Last updated: 31 March 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:	Phil Hauck's Question
Sent:	Sunday, March 31, 2002 13:51:59
From: (George Hauck)
I recently purchased a Meade 125 ETC Astro scope, after hemming and
hawing about that model or the 200-7" model. I figured that what I gave
up in light gathering power would be off-set by the portability. Out of
the box, I can honestly say I have had no problems. If anything, I fell
in love with the overall performance....I was staring at Saturn on
Christmas eve at 12:00 a.m . at 30 F with a ten mile an hour wind!

What would you recommend for the absolute magnifications and lenses to
use? I know this changes with viewing conditions, but there is only so
much mag you can get out of an image before you get no return! I know
Meade says you can get 500X on a  good day with the 6.4 and a barlow,
but that is really pushing it to the max! Astronomics gives a lower
working value.

Just as an aside, I started in astronomy when I was 12 years
parents got me a $99.99 Tasco refractor with the mighty barlow lens, but
all  kidding aside, I  got pretty good at finding some of the larger
Messier objects and planets.  You can only imagine how I flipped when I
looked through the 125 ETC at M 42 in Orion! (But I still want the LX200
12"..I'm saving my pennies now!)
    Phil Hauck, proud 125ETC Owner
Mike here: Keep in mind that the theoretical max magnification for any telescope is twice its aperture in millimeters (or 250X for the ETX-125EC). And as you get closer to that value the image quality deteriorates (gets fuzzier and dimmer). So, with that in mind, consider what focal length eyepiece (or eyepiece + Barlow Lens) will keep you under that (7.6mm yields 250X with the ETX-125EC). I still use the Meade 9.7mm but it has a short eye relief; and I've even doubled that under ideal conditions. See the Buyer/New User Tips page and the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces for more on eyepieces.
Subject:	ETX 125 Hardstop question
Sent:	Friday, March 29, 2002 20:20:41
I just purchased an ETX 125 new (discovery store).   In setting it up
and aligning it,  it seems that the telescope has an extremely limited
range of motion horizontally.  With the horizontal lock disengaged, 
when I move it from the left hard stop to the right hardstop,  I can
only rotate it perhaps 50 degrees.  In fact,  as I read the "home
position alignment" description in the manual,  I move the telescope
counterclockwise to the first stop, but when I move it back I can't even
move it far enough to get the (right) fork over the computer control

Am I missing something?  The manual mentions a 630 degree rotation
limit, but my sense is that something is stuck.    I do hear some sort
of "thud" when I reach each hardstop, and there is a sense that it's
connecting with something, not just a spot with some friction. I tried a
little manual pressure on the stops to see if it would move through, and
it didn't. I obviously didn't want to force it.

What's "normal" for the ETX 125?  Thanks!
Mike here: Yes, there should be way more rotation from hard stop to hard stop. Someone reported something similar and I think it was something jammed inside the base. I would suggest returning it to the Discovery Store (show them the problem). According to reports, they are good about exchanges.


Thanks for the feedback. I checked with a local discovery store and they
said there would be no problem returning it.  So far, they have been
good to work with.

I really appreciate your reply, and the wonderful site you maintain. 
Excellent info!!!

Subject:	ETX -- what else?
Sent:	Friday, March 29, 2002 16:40:56
From: (James H. Harper)
Mike -- I'm not very patiently awaiting my copy of your book.  I ordered
it and several other (totally unrelated) titles from Amazon through your
site to get you that extra 2 cents.  All the other stuff has gotten
here, but no Weasner book.  I sure hope it answers all my questions,
like Where did I stick that ETX-60 last year when I got so PO'd at it?
I've now read so many statements about the Meade being a prize piece
o'crap, I need your book to releive my fears.  I'm sure it's all my
fault, my instrument is fine, I don't need a new Celestron.
    Jim in Western Washington
Mike here: Today I noticed that is quoting 2-3 days. Hope they mean it this time.
Subject:	Motor Problem
Sent:	Thursday, March 28, 2002 18:30:52
From: (Thomas Ranson)
I'm hope this is a very stupid problem but my Dad has just brought a
Meade EXT125EC and as we were setting it up I was playing about with the
motor controller. The horizontal and vertical motors both worked untill
I rapidlly reversed direction at full speed on the horizontal motor. At
this point the horizontal motor stopped working although the vertical
motor is fine. I hope I haven't done anything stupid, but I'm it seems
odd for the motor to just pack in so soon.
Tom Ranson, UK 
Mike here: Obviously that should not hurt the drive. I presume you were doing this with the standard controller and not the Autostar. Did the drive start to move? Is the horizontal lock too tight? Will it move left or right at all?


In response to your questions. We were only using the standard
controller (we had only just removed the telescope from the box and were
following Meades instructions). The telescope did slew horizontally at
first then stopped, as I said, after this the motor faled to even make a
sound when asked to move horizontally. This morning while looking at the
frequently asked questions on your site I noticed the one about the
horizontal lock being too stiff to push far enough clockwise to engage
the motor drive. I followed the instructions and tried to give the lock
a further distance to move in order to cause motor engagement but this
failed and now the lock will not pass the middle of its well. With the
lock off the scope will freely move left and right manually.
Thankyou in advance for your time,
Tom Ranson
Mike here: Perhaps the axis lock was overtightened? But since the scope is new perhaps you can take it back to the dealer for an exchange.


The scope was brought in New York while my Dad was out there, we live in
the north of England so an exchange might be quite time consuming. I'm
sure the problem must be a simple one since the horizontal motor was
working originally, would tightening the lock too much cause a
disengagement. I've read a lot of the messages on your site talking
about opening up the base and fiddling with the gears in relation to
motor failure (these all concerned Autostar however), would this reveal
any immediate problems or is the fact that the motor is not even
starting indicative of something more serious. I must say that I am very
impressed with your site and I hope my persistance isn't too annoying.
Mike here: Glad to help. And yes you might be able to see the source of the problem if you open up the base. And yes, overtightening the axis can cause damage which may or may not be easy to correct. However, one last thing to try before you decide to open things up. Fully unlock the axis and rotate the telescope horizontally from hard stop to hard stop several times. That will distribute the grease better and if there is "clump" the movement might break it up.
Subject:	questions
Sent:	Thursday, March 28, 2002 13:08:15
From: (Robert Smerdon)
just a couple more questions for you. 

#1 Do you or does anyone know a way to mount a polar finder scope to the
ETX? I'm quite tried of hit and miss alignment. would like to get it
right every time!

#2 On the DEC lock down knob. Does any body know of a fix that doesn't
require machining. it happened last night, I was setting up and turned
the knob to far. it still locks but it just keeps on spinning after its
locked and I know its just a matter of time before it doesn't lock at

#3 I have been saving money to upgrade to a bigger scope. and I notice
in the tech tips section that you guys refer to the ETX and the LX90.
Does the LX90 have the same mechanical problems as the ETX or is it just
the autostar issues that are the same?

as always you are doing a great job with the site and when I upgrade to
a bigger scope I will miss all the advice that you give. I'm not sure
which scope I will be getting. it will be either the LX90 or if I save a
little more a LX200 8"GPS, or if I save a little more and have yard sale
I can go for the LX200GPS 10". In any case I must sell the 125 in order
to upgrade. its been a good scope over the past year that I've had it.
Mike here: JMI has (or had) an ETX polar alignment scope. Check there. As to the DEC lock, there are several tips on the Telescope Tech Tips page as well as the Scopetronix tune-ups page that can help. The LX90 is a great scope, optically, mechanically, and Autostar-ly. Lies between the ETX and LX200 line.
Subject:	UPGRADE TIME!!!!!!
Sent:	Thursday, March 28, 2002 12:08:12
From: (David A Tinney)
i have been using your site now for some time posting messages getting
info and otherthings. dont know if you remember but im the guy who got
the etx60at for christmas and been having a wonderful time using
it.....i have a question for you. you dont have to post it if you dont
want to. im thinking of upgrading getting a better scope to see
more.......any suggestions.....i would like to stick with meade while
doing it......what model do you suggest.....dont know what im gonna
spend yet but know it will be more than what the 60 and 70at
cost.......any ideas pleae reply thanks......dave
Mike here: Glad you are enjoying the ETX-60AT. If you want to upgrade there are a lot of choices but you need to decide WHAT you want to do. Do you just want to see more details in planets, deep sky objects, do astrophotography? What about portability? Once you know your requirements you can decide whether a larger ETX model will be sufficient or whether you want to move up to LX90 or LX200, or go to the LXD series or DS series. Yes, I know, decisions, decisions, decisions...


thanks mike for your input and yes i really have to decide how far i
want to go. im enjoying looking at the planets and im still kind of
getting more things i need for the etx60. i have to get a tripod and
will like to get another eyepiece...perhaps a 5 or 4 using
a barlow now with the ma9mm which brings my mag up to
great.....with a 5mm i can get up to around 100x or so......maybe ill
hold off on the new scope and just upgrade this one. when i got the 60
for christmas it just came that way no tripod so im gonna get
that...maybe some filters because i notice when i look at the moon
theres alot of glare.....details great! at 78x but really bright and
saturn looks good maybe ill just get what i need to
compleate the package with the 60at........thanks again mike and as
always your site is awsum!!!!!...see ya later   dave

Subject:	UHTC
Sent:	Wednesday, March 27, 2002 18:21:02
Just a heads up to you and anyone out there thinking on purchasing an
ETX in the near further.  I have been looking to purchase an ETX-125
checking all the features figuring out which tripod, barlow, etc., to
purchase. The other day I went back to Meade's web site and they are
offering a new coating on their optics that will be available for the
125 in one to two months.  They are claiming that this "Ultra-High
Transmission Coating" improves the light gathering properties 20%.  If
this $95 improvement is what they say it is I plan to wait. If you could
tell me if this is just snake oil or a real improvement I would
appreciate it.   Meade Instruments Corporation - Meade® Ultra-High
Transmission Coatings (UHTC) Group
Thanks for the great site it has helped guide me in my up coming
Mike here: I posted this announcement from Meade on 19 March but I have no experience with using a telescope with the new coating. However, coatings WILL make a difference on light transmission through the optics. That's why high quality lenses have coatings. Will you NOTICE the difference with your eye? Maybe, maybe not. Depends upon a lot of factors INCLUDING the experience of the viewer.
Subject:	ETX Tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, March 27, 2002 12:22:20
From: (Filippo Bradaschia)
I've a question for you. I've an ETX-90EC and a Nikon Coolpix 885. I use
a small tripod. I've noted some vibration when I take a photo with my
digicam so photos aren't so good! Do you think I should buy the #884
Meade tripod to reduce vibrations?

Thank you Filippo Bradaschia
Mike here: The less sturdy the tripod the more you'll see vibrations. You can improve things by adding weight to the tripod but that may or may not be sufficient. As to whether you should get a heavier duty tripod, that is up to you.
Subject:	Re: The ETX Book
Sent:	Tuesday, March 26, 2002 11:32:10
I received an update from in case anyone else is asking. 
They expect to receive their shipment in April and will turn all orders
around as quickly as possible.  They do agree that December 24 is an
incorrect shipping date.
Don Ratliff 

Subject:	Telescope ware house
Sent:	Tuesday, March 26, 2002 9:09:37
From: (Shekhar Athavale)
I do not know if this warehouse is in vegas or not. But I bought a
barlow from this gentleman and his dealings are square and fare.

William Vorce (


Subject:	The ETX Book
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 20:10:17
I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the ETX Book from 
However, tonight I checked the status of my order and the estimated
delivery date is December 24.  Are they joking or just making a serious
mistake?  I did read the notes about the popularity of the book and the
back orders.  But, delivery of December 24 is really bad news.  I will
contact to let them know a delivery date of December 24 is
not acceptable.
Don Ratliff   
Mike here: I suspect that is just a guess on their part since they really don't know how soon or late they will actually receive their allotment. Unfortunately, Amazon has no control over it. Neither do I.
Subject:	ETX90 Focuser
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 20:05:13
From: (Scott Sinclair)
You wouldn't know anything about the pinouts for the ETX electric
focuser would you?

I'm thinking of getting one, but if you can build your own (needs to
work through the 497 by software) I think I'd rather do that...


Subject:	scope question
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 11:01:17
From: (Robert G. Van den Heuvel)
Is it worth purchasing an ETX-EC/Autostar base for my ETX-RA (and I
guess a tripod) or buying a used DS90EC w/Autostar for $275 from a guy
down the street. I need a planetary scope for use in the city, but I
want Autostar. I don't mind having 2 scopes, one portable and one not so


Robert Van den Heuvel
Mike here: If you mean should you buy a used EC base (and presumably the telescope too), then that is your choice. There is no upgrade from the RA model. You could trade it in though on a new model at some dealers. So maybe you will want a DS or other ETX model.


How about selling my RA model and getting an EC with Autostar.

But with RA models going new for $199 now on clearance, it's hardly
worth it... I'd fetch $200 with my hardcase, probably.

Right now I am using a fluid head tripod and it works reasonably well.
Mike here: Selling or trading in are options.


OK, the clincher. Do you think that under 5", the ETX is really the best
portable/easy to use scope? I want high contrast, field of view is less
important, I can always buy a wide field adaptor.

I am considering a 6" dob, but I get out to the desert so seldom, and
the ETX is always handy.... and an AstroScan would only have the power
of a set of binoculars or worse. I observed a moon shadow on Jupiter the
other night, using a camera tripod-mounted ETX-90RA!
Mike here: Cassegrain-Maksutov designs are usually good planetary scopes due to the contrast they provide. Certainly, the ETX can do some neat things, as evidenced by many of the comments and photos on the ETX Site. However, be certain that your expectations live up to the reality; it is still a small telescope.
Subject:	ETX Website
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 8:13:45
From: (John Clavis)
Thank you, thank you for the ETX Website! I am helping a friend learn to
use his new ETX-70AT (he's not good with gadgets!), and your website has
been invaluable in this process, from your first impressions of the 70AT
when you took it out of the box, to the reviews of accessories, to the
feedback and visitor comments. It's a great site, and it really
exemplifies what the 'Net is all about: leveling the playing field, and
making information available to all. Thanks again, and keep up the great


John Clavis

If you think self-help books are a joke, check out

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." - Benjamin Franklin

"Life is like a sofa -- change must come from within." - ego

Subject:	Your ETX page
Sent:	Monday, March 25, 2002 7:51:37
From: (Kevin Muenzler, WB5RUE)
My son and I were browsing your ETX pages and we have a question about
your main page, the one with you next to the scope.  Is that scope
actually that size?  I didn't know that Meade made an ETX that big.


Kevin and Paul Muenzler
29 14'32"N 98 14'56"W
Mike here: There are not too many eyepieces available that are that large either! See the Site Guide for a little more on the image.
Subject:	ETX Wide-field Adapter
Sent:	Sunday, March 24, 2002 20:53:36
From: (Anthony Spina)
I recently purchased the deluxe Wide-Field Adapter and visual back from
Shutan. My initial impression is that it looks like it will have to be
used in Polar mode. In AltAz it looks like observations above 35 Degrees
off the horizon will hit the base on my ETX125.

As for the visual back adapter, I was hoping to keep it on all times
however the scope can't be laid flat in its case with it on. Oh well.

If you would be so kind to share what your experience has been with the
wide-field adapter I would be very appreciative
Mike here: I have used the WFA in both mounting modes but like with some accessories, it can't be used in all positions in Alt/Az mode.


Curious, I did not think of puting the WFA in the top. Did you put it on
a right angle? Was the image qualitly the same?
Mike here: As I recall I did try it there but ended up leaving it on the rear port. No change in image quality should occur with the different positions.
Subject:	Leveling a ETX 70
Sent:	Sunday, March 24, 2002 18:29:10
From: (The Pucketts)
I need some help leveling my ETX-70AT, I accidentally loosened the knob
on the (left side as you are behind it) side that sets the level for the
70. What's the best way to set it to keep the orientation working right?
Tommy Puckett
Mike here: See the FAQ for info on how to readjust the scale.
Sent:	Saturday, March 23, 2002 15:43:23
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hello to all....
I have just had an incredibly interesting phone conversation with a
trustworthy telephone company employee who spotted a most unusually
bright DAYLIGHT bolide precisely at 2:34 p.m. CST from northern
Arkansas.  Please bear with me on this one....I know that bright meteor
reports are very common, but this one bears attempting to locate others
who might have seen are the particulars:

TIME: 20:34 U.T.
Location of observation:  (approx):
    Latitude 35d 40m
    Longitude 92d 30m  (south of Mountain Home, AR)

Location of object -
    First seen - 10 degrees SSE of overhead
    Last seen - 14 degrees SSE of overhead (disappeared
                 behind distant mountain.

Trajectory assumed from report:
    Start:  RA 03h 22m / DEC +25deg 15'
    To:  RA 04h 17m / DEC -33deg 30'

    estimated no more than 3 seconds

    "....not as bright as the sun, but bright enough to flash in my
     eyes like a camera flash going off and staying that way!"

    Bright like a welder's torch, not dimming at all through the
    duration of flight.  NO breaking apart, separation nor skewing seen
    at all.  NO color other than "pure white", very smoky train, but gray, brown, red or other color.  About the diameter the
    moon appears in the sky at the head. NO sound, no concussion.
I personally know this gentleman as a man of acute observation and
integrity; he was of the impression that some "space junk" might have
been scheduled to fall at this time and called the observatory to

My lists and a quick search just now revealed nothing scheduled of that
proportion to be coming in at this time.  An aircraft was ruled out
through FAA and also from the lack of smoke or any coloration to the

This object would have originated near the position of the Pleiades or
Hyades and possibly could be a late interloper from one of the Taurid

I am sending this out in case any of you are contacted with similar
reports from the south U.S. or the Southeastern U.S.  I have seen many
fireballs but nothing to rival this description of a daytime occurrence.

Any input is greatly appreciated!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	telescope warehouse?
Sent:	Friday, March 22, 2002 20:07:10
From: (Terry Spirito)
Could you please give me the phone or the address oft telescope
warehouse in las vegas

Subject:	Case for etx90
Sent:	Friday, March 22, 2002 10:09:28
From: (Edward)
Hello!  Love your site (just bought an etx90 astro M).  Found a case (
that looks like the meade product for less.  I ordered one but havent
got it yet.  Keep up the good work.

Subject:	Comet Ikeya-Zhang , ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, March 21, 2002 21:22:53
Howdy from Texas

Mar. 21, 2002, took my ETX-125 out to my favorite dark sky location to
get a look at Comet Ikeya-Zhang. Wow! she was wonderful. A nice fuzzy
ball with a long white vaporous tail. I used my 40 mm Sirius Plossl
eyepiece first then used a 2x barlow next. Both views were enriching
however, the view with just the 40 mm was most impressive.

The moon was high in the night sky and very bright so I did not have a
good naked eye view, but in binoculars (16 x 50) the view was quite nice
and in my 10 inch DOB with my 54 mm 2" eyepiece, wow!!

My viewing location is located approximately 16 miles due west of San
Antonio, Tex. at 29'N. the comet was observed from 7 PM to 8:30 PM. It
was about 12 degrees above the horizon. Had to cut the viewing short,
high winds began and ended my night but tomorrow I'll try again.

Clear Skies and Bright Comets
Mike in Texas

Subject:	ETX-90 RA
Sent:	Thursday, March 21, 2002 11:59:55
From: (Donald Duck)
i want to buy a used ETX-90 RA and im searching for meanings about it.
Can you tell me something about it, if it`s a good teleskop or if its ab
bad teleskop.

Maybe you can say what is a fair price for it,
Thank you very mutch.

Bye roman
Mike here: See the Dealer Specials page on my ETX Site for prices. The specifications are on the Buyer/New User Tips page. And the telescope is good or not good for you depending upon what you want to do with it and your expectations. So, decide upon those before you decide on a telescope.
Subject:	Celestron 2x Barlow + ETX-90
Sent:	Thursday, March 21, 2002 10:49:56
From: (Gerald Plotkin)
I recently acquired an ETX-90EC. Prior to its purchase I had purchased a
Celestron top-of-the-line 2x Barlow which has quite a long tube. Does
anyone have experience with this model? Should I expect that it will
work, or will I run into focusing problems? I've tried using it, but may
not be doing so in the most effective manner.

My question stems from the fact that Meade sells a "shorty" 2x Barlow,
whereas the Celestron is significantly longer. Is this the wrong Barlow
for the ETX-90? Or does it make any difference at all?


Jerry Plotkin
Mike here: Long Barlow Lenses may not work with the ETX as the focal plane may not be reachable with the Barlow.
Subject:	Re: Electronic Focus
Sent:	Wednesday, March 20, 2002 16:12:24
From: (Parisi Family)
To: (David Adriance)
David, yes I do leave it connected.  And thanx; I've gotten similar
comments on leaving the focuser connected.  I'm not sure why that
happens, but I now leave it unplugged when I'm not using it.


Subject:	Greetings
Sent:	Wednesday, March 20, 2002 9:25:24
From: (Steve Brightman)
Hello Mike, it's been a while seen we spoke. Sadly it's been a long time
since I did any observing either. However I have been doing some serious
tuneup on the 125 so hopefully I'll be looking skywards again soon.

Just paid a visit to the Mighty ETX site and offer this comment on your
reply to the guy who was asking about Barlows and eyeglass wearers. What
you didn't mention, probably because it's obvious to you but maybe not
to him, is that the Barlow is a real boon to eyeglass wearers. You
mentioned the small eye relief of your 9.7mm lens, but of course he
could achieve the same mag with a 19.4mm lens and a 2x Barlow, and gain
the extra eye relief of the 19.4mm lens.

Anyway, keep up the great work, must get back to the site and catch up
some more.

Subject:	AstroMac List?
Sent:	Wednesday, March 20, 2002 9:24:03
From: (Steve Mattan)
Thank you for a wonderfully useful site.

Toward the bottom of the main page the is a link for "AstroMac: A secure
mailing list for Mac-using amateur and pro astronomers". How does one
join this list? Clicking the link takes one to Topica, but after signing
up I was unable to find this list. Does it still exist?


Steve M
Mike here: The list is a mailing list. So once you sign up you should start receiving email that is addressed to the group. I didn't start the List but thought I'd post the link for it.


Thanks for the reply. I understand the list is a mailing list. My
question is how do I sign up?

When I click the link I am taken to the Topica web site. After I signed
up with Topica I searched the Topica database of of mailing lists to
sign up for the AstroMac list. I could not find it. Now when I click the
link for the AstroMac list on your site I get a web page with the
message, "You are not subscribed to this list." With no indication of
how I can become subscribed.

So, do you know how I can sign up for this list?

Thanks for your time,

Steve M
Mike here: I forwarded the message to the List creator.
Subject:	Declination Lock
Sent:	Wednesday, March 20, 2002 6:01:45
From: (Mike Francis)
Help! My 3 1/2 month old 125Etx seems to have a stripped declination
lock. On tightening it the other day,it turned a little too far and now
it won't "unlock". the declination axis is locked,I can slew up and down
and the knob on the fork moves when I move the OTA. The knob turns, but
not freely. It will go with equal stiffness in either clockwise or
counterclockwise but won't unlock the Dec. axis. I searched your site
and found one similar problem by a j pedicini back in Oct. 27, 2000 but
am not sure if the problem is identical. The knob does rotate when I
move the OTA up & down, But even if I hold the OTA I can't unlock the
Declination gearing. I have the "old" model 125ETX. I'm hoping I don't
have to send the whole thing back to Meade. It was purchased at The
Discovery store in Southfield, MI.
And from our resident hardware expert:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
This is clearly a case where the small protruding threaded rod which
holds the locking knob onto the fork trunion has stripped completely out
of the knob inside....this is a very difficult thing to remove once this really stand a danger of breaking the OTA right support
arm, the fork arm itself, or the hard stops inside the fork.

You must hold the OTA assembly with one hand and gently pry under the
fake setting circle with a very large blade screw driver while turning
the knob takes a long time and you MUST go slow
or you will break something inside....but it will eventually come off.

Call Meade and tell them what happened and order a right
knob/declination axis lock knob for your scope.....they will be happy to
send you one!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Vibration-Reduction Pads
Sent:	Tuesday, March 19, 2002 21:06:32
Your reader who inquired about those little pads that go under tripod
legs are available from Meade and are listed at:

They help isolate ground vibration and help tripod/scope settle down
quicker. They can be used with any make of tripod/telescope. We even
have customers who use them to isolate microphone stands in professional
recording studios.

Take care,

Bob Shutan
Shutan Camera & Video

Subject:	re: Strange electrical prob with auto focuser
Sent:	Tuesday, March 19, 2002 23:45:18
From: (Richard Seymour)
From your descriptions, it sure sounds like the power connector is
causing problems with the AUX lines which run by/under it on the small
circuit card located at that panel.

You can -reach- that panel by removing the base cover plate (the three
screws are hiding under the stick-on rubber feet).

That panel is connected to the -rest- of the scope by push-on
connectors... a call to Meade describing the problem might induce them
to send a replacement panel you can drop in.

It's possible that the battery leads are -soldered- to that panel (i
have an ETX90, not a 125).  If you (or a friend) are adept at simple
soldering, it's an easy fix.

Simple (intense) visual inspection of the panel itself might find a
scrap of wire or something casuing the problem.

**before you unplug the internal connectors: TAKE GOOD NOTES about how
they're plugged in... the Alt and Az connectors are exactly the same,
and easy to mix up.  Note the color orientation, too... getting -that-
wrong fries telescopes!

otherwise, have fun

Subject:	Focus Shift
Sent:	Tuesday, March 19, 2002 16:32:42
From: (Robert Allison)
I checked out to see about the focus shift as I was messing with the
percentages.  If I turn the focus clockwise the object moves left in the
EP from center...if I turn it counter-clockwise it moves right.   Using
the 26mm EP that came with it, it  doesn't move out of the FOV.   I
found a BB someone had shot in a telephone pole, so I changed over to a
9.7mm EP.  Turning the focus clockwise the BB moves and almost hits the
edge of the FOV.  Turning it counter-clockwise it doesn't hit the edge,
but still moves a lot from center.  I can move my head and still see it
fine, but it shifts a lot.  I'd say this is where I had the centering
problem the other night and not so much the Autostar.

So it shouldn't move at all? 

Mike here: Cassegrain-Maksutov designs will have some image shifting while moving from one side of infocus to the other. This is normal. However, it should not be excessive and yours sounds excessive. Contact your dealer or Meade.
Subject:	Re: power supply
Sent:	Tuesday, March 19, 2002 11:05:20
I saw your post on Mike Weasner's ETX web site about your power supply
from target.  I have a similar one from Costco.  I was wondering where
you got the 3 outlet cigarette lighter strip.

Thanks in Advance,
Mike Hadley

Subject:	Strange electrical prob with auto focuser
Sent:	Monday, March 18, 2002 11:53:13
From: (John MacAulay)
I seem to come up with the strangest problems with my ETX90EC.

I recently purchased and installed the 1244 Meade electric focuser,
paying close attention to the details as contained in your tech tips.

The focuser works great and is a fabulous addition to avoid the shakes
during focusing, however with 1 small problem I can't trace.Whenever I
plug the scope into an external source, and I've tried them all, the
focuser works very intermittently, or not at all. I tried changing
cords, plugging into an  AC source, plugging into a 12v battery pack
etc. All make the focuser start and stop wildly, or not start at all.
Unplug the external source, restart the scope on it's own batteries and
everything is fine.

I had hoped to be able to use an external power source but now this
looks like it will be a trade off to be able to and I like the focuser
too much to give it up.

Any suggestions?


John MacAulay
Nova Scotia, Canada
Mike here: That is odd. If you have the Autostar, does it behave under external power?


I do have the autostar and the problem is the same with both the
standard controller and the autostar. Oddly enough, the slewing motors
continue to function perfectly regardless of what I have the scope
plugged into. Only the focuser stops working when I try an external
power source, or works intermittently. I wonder if the problem can be in
the area where the jack is for the external power to plug into. I still
haven't gotten to the point where I have been able to use the go to
capabilities of the Autostar, mostly because I'm waiting for a tripod to
arrive and a little warmer weather.
Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
Mike here: At this point I'd suggest exchanging the focuser for another one. Also, try it at the store if you can.


Thanks, I'd like to do that, but since I purchased the focuser on E-bay,
I guess I can't. Something I'll have to live with, I guess. If I can
find anyone else around here with a 90, perhaps I can try it out on
there scope to see if it behaves the same way.
Thanks for your help, love your site!

John MacAulay
Lake Echo, Nova Scotia

Subject:	Question:  Meade ETX-125EC
Sent:	Monday, March 18, 2002 11:27:15
From: (S. Reiss)
Just found your site today.  Never imagined I would find such a wealth
of information in one place.  Thanks for that!  I am totally new to the
astronomy field.  My 4-year old son has shown great interest in
outer-space and planets.  In fact, his bedroom was recently converted
from a train to a space and planets theme.  I've always wanted to
purchase a telescope, but never seriously pursued it until recently.  I
decided to add to my sons (and mine!) interest and purchased the ETX
125EC.   However, I am a bit confused about a few things.  First of all,
I purchased my scope through the Discovery Store.  The clerk there
seemed very knowledgeable about the scopes he had to sell.  I chose the
ETX 125EC because of its high rated max power (500), and it stayed
within the budget I set for myself.  This leads to the first question. 
The scope came with a 26mm eyepiece which, as I understand, is rated at
48x.  How does this relate to the scopes maximum power of 500? With that
said, what eyepiece would need to be purchased to come as close as
possible to the scopes max power?  I understand the 2x Barlow will help,
but what else could I possibly do?  I would hate to know that I
purchased a scope that says it has a max rating of 500, but in order to
achieve the max you need to purchase a multitude of accessories and

Please forgive me if this question makes me sound as though I am a
complete idiot, but I don't quite understand how the eyepieces relate to
the telescopes max ratings.  For example, I believe the ETX-90 comes
with the same eyepiece, but has a significantly lower max power rating
than the ETX-125.  Please explain the correlation between the two to
this wet-behind-the-ears greenhorn.  Thanks!
Mike here: Don't worry about the questions. Everyone has to learn somehow. First off, the ETX-125EC can do 500X but only under the best of conditions. For any telescope, the theoretical maximum magnification is typically twice the aperture in millimeters, or 250X for the ETX-125EC. Check the FAQ page for this formula and how to calculate magnification for any eyepiece and telescope combination. When you do you'll discover that the included 26mm eyepiece yields 73X on the -125 (it yields 48X on the ETX-90).


Thank you for the quick reply.  I'll do just as you advise and check the
FAQ section.

Subject:	Meade ETX90EC prices
Sent:	Monday, March 18, 2002 9:02:41
From: (Robert Wrobel)
Found your website while searching for info on Meade scopes. Been away
from amateur astronomy for about 25 years but I love to get back into it
and share it with my 2 daughters ages 9 and 11. I had an old 6"
reflector made by Criterion back around 1968. Don't know if they are
still around??. Would like to know where I can get the best price for a
90EC?. It seems like I can't find anything less than around 475-495
dollars. Is this about the cheapest they run ??Thanks a million for any
info. Going to western Puerto Rico on vacation in 1 week and planning on
visiting Arecibo Radio Observatory while there !!!. Can't wait. Watched
"Contact" with my girls the other night on T.V.(great timing)and I can't
believe it but they really LOVED that movie.

Bob Wrobel 
Pt. Pleasant, NJ
Mike here: There is very little price discounting on ETX telescopes. Demand is still pretty high apparently. However, there are the occasional sales (bundling with other items usually). You can check various online and local stores. Also, you can watch the "Dealer Specials" page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	Re: ETX Starcharts
Sent:	Monday, March 18, 2002 4:39:17
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Richard
I am, indeed, working on southern hemisphere sky charts for use with the
ETX and new LX 200 GPS telescopes.

You are absolutely correct that the GIF format would be the preferred
format for these and rest assured that the new files will be in that

Thanks for the kind comments and excellent suggestions!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Richard

  Thank you for the fine starcharts for ETX alignment, which I found at ETX page. I just downloaded them and I'm sure they
  will be a big help for me (just got my first scope)!

  The page mentioned that you were working on more charts for southern
  skies. While I have no interest in them (I live in Denmark at 56N
  12E), I would like to suggest that another file-format than JPEG might
  be worthwhile. JPEG is a file-format conceived for photos, and is not
  capable of very sharp transitions - in fact it derives its compression
  from removing sharp transitions (if you are familiar with fourier
  optics, you will appreciate that it works on the fourier transformed
  image, and removes all higher spatial frequencies, and quantifies the
  rest in as few steps as possible - depending on the quality setting).
  This is actually exactly similar to what a scope does when it displays
  airy disks around stars at high magnification. Anyway the result (as
  you will notice on your starcharts) is that a point star will always
  be surrounded by "noise" in an JPEG image (not a perfect airy-disk
  pattern because of low resolution, and because the fourier filtering
  is applied in one direction at a time).

  If you choose a fileformat like GIF or PNG this will not happen, as
  they are lossless. They *might* become larger on disk but *not*
  necessarily. Even though a lossless algorithm should be less
  efficient, they do optimise well for line art/drawings, which a
  starchart should resemble - especially if the background is reduced to
  only one (white) colour. If they are scanned the background might not
  be exactly white everywhere due to scanning noise - but some
  photo-enhancement programs might do it by moving the "whitepoint").
  TIFF is also an option - but care should be taken as the TIFF standard
  incorporates both GIF-like and JPEG-like compression modes.

  Once again I appreciate your charts and the work that went in to them
  a lot! The fileformat issue is actually just a question of appearance
  - but if you are making new one I might as well say it :-)

  Thank you for the help!

      Student at the
      Technical University of Denmark

Subject:	Thank You
Sent:	Sunday, March 17, 2002 18:21:05
From: (Rocco Addeo)
My son found your website...he's interested in getting a scope...Very
impressive pictures...thankx for taking the time..



Subject:	Oops... is my ETX screwed?
Sent:	Saturday, March 16, 2002 14:22:20
From: (William Thomas)
Couldn't find this question addressed on your site, perhaps it is a very
boneheaded thing to do, but when I first got my ETX-90 and was massively
ignorant, I went to try to remove the lens cap and I unscrewed the
entire front assembly.  I screwed it back on gently and tried to make
sure it ended up exactly where it had been, but now I am wondering if my
scope is now misaligned.  Using my 26mm eyepiece I am able to see things
very crisply, even with a barlow, but using my 9.7mm, it is hard to
really get anything very crisp at all with or without the barlow.  Do
you think it's possible that this is being caused at least in part by
the front lens being minutely out of place?  Or am I just seeing the
limits of the scope / atmosphere / etc?  Thanks.
Mike here: I suspect you are OK. As you increase the magnification things will get slightly fuzzier with any telescope. As you get closer and closer to the theoretical maximum magnification for a telescope (twice the aperture in millimeters, or 180X for the ETX-90), it gets more noticeable, especially on dimmer objects like planets.
Subject:	New comet?
Sent:	Saturday, March 16, 2002 11:56:55
From: (Ted Wilbur)
I noticed in Dr. Sherrod's latest SuperCharge update the line: "the two
new comets that will be visible in April and May..." In doing some
on-line research I've only been able to find one with a 2002 designation
(C/2002 C1 Ikeya-Zhang).  BTW I found a nice site that shows "visual"
comets by month for this year

Do you know of the 2nd new comet to which he is referring?
Mike here: Haven't heard specifically of one but haven't looked online for any reports either. I haven't received any report of a new one from the Sky&Telescope mailing list either.

UPDATE: See the Alerts page.

Subject:	re: battery-eating focuser
Sent:	Friday, March 15, 2002 23:05:55
From: (Richard Seymour)
Yes, the focuser eats batteries.... when it's not doing anything.

You can minimize the effect by -unplugging- the focus cable from the
hand control.  The load on the battery drops to nearly zero.

If you have the focuser plugged into the telescope's AUX port so that
the  hand controller or Autostar is controlling it, the problem
completely disappears, since the Telescope's on/off switch kills -all-
of the power.

good luck
From: (David Adriance)
Saw your posting on the Weasner site.  Do you leave the focuser
connected to the scope btw viewings?  I found that battery life was
greatly extended by uncabling the focuser when not in use.  I've had the
same battery in there for a couple of months (btw, I have a ETX125)...


Subject:	re: 4504 photography
Sent:	Friday, March 15, 2002 23:05:27
From: (Richard Seymour)
There's a very active 4504 interest group posting at

Visit their Messages, and Photos area.

have fun

Mike here: The following perspective, counter-perspective, and response have been pending for some time. Here they are in their entirety.

Subject:	Buyer Beware
Sent:	Friday, November 30, 2001 10:11:16
From: (John J. De Salvo)
I purchased a Meade ETX90 from Shutan Shop on 11/27/01. I was following
the assembly instructions and when I turned the Scope over to insert the
batteries I heard something rattle. I took my flashlight and looked into
the eyepiece hole to find the mirror had come loose and was just
tumbling around inside.

I called Shutan and told them of my problem. They were willing to
replace the unit but I was told I would have to bear the burden of the
cost to send the unit back. When I asked if they were going to reimburse
me for the shipping they told me "no that is not our policy". I then
asked them to put themselves in my place and Bob Shutan (I assume one of
the owners) told me "I also shop online and I have had good experiences
and bad experiences". So I asked him if he was telling me this was going
to be a bad experience? His reply was "Our policy is to have you send
the unit back at your expense".

I told him I thought that was a very bad policy to have someone who is
just getting into astronomy and might purchase items from him for years
to come, be treated unfairly. He then told me "I will try to get
something back from Meade for you but I will not pay for the shipping

I feel the true measure of a companies worth, is their customer service.
This might sound petty to some of you but a small problem like this
tells me that if I had a larger problem this would not be the merchant I
would want to deal with. I feel it is small minded to hurt your
relationship with a potential customer for what probably amounts to $10
to them.

I will return the item to Shutan Shop and will purchase my ETX from
another merchant that knows how to treat the public. I will never
purchase another item from them under any circumstances and I would
encourage you to do the same.

Thanks for your time and thanks for the great web site.
And a counter-perspective:
Subject:	Meade ETX 90M
Sent:	Friday, November 30, 2001 17:02:17
From: (Gerald Mullen)
Hi: Mike Your site is the best!! I have been a stargazer for most of my
life, but business commitments etc got in the way. Ten yrs ago, I
retired early at 55 and bought a Meade 2045LX3 and started the hobby
again. Did a lot of lunar/ planetary gazing and bought eyepieces(mostly
Televues) etc. Then got refractor fever about 6 yrs ago, and put up a
pier behind the house, in 4-feet of concrete and put a Meade 127ED on a
GP mount. This is my prime scope now and has been for some time.
Textbook performance, great contrast and no false colour. Anyway..I saw
your site and decided to investigate..Lots of neat postings and user
comment.. So 3 days ago..I bought an ETXM the original scope without
GOTO electronics. It came today!! Wow what a little doll!! They really
did a great job on the design much like my 2045, but the optical tube is
so fine!! No wonder you guys are all GaGa over this little scope!!
Cloudy tonite..but tommow is supposed to be clear and almost full moon
also(Dec 1). I cant wait for "first light". I mounted The ETX on a GP
wooden tripod using a flat adaptor plate that I made for the 2045, I use
it in Alt/Az mode and dont do any photo work..just gazing and wandering
around the wonderful heavens.

Needless to say I feel that the ETX may become my Go To scope as all I
have to do is pick up the tripod/scope assembly and go out the door. I
am in woods in Conn. and have pretty good skies. So, I'll give you a
report after the first nite!!

Keep up the good work..Your site sold me on getting the scope.

By the way I got it from Shutan. Great people to deal with..good deals.
Jerry Mullen
And this:
Subject:	ETX First Light
Sent:	Friday, November 30, 2001 17:59:16
From: (Gerald Mullen)
Me again!! just looked out living room window..there was full moon with
a lot of blowing cloud. Picked up tripod/scope and out front door. put
in Meade 24.5mm super wide and focused..There was full moon nicely
hanging against dark sky with cloud blowing across it...and just grazing
it to the east was Saturn..nice and neat and sharp. Looks like the
optics are good. Came in as wind blowing and damp. Anyway, It looks like
a "keeper"so far.
Jerry Mullen
And here is a response from Bob Shutan regarding John J. De Salvo's issue:
Sent:	Wednesday, March 13, 2002 20:40:54
This is in response to the customer who had a complaint on how I handled
his defective ETX90. I did speak to him on the phone and explained that
our policy would allow an immediate replacement (with no new S/H
charges) with a new telescope but that he must get the defective one to
us prepaid. When I told him I would try to get some of his return
expense reimbursed to him, he wasn't satisfied with the word "try"--
even after I told him my last name was Shutan.

Meade's (as well as Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.) warranty policies are
similar as well. Customer's must return item to them prepaid for
warranty work. In fact, we as a dealer must pay for return shipping to
most manufacturers!

He was also told he could call Meade and ask if they would issue a UPS
pickup for the item, but I told him if they want to repair the telescope
(instead of replace as I would do)... it could take many weeks... as
some of your readers have expressed to you in past letters.

There are many advantages for buying mail-order. Usually a tax savings,
many times a lower price, or just dealing with someone knowledgeable in
the product which, with telescopes is often hard to find at a local

On the other hand, many people prefer to deal locally so if there is a
problem, they don't have the distance to deal with. I can't imagine
anyone ever asking a store clerk to refund the $5 in gasoline they
burned when they had to bring a product back via automobile. Or, if he
had ordered from a supplier without a toll-free phone number, he
certainly wouldn't be asking them for a refund on his AT&T expenses.

Some stores have toll-free 800 lines. Many that do say they're for
"orders only" and they answer them that way to intimidate you. Some
stores do not offer toll-free calls-- Shutan does for ALL inquiries
whether it be an order, tech questions, backorder questions, or even an

I feel our refund policy is a fair one. In fact, it's been accessible
from our home page at for a long time-- well before this
customer bought his telescope.

I have a copy of a competitors policy in front of me. This 2-page-ad
(Astronomy, Sky&Tel) retailer  states "It is your responsibility to pay
the return shipping". What's more interesting is their policy on
exchanges. They charge a 15% restock fee even if you just want to
exchange for other merchandise. They also charge a 15% restock fee if
you want to return an item for refund. The reason I mention this is
because Shutan DOESN'T charge a restock fee on exchanges OR returns as
long as they're done within our time requirements.

Bottom line- all stores have policies. Some good, some bad, some in
between. I tried to help this customer out as best I could.
Unfortunately it wasn't satisfactory to him and I understand and accept

His scope came back to us and he was promptly refunded without any
restocking charge.


Bob Shutan
Shutan Camera & Video

Subject:	telescopes
Sent:	Friday, March 15, 2002 8:23:29
Your website is the most informative that I have come across yet.  I
admire your desire to pass on your knowledge and experiences to other
amateurs.  I am a store manager at a Discovery Channel Store in TN where
we carry ETX products.  All of my telescope customers will hear about
your site.  Several months ago, a gentleman came into my store to show
me several little pads he received as a Christmas present.  These pads
we shock absorbers for his 125 field tripod.  I had never seen these
before and have not since.  He raved about how great they were. I was
wondering if you knew anything about this accessory as Meade does not
and I am unable to find any information on this anywhere.  If it is the
cure all for the vibration issue that the 125 sometimes has, I would
want to recommend that to my customers.
Drew Mangrum
Mike here: I suspect those were Celestron Vibration Suppression pads and they do help. There are many techniques for reducing vibrations on many telescope/mount combinations (hanging extra weight from the tripod, putting sand inside the tripod hollow legs, placing the tripod leg ends on sponges or soft dirt, etc.).
Subject:	Electronic Focus
Sent:	Thursday, March 14, 2002 18:00:24
From: (Parisi Family)
I have an Electronic Focus on my ETX-90EC and a use the separate focus
controller.  The controller "eats" batteries - 9 volt.  Has anyone had
similar experience or should I suspect my hardware?  I go through a
battery after a small amount of operation ( < 30 minutes)  though about
1 week of idle time.

Joe Parisi
Spofford, NH
Mike here: Yes, it has been reported to eat batteries.
Subject:	Meade ETX telescopes.
Sent:	Wednesday, March 13, 2002 15:23:10
I have reached the point in which I am trying to decide between
purchasing a Meade ETX 90, 105 or 125.  I understand the theoretical
differences.  I would simply like to try them out.  The few stores I
have visited are not amenable to setting them up after sundown.  They
say if I am willing to wait until winter, when sundown is within their
normal operating hours, they would be willing to do that.  I am
wondering if you know of an astronomical club that meets in the LA area
where it would be likely that several Meades would be set up, and I can
take a quick peak through the various scopes, or a more generous
telescope dealer that stays open past sundown.

Thank you.

David B. Whiteman, M.D.,
Pediatric and Forensic Pathology,
Mike here: There are several groups in the LA area. The one I'm most familiar with is the South Bay Astronomical Society which meets in Torrance. They have a monthly observing session on the Palos Verdes Penisula. Telescopes of various kinds are available.
Subject:	request
Sent:	Wednesday, March 13, 2002 13:05:58
From: (shaun pennington)
my name is Shaun Pennington and i would like to make a request. If
possible could you send me any pictures taken from a meade 4504
telescope or if not web adresses that contain thease pictures, this is
because i am intrested in buying a meade 4504, and i would like to know
what i can see through it before puchasing this item.

With Thanks

Shaun Pennington

(any information offerd would also be apreciated.)
Mike here: Check the Astrophotography Gallery - Guests, Planets for 2001 and 2000. You'll see some photos. Also, search the Site for "4504"; you'll get some hits.
Subject:	Interest in astrophotography
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 22:43:25
From: (Baldwin, David)
My name is David Baldwin. I am living in far North Western Australia,
and have a long held interest in astronomy, with a real desire to get
into astrophotography. I have several questions. I am considering buying
an ETX 125 EC, with a deluxe tripod, with a view to taking some photos
at prime focus if I can get hold of a 2nd hand manual SLR camera, which
is proving quite a challenge. Do any of the contributors to this site
know if this scope is capable of this sort of thing, or am I being over
zealous??. A friend has the ETX 70 and I think this is a great little
scope, what I really wnat to do is some long exposure deepsky stuff. Do
the motor dive mechanisms on the ETX permit these shots, or is the
alignment just not good enough?

I am finding the process quite daunting, but am excited about the
prospect of finally getting started with a scope of my own. Your advice
would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks,


My other email is
Mike here: The ETX line is NOT designed for long duration astrophotography at Prime Focus. That requires more accurate mounting, more accurate tracking, polar mounting (or a field de-rotator). The optics can do the job but you really need a system that includes the capability for "periodic error correction". However, as evidenced by the astrophotography shown on the ETX Site, you CAN do some forms of astrophotography with the ETX models.


Thanks for your reply, I reply appreciate it. I did get a chance to read
more of your site after emailing you and found the info about
photography. I think its a great site and will definately keep looking
at it for advice. Thanks again,


Subject:	Manuals Wanted 
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 19:44:38
I would like to list the following on your website (great site!):

Bought used ETX-125-EC & Autostar controller,  with no manuals

I need:

User manual for ETX-125-EC

User manual for Autostar 497

I tried Meade with no luck. If you have or know where i might obtain
manuals, I would greatly appreciate it.


Doug Noyce, Janesville WI, USA
Mike here: You can download PDF versions of the manuals. See the FAQ page. Will that do?


Sure will! I have not found them yet. Back I go

Subject:	home made flex focus
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 10:16:46
From: (David A Tinney)
just visiting the site again and getting great things from it. hey i
have a at the stage where im trying to get my fingers in
a very small area on this etx60 when focusing very high in the sky its
kinda hard to there any articles or you have a idea for a
homemade flexi focus i can make my self...thanks for posting
this..anyone with ideas please email me

again thanks for all the help with your site mike...
Mike here: See the article "Homemade Focus Cable" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Visible Magnitudes?
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 9:04:15
From: (Alan Raphael)
Great site!!

This may be a difficult question to answer, but up to what magnitude can
I realistically see with the ETX-60AT or a good seeing night?  How does
that compare to the ETX-90EC or ETX105-EC?

Many thanks!
Alan Raphael
Mike here: All the ETX models will do around Magnitude 11 (or slightly better). However, this is under ideal conditions with excellent vision. But it can be done. However, under most conditions, around Magnitude 9 will be the likely limit.


Thanks for the quick reply!

I'm surprised.  I figured that the more aperture, the more light -
therefore higher magnitudes.  I never thought my ETX60 would be able to
see close to 9 even on a great night.  I am thinking of upgrading to the
90 or 105 but without having a chance to try one yet, I'm doing some
comparison research. Regardless, I'm looking forward to getting out to a
local star party where hopefully I can try someone's 90 or 105 to make a
true apples to apples comparison.  Is there anything I may have missed
on your site, or somewhere else that may help me compare them?
Mike here: You might want to take a look at the article "Limiting Magnitude Charts" on the Observational Guides/References page.


That makes a lot of sense now.  Thanks for your help!


Subject:	Your New Book
Sent:	Tuesday, March 12, 2002 4:45:35
Any update on when to expect your new book?

Mike Isenberg
Decatur, Illoinois
Mike here: Known details are on the book page on my ETX Site. Keep watching the Site for updates.
Subject:	ETX 105 or 125?
Sent:	Monday, March 11, 2002 16:45:47
I stumbled on your site and have found it most enjoyable. I'm trying to
decide between purchasing the ETX 105 or 125. Any recommendations?

Mike Varlamos
Mike here: Both are good scopes. One a little more portable than the other. The ETX-125EC obviously has a little more aperture and focal length, which may or may not be important for whatever purpose and expectations you have in mind.
Subject:	Astronomy Software Link - Ultimate Messier Object Log
Sent:	Monday, March 11, 2002 11:21:24
From: (Kevin Berg)
Especially with the Messier Marathon coming up, I thought this would be
a good link for some neat (and free!) software. I heard of this from a
member of the Oakland Astronomy Club, to which I belong.



Subject:	my ETX (90 mm) telescope 
Sent:	Sunday, March 10, 2002 20:50:48
From: (J K)
Hi there.. great pics..I am new to telescopes..I am getting a ETX 90
tomorrow..any place you can send me to learn more? I am getting the
scope from a older lady at camera shop for 400.00 tri pod case and auto
star along with moon filter and 2 lenses.Is there a good place online to
buy accessories?
Mike here: Enjoy the ETX. Look through the Buyer/New User Tips page, the various Feedback pages, and the Accessory Reviews pages. Those are good places to start learning. Then you can work on the Observational/Reference Guides. As to dealers, there are many excellent dealers listed in the Dealers section on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	ETX-90EC question regarding slop
Sent:	Sunday, March 10, 2002 12:35:25
From: (MacAulay)
Great site.
Like so many other users, I have been experiencing problems with the "go
to" capabilities of my 90EC.

In an effort to start from the beginning, I am following the 3 part tune
up technique from Clay Sherrod in tech tips.

I'm a little confused about how much movement actually indicates too
much in the scopes declination axis.

With the lock in place, whatever up and down movement from manually
moving the OTA is showing up in the movement of the 2 large knobs on
each side of the scope. Should the OTA be "rock solid" or would it be
normal for some movement to been seen in the dec knobs when the OTA is
moved? I'm sure there is no movement at the front of the OTA mount as
described in the piece but I do get the knobs turning with a little
manual persuasion. Would this be considered normal or should I be
looking at the trunions as a possible problem?

John MacAulay
Nova Scotia, Canada
Mike here: Personally I don't worry about any movement when I force the tube up and down. Since under normal conditions the telescope is slewed from the handcontroller, it takes up the play. Yes, there may be some "hesitancy" when reversing directions but I've never found that to be a problem.


From: (Clay Sherrod)
From what John describes, this motion is "normal" and most of it is
taken out just as soon as the motors activate in any given direction, a
result known as "load" on the gears.  A little play in the trunions (as
seen on both sides of the fork arms) is normal with a certain amount of
"manual pressure" by the user.  If the scope remains firmly locked and
does not slip away when doing so, then all is probably just fine.  Keep
in mind that when observing and the scope "under load", there will be no
reason (hopefully!) for the user to be pushing on the tube anyway!


Subject:	125
Sent:	Sunday, March 10, 2002 0:48:42
From: (Saber Properties Limited)
Although I've seen the front page of your website hundereds of times
I've just noticed that you appear to have a star diagonal fitted to the
back of your etx or am I just seeing the picture wrong. If this is the
case do you not find you are restricted when trying to observe at the

The reason I ask is because I find the normal eyepiece and finder area
too cluttered and when using high power eyepieces especially without a
Barlow, I keep knocking the finder. Moving the eyepieces to the rear
should solve that don't you think?
Mike here: That is the Shutan Wide Field Adapter. And since my ETX-90RA is polar mounted I don't have the problem reaching the Zenith. I like having it attached as it allows me to have two eyepieces attached at the same time; I just flip back and forth for different magnifications. And it does allow viewing without worrying about the finderscope.
Subject:	Re: Meade Electronic Eyepiece
Sent:	Saturday, March 9, 2002 15:19:15
From: (David Tindall)
In response to Marc Delaney's question about the Meade electronic
eyepiece: I also own the same eyepiece and have found that the contrast
setting on the eyepiece is fairly critical. Too much contrast, and the
TV screen will be completely washed out.

Also, when using the eyepiece in dark conditions it may be necessary to
adjust the brightness/contrast on the TV as well.

And this:
Subject:	Meade electronic eyepiece
Sent:	Sunday, March 10, 2002 6:41:17
From: (Ted Wilbur)
Hi Marc,
I saw your query on the Mighty ETX site. The Mighty ETX Site has a
section on the eyepiece at:

I know of the problem that you're having, and I think it's one of two
things: focus/contrast adjustment or field of view issue.

Focus/contrast: pre-focus using an eyepiece that is near parfocal with
the eep.  If you have an ETX60/70 it's the Meade 25mm MA eyepiece that
came with the telescope.  Once the focus is close, put in the eep and
slowly go from high contrast (white) down.  If the subject is in the eep
field of view, you'll see it as the background darkens with your slow
contrast adjustments.  You don’t have to be off by much with either
focus or contrast to see nothing.

Field of view: Always make sure that the eep is set in the eyepiece
holder in an orientation that has the video cable is coming off of the
right-hand side, parallel to the forks.  This configuration will ensure
that when you slew, the view of the eep moves as you would expect in any
visual eyepiece. The eep has a narrow field of view and sometimes your
subject is just outside of it.   The best way to resolve this is to put
in a higher power eyepiece and center the object. If you change focus
for this you'll have to re-focus with the 25mm before putting the eep
back in.  Another option is to just slew around to find the object -
this will only work if your contrast is already set correctly.  I don't
know if this is just coincidence, but when I've had out of field
problems the object has almost always been under the field of vision,
i.e. the telescope is pointed slightly too high.

The Meade eep is definitely fun to have, good luck!


P.S.  This email got me thinking about the electronic
eyepiece and I've updated a document (PDF) you posted for me
in February.

Subject:	Thanks
Sent:	Saturday, March 9, 2002 10:22:37
From: (Jason Carden)
I've been interested in space all my life and recently decided to buy
myself a new scope.

I do currently has an old Tasco scope my parents bought me ages ago for
Christmas, but I need something that fits my age. In my search across
the internet for information about telescopes and astrophotography I
came across your site and wow! Your site is by far the best I've seen.
There is a ton of information to absorb and I can honestly say that I've
learned more about amateur astronomy from your website than any other
Thanks!  Keep you the good work.
Jason Carden  

Subject:	Re: power supply
Sent:	Friday, March 8, 2002 21:30:39
From: (Jim Dishman)
In regard to Bert Denovan's battery problems (Thursday March 7, General
Feedback) and the problem with not being able to get the car to the
site, I found a reasonably priced alternative to the AA battery vampire
that the ETX-125 seems to be.

I went to Target the other day and there on the shelf, for $44.95 was
the answer...a portable jumpstart car battery.  Its 12V and contains a
cigeratte lighter plug on the top and a built in flashlight on the side
(which I lined with red acetate for a observing wide area light).  All I
did was add a 3 outlet cigarette lighter strip on the side with velcro
and voila!  Now I have a portable, rechargable power source that will
power the scope, and all accesories for sever long ovserving sessions
before needing a recharge (the AC recharger is included as well as a
recharging plug to recharge it directly from the car cigarette lighter).
I not only power my ETX-125 from it, I also plug the 12V adapter from
my 8 year old son;s ETX-60 into it as well, so we both can use it at the
same time.

At present my 125 is in at Doc Clays for the charge up.  It should
back next.  Dr. Clay sure is a great guy.

Great site and keep it up!


Subject:	Doskocil cases
Sent:	Friday, March 8, 2002 21:06:45
I was wondering if you know where you can order only the replacement
foam for the doskocil cases.  I have looked several places and I cannot
seem to find anywhere.  Any help or advise would be appreciated.

Thank you
Mike here: Have you tried The Case Place (link on the Astronomy Links page)?
Subject:	Your new book
Sent:	Friday, March 8, 2002 6:35:35
From:	Dan_Ostler@TD.COM
Your web site is the best I have seen. I don't presently own a scope and
am considering purchasing the ETX-125. Two questions for you:

- when you picked the 100 best objects, was that for an "average" size
ETX or do you reference how much more or better things will look through
the 125 than say the 90?

- When I started my research and came across your site, at first I was
disappointed in how much is written about problems with the mechanics.
But then I realized how old some of that material is. I realize it is
there for those who have these old scopes. Maybe I'm missing it but is
there an article, summary or something (other than in Feedback) that
sums up how good the NEW deliveries are? And perhaps what might be
coming soon - in case I have to save my $ for a while?

Thanks for your great support of the hobby!
Dan Ostler
Mike here: Yes, there are a lot older comments on the Site and nope, nothing on unannounced products. As to the Book, it is targeted at the ETX-90, so if the reader has the ETX-105EC or ETX-125EC, the views will be better.


Thanks for the quick reply. Forgot to ask:

- I have looked at many of the great photos on your site but does the
book contain pictures for planets & deep sky objects showing actually
how big or bright they will appear in the eyepiece, as opposed to timed

- I don't see any specific section of your site relating to CCD imaging
with the ETX. Did I miss it?

Thanks again
Mike here: The book does have some examples of actual views. There is currently no specific section for CCD astrophotography.
Subject:	I'm thinking about buying your book.
Sent:	Friday, March 8, 2002 4:56:09
From: (Colin Dawson)
To introduce myself, I'm a complete newbie to Astronomy, Telescopes and
even the night sky.  I decided that I'd take the plung and buy a
Telescope then learn how to use it.  I spent about a week reading
newgroups, surfing the web. That's when I found your site, it's
brilliant for Meade users.  I've found it very informative, thank you
for making such a well organised, and informative site.

I decided that whilst I'm purchasing a scope, I'd go for the biggest
that I could afford - The LX200's were a little too expensive, so I
settled on the LX90.  It was just after placing the order that I found
your site.  Then, whilst reading realised that the scopes whilst not the
same are quite similair. Same Autostar, blah blah blah.  But the LX90 is
only mentioned a couple of times on your site. (well it is an ETX site,
so I wouldn't expect it to be mentioned.)

My question is... Your book is oriented for the ETX range of scopes,
would the book still be as relevant for the LX90? Whilst I appreciate
that there will be differences in hardware for the scope, the
functionality should be about the same.


Colin Dawson

p.s. My copy of Turn Left at Orion should be arriving soon.

Subject:	Meade ETX
Sent:	Thursday, March 7, 2002 17:24:51
From: (Mae)
Will you please tell me how I can get your book 100 Objects You Can
Really See with Mighty ETX.

Thank You

Mae Evans
Mike here: Go to my ETX Site home page and click on the book cover on the right side of the web page.
Subject:	Mead electronic eyepiece
Sent:	Thursday, March 7, 2002 13:23:00
From: (marc.delaney)
Hi Mike,
Got any impressions on Mead's new e;ectronic eyepiece? I bought one
recently, it came with a cheap german black&white battery operated TV.
Tried it on a terrestrial object and got very pleasing image. Tonight I
tried it on Jupiter and could get nothing but a bright blank screen. Any
advice will be gartefully and hungrily lapped up!
Best wishes and thanks for giving us such a wonderful website!
(Wales, Britain)
Mike here: I don't have one but hopefully people who do will respond.
Subject:	Various
Sent:	Thursday, March 7, 2002 0:26:57
From: (Bert Denovan)
G'day Mike,
The other night I dusted off the ETX90EC and took it out for a 'run' for
the first time in ages.  I had installed batteries a while ago and when
I checked before operating the level shown was about 70%. Nothing seemed
to go right.  I was way off in the alignment but the ETX accepted it. 
(The second star was OK but I could only guess that I was on the first
star).  Then it would not track properly.  In fact Saturn kept running
off the eyepiece to the top in seconds.  I switched off and went to
manual for a glimpse around the very bright environment that I live in.

Next day I thought that I should train motors again.  But then - what
the heck!  I will reset and do the lot again.  Most of this was a piece
of cake on top of my desk but the trouble started when I put the scope
on the tripod and attempted to train motors. The thing went haywire.  It
would ask me to move it one way using the arrow after its move but the
direction it wanted to go was opposite to the target.  It would only
move on fast speed too, no matter what I did.  I tried again and got a
message that there was a fault in the motors.  Checked and got the
message that perhaps the batteries were low.  By this time they were
down to 60% but as I watched the drain was amazing.  Down to 54% in no
time!  OK the batteries are still strong enough to give good light for
my Maglite but no good for the ETX.  I have the battery alarm switched
on but it did not sound an alarm.  Next day I used the trusty cord
supplied with the LX50 to power-up from the car battery and the train
motor function went like clockwork.  Testing that same night with the
car battery as the power source proved very successful.  In fact I was
thrilled with the results.  Questions and comments:

1)  I would like to use the car battery in future with the AA batteries
installed in the scope for use when the car cannot be brought to the
viewing point.  Does anyone know the amps drawn from the ETX?  I do not
want to drain the car battery.

2)  The sales assistant @ Tandy (an American too), backed up the
observations from others on your magnificent site by saying that the
batteries other that alkaline produce only 1.2 volts.  He also put me
off buying re-chargable alkaline batteries because he said that they
would only give about 10 hours service before needing re-charging and
that this process in itself was complicated and that the batteries would
only last about 5 rechargings.  Thankfully I read a comment of yours
about the dangers of cross polarising so that has put me off my plan to
find another power source.

3)  Given 2 & 3 above it seems that the charge of the batteries is
critical to the correct functioning of the ETX.  But it is also obvious
to me that, certainly in my instance, the battery life is not fully used
before they cause malfunction.  Is this normal?

4)  In re-setting I also realised - too late - that I had wiped the
software version that I had cloned from another user that now lives
about the same distance away as the moon!  Going back to the default
setting I now have 2.1e again.  However, as I said, it worked
beautifully.  Should I go to the expense of buying the #505 cord and
updating, will I be getting anything better?  I notice that contributors
are talking about a new programme that sounds a bit 'techo' to me.  Is
this worthwhile and would a computer nitwit (ask Dick Seymour), be able
to install it without too much drama?

5)  I noticed from the beginning that the focus control is very touchy
and is actually a pain if I go from the 26mm to the 15mm eyepiece.  Is
this usual?

6)  The sights that I see are nowhere near like those promised in the
'blurb'.  I can just make out the lines on Jupiter but only very
faintly.  This has been my experience in a dark site too.  The beautiful
Omega Centauri cluster is just a faint, fuzzy cloud.  Any comments?

7)  I intend to use the ETX for what I first bought it for, a convenient
scope that can be transported and set up easily, but I will now also use
it to guide me to deep sky objects that I cannot locate by star hopping
or setting circles for the LX50.  Cloud again has hampered the ability
to test this concept out.

8)  May I also add a word of warning about cleaning the corrector plate.
 Two days ago I also dragged out the LX50 and to my horror noticed what
looked like chip marks on the correcting plate.  On further examination
it seems that when I was new to the business I had blown on the plate to
get rid of some dust.  It seems that the small amounts of saliva that
inadvertantly came out have etched themselves into the coating.  Please
be warned!

Bert Denovan
Ravenswood Western Australia
Mike here: Adequate battery power required is required for proper operation, as you noted. I believe the draw is about 500mA (or was that 1100mA?). Resetting the Autostar does not revert the Autostar back to some prior version. No way. So I suspect you always had 2.1 and just thought you had successfully cloned it. You can make the #505 cable (see the Autostar Information page). Upgrading is pretty straightforward with the current software. And expectations and realities are not always in synch. The ETX-90 can provide nice fews under good conditions. But don't expect to see images like you see in the photos on the box.


Thanks for the info, Mike.  The fog of my memory is clearing about the
update after you observation.  I did have an earlier version and the
clone that I did was to 2.1e!
That makes me feel better.
Thank you also for directing me to Dick's information for building a
#505 cord.  It is way beyond my ken but I will seek advice, probably
from Tandy to see if they can build it for me.  Local cost for the full
outfit is A$65 which makes it worthwhile seeking an alternative.
But the question unanswered is:  what benefit(s) will I gain from
Bert Denovan
Mike here: Lots. Better tracking, bug fixes, etc.
Subject:	re: Cover
Sent:	Wednesday, March 6, 2002 22:11:41
From: (Richard Seymour)
Some of the lens covers -do- arrive either screwed on too tightly,
or (very rarely) cross-threaded.
I've even heard of one which was slightly elliptical... not circular.

When you -do- apply pressure to remove it, **really** try to keep
the dark ring of the front lens from turning at the same time!!!
The -angle- of that front lens, relative to the main mirror,
is carefully matched for best optical performance.

Twisting it won't -wreck- your scope, but it will nudge it
slightly off the pinnacle of performance the ETX can provide.

you can mark the ring relative to the barrel before twisting
to be able to return it to the proper orientation.

When you put the cover back -on-, remember not to tighten it...

have fun
Subject:	Sticking correcting plate cover
Sent:	Friday, March 8, 2002 4:03:09
From: (Bert Denovan)
G'day Mike,
I am responding to Richard Huang's problem with the correcting plate
cover sticking.

I had a similar problem with this; the cover was stuck fast from the
beginning and while I thought I was unscrewing it I discovered to my
horror that the entire front flange was coming off!  It took all of my
strength to get it free from the flange using cloths to assist in the
grip.  The scope was assembled in Mexico.

As the scope had other faults I took it back and found, before I left
the store, that the replacement had the same problem.  I managed to get
a cover off another scope that had been returned and have had no problem

It only stuck when I screwed the cover back to the stop, but without any
pressure, just finger tight.  But if I left a turn off it did not stick.
It was suggested that I put some twine around the base of the thread to
prevent it from locking.  However I fixed that problem as outlined

If Richard's problem is the same he might try that idea.  But my
attitude is if a new item has a fault I take it back to the retailer.  I
refuse to put up with problems that the manufacturer has created and
taken my money for.
Bert Denovan.

Subject:	Auto Focus
Sent:	Wednesday, March 6, 2002 21:36:46
From: (Joe Kazup)
On my ETX125 the original controller has shows an up / down focus. Does
this actually focus the scope or would I need to add some other device
to do that?


Mike here: You need the Meade electronic focuser unit.
Subject:	Eyepieces
Sent:	Wednesday, March 6, 2002 18:33:42
From: (Richard Huang)
Sorry Mike for the disturbance, but I got another question regarding the
ETX-90 EC.  I have 4 eyepieces with a case.  So when I put the eyepieces
into the case, do I need to cover the eyepieces with anything? Or can I
directly put them into the holes?

Mike here: You don't want dust and dirt getting on the eyepieces, so covering them is a good idea.
Subject:	Cover
Sent:	Wednesday, March 6, 2002 18:25:36
From: (Richard Huang)
I just purchased a ETX 90 EC, and everything seems fine except one
problem.  It maybe be a stupid situation, but I cannot open the lens.
Like the big thing that supposed to have exposed right in front of the
telescope. The thing that measures 90 mm, Not too sure what its called.
But, its the main thing that aims at the object.  I set up everything,
but I can't seem to take the lid off.  There are slits or anything for
me to take it off. Just wondering if you can give me a hand, cause I am
eager to view.


Best Regards,

Mike here: It unscrews. It may take some pressure the first time. Hold the larger ring inplace to keep it from turning as well.
Subject:	#883 Tripod
Sent:	Tuesday, March 5, 2002 15:26:36
From: (Alex Kuziola)
I've got a question...a little while ago, while trying to use "fine
azimuth" function of the tripod, I found that once of the knobs was
loose...much to my chagrin, I discovered that that knob had stripped
right out of the hole. All along, I remember being careful not to
tighten one knob without loosening the other, as not to put pressure on
any one of them, so it must be a I decided that it should go
back to Meade for either repair or replacement; however, there's a
problem...I bought the tripod brand new off of eBay (I know, first
mistake), and the buyer told me he had the receipt when I contacted him,
but now that I am asking for a copy, he isn't responding to my e-mails.
So, I think getting the receipt may be hopeless. Anyway, I was wondering
what I could expect from sending it back to Meade (and how much it would

It's not a critical piece of the tripod (the tripod still works), but it
becomes a pain during polar alignment when I have to center Polaris, and
when it's just a little bit off, I have to lift up the two back legs.

Thanks for your advice...


Alex Kuziola
"Writing a good drama is hard, writing a good comedy is harder, and writing 
a good comedy with drama in it is hardest of all, which is what life is."
                                                         - Jack Lemmon (1925-2001)
Mike here: You could send it to Meade but (I'm guessing here) they would probably charge you something like $75 to fix it. You could take it to a local machine shop that would charge you anywhere from $25 to $200 (guessing again). You could live with it, which costs nothing but some minor frustration. You could rethread it yourself using a slightly larger diameter bolt.


Thanks for your response. I'll see if there is a local machine shop that
would do it....BUT....As it turns out, I just got an e-mail from them
saying they would send the receipt to me ASAP. Do you think there is a
chance Meade would replace it with a #884 or are they in the business of
doing what what will cost them the least?

Thanks again!
Mike here: Companies are in the business of not loosing money, and making as much as they can (got to protect shareholders, afterall). Whether they will exchange it or not is a question you can ask them.
Subject:	ETX Flip mirror out of alignment
Sent:	Tuesday, March 5, 2002 5:40:41
From: (Jack Merskin)
I have just recieved a used ETX-90 RA.  The problem is the flip mirror
is out of alignment.  I looked at some stars and what I get are
seagulls.  I have built an 8" Netonian and have done collimation on it. 
I used a cheshire and a laser on the ETX.  With the ceshire, the
crosshairs are visually below the center of the optical path.  With the
laser, the laser beam missed the secondary completely and was projected
on the wall.

I also have the 45 degree diagonal for the ETX.  I used it and the
optical path is just fine.  The cheshire cross hairs are right on and
the laser is also.  So the flip mirror is off.

1.  How do I align the flip mirror?

2.  If I get the ETX -> 1.25" adapter and mount a 90 degree diagonal in
place of the 45, does the ETX have enough focus travel to handle most
eyepieces?  I have the 26mm Meade that came with the ETX and several UO
ortho's (18mm through 7mm), and 2 Orion Ultrascopics.  The Orions will
probably not be used, a 5mm and the 3.8mm.

Thanks in advance and you have a great site.
Mike here: The flip mirror repair is not straightforward. For help see Doc Greiner's ETX Info page (linked from the Telescope Tech Tips page on my ETX site). As to using eyepieces at the rear port, yes you can do that (I do) but I can't say whether MOST eyepieces will focus but I can say that SOME will and possibly MANY.
Subject:	Re: ETX 125EC Telescope
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 23:18:14
I like your website and the information about the Telescopes. I am an
Amateur Astronomer with some knowledge of the heavens. I bought a Meade
ETX 70EC to get started but in less than a week I am already ready to
step up to the ETX 125EC. Can you recommend a source to get the best
price from. Should I get the Autostar included or just pick one up on

I paid $211. for my ETX 70. Shipped. I bought it on a dutch auction on
Ebay a few weeks ago. Here is the kicker. I live in the wilderness of
Joshua Tree California so I am in the star Mecca of the desert!

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Philip Bonafede
Mike here: There are many online dealers (see the Astronomy Links page) or you can purchase from a local Meade dealer. The price will be essentially the same. As to an Autostar, yes you can buy a used one so that can reduce the price.


Thanks Mike for responding.
I will keep my eye pealed on Ebay till I smell the right deal. I am
going to sell the 70EC locally for what I have into it and definitely
get the 125EC. I want to see the Cassini seperation in the rings of
saturn and the Horse head Nebula in Orion among other things. You might
be hearing more from me.
Mike here: Don't expect to see the Horsehead. That's beyond most visual telescopes and eyes.

And this:

I guess that is more of a Hubble view you think?

I am selling my ETX 70 and getting a ETX125. I have found them for
around $700 and less. How good is the autostar system? Do you like it?
Mike here: The Autostar works as it should ONCE you know learn how to use it. But whether it is a required accessory depends upon whether you already know the night sky and what the light pollution situation is where you will do your observing. Regarding the former, amateurs (and even professional) astronomers went for centuries without a computerized GOTO system. As to the latter, a GOTO system can help you locate those faints objects that you might otherwise pass up.
Subject:	Lubricant? (ETX 125)
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 21:11:11
From: (John Chalfen)
I have been going through the tech tips and the archives, and I see a
recurring theme: manually rotating the scope to spread the lubricant.
Since I have my ETX 125 base split in half for a binding issue and cord
mod, I have to ask where is this lubricant that gets spread around? Near
as I can tell, the only place it might be is in the shaft assembly. I'm
thinking I missed something someplace but I can't see where. Anyone shed
some light on this for me?


--Sometimes I think that the surest sign of intelligent life on other
planets is the fact that they haven't tried to contact us yet.  (Bill
Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes)

And from our hardware expert:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
This has nothing to do with the works inside the turntable at
all...there is nothing in there to spread around, nor is there anything
to spread that "nothing" on!

This applies to evening out the lubricants AND the metal-to-metal
surfaces between the clutch block, the RA gear and between the gear and
the Rear RA clutch assembly adjacent to the large nut holding the
assembly together.

Hope that clears it up!



Yep....That clears things up. It makes sense looking at it from that
perspective. I knew it wasn't in the turntable but couldn't see where
else it would actually do any good.

Thanks much! (Back to de-greasing now)

Subject:	new equipment
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 13:23:33
From: (Dimitris Rakopoulos)
I would like to share my first impressions after my latest purchases. I
replaced the standard 8x21 viewfinder with the 8x25 right-angle
viewfinder. First of all I no longer have the annoying problem when I
observe towards the zenith. Another major problem I had with the
standard viewfinder was that I couldn't align it correctly with the
scope. Believe me, the 8x25 viewfinder was 10 times easier to align and
now I can find absolutey everything much easier on the night sky. I must
admit that that at first I had to re-align the viewfinder because it hit
the fork when the scope was facing the zenith... Anyway, now it is
absolutely great!

The secord thing I bought (after our little discussion on NOT buying a
4.7mm because it will reach the limit of the scope) the 40mm Super
Plossl from the 4000 series. I tried it last night (and afternoon). It
is perfect. It is 2-4 times more bright than the standard 24mm eyepiece.
I was amazed by the brightness of the eyepiece. You also don't have to
look too close so the eye relief is perfect, too. I really enjoyed it
very very much. It was crystal clear with a wide angle view (Pleiades
were great, so was the Orion Nebula) .. Even on terrestrial observation
it was very very good. I think it's a very useful eyepiece. I think that
anyone that has an ETX should buy it. Nobody will regret it.
Clear skys to everyone. 
Best regards,
Dimitris Rakopoulos

Subject:	Building a web controlled Telescope ...
Sent:	Monday, March 4, 2002 5:23:17
I am thinking about the connection of my job (computer science) and my
hobby astronomy by building an internet controlled Telescope. The User
Interface and contacting an API (if there is one) is not the problem I
think. But I am not very experienced with hardware and so i am planning
to use a small commercial product (like the ETX70) for the beginning. Do
you know, whether there are other people doing the same or have the same

Is there an API for controlling the Telescope (maybe for LINUX :-) ) or
is the Protocoll/Comand set ec. between Computer (via which Interface:
serial?) and Telescope available from Meade? Is the positioning accuracy
of the telescope (after dozends of "gotos") sufficient for the plan?

Any suggestions on the plan?

Best regards, Guenther
Mike here: Someone started a similar project months ago (might be listed on the Astronomy Links page). There are no APIs but the command set is available (see the Autostar Information page). If you add a webcam or other video camera you can bring the video to a web page. And yes, once properly aligned GOTOs can be good all night. However, with a low-end telescope line like the ETX or NexStar you could run the risk of slippage at some orientations if you hang extra weight like a video camera on the telescope. For best results you'd need to go to a high end telescope like the LX200 series.
Subject:	Cloud Cover vs. Lunar Phase
Sent:	Sunday, March 3, 2002 18:11:34
From: (Ray and Jeanie)
It's been awhile since I last sent something to the site, and I do
access it quite a bit. Anyway, here goes.

Do you know of any website that has info on cloud cover respective to
lunar phases.  I know this sounds a bit nuts, but in this part of the
world (Western Washington State) I have noted that a majority of our
clear nights ( read "no fog, no clouds") coincides with +/- 3 days of
full moon.  Yes, I know -- the moon has absolutely nothing to do with
climate...but, from this side of the continent, the coincidental
relationship is there. And, of course , there is absolutely nothing we
can do about it!  Just curious. Oh, yeh one more item. Even though I
have an 8" Celestron,  I still use the ETX 90-RA more often.  Quick
set-up (comes in handy during rainy spells) and the optics on double (or
multiple) stars equals the big EYE most of the time.

Darks skies - no clouds!!

Mike here: I suspect you could research the data from a climatological web site.
Subject:	is it air, or is something wrong?
Sent:	Sunday, March 3, 2002 17:55:10
From: (Bob Vilums)
It was a clear night last night in Hemet California. I just received my
new Televue 11mm plossl and was anxious to try it out. I lined up my
stars and slewed to Jupiter. It was just a white dot, no cloud bands.. I
figured it was just the atmosphere bad or something. Then I went to
Saturn. Saturn was giving a double image in my stock 25mm, and with the
rest of my smaller Televue eyepieces there were waves.. By waves I mean
it looked like you were looking down a long stretch of freeway on a very
hot day. It looked the same as the mirage you get on hot pavement. I
wrote it off as unsteady atmosphere. But today I tried it out during the
day. I focused on the top of a mountain. To my surprise, every eypiece
is doing the same thing. There are those waves again. I have never seen
them before in my scope. The finderscope doesn't show any waves. Did
something go out of whack?
Mike here: Waves won't appear if something is "out of whack". That would show a constant not changing image. So, I suspect either poor seeing conditions or you didn't let the telescope reach an adequate "thermal equilibrium". See the article "Seeing Conditions and Transparency" on the Observational Guides/References page.
Subject:	oops! my eyepiece!
Sent:	Saturday, March 2, 2002 20:28:46
From: (gr8fl2b1 xxxxxxx)
Please help! I dropped my meade MA 9mm eyepiece and thought it was
broke. I took it apart and it wasn't, but I couldn't remember what the
orientation was. There is one lens that is 2 pieces glued together, and
one single one, and a metal ring. I have tried many ways, but I can't
get it right. I called meade but no one could help. Is there anybody out
Mike here: There is an article on Eyepiece Designs on the Telescope Tech Tips page. That might help.
Subject:	Baseplate Power Wire Break
Sent:	Saturday, March 2, 2002 11:58:13
From: (Alex Kuziola)
I decided to try a tune-up or two on the ETX backlash...the tune-up went
fine, but OOPS!

When I went to put the baseplate back on, I noticed that the (incredibly
short) black battery-pack cable had broken off of the circuit board
inside the ETX, a mistake totally on my part.

I have three questions:

1) My scope isn't going to go crazy and spontaneously combust, is it?

2) I really don't intend to ever use the battery compartment, so is it
OK go ahead and clip the red wire too?

3) If I do want to fix it, is there someplace local I can take it to get
the wire resoddered? (I wonder about this due to the tight space the
circuit board is in...but if I can avoid sending it to Meade, that would
be great).

FYI, when plugged into the wall, the ETX runs fine with the wire broken.

Thanks for your advice!!!

And from our resident hardware expert:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
This is a very common situation and one that will NOT interfere with
observing nor operation at all if you never plan to use the batteries;
since the loose wire may get caught up in the gearworks, I would highly
recommend taping it to the bottom of the battery compartment "well" with
plastic tape. Just leave the red wire connected.

Likely the wire broke off on the INSIDE of the control board, a place
that you cannot get to to resolder.  A computer repair house is by far
the best place for the delicate soldering job and they can do it fine. 
However, if you wish to attempt to reattach at some point, you may wish
to attach on the EXPOSED, or outer side of the board facing you.   You
will see two solder exposures and realize quickly the reverse of which
is still attached to the RED wire.  You can carefully attach the wire
using VERY sparingly a tip of solder to the "other side" of where it
actually should be attached.

However, nothing at all will happen if you chose to put this off will not explode or shrink into a smaller scope for
lack of that black wire and operations will be normal using external

Clay Sherrod


Thank you both very much for your advice (not to mention your lightning
quick response!). That sure is a relief to know that I'm not the only
one who has had this problem...

Subject:	ETX and SCT f6.3 corrector..I NEED A L.A.R (Large accessory Ring) 
Sent:	Saturday, March 2, 2002 10:46:45
From: (DC)
I held my LX200 SCT f6.3 corrector with a 25mm lens to the back of the
ETX just to see if it would focus. Not only does it focus with no
problems, it also increases the filed of view by about 50%, no
vigineting.  Now this might be a way to go but , it's a common reducer
for Celestron and Meade, same works on either scope.

Then you can use all common visual back parts for the ETX. BUT WHERE can
one fine a L.A.R. (Large accessory ring) that will adapt the ETX to a
standard SCT visual back thread? ANYONE WITH THIS ANSWER EMAIL ME PLEASE!.

I have just the Spotting scope and I mount it piggy back on my LX200.
But the views of planets are just as good with the ETX. It is a fun
scope. So even LX200 users enjoy the ETX. Besides, the ETX does not
weigh a ton.

Contact me of you have any leads or links to such a Large Adaptor Ring
for the ETX visual back..If no one makes these, then someone should as
the SCT f.6.3 corrector, though large, works pefectly on an ETX 90 and
maybe up to the five inch...


Dan Callahan

Springfield Astronomical Society
Ozarks Amature Astronomy Club
Springfield Missouri
Mike here: See the "SCT Accessory Adapter" on the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page on my ETX Site.


I found the SCT adaptor ring. I will order one as soon as possible. Your
right, adding the SCT stuff will add weight, but I am using an ETX tube
only piggy backed on a LX200. So I can handle 18 lbs of stuff MAX...

But just adding the SCT f6.3 Meade or Celestron (both the same part),
adds about 10 ounces to the tube. Then an SCT star diganal, another 8
ounces, and of course an eyepiece, so the weight should be about a

Should the F6.3 corrector proves to work very well as a focal reducer
and a field widener, I will report back to you after I get the part with
photos. I have also found this same f6.3 corrector, can be added inside
a low priced achromat refractor and converts an f10 to a f6.3 APO
refractor! These corrector work on all kinds of stuff!

I see the Scoptronix wide field adaptor also works, but for quie a bit
more money..

I need 3 degrees of field, and was using an Orion Short tube 90, but it
is very heavy. The ETX tube cuts three pounds off my scope and another
three lbs off the couther weight side, so using the ETX if I can, will
subtract six whopping lbs from my LX200 setup..I use an Olympus OM-1

The German EQ mount I am using for the ETX alone is a G5 Celestron
mount. Orion also sell this same mount called the EQ2. Add the RA motor
and hand controller and you can use any ETX tube and it is very solid.
Sure an ETX tube is not as good as the ROBO ETX, but having just the
tube only lets me use it for all kinds of things..But when on the LX200
it just goes for the ride and I can tell you the images of the brighter
objects is actually better in the tiny ETX! There is no need to rush out
an buy an LX200,  but it of course works better on dim objects simply
due to 8 inch apature.

For added info, the BIG BROTHER of the ETX, the MEADE LX200 and LX200
GPS MAK tube, is exactly identical to the SIZE diamater of the SCT 8
inch LX200 tube. So in this case, an LX200 CAN be converted to a
MAKSOTOV 7 inch. But the MEADE LX200 MAK is actually 7.625 inches in
mirror diamater, and 9.1 inches in TUBE diameter, and is 19" long
instead of the SCT 16 inches. So YES you CAN convert the LX200 MEADE SCT
to a MAK (If your rich of which I sure am not!)

So any of you guys who love MAKs, and may have access to an LX200 but
just have to have a MAK, the tube will fit perfectly. It is available
from Astronomics at $1,299 for the TUBE assembly, and of course, what is
the LAM LX200?? It's juts a big overgrown ETX !

So while they are pricy, they may be a goal of ETX owners in future
years. The LX200 I have has been flawless in preformance and never once
has failed me. Very tough scopes with four inch bearings and great

I am impressed with all the astrophoto shots you guys do! Good Work! I
use only Kodak 400 super gold and try to stick with one film. But your
shots are as good as mine for sure!

I will report back in a month about the ETX and the Celestron F6.2 SCT
focal reducer and field corrector. It may help get that field of view
larger and that is quite a challange with the ETX.

By the way, our SMSU University scope is a 16 inch Cassegrain, (no
corrector) and it works out to be F.22. It is mounted in an 8 x8 x8 foot
block of concrete, and it is an awsome planetary scope. Of course I
never get to use it, but I do all the maintence and machine repairs on
it. This scope weighs over three tons.!  We have a liquid nitrogen
camera on the thing that uses three gallons a night of nitrogen, and we
can do a three inch wide digital shot of the ring nebula. Alot of fun
but it takes three people to do it all. One is a guider in the scope
room, and two others operate the computers fire the camera and we get a
six by six inch image in three seconds. We are seeking varibkle stars
with a wobble indicating a new planet. No, we have never found one! I
still like small scope!


Dan Callahan

Subject:	eyepiece magnification limits for ETX90EC
Sent:	Saturday, March 2, 2002 9:55:50
I have just bought this scope with the standard eyepiece 26mm? but am
awaiting delivery. From your experience which eyepiece magnifications
are useable as opposed to offered for this kit please. In UK Super
Plossl 4000 eyepieces seem the standard although rather expensive. Any
suggestions very welcome.
Mike here: For the maximum magnification formula for ANY telescope, see the FAQ page.
Subject:	Brad Allred's panoptic question
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 22:31:12
From: (Tiffani Brown)
I have tried using my Celestron Axiom 15mm with an Ultima barlow
(166.6x) with my ETX 90M, and the views of the "gas giants" turn out
remarkably dim! I realized that the light path has to go through no less
than 10 elements, and this is after the diagonal! I have much better
results NOT barlowing this eyepiece, instead I obtained a Teleview 8mm
(156x) Plossl, which, despite little eye relief, shows much better
detail on the planets, due to a much more reasonable 4 elements between
you and the diagonal. The lesson here is light preservation!

Chris Brown

Subject:	Your Book
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 19:04:02
From: (Cynthia A. Pollack)
I ordered your book from and the total with shipping from the
UK came to $35.77.  Obviously that can change a little due to the
exchange rate.  Not too bad, considering it's coming from the UK.  They
sent me an E-mail and said I could expect delivery somewhere between
March 4-6.  Total time from ordering to their estimated delivery = 7
days.  Not Bad!!


Subject:	Great Site! 3/1/02
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 13:59:43
From: (Wylde, David)
I have been on your website for about two hours reading all of the great
content.  I have had my ETX-90EC since 1999 and have only just really
begun to use it.  Since finding your site, I can see it getting a ton
more use.  I work in the Electrical Engineering field with a good
background in servo motion control.  Feel free to email any questions
you may have in either of these two areas, and I will do the best to
answer them.  I work for a Servo and Stepper motor/controller
manufacturer, and could probably get some decent equipment from my
company at reduced costs if someone was looking into some very precision
telescope control.  Let me know if I can help you in any way.  Anything
I come up with will be emailed to you!


David Wylde
Sales Engineer
Automation Intelligence, Inc.

Home Email:

Subject:	filters for general viewing and megapod vs. 884?
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 11:55:24
My work schedule is very tight and I have to take my viewing nights any
time I get a chance. Lately, it seems that my good nights for viewing
have been falling on nights where there is a bright full moon or close
to full. What filter would you recommend for general viewing when there
is this annoying bright moon. I have two filters that I purchased from
Orion Telescopes - the Sky Glow and UltraBlock. I know these are
designed for moderately light-polluted skies and emission nebulas, but
what is there for blocking out moon light when viewing planets, clusters

Secondly, I am still debating on a new mount - the 884 or the 887. My
Question is have you or anyone reading this site, have any experience or
recommendations on the Megapod mount from JMI's. Their ads in past
Astronomy Magazine state that it is "solid as a rock."

Thank you and Clear Skies,
Mike in Texas

PS is there an Autostar update for comet Ikeya Zhang CM2002?
Mike here: That would be like asking for a filter to block out the Sun's light so you could observe planets and stars during the daytime. Sorry. As to the Megapod, see the Accessory Reviews - Tripods page. For the comet, see:
Subject:	mounts/wedges
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 8:15:29
From: (nitin joshi)
I hate to send personal email but I have a ?? and I could not find info
for it so may be you can help. I have etx125 but I am short on cash and
did not buy the field tripod etc. This causes problem in not being able
to track, is there a cheap homebrew wedge or some other design that I
can use or is it better to shell out for 884 tripod. I am in India and
will be visiting US soon so I can buy the wedge or tripod in US
Mike here: There are many solutions you can make. See the Telescope Tech Tips page for lots of ideas on mounts and wedges.
Subject:	Meade 8.8 UWA eyepiece w/ETX-125
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 7:39:05
From: (Jerry Kasmala)
While trying to decide which eyepieces to get for my 125 I saw Dr.
Sherrod's recommendation for the Meade 8.8 UWA in an item during
November. I purchased this eyepiece but notice that it doesn't really
fit on the 125. What I mean by that is that the outer barrel on the
eyepiece doesn't clear the telescope body so it stops about 1/2" short
of seating on the eyepiece port. As optics isn't my domain, I'd like to
ask a couple of questions wrt this. Does this effect either
magnification and/or field of view?  Does the position of the eyepiece
slightly back from the port significantly effect its ability to collect
Thanks for your work on the ETX site.
Mike here: Not all eyepieces will be able to be fully inserted into the eyepiece holder. This is not necessarily unique to the ETX models. If the eyepiece tube goes all the way and goes so far that it reaches the flip mirror, you may experience some vignetting or reduction in the field of view since the eyepiece tube may block some light. On the other hand, if the outside portion of the eyepiece tube (the portion that doesn't insert inside the telescope body) reaches all the way, you may be still have some cutoff if the eyepiece length is really long.
Subject:	Focusing Question
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 5:22:59
From: (Dr. Miles J. Rosenthal)
I recently purchased an ETX-125, along with most of the frills.  Being
new to Astronomy, I have been reading all I can, including your
excellent site, to try to learn as much as possible.

I have a question that is so elementary as to be embarrassing to ask it.
But, nonetheless, I need the counsel of more experienced folks.

When I am looking at a planet (especially Saturn and Jupiter), I see
what appears to be a large circle of light with a dark mass inside.  I
am unable to resolve the image through focusing.  Does this indicate a
problem with the telescope's optics, or is there something very basic
that I am doing wrong?

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Miles J. Rosenthal
Mike here: When you insert the 26mm eyepiece (that's the one that came with the telescope) into the eyepiece hole on top of the ETX tube, you will have to focus the image. That may require several turns of the focus knob. As you turn the knob does the size of the light blob change? It should eventually get small and as you continue to focus, it will come into sharp resolution. You may be expecting the size of the planet's disk to be larger than it really is when focused.


Thanks for your quick reply to my question.  Perhaps I was a little
unclear about what I was asking.  I have been an Astronomy buff for some
years, but have always used a reflecting scope.  As the optics are quite
different from the M-C design of the ETX, and because of the numerous
problems that have been reported with the ETX, I am not quite certain
whether what I am seeing is "normal" or a flaw in the scope.

When I am  viewing a planet, whether with the 26mm SP, the 8-24 Zoom, or
a 6.7mm UWA, what I see is a dark circular area surrounded by a circle
of light. I have been unable to focus this out, but I believe that this
is because I am not certain what to focus on.  Is the planet the blob of
light, or is it the dark object within? I am uncertain, because I am
wondering if the dark object is the telescope's secondary mirror.  I
realize that this is a basic question, but if I knew what I was aiming
for, then perhaps the focusing would be more effective.

I also wanted to say how much I enjoy your site, and that I have a copy
of your book on order at I have put a significant outlay of
time, expense, and yes, hope, into my resurrected hobby.  I sure would
like to see a Planet!
Mike here: OK, now I understand a little better. You are seeing the secondary shadow so you need to continue to turn the focus knob. Once you get the image infous you'll know it since the view of Jupiter will look like it did through that reflecting telescope; you'll see some cloud bands and perhaps one to four of the brighter moons. So, keep turning the knob. If you find that you can't reach a focus because the knob reaches the backplate on the ETX, you will have to reposition the knob a little further out on the shaft. But before you do that be certain the proper focus is not in the other direction. But if the knob needs to be moved it is simple. Tilt the telescope upwards to about 45 degrees elevation; this prevents the focus shaft from falling inside the tube (something you definitely don't have to happen). Loosen the setscrew on the side of the focus knob, slide the knob a little further out on the shaft, and then retighten the screw. Try to focus. If you still can't quite reach a focus (you'll be able to tell as you get closer because the blob of light will be getting smaller), repeat the process. Do this in very small increments.
Subject:	ETX-90EC
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 5:02:16
Well folks, I went and done it.  I invested in an ETX-90EC with all the
necessary accessories.  I have had it out three times without any
success due to my inexperience and location.  What sky I can see is
practically straight up.  The third time I was out, I actually had a
star centered.  I installed my 126 Barlow and 26mm eyepiece, started to
focus and my Flexi-Focus fell off.  Thinking I had lost the set screw, I
hauled everything back in the house, only to find the set screw was
still there.  It must have just been loose.  I haven't been out since,
due to bad weather.  Oh well, Spring is around the corner.  Maybe I'll
have better luck next time.

Thanks for listening.

Mike here: Keep at it. Play with the telescope indoors to get some experience in using it. That's easier than learning it in the dark!
Subject:	Meade Plssl eyepieces
Sent:	Friday, March 1, 2002 3:58:35
From: (David Tindall)
I would like to know what the optical / visual difference is between the
Meade Series 3000 / 4000 Plssl eyepieces. I have a Meade 26mm Series
4000 already (it came standard with my ETX90EC). I would like to
purchase another Meade eyepiece around 12-14mm but am unsure if a 4000
series is vastly better than a 3000 series. Have you or any other people
out there had experience with both types?

Thanks heaps,

David Tindall.

Subject:	Re: altitude problem (wire re-routing)
Sent:	Thursday, February 28, 2002 20:08:47
From: (Richard Seymour)
You asked:
> One question I have is can you do away with the internal battery wiring and 
> make a jump wire between the terminals on the board? I want to go with ac 
> converted power all the time and if  I need to clean the scope again not to 
> worry about the delicate wiring.

I don't know what flavor of telescope you have, nor if this is -exactly-
what you meant, but take a look at:

-especially- the picture on the bottom of the page...

have fun

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