is a curious blend
of Roman and Arabic (plus a few others) elements that really defies
logic.  Let me not even start on the intricacies of the imperial
measurement system so beloved by my Anglo-Saxon friends, good luck
trying to find any logic there!

Date notation is a part of a human communication system.  As such, it
hasn't the slightest importance whether the notation is "logical" or not
(again, good luck trying to find logic in human languages...) - only
whether it transmits the desired message without errors.  If Mike is
using a notation that is correctly understood by his readers then who
cares how "logical" is it?

By the way, my favourite notation is dd-mmm-yyyy (i.e. with LETTERS
instead of numbers to represent the month), because it eliminates the
possibility of mistaking the day for the month or vice versa, and yet is
easily translated by computers (e.g. by MS Excel) to a numerical format
and so can be correctly sorted.


Marcin Bruczkowski
Warsaw, Poland

Subject: Finder scope when blind in right eye
Date: 12/31/03, 16:15
From: Ian Baker (
Firstly, I would like to add to everyone else my appreciation to you on
such a fantastic site.

I am blind in my right eye so if I am using an eyepiece higher then the
finder scope on my ETX 105 (for eg any eyepiece with a Barlow) I have to
remove the eyepiece and replace it with a smaller one each time I go to
use the finder scope. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I may be
able to overcome this?

Also just a note to everyone dont forget us Aussies down here in the
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE when making references.


Ian Baker
Mike here: Couple of thoughts: Replace the stock finderscope with a different one that mounts higher (or raise the existing finderscope bracket). Get a "Visual Back" to use eyepieces at the rear port (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page).

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