Last updated: 31 July 2002
This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	Star Party
Sent:	Tuesday, July 30, 2002 14:36:51
From: (Craig Colbert)
Your site has been my savior many times over...thanks!

I'm the President of the Copper Mountain Observatory and Observers Club.
We are a new club located in The Southern California high desert town of
Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree is located on Hwy 62, 27 miles north of Palm

I've got a couple of things for you to post to the proper area.

Our website address in astro links section:

I 'm not sure where you would post this but, we are having our first
public starparty on August 10th and I would like to extend an invite to
you and your readers to join us. There is room for camping at the site
as well as plenty of room for telescopes. For driving directions and
info on times and what to bring email

For more club info visit

Clear Skies,

Craig Colbert


Subject:	Sidereal Time
Sent:	Monday, July 29, 2002 11:26:08
From: (Bruce)
Regarding this Question from the last General update.  7/27/02  

Here is an online converter

Put this into the Bookmarks section if you have one.

Saludos de Bruce  N7XGR

Subject:	 Great Work by you folks
Sent:	Saturday, July 27, 2002 19:01:04
From: (Blais Klucznik)
I just went to your site and read the two interesting articles on the
NEO, one by R. Seymour and one by Clay Sherrod.  Both Clay's ARKSKY and
the reference site suggested by Dick have an amazing amount of data and
info on them.  My goodness, I'll have to re-lubricate both my abacus and
my slide-rule again.

Thanks to all three of you folks for the work you do.

Blais Klucznik

Subject:	Parks barlow lens on ETX
Sent:	Friday, July 26, 2002 21:14:08
I just bought a Parks 3-element 2x barlow for my new ETX-105.  When I
insert it into the eyepiece holder, the bottom of it hits the flange
inside the holder, causing about 1/4" the barlow's chrome to show above
the holder.  Does this matter?  Is the barlow too long, or maybe too
wide?  (I notice it doesn't fit in the holes of the tripod spreader,
like my Meade eyepiece does.  I't's ever so solightly too big around.) 
Did I buy the wrong one, or are all barlows standard sized and
manufactured to universal specifications?  Do I need a Meade barlow?

I've only been able to look at the full moon since I got the scope.  On
top of the incredibly bright glare of the moon itself, the seeing hasn't
been great (very wavy) and fine focusing has been difficult to achieve,
so I don't know if the lack of image sharpness I'm experiencing is due
in part to the barlow or not.    I heard Parks makes some of the best
eyepieces and accessories, so that's what I bought.  Please get back to
me on these questions so I can either rest easy with my purchase while
waiting for better observing opportunities, or exchange it for something
more suitably matched to my scope!


Mike here: Some Barlow Lens (and eyepieces) are too long to seat fully in the ETX eyepiece hole. This may or may not be a problem. As long as you can focus the image you are OK even if there is some silver tube visible. There are three standard sizes: 0.965, 1-1/4, and 2 inch. The ETX line uses 1-1/4 inch. However, occasionally there are manufacturing "flaws" that cause "out of roundness" of the tube (or holes) or protrusions that can interfere with the insertion. Poor seeing can definitely affect image quality.
Subject:	A brief [unnerving] update on 2002 NT7
Sent:	Friday, July 26, 2002 18:43:17
From: (Clay Sherrod)
If your GO TOs on the computerized scope are not hitting just right, or
if the power source to your scope or CCD keeps fluctuating, perhaps a
reality check will put it all into perspective.

If you have not been keeping up with the approaching Near Earth Object
2002 NT7, then you might want to refresh (or humble) yourself a bit.

Sky and Telescope just today issued their weekly bulletin concerning
this (and others) object and it is discussed a bit at:

or go to the main page ( and click onto Current News.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	re: Sidereal Time
Sent:	Tuesday, July 23, 2002 22:30:10
From: (Richard Seymour)
You wrote:
> I have a question about Local Sidereal Time
> The LST here in Houston, Texas is   7:00 LST
> The local solar clock on the wall is  1:00 PM
> QUESTION:   What is my LST in local solar time ?
> ( I knew the simple conversion once...but forgot ! )

I believe you are confusing "Local Sidereal Time"
with both "Greenwich Mean Time" (GMT) and
 "Coordinated Universal Time" (UTC).

Let's call your wall clock "Civil Time"... which may
be "standard" or "daylight savings".  But it's what the
daily civilian operations follow (lunch, work, school).
And it's pretty close to local solar time (as you'd
see on a sundial).

The "easy" equation thingy is "GMT"...the civilian time
(but always without Daylight Savings) at Greenwich England,
 which is also UTC. If you are in the Central Time Zone, GMT is
6 hours ahead of your standard time... which provides
the 1pm, 7pm arrangement you were mentioning.  
So UTC=GMT=(your standard time) + 6 hours.
and  Your Civil Standard Time = GMT - 6 hours.

Sidereal Time is -completely- different, and -not- easily calculated
(well, you could armwave it... it's actually fairly close to your
standard time (not daylight) plus 4 minutes for every day since March
21st, -less 12 hours-, to reach approximate sidereal time. (you can
improve the accuracy by adding the fractional part of today's "4
minutes"... so at 6pm add 3 minutes (0.75 day * 4 min) .  (i just
arrived at that without looking it could be horribly wrong, but
i think it's moderately accurate)(there's also an adjustment for where
you are relative to your time zone's "middle")

Sidereal time is actually almost a geographic measurement,
and defines the Right Ascension coordinate of whatever star
is passing -straight- overhead right -now-.  They speak of
it in "units of time" (hours/minutes/seconds) but only because
objects measured by it (star locations relative to each other)
-move- across the sky as time passes.  But a "clock time" it's
not... it is really a measurement of location (in the sky).
(they could have said "stellar longitude", and measured it
in degrees, and you'd have never thought that it related to 
your wall clock).

Offhand, i don't have a good web-reference in mind to offer
you (i have a lot of books on the subject, but the best are
the hardest to locate).(and i -think- about this subject a lot).
A spinning-disk star chart (a "planisphere") is perhaps the
-best- Sidereal Time reference i can think of.

have fun

Subject:	newbeee
Sent:	Tuesday, July 23, 2002 18:52:06
From: (Travelin Matt)
How or were can I find the correct long & lat for my location? 
Mike here: There are several links on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	Your Views
Sent:	Tuesday, July 23, 2002 10:42:07
From: (kenbara)
What a great, newbie friendly, site you produce.
I have a question which I fully understand will result in your personal
opinion. I am trying to decide on a telescope purchase to be used
equally for field and sky viewing. Obviously, portability, applicability
 and price are prime.

My final choices are:
* The English, Cape Instrument, Evolution (caditriopic) with a 120mm
aperture (3.5 lbs & approx 16" long) and may be held like a bazooka (or
with a tripod) but is pricey at approx $800.
* The Televue Ranger, also a bit pricey at around $600.
* The Meade ETX (model undetermined) at about half $ of the above two
scopes. Which scope is best at dual use for the $?

In your opinion, which of the above is a prime candidate for my
application? I am completely a novice at this but want to enjoy the
earth (birding/maritime) and sky as much as I reasonably can. I do like
the idea of small portability (folded light?) vs always faced with where
to find a place for a 4 ft scope and the carry of it.

Thanks in advance, Mike.
Mike here: I'm not familiar with the Cape Instrument telescope but Televue Rangers are excellent telescopes. However, for the price, you may find the ETX-90EC (with or without the optional Autostar) will give you what you are looking for in a telescope.
Subject:	my new etx-125
Sent:	Monday, July 22, 2002 17:22:09
From: (Eddy Lush)
Just got my new scope after your recommendations, trouble is everything
looks like a polo (dark bit in the middle) what's going on all stars
look the same .... like polo's, I did have a problem with the focus rod
it feels like there is no tension in it sometimes but as you turn it
anti clockwise it comes out and gets more tension is it broke? Thanks
for the great site hope you can help.  Cheers Eddy
Mike here: As you move from one end of the focus range to the other, do objects go in and out of focus? Try looking at a building or some object on a street. In the middle of the range you should get the object in focus.


Thanks for the speedy reply, yes Mike they do when the rod is turned
fully anti clockwise 22mm of the shaft is exposed, when I turn it fully
clockwise it goes loose eventually! When I look at stars they look like
they do with they eye or polo like.
Cheers Eddy
Mike here: Well, you may be experiencing one problem and one misconception. The focus shaft should NOT become loose. You should probably exchange the telescope at the dealer. The misconception is that images of stars will not magnify due to their extreme distance, making them "point sources of light". Planets and the Moon will show details.


Right tough one there imported it from the states to here in the uk,
perhaps I need to wait till my autostar arrives to check the planets out
cant wait, Saturn is just coming into the frame but I cant see it till
the autostar arrives! (don't know which one it is ...... bad isn't it!)

So a distant star will appear thought the scope a it does with the naked
eye or turn into a grey polo image?
Thanks Eddy
Mike here: The Moon is nearly full and rises in the East before sunset right now. It will make an excellent target; you won't need the Autostar. And yes, stars should appear as pinpoints of light when in proper focus.
Subject:	Sidereal Time
Sent:	Monday, July 22, 2002 15:04:27
I hope this question is "Childs Play " for you !

I have a question about Local Sidereal Time

The LST here in Houston, Texas is   7:00 LST

The local solar clock on the wall is  1:00 PM

QUESTION:   What is my LST in local solar time ?

( I knew the simple conversion once...but forgot ! )

Thank You .... Ted Bartnett    ( Houston/ Texas )
Mike here: Try this web site:
Subject:	Colombian Amateur ETX user
Sent:	Monday, July 22, 2002 13:36:23
From: (Gustavo Garcia)
I bought an second hand etx ra. Is normal than when I'm focusing an
objet, the image moves from right to left ?. If I use high power eye
pieces is more evident.

You recommend to use Ultra wide angle eye pieces ?

Thank you for your time

Gustavo Adolfo Garcia
Mike here: This image shifting is normal with Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes. It should not be excessive however but will be more noticeable at higher magnifications. I don't have any UWA eyepieces but see the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces for some user comments.
Subject:	Re: Using the ETX125 with a camera attached via a 64-T adapter
Sent:	Monday, July 22, 2002 13:22:55
From: (Karen Huguet)
Thanks so much Mike for the tip [further down the page]; I've gone to
the link and found what I was looking for.

Your web site is a a mine of information; really interesting.

Francis Huguet.

Subject:	SAC7b/Windows XP compatibility
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 20:52:45
From: (Shannon West-Wilke)
I searched the Internet, this evening looking for anyone who uses the
SAC7b camera and who runs the driver on Windows XP... specifically
anyone (else) who has had problems loading the SAC7b PC Driver into the
XP system, and how they overcame their problems.  If you have any
insight or suggestions, I would sincerely appreciate your help.
Don West-Wilke

Subject:	RE:Dewcap Problem
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 18:31:23
From: (Greg Samples)
In regards to the Dewcap Problem for I use a
Saran Quick Covers on my ETX-125 dew shield. You can get them in a
variety pack with three different sizes. I have been using them for
about three months now without any problems. I do believe at some point
the elastic will go but they come with three for each size.


Subject:	Rocking The ETX to Keep it from Rocking
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 16:40:46
From: (L.C.)
So. Instead of disassembling and degreasing the ETX, why couldn't one:

1) Vow to use it in only azimuth/altitude mode; and

2) Duct tape a rock to the front end of it

The idea occurred to me when, in a fit of pique, I picked up a rock to
beat the offending forks to a pulp.

-Larry Curcio
Mike here: Well, that's one solution. Others may do what I do: treat it with respect and get years of service from it.


OK, I exaggerated. Was actually contemplating merely weighting the front
end - an idea that wouldn't help in RA/DEC mode.
Mike here: Adding weights can help or hurt, depending upon a lot of factors. But as long as you don't exceed what the locks can handle, you should be OK.
Subject:	Switching an ETX
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 14:31:21
From: (Asad Qayyum)
I recently purchased an ETX-70AT and my enthusiasm has somewhat been
dampened by the quality of images I have seen of the
planets...particularly Saturn as a small ball with a ring on it (no
features visible). I will be moving back home and will not have any
access to a telescope in case I wanted to upgrade. Now the question I
hope you can help me with is that given that my main goal is
Astrophotography and simple viewing of the planets and perhaps some you think it would be a wise decision to switch the
scope for an ETX90? This of course is keeping the future in view since I
won't be able to switch at a later stage for another 5 or even 10 years.
So do you think that the image quality difference is sufficient enough
to justify me switching to the ETX90?

Your help would be much appreciated.

Thanks a lot
Asad Q
Mike here: Whether or not the ETX-90 or ETX-105 or ETX-125 or an 8" or 10" Dobsonian or (...) will meet your expectations depends upon those expectations. Certainly the larger the telescope's aperture and the longer its focal length, the larger and more detailed the views will be. Since you mentioned your main goal is astrophotography, you have to then consider what telescope is best suited to meet that purpose for you (a LX200 perhaps...). Yes, the ETX telescopes can do some types of astrophotography as evidenced by the images on my ETX Site. But is that sufficient for you? You have to decide upon your requirements and expectations (and budget) and then pick a telescope to match.


Thank you very much for your prompt reply to my query regarding
switching my ETX-70 for an ETX-90. The reason I write to you is that I
want your personal opinion on which scope is the best for my purpose.
Astrophotography is not really my main objective however I would like to
delve into that field as well once I have somewhat mastered simple
observation skills. My main goal is to view the planets (and at a later
stage perhaps take pictures of them). My budget while originally
restricted to 400 can be stretched to about 550. For that price I can
get an ETX-90EC or Celestron Nexstar 4 or Celestron Nexstar 114GT.

I do have theoretical knowledge of astronomy since I minored in that at
College. However, I am a pure beginner when it comes to observational
aspect of the field. Therefore, ease of use would also be a big thing
look for while buying (switching) the telescope.

Could you now give me your opinion of whether I should consider changing
the telescope assuming I have the funding to and if so, then which one
would you recommend I go for out of the three listed above. The reason I
ask this question again is that do you really think that it would make a
marked difference in image quality if I were to move from the ETX-70 to
ETX-90. Please do note that I in now way expect images like the ones I
have seen in the books. Just want something that will give me a clear
view of the planets and allow me to take discernable photographs every
now and then.

Again, thank you very much for your help so far and I await your
response to the above questions eagerly.
Mike here: Certainly the ETX-90 will provide better views of planets, and with some practice (and luck) allow you to get some good photos as well. The main difference will be the longer focal length, allowing for more magnification with a given eyepiece focal length. And the (slightly larger aperture) means you can achieve a (slightly) higher theoretical usable maximum magnification. I have both the ETX-90RA and the ETX-70AT and planetary views are more satisfying with the -90.


I just wanted to send this email to thank you for your prompt replied to
my emails and for all the great advice you have given. Thank you very
much sir and many congratulations on creating one of the (if not THE)
best astronomy resources I have seen on the web.

Asad Q
And a change in topic:
Alas, the dealers have refused my request to exchange my one week old
ETX-70 for an ETX-90. Needless to say I am extremely bummed about it but
I resolve to carry out my interest in the field to the very limits of
the ETX-70.

Sir, could you please kindly advise me on a digital camera which might
be appropriate for astrophotography with the ETX-70. Again, my main aim
is to photograph the moon and the planets and some nebulae every now and
then. The main focus though being the planets. I do have a webcam but
after going through your page am still unsure as to how exactly I can
use that with the telescope. I feel that a digital camera would be
simpler to use and more practical.

Your advise would be greatly appreciated on this matter.
Mike here: Some dealers will exchange and some won't. As to digital cameras, there are many excellent digital cameras. For astrophotography the best ones will have a threaded lens to accept filters or other lens (for attaching an eyepiece), a long exposure duration (several seconds) capability, a shutter release cable available or self-timer that allows the full range of exposures), a zoom lens or macro mode (to reduce vignetting), a built-in noise reduction mode, user selectable ISO rating, and be lightweight. I like my Nikon Coolpix 995. Others like their cameras. See the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for several pages on different cameras.


Thank you very much for your reply to my query. Do you suppose that an
ordinary digital camera would be sufficient provided it has manual and
automatic exposure options? My budget is quite limited (200) and thus I
can't go for the big cameras like Coolpix.
Mike here: Sure. See the photos I took with my original digital camera, the Casio QV-10. It was a good but basic camera in 1996. Just focus the eyepiece to your eye, focus the camera lens to infinity, and hold the camera lens over the eyepiece. See the image on the LCD and shoot. You can get pictures of the Moon, Sun (with the proper filter), and the brighter planets.


My apologies for bothering you time and again with my questions but I am
hoping that this should wrap it up for now. As I mentioned I am
interested in buying a digital camera to use with my ETX-70AT. My budget
is a tad restricted so I will be hunting for bargains but could you
please be so kind as to tell me of what specific features the camera
should have for it to perform the task of afocal astrophotography with
my scope?

Your reply would be much appreciated.

Thanks a lot
Asad Q
Mike here: For astrophotography the best ones will have a threaded lens to accept filters or other lens (for attaching an eyepiece), a long exposure duration (several seconds) capability, a shutter release cable available or self-timer that allows the full range of exposures), a zoom lens or macro mode (to reduce vignetting), a built-in noise reduction mode, user selectable ISO rating, and be lightweight.
Subject:	Wide Field Eyepieces
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 10:33:05
From: (N O V A)
In your opinion, which are the best wide field eyepieces to use with the 
Mike here: Since I don't have any real WF eyepieces myself (other than when using the Shutan Wide Field Adapter discussed on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page) I don't have any opinion.
Subject:	small bump
Sent:	Friday, July 19, 2002 22:09:30
From: (Bruce Smith)
I have had my etx 90ec for about 2 years now and it has been great but
just the other day i took the front lense off to have a look inside and
to my amazment i found a bump or blob on the small reflecting mirror on
the  front lense. It looks like it was there when they added the coating
and it layed right over the top of the offending marterial.

would this affect the optics? I could be used to it now since it's been
there since new.

Mike here: Intentionally removing the front lens is a major bad idea unless you have a good reason for doing so. As to the "flaw", if you haven't noticed it before it probably isn't affecting the views (assuming it is small). A bigger affect could come from the telescope now being uncollimated if you don't get the lens back into its original position. If you are concerned about either problem, contact Meade.
Subject:	re:  ETX external power jack problem
Sent:	Friday, July 19, 2002 21:44:52
From: (Richard Seymour)
I have to wonder if you're using the proper power plug.
(or a weird one)
In the past i've heard of oversized Meade plugs... they'd be a -very-
hard push to get in the socket, or they wouldn't go at all.
So your plug may likewise be a bit "over size", or 
(dare i say it?) even the wrong size.

The correct plug is 5.5mm outside diameter (2.5mm inside).
If you're using a RadioShack Adaptaplug , that's their size "N"
(as in Nancy).

good luck with the tootpicks...
From: (Tom Shinn)
Got a note from Dick (Richard Seymour) saying that it was probably an
over-sized plug.  He said that even some of the Meade supplies have had
oversized plugs.  So I measured mine and it came out to something like
6.25 mm when it should be 5.5 mm.  Lovely!   It wasn't hard to push in,
except maybe the very last part of the travel ... felt like it may have
caught on something.

I haven't called Meade yet, but I can bet what their answer is going to
be: "ship it back to us".   It looks like the panel that holds all the
jacks and the switch can't be removed without first taking out the
elevation motor assembly, and possibly more, which is a bit ugly.

I'm now considering soldering a jumper across the jack's "open circuit"
contacts and hoping I remember to remove one of the internal batteries
before using an external power supply.  The wire from the internal
batteries to an external plug is a safer way to go, but would look
wierd, at best!  And I'd still need to get a 5.5mm plug! (or two?)

Gonna sleep on it a bit....
And an update:
From: (Tom Shinn)
Here's a small update.
I went to my neighborhood Radio Shack in search of an adapta-plug the
right size to fit my power supply.  UNFORTUNATELY, my supply is an older
one, where the adapta-plugs are totally different from the current
two-pin types.  No joy there.

After looking at putting a new-style adapta-plug socket on my power
supply's wire AND buying the adapta-plug and still not having a fix for
battery operation, I decided to just get the package of two 5.5 x 2.5mm
plugs (274-1537).  Cost the same as one adapta-plug!

I cut the old plug off the power supply's wire and soldered on one of
the new ones, then I attached a small hunk of speaker wire to JUST THE
OUTSIDE of the other plug and the other end to the negative battery
terminal.  The reason for the outside only is so there's no chance of
short-circuiting the plug, which is connected directly to the batteries
(center is cut off or insulated).  The always-open circuit on the
telescope's power jack only affects the outside contact so that's all
that was needed.

Works great!

I may still call Meade, but as I said before, I know what they'll say.
From: (Richard Seymour)
> Works great!

Where there's life, there's electrons 9or something like that)

> I may still call Meade, but as I said before, I know what they'll say.

They may be willing to send along a replacement power panel.
If i recall, only the battery leads are soldered.. all else
are connectors.

have fun (with the external negative lead)

Subject:	Heater
Sent:	Friday, July 19, 2002 20:58:20
From: (Rodney Crislip)
I bought your book and it says there is information about a dew heater
on your web site but I can't find it.Can you help me?
Mike here: Search the Site for "heater"; you'll find two references.
Subject:	883 Deluxe Tripod
Sent:	Thursday, July 18, 2002 16:50:18
From: (William Scott)
I have recently purchased the 883 Deluxe Tripod through ebay,
unfortunetly it didnt have any instructions with it. I can get to grips
with some of its settings but not all.

I peruse your sight often looking for tips on using my ETX 105 and i
must say i have learnt a lot as im a newbie. Anyway back to my "Q" is
there any where i can download a copy of the user guide for my tripod as
i think thats where my problem is, when in polar setup i cant get a good
alignment therefore im having to use it in Alt/Az mode, which is okay
but i would like to progress to the next stage. I have copied everything
that has been written on setting up the telescope from home position to
having bubble levels placed eveywhere to ensure all is level. I am in
the military so i understand the concept of true and false north.

I would like to add i think you have a excellent sight and thankyou to
everyone who places ideas,tips ect as they are invaluable to people like
me,keap it up.

Best Regards

Mike here: Check the FAQ page for manuals.


Thanks for the quick response, At last i have the 2 page setup that i
have longed for.
Many Many Thanks again,
clear skies to all

Subject:	Using the ETX125 with a camera attached via a 64-T adapter
Sent:	Thursday, July 18, 2002 14:09:13
From: (Karen Huguet)
I've an ETX125 and bought a 64-T adapter to connect my camera (a Canon
Ftb) to the telescope.

I installed the camera with its adapter to the telescope which
immediately pointed at the sky because of the weight of the camera; I
thought that the vertical lock needed to be tighten further but did not
either want to force the mechanism.

Then I decided to run with the Autostar but the the motors appeared to
have difficulty to move the telescope with the attached camera.

I'm a beginner and actually don't know if it's the way to do things, but
do I need to hang a counterweight at the opposite side in order to
balance the all mounting ?  Or will really my scope support the
additional weight and imbalance ?

Thank you for any advice you could give to me.

Mike here: Heavy cameras will definitely require a counterweight to keep things in balance. See the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for some ideas.
Subject:	Dewcap Problem
Sent:	Thursday, July 18, 2002 13:54:52
From: (N O V A)
Hey. I just got the official Meade Dewshield for the ETX90. I know
you're supposed to take the dewshield off to reinstall the dustcap. But
instead, I just want to find a dustcap that fits on the front of the
dewshield perfectly. Do you have any particular suggestions?
Mike here: There are dewcaps that slide over the tube when not extended (see the Accessory Reviews Miscellaneous and the Telescope Tech Tips pages) but I don't recall hearing of one that fits over the Meade dewshield. However, it should be easy to make one from thick paper or cardboard.
Subject:	Mike a question?
Sent:	Wednesday, July 17, 2002 10:06:44
From: (Richard Sabo)
I just purchased a ETX-125. I really like it and is all that a hoped. I
would like to know if you could tell me the pin out for the external
power supply. I have a 12v supply and I really don't want to spend the
money on it bur rather another eye piece. So, if you could let me know I
would appreciate it very much!

Rich Sabo
Mike here: See the FAQ page for pinout info; also the Telescope Tech Tips page for more on Power Supplies.
Subject:	Question Concerning Rigel Illuminator
Sent:	Tuesday, July 16, 2002 8:02:07
From: (N O V A)
I've read your review about the Rigel Illuminator, and it seems to be
superior to any standard Illuminators. But my main concern when I first
saw this was the size of it. The standard illuminators are smaller and
doesn't look too much out of place on the small ETX90EC. But with the
Rigel Illuminator, I fear it will look too awkward. I'm having trouble
trying to find a pic with the Rigel Illuminator actually in use on the
ETX90. Could you please clear me up on this? Thanks!
Mike here: The eyepiece is a standard 1.25-inch one so the barrel only stands out a little ways. It doesn't look that out of place on the ETX-90 (especially in the dark!). Since there are several adjustments you can make with its knobs, the size is just right.
Subject:	Collimation or Baffle misaligned?
Sent:	Tuesday, July 16, 2002 7:44:27
From: (Michael F. Vasseur)
I have just noticed on my ETX-125 that the results of a recent star test
show that the shadow of the secondary is just off-centre towards the

I have heard that it could be either the collimation or the secondary
baffle. How can I tell between them?


Michael F. Vasseur
Ottawa Valley Astronomy and Observers Group
Mike here: They can be related but if the secondary mirror has slipped like shown in this photo:

then that could be the main culprit. Either way, collimation is difficult and not something to be attempted unless you are prepared to make things worse than they are. If you want to attempt to fix either the secondary or the collimation, see the Telescope Tech Tips page for several articles, otherwise your best solution would be to contact Meade.
Subject:	ETX external power jack problem
Sent:	Monday, July 15, 2002 21:41:33
From: (Tom Shinn)
I can't see that anybody else has had this problem (leave it to me to be

I was experimenting with some Palm hand-held software on my ETX 90EC
(indoor "obsserving") so had the scope connected to an AC adapter I've
had for some time
...Radio Shack 273-1652B, not that it matters.

When I went to use the scope tonight, I find that the internal batteries
no longer function.  Seems the plug from the Radio Shack supply pushed
the contact in the jack up to the point where it no longer makes contact
for the battery circuit!  I can reach into the hole carefully with a
NON-CONDUCTIVE probe and get behind the flat contact, pull it out a bit
and get the scope to work, but obviously, that's no FIX.

Question is, how does one get to the jack panel out of the telescope
base? It LOOKS like that connector might be totally enclosed to the
point where I might not be to re-spring the contact anyway, but I
couldn't see how to get at it!

Meanwhile, I'm going to rig an outboard power plug to the internal
batteries that I can loop around to the jack and run the scope from
internal batteries via the external power jack.  

From: (P. Clay Sherrod)
This is correct in that the power plug connector cannot be accessed; it
is very likely that the problem is temperature related and will "fix
itself" over time when the season changes.  In the meantime, I would NOT
attempt to get in an internally fix the plug.

The best tool for unsticking the small contact is a round toothpick.

Doc Clay

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Thanks to both of you!

I don't think the problem is temperature related: the scope hasn't been
subjected to anything resembling extreme temps and the contact isn't
really "stuck".  I can get behind it with a toothpick and bring the
contacts together (powering the scope from the internal batteries) but
it won't stay that way, which is why I suspect that the contact was

Knowing that I was correct about not being able access the connector
prevents me from taking a potentially dangerous or damaging action.

I will contact Meande tech support, for whatever good that might do me,
but since I really don't want to send the scope in, I'll probably stick
with my original plan and run a wire & plug off the internal battery
pack to a plug that I can put into the jack. Inelegant, but effective.


Subject:	LED Illuminator
Sent:	Monday, July 15, 2002 9:55:17
From: (N O V A)
I own a Meade MA12mm Astrometric Illuminated Reticle Eyepiece. Recently,
for no reason at all, the illuminator went dead. At first I thought it
was the batteries, so I got brand new batteries to replace them. The
illuminator still didn't work. So I tried calling Meade about this, but
you have to go through a whole lot of junk just to get a replacement.
And by the time the replacement arrives, I'll probably be too busy to
use it for another year. So after calling Meade I tried emailing several
well known retailers to see if they carried any replacements. And that
didn't turn out well either.

So I'm asking you if there is any other way to buy a replacement
illuminator without having to go through a whole lot of stuff like you
would have to do with Meade?

This would be greatly appreciated.
From a contact at Rigel Systems:
From: (rigelsys@cox)
You have to destroy the illuminator (it is press fit together) to get to
the LED.


Buy a new one from Rigel Systems with easy access to change the LED


Mike here: I review the Rigel Systems PulsGuide Guiding Eyepiece Illuminator on the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page.
Subject:	Pier plans and ideas
Sent:	Sunday, July 14, 2002 12:57:03
From: (Mike Grusin)
Hello, I haven't written before because all my ETX questions were
answered by your site =).  Thanks you for such an outstanding resource!

My latest ETX project is going to be building a pier for my 125.  My
small condominium porch makes it difficult to maneuver around tripod
legs in the dark, and I am hoping that a heavy (sand filled PVC?) pier
might dampen some of the vibrations as well (I can sometimes "see" my
neighbor's stereo at high mag).

After searching your site and finding some good pier ideas and links, my
suggestion is that maybe you have enough info to build a separate pier
page (in your free time, of course ;)

Thanks again and dark skies,

-Mike Grusin
Boulder, CO.
Mike here: Pier topics always welcome! Thanks. If you do build one, details and photos appreciated; I'll add to the Mounts section of the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Car power
Sent:	Sunday, July 14, 2002 4:35:13
From: (marc.delaney)
To get power from my car to my ETX, do I need the expensive lead from
Meade or can I use any lead which plugs into the lighter socket of the
car with a plug that fits the ETX power input at the other end? If so,
what precautions --- such as polarity, etc --- must I bear in mind?
Also, will plugging in a power lead automatically cut the batteries in
the ETX out of the circuit?
Many thanks,
Mike here: There are several Power Supply articles on the Telescope Tech Tips page. See those for info on power requirements and polarity. And yes, the internal batteries are cut out when connecting the external power plug.
Subject:	an LX90 site.
Sent:	Sunday, July 14, 2002 3:03:42
From: (Colin Dawson)
I've been interested in astronomy for most of my life and finally
decided to take the plung and get a scope this year.  I'm facinated by
the science, and think it's wonderful that the professionals actually
encourage us ameteurs. It's seems to be the only science subject where
that's the case.   I knew absolutly nothing about telescopes when I
decided to buy one, and did a search on the net.  Your site came up near
the top of the list, and most deservedly too.   It gave me a good
insight into scopes and also told me enough to know that a Meade scope
was the way to go.  In the end I went for an LX90, the so called big
brother of the ETX range (that's how I like to think of it anyway)  Most
of the content of your site is still relevant to the LX90, thank you for
such a great resource.

I've noticed that the number of LX90 sites seems a little thin on teh
ground and was wondering it you'd be kind enough to post a link to my
new site.   Although it's LX90 specific, there's info there that most
people would find useful.   Including when I finish writing it a program
that will allow Psion 5 owners to download the date, time and their
location directly into the Autostar.   Hook that to my GPS, and hey
presto you've practically got and LX90 GPS!  or for that matter an
ETX125/90/60 GPS.   Cool hey?

There's also an Astro piccy that I've taken using my Cosina C1s SLR
Manual camera.

Thank you once again for such a info packed site.


Subject:	Web site
Sent:	Saturday, July 13, 2002 19:41:56
Very nice web site. Wish you would provide Right Ascension and
Declination more often in discussions.

Best Regards - Gregg J. Chapman
Mike here: In what context would you like to see more discussion of RA and DEC?
Subject:	I'll be back.....
Sent:	Saturday, July 13, 2002 17:12:37
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hello all -
just about to shut down the office and hit the road, top down into the
night for points east.  I will have my laptop with me so will be keeping
up with everything but will have limited time to respond to as much as I
would like.

Those of you who write directly to me, please remember to not include
attachments or these will be lost!

In the meantime, the weather is getting better nationwide for the next
three weeks and the moon will be out of the sky pretty much for most of
the coming week, so I hope all of you get to give the scopes a workout. 
Sounds like many issues and problems have been solved or solutions
discovered, so I will look forward to my nighttime reading of positive

Clear skies and bright comets.....

Dr. Clay

Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	From Bogota
Sent:	Saturday, July 13, 2002 11:10:53
From: (Dario Rodas)
I live in Bogota (74W 4N) and I am looking for a ETX90RA tripod that
works in this latitude. I read the whole tripod review section trying
not to annoying you with an email, but I could not find a suitable
article. Would you help me find that info?

I am a newcomer in the ETX passion and consider your page as the ETX

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

José Darío Rodas
Bienvenidos a mi página
Mike here: Check out Scopetronix; they have some tripods/wedges that go to 0 degrees latitude.


Thank you for your prompt reply and your kindness.
Have a good day.
jose dario.

Subject:	ETX 90 Batteries
Sent:	Saturday, July 13, 2002 4:43:27
Is it possible to use rechargeable batteries in the ETX 90? My digital
camera uses NI-MH 1700's, I heard a rumor that they were too powerful
for the scope.


Marc George
Mike here: I don't know about the NI-MH 1700 but rechargeable batteries can be used in the ETX but they may get too low rather fast. See the article "Rechargeable Batteries" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Astrophotography with Nikon 995
Sent:	Friday, July 12, 2002 13:06:40
From: (stu travelbee)
I found your web site when searching for information on the Nikon 995 in
astrophotography.  I purchased a 995 three weeks ago, but have not been
able to get the raw images I hoped for.  I have emailed several
astro-imagers to find out what settings they use for lunar and solar
imaging.  Last week we purchased a Coronado SolarMax 40 to use on our
TV85.  I use the remote shutter release on the 995, but can't seem to
get crisp images with the default settings.  I joined Yahoo
digital-astro discussion group to see if any of the group members could
help.  Most are using Olympus cameras.  If you could help me with the
manual settings on the Nikon 995 it would be greatly appreciated.  I
noticed on your web site you have a distinguished career in flying.  One
of my hobbies over the years has been at air shows to take rides in
vintage airplanes.  At the Auburn Cord Duesinburg festival I was able to
ride in the Stinson tri-motor that comes to the Auburn airport
occasionally.  Tom Kelly, who has Fort Wayne Air Service, gave my wife
and me a ride in his P-51 in '85.  That was the best ride we have ever
had to date!  Thank you for and information you could forward on the
astro-imaging subject.
Stu Travelbee
Fort Wayne, Indiana     
Mike here: Check the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page. There is info on the Coolpix there. Also, check the various astrophotography galleries on my ETX Site; there are examples (some with info) there. Yep, flying used to be a major part of my life! But I'm jealous of you: a tri-motor AND a P-51. Wow! I did get 1.5 hours in the backseat of a German Air Force F-104 and 1.5hrs in a USAF F-15 backseat. The rest of my time was in the A-7D, T-38A and T-38B, Cessna 150 and 172, and a Piper Cherokee. A few hours in a T-28 and a Citabria.
Subject:	Determining Limiting Magnitude
Sent:	Friday, July 12, 2002 11:06:53
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hello to all -
A nifty note....
Thanks to amateur astronomer David Snay we were "urged" into completing
a project that actually began back in 1974....determining the limiting
magnitudes of various aperture telescopes by simply using the stars include a SUMMER guide/test.

Since 1974 we have used and promoted a guide for autumn and winter skies
which is excellent for determining stellar magnitude thresholds down to
the mid-15's, via the Pleiades star field.  This has always been easy
for veteran as well as "newcomers" since the star field of the bright
star "Electra" has been used....easy to identify in the asterism of the
"Seven Sisters."

For the summertime skies, Brian Sherrod has finally compiled the mate to
this long-time winter test....this one using the constellation of LYRA,
dominant in the late spring and summertime skies, and high overhead for
mid-northern latitudes.

You can find this new - and very useful - tool at the Arkansas Sky
Observatory website by going to the homepage: and
looking for the "New Website Additions...." at the top of the page and
click on the topic.

Marked by its bright star, Vega, the observer need only to find the
bright stars SULAFAT and Sheliak to its is between these
two conspicuous stars that the famous "Ring Nebula", Messier 57 is

Brian has used Sulafat's field of stars to provide a limiting VISUAL
magnitude test to magnitude 15.3 for telescopes in the 10 to 16-inch

As with the WINTER Limiting Magnitude Guide - on the Arkansas Sky site
at: this test is very objective as the
observer fills out an essentially blank chart using only the brightest
stars as guideposts.  For complete information on this test, please see
the new posting.

By the way, this "test" makes and excellent club or school project for
users of many different sizes and types of will be
amazed at the differences in limiting magnitudes - not only with
aperture, but also with the type and style of telescope used as well!

Good luck, enjoy, and THANK YOU, Dave Snay!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Re: ETX Info
Sent:	Thursday, July 11, 2002 21:17:43
Thank you for the reply! It finally occurred to me that it probably came
off the same way my old C-8 did, and so I already accomplished removing
the tube from the fork.

I have a second question now, if I may impose upon your patience. Where
might you recommend I obtain a "visual back" for the ETX 90? My idea is
to plug a 45-degree diagonal into the rear of the scope to provide
correctly oriented images (since I wish to use the ETX as a birding
scope). I guess I'm asking your recommendation for a good ETX
parts-and-accessories supplier...

Thanks again for all your help! I have a healthy respect for people who
publish such useful web sites as yours.

Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
Mike here: See the "Shutan Visual Back" on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page. Shutan and Scopetronix are good suppliers of accessories. There are probably many others as well.
Subject:	Lego
Sent:	Thursday, July 11, 2002 19:14:46
From: (Raffaello Zucco)
Hey Michael, great job on the web page, very interesting.

I was hoping if you could give me more details on the focuser-lego for
the meade ETX. I have an old etx 60 and I'm trying to install it on my
roof. I can control it from my laptop with the 506 cable and see what's
going on with a webcam adaptation... all is missing is an efficient and
cheap way to focus, something that your lego could very well provide...

Thank you and keep the great job on the tech tips.

Mike here: You should write to the author of the article.
Subject:	Dr. Clay Does it Again
Sent:	Thursday, July 11, 2002 16:46:30
From: (Joe Savitsky)
I had the chance to buy an ETX-105 complete with everything you'd ever
need. However the scope needed some repairs done to the support arm. It
was such a bargain I decided to buy it and send the scope straight to
Dr. Clay for some repairs and a "Supercharge". Dr. Clay was sooooo easy
to work with. He kept me abreast of all that was involved. The scope was
returned to me in better than new shape. It works flawlessly!! Anybody
who has any doubts about the "before" and "after" performance should put
their fears aside and send their scope to Dr. Clay.

Joe Savitsky

Subject:	Trip Schedule & e-mail Doc Clay
Sent:	Thursday, July 11, 2002 15:37:41
From: (Clay Sherrod)
"Re: my upcoming central and SE U.S.A. astronomy forum scheduled trips
for the next three weeks:"

Hello to all - Well, you'll be sort-of getting rid of this old coot for
a bit as promised; my trip will take me off this Saturday (seven states,
14 talks in 18 days!) and I wanted to remind everyone that I will be
checking e-mails while away but on a very limited basis....still will
help [....and hinder, some say!] while away, so I will be in touch.

I look forward to seeing several of you in the next couple of weeks and
appreciate your many offers and willingness to stop by and have coffee
as I pass through!

Please continue to correspond for our on-going projects as normal, but
please do NOT send any e-mail with attachments to my personal address to
those who have been corresponding on a regular basis; my little laptop
will protest and likely just shut down altogether if you do.

Regarding Supercharged scopes, those who had scopes scheduled will have
your scopes right on time!  The last precision machine ships tomorrow
and all other scopes that were scheduled to be completed are either on
their way via AIR shipment right now, or already received by a happy

Those which are scheduled to be shipped to me for my return after August
1, please remember to do so the week prior to your appointed time.

For NEW Supercharges, note that I AM accepting scopes for slots in
August and September at this time, so you can schedule while I am away;
I will confirm with you the times of your choice.

The ASO website will be aptly and properly maintained daily by Brian
(who keeps the megabytes greased anyway.....) so please check for the
latest news there!  I will be posting news articles regarding upcoming
sky events while on my trip.

Correspondents on research, observational and educational programs that
we are working on, please continue to e-mail me privately as to your

So...I will miss all of you on a regular basis, but will still be
keeping tabs and helping/hindering when possible!  I hope that the next
two weeks prior to full moon brings dry and clear skies and much
improvement in observing skills, techniques and discovery for all of

Doc Clay
(sure to be tired, hoarse, and brain running on empty, but still smiling
upon return....)
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	ETX Info
Sent:	Thursday, July 11, 2002 9:53:11
I have been perusing your website looking for information regarding the
conversion of an ETX-90 from a fork mount to a simple spotting scope. It
looks like all I need to do is remove the tube assembly from the fork
and drive base, but I can't figure out how to do it. Any advice would be

Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
Mike here: See Step #1 of the Right Tube Adapter replacement on this page (near the bottom):
Subject:	***Meade ETX-90EC***
Sent:	Tuesday, July 9, 2002 17:42:36
From: (Dennis J. Barela)
Here are excerpts from an email sent to Meade instruments and the online
retailer "One-Call" in regards to my experience with the ETX-90EC:

In April of 2002 I had ordered a Meade ETX-90EC and an Autostar 497
Controller.  A few days later I had a nightmare experience with Federal
Express delivering the scope.  They claimed that my house does not exist
when it has been here for over eight years in a series of track homes
listed in most popular map books about 45 miles from the Meade plant.
Two days and missed work later (the unit was sent with orders not to
leave the scope without a signature and second attempt deliveries do not
receive priority according to the driver), I finally received the
telescope but the AutoStar was on backorder.  (Understandable)

I invested in Meade's best #884 deluxe field tripod, a set of filters, a
dew shield, a Barlow lens among other things; about a $1000 investment
altogether.  Because of my curiosity of astronomy I was instantly
"hooked" by the idea of seeing celestial sites from my own equipment.  I
was sorely wrong.  It took two months before the AutoStar controller
arrived.  I took many trips to the mountains, desert and local hills
spending hours trying to get it to work with no luck.  I consulted with
family members and friends who are into astronomy and still could not
get it to work after countless hours invested in the attempts.

Finally, I decided to call Meade and after about an hour on hold I
talked with a customer service rep that advised me to send the AutoStar
back to them.  I then payed another $3.50 in shipping to send it back
and was once again without the use of the telescope as I had originally
intended to use it.  Still, I gave Meade and their products the benefit
of the doubt and tried to wait patiently for its return.  You see, I
have been more excited about astronomy and the use of this telescope
than any hobby for the last 20 years!

Today (3 months later) the new AutoStar finally arrived and I waited
once again for dark so that I could use the new unit.  Again, I followed
Meade's directions exactly.  Now, I had a whole new set of problems; the
telescope would move about 5 every three seconds and would not respond
to controls nor would it allow to train the motors or align the
AutoStar.  The scope's motor sounds were completely different than with
the previous controller yet with a completely new set of problems.
Again, because of my sincere desire to use the telescope I tried
repeatedly to get it to work.  It would not.  When I started to put it
away to write this email even the cord that goes into the controller
would not come out of it's port and I did not force it since this may
break the unit and Meade would the try to claim that it was abused.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am with this entire experience.  A
strong desire to pursue a hobby in amateur astronomy has been stifled by
these unfortunate series of events.

Dennis J. Barela
Mike here: Sorry you've had problems. However, I do have to wonder about the Autostar "supply" issue since as far as I know there is no supply issue. I could be wrong but no one has mentioned this before. As to the problems, it is unfortunate you didn't find the ETX Site sooner; perhaps your difficulties could have been avoided (except for FedEx...).
Subject:	Polaris
Sent:	Tuesday, July 9, 2002 15:37:20
From: (Fred & Rose Lieberman)
I finally saw Polaris' partner.  The evening sky was so steady by 11:00
pm a week ago and that made the difference.  It made its appearance
around 80x.  It took me almost 2 years to pick it up.

The following night was equally steady and I pushed the 90mm to 500x on
Polaris.  Both disc and ring were perfectly round.  It made feel good.


Subject:	autoguider on the ETX
Sent:	Tuesday, July 9, 2002 12:14:03
From: (Bruce Dickson)
I a questions on the 125 page about autoguiding -

I have a Starlight HX516 and AstroArt 2.4. When time permits (_not
soon_), I'll have a go at connecting it up to  autoguide my ETX 105. If
that works, it will probably work on all the ETX models. Alternatively,
I'd like to hear comment from anyone else who's tried this.

FWIW, the Starlight MX series can do a simultaneous track and image -
this might be quite a good idea on a baby telescope like the ETX.

clear skies

Subject:	Gift - ETX90EC or DS2114 ATS?
Sent:	Tuesday, July 9, 2002 10:53:45
From: (Nina Handen)
Hi!  I am getting ready to purchase a telescope for my husband for his
birthday.  I have done some on-line research, and looked up reviews on
the two mentioned above.  I found more way more reviews on the 90EC, and
all seem pretty favorable.  I only found one on the S2114, which was
also positive.  Do you give opinions?  If so, for a beginner, would it
be better to go with the DS2114 ATS or the ETX 90EC?  We currently have
a cheap little Sears telescope, and LOVE to use it.
Nina Handen
Mike here: I have no experience with the DS telescopes. But there are those who love them. Besides the optical quality of the ETX-90EC, it is very portable, meaning easy to move and setup on a moment's notice.


Hey, Mike!  Sorry - I think I emailed this all wrong.  Didn't mean to
bother you personally. Well, leave it to me to be "last minute wife" - I
did go buy the 90EC. I think I made a good choice - but that is, AFTER I
looked at YOUR site. Very informative.  And get this - my husband opened
it up (LOVED IT, by the by...), and the dust cover would not come off. 
Sound familiar??? I had just read the email from the man who had the
same problem, and WALA - we got it off with the rubbermaid lid
remover!!!  Too funny.....

Thanks for responding to this email dork....
Mike here: Glad everyone is happy! And no problems with the email; that is the way I work the ETX Site.
Subject:	re: Play in etx heads
Sent:	Tuesday, July 9, 2002 0:48:11
From: (Richard Seymour)
My ETX90ec had over 3 degrees of Alt slop, but less than a degree
of Az slop.  And it worked quite well... i did a little tuning
(degreasing of the dec clutch) and the Alt slop dropped to about
a degree.  
I consistently get 10-arcminute GoTo accuracy.

There is a procedure called "training the drives" under
Setup > Telescope > Train
and it's covered in the Autostar manual
(there's a better Autostar manual on-line at MEade's site:

Since you -have- the Autostar, may i suggest that you plop 
the telescope flat on a table and use it in Alt/Az mode?
At least you can then have it -show- you Polaris for later
Polar setups.
The Autostar allows full sidereal tracking and GoTo operation
in the much easier to use Alt/Az configuration... only photo
work -really- demands Polar mounting.

have fun... they're good little scopes..

Subject:	RE: In reference to the negative OPINION on Meade in 
Sent:	Monday, July 8, 2002 22:49:40
I was reading through the opinions section of your website and came
across the recent negative comments about Meade the ETX series of scopes
and the problems that many have experienced in using these scopes.

I think for the price, you get a scope that has lot's of potential if
you are willing to put a little effort into it or send it to Dr. Clay
for a supercharge. Now of course many would suggest that this is what
they've paid and didn't receive but when you look at it more closely
there is a big leap in quality and price once you move into larger
scopes. I just don't think you can expect the same of the ETX as you
would of a LX-200 but maybe this says it all.

"Is it fair to expect the quality and workmanship of Mercedes Benz when
all you paid for was a Chrysler?"

So having said all that my story is simple. I found your web site a few
months back and researched all I could on the ETX and in the end taking
into consideration all the issues noted I went ahead and purchased an
ETX-90EC about a month back. Why? It still is a good scope for the
price, has lots of neat features, and it's very portable. My
expectations have been meet and with a little effort it will be a good
scope for me.

While I haven't had a lot of opportunity to use the scope recently I did
manage to sneak a quick picture (see attached) of the Moon a little
after 1:00 am on June 21st through our kitchen window (yes I did say
kitchen window) with my Nikon Coolpix 775 and ETX-90. For a quick setup,
through a double pane glass window and holding my camera up to the
eyepiece this picture turned out really well and you just have to like
instantaneous results that comes with digital astrophotography!

Thanks for the great site! The information was very helpful in my
decision making process and I'm certain valuable to all who frequent
your site.



Subject:	dust cover jammed
Sent:	Monday, July 8, 2002 18:15:12
From: (Len Thalrose)
I just received my ETX-90EC today and when finished unpacking unit I
tried to remove the dust cap from scope and it seems to be frozen. The
instructions say turn in counter clockwise direction but all that
happens is the front end lens assy starts to unscrew. When UPS delivered
the scope the temp was over 100 deg. outside, for I live in Arizona. I
thought maybe the dust cap expanded from the heat, so I let the scope
cool down to ambient temp. Still no luck. Is there any coating on the
dust cap threads that could have fused from the heat? Or did some over
zealous factory worker over torque  the cap.
Thank you for this great site.
Len Thalrose
Mike here: This can easily happen. Just hold the lens portion inplace while turning the cover. Using a sheet of rubber (like used for opening jars) can help loosen a sticking cover.


Thanks a lot Mike.  The sheet of rubber did the trick. Now I can
continue to read the rest of my manual on how to use my new ETX-90EC.
Again thank you very much.

Subject:	Play in etx heads
Sent:	Monday, July 8, 2002 11:33:50
My Name is Chuck Mishler and I live in Mitchell, NE and have just
purchased a used ETX-90EC from a person I know well.

I have been reading your book and find it very informative and
interesting. This is my first telescope with controls and I am still
learning to use it. My question is with the play in the telescope head.
With both axis locked , I can gently move the RA axis about 1.5
divisions on the RA scale and about 1 degree on the Dec. axis. Is this
anywhere to normal play in the telescope head?

The guy I bought it from works with me and I trust what he tells me.
There has been only about 12 hours on the scope when I got it. As far as
I know he has taken good care of it and colimation is good and the
images are crisp and clear throughout the field. I have it polar mounted
on the ETX Field tripod, and am having some trouble with the Autostar
pointing to the object I select. I know I must practice alignment much
more to get better at it and am having some trouble knowing whether the
star I have in the field is really Polaris since the view finder is not
usable in the polar home position. Even with the 26mm eyepeice, there a
lot of stars visable and I can get confused as to which one is really
Polaris. I have done successful alignments according to Auto Star but is
pretty far off when pointing to an object I select. I just wonder if I
should try another motor calibration or whether the play in the heads
might have a bearing on the problem or whether this is normal play.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Happy viewing!
Charles J.Mishler, Jr.
Mike here: The ETX axis locks are friction locks. So, just like with your car brakes that allow your car to be (forcefully) moved with the brakes engaged, so you can also move the ETX tube by hand with the locks engaged (but you shouldn't do that). So, yes, some play is normal. You can tighten up the play using some tips on the Telescope Tech Tips page but most telescopes don't need it. As to identifying stars, see the "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" article on the Observational Guides/References page.
Subject:	My homepage
Sent:	Monday, July 8, 2002 10:00:47
From: (Mikael R)
I would like to have my Astronomy page added to you're 'Astronomy Links'
section. My page contains pictures taken by me, and some info about my
setup (almost 100% computer controlled). I update it now and then..
usually once a month or so.


quick link:

The later one is just much easier to remember, but it contains one
banner pop-up.

Thanks for keeping the page so updated!

Best Regards
Mikael Rzewuski

Subject:	Hard stops
Sent:	Saturday, July 6, 2002 11:10:44
From: (Theodore H. Mann)
I can't figure out how to submit a question to your discussion list, so
I hope you don't mind my contacting you directly.  I recently purchased
an ETX125, but have run into a problem.  I can't seem to get the scope
to turn horizontally more than about 30 degrees.  It hits hardstops in
both directions.  Am I doing something wrong?  Any suggestions?

Many thanks.

Dr. Theodore "Ted" H. Mann
Mike here: The top of each Feedback page has the instructions on submitting questions, comments, etc. It sounds like there is an obstruction. Return it to the dealer for an exchange (assuming it is still under warranty).

Subject:	Supercharge for the ETX125EC
Sent:	Friday, July 5, 2002 11:02:56
From: (Hank Blackwood)
I have sent you emails many times from different email addresses - hey
who has just one - there aren't that many etx125 users named Hank I
bet!!  I wanted to drop you a line (from yet another email address) on
my experience with my "new" ETX125 back from Clay Sherrod.

After receiving it was a good two weeks before I had a fair night and
another week before I had a good (not great) viewing night, both of
which were plagued with traveling clouds.

Before I sent the scope to Clay, here were my problems (understand that
even though my scope was only a few months old, I had used it as much as
seven nights a week and sometimes as long as 7 hours at one time): 1.
The scope would seem to loose accuracy over several "GOTO's" - start out
with all objects located in the center of the eyepiece and then after
many (20+) GOTO's the object would not be in the FOV.
2. No response (especially in the DEC axis) for several seconds when
pressing the slew keys.
3. frequent motor drive failures
4. rebounding in the DEC axis (scope moves upwards for a brief moment
when slewing down)
5. dirty front lens (the combination of pollen and dew that would not
clean with water and lens paper - completely my fault)

After the scope was Supercharged:
1.  I did 32 GOTO's with a high power eyepiece (13.8mm) - the first 20
were exactly in the middle and the rest were in the FOV.
2. Response was instant at any speed
3. I had one motor drive failure - but I am convinced that it was
because I obstructed the movement of the OTA during a slew (completely
by accident, I had an eyepiece case laying under the OTA - what a dope I
4. rebounding - which I think is an Autostar issue - is almost gone - it
is hardly noticeable.
5. lens is nice and clean as were all of the eyepieces I sent with

The scope sounds different - a little quieter and no changes in pitch
(the pitch used to go up and down while slewing, even using an external
power supply).  It is much steadier: it does not shake near as bad when
focusing, and when it is disturbed - the oscillations dampen faster!! 
The views of the sun have no stray light now - not sure what he did -
but that is fixed now!!  I assumed that was a problem with most scopes -
a friend has a Celestron and a Starmax and they both have a little stray
light when using outdoors during the day.

The attention to detail is evident: The scope is clean, the alignment
marks are painted (you can really see them in the dark now), The
autostar's guided tours are much more useful now for a 5" scope, the
autostar cable had a sloppy termination on one end - now that's fixed.

I am sure when I can "marathon" my scope I will have more good things to
say. Besides the actual work to the scope, the experience with Clay was
also very positive.  He defined professionalism in my opinion.  There
was no time I was concerned sending my scope to a stranger.  I
especially appreciated the email updates during the Supercharging
process.  My scope was back several days ahead of schedule also - I wish
he worked on cars!!!

Please pass along my comments to the web site - it was well worth the
$195 I paid.

Clear skies...

Hank Blackwood
Dalton, GA
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Wonderful!  And thanks for the fantastic comments.  It truly was a
"reborn" scope!  Glad it is operating well for you.....keep posting, no
matter WHAT address you send in from!


Subject:	ETX90
Sent:	Thursday, July 4, 2002 22:39:58
From: (Dennis Carrier)
I own 10 LX200 but I am looking for something smaller that I can carry
with me on vactions. I have been looking at the ETX90 because it is very
portable.  After reading much literature, I cannot determine if you need
the Autostar controller for tracking.  It seems to imply that in the
literature on the Meade site. All I need to do is be able to align in
alt-az and track.  Im sure you know the answer.
Mike here: The Autostar is optional on the ETX-90EC. The ETX-90EC (and -105 and -125) will track using the standard handcontroller when equatorially mounted. However, to track when mounted Alt/Az you will need the Autostar.

Subject:	ETX-125EC
Sent:	Tuesday, July 2, 2002 7:57:26
From: (Vincent Kee)
I am thinking of buying a 2nd hand ETX-125EC all the way from Singapore,
and as you know, because of the distance, it would be best for me to get
it "right the first time". Hence, I would like to ask for your opinion
on what should I look out for or if there is anything I should ask the
previous owner before I buy the scope.

Also, can this scope be collimated? My greatest fear is a scope that
cannot be collimated. If it can be done, would it be difficult to do so

Thanks for your time

Mike here: As with any used telescope purchase, it is always best know the seller or at least have a chance to actually use the telescope prior to the purchase. Since the ETX-125 can not be easily collimated by the user and can suffer other damages that would require factory repair, you need to way the cost of the purchase plus repairs with the cost of a new telescope.
Subject:	wedge
Sent:	Monday, July 1, 2002 14:21:55
From: (Gary crisp)
I am after a wedge to fit on to my pier and thought u might be the right
person to ask I was wondering about the micro wedge and could this be
fitted to a pier?



Subject:	re: starrynight backyard
Sent:	Sunday, June 30, 2002 21:55:37
From: (Richard Seymour)
You asked:
> if there was a web site that could convert the hipparcos or the
> tycho or the bayer numbers into the NGC numbers.
> I can't seem to find anything.

That's because (on the whole) they're not the same things!
Hipparcos and Tycho (H+T) measure the positions and distances to
individual -stars-, whereas the NGC (and IC) system numbers
faint, fuzzy and frequently distant objects.  Such as Galaxies.

Some of the H+T stars may lie -in- some NGC-numbered cluster,
(i would guess that some lie within the Orion Nebula), but 
there is not a one-for-one correspondence between the H+T
numbers and NGC objects.

And (again guessing), i would doubt that -any- Bayer numbers
correspond to an NGC object (or let's say "fewer than five
in the northern hemisphere")

have fun
--dick (<-- stepping far outside his realm of expertise)
From: (Richard Seymour)
Brian "" wrote:

> You hit right on the head. I asked a few other web sites and the data
> bases they refereed me to were very extensive and did not correspond
> to the same things. I think I will buy software that gives NGC
> numbers. Does the meade software correspond to what the ETX 125 might
> be able to see or is it for all of there telescopes? Or what software
> would you recommend that compliments the ETX 125 the best.  Thanks

Answering the last first, i haven't played with enough versions of
the various "planetarium" programs to give an exhaustive answer,
and each has some strong point which may overrule the features of
the others, for yuor -particular- purposes.
Read through Mike's Astronomy Software pages:
and the lower right zone of his "Links" page:
for reviews and such.  

Leading contenders are "Cartes du Ciel" (free!),
StarryNight Pro (can't backyard take additional libraries?),
TheSky, DeepSky2002, Voyager, RedShift.
Most, if not all, provide time- or feature-limited trial versions
for trying out.

The Autostar's NGC catalog is fairly extensive  (is it complete? i
forget)... and extends to objects far beyond the ETX125's grasp.
(far beyond the 12" LX200's grasp, too, except maybe during hour-long
photo runs)
The Autostar's BROWSE feature lets you set a minimum brightness it
should tell you about, so you can scan the NGC catalog that way.
It will only suggest objects that are above the horizon.
A companion program or book with the NGC catalog would provide
additional background information ... i'd certainly start with
Cartes du Ciel as a basis..
It, like starry night, has the ability to put photographs into the
screen views, and the catalogs it accepts:
(visit that page... really) include the NGC and literally
millions of other objects....

have fun

Subject:	UHTC
Sent:	Sunday, June 30, 2002 20:39:30
From: (neil minihane)
Great site! I finally got my new ETX 125 w/UHTC yesterday! I have a
question maybe you or any of my fellow readers can help me with. The
only markings on the entire scope and packaging that indicate the
special UHTC coatings are a little sticker on the OTA saying UHTC and a
handwritten magic marker UTHC on the outer packing box. The lens rings
have no special markings, all it says is Multi Coated Optics on the
front lens area where the focal length is also listed. I just wanted to
make sure that I got the special coating after all the waiting and
additional expense. A little sticker alone on the underside of the OTA
does very little to convince me. Thanks for all you info over the years
and all your hard work...Neil
Mike here: I suspect you are OK with the sticker on the OTA.

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