Last updated: 4 December 2004

This is a "User Opinions" page where YOU can express YOUR opinions. Contributions are welcome of course.

Subject: ETX Premier?
From: Michael Teige (
Date: November 30, 2004 14:13:08 PST
This looks dandy but I am questioning the "Magnetic North" finder they
have built into the thing. I have read over and over again that you need
Celestial North and not Magnetic North as the magnetic north pole moves
about. Sometimes it is so far off from true north that go-to will be
affected pretty badly. Using my handy compass to find North Irefer to
the magnetic variance-o-the-day on the Internet to properly align my ETX
90AT. Once as a test I did not bother with the variance and go-to was
far from perfect when it tried to find the alignment stars. I suppose
part of the whole 2 star alignment procedure is centering the star and
if it gets close enough I guess it would work. But is the elimination of
the bubble level (the level I place on the tube to ensure it is
perfectly horizontal) and the hand-held compass to find North really
worth the $100+ extra? It is selling for $695 no UHTC and for $745 with
UHTC. Both include the #884 tripod and the Autostar. This is Meade's
list of extra crunchy features:

Electronic Level Sensor - Like I said, I use a simple bubble level from
my toolbox to ensure the tube is level. I also place the level just
under the tube on the base to ensure the tripod is level with the
ground. No brainer there.

Electronic Magnetic North Sensor - I use a $5.95 hand held compass to
find Magnetic North and check the Internet for the variance as I cannot
see Polaris (too dim) from the backyard with the naked eye. If you can
see (and locate) Polaris you don't need the compass at all I suppose.
Even if I don't bother with the variance I can usually find the
alignment star in question with my handy-dandy David H. Levy planisphere
and then move the scope right to it.

High Precision Internal Clock - Currently my ETX 90AT tracks stuff a lot
longer than Icare to look at them. I have not tried long exposure
astrophotography but others have successfully with a properly working
ETX 90AT, so how much better is this new clock over the old one? I for
one do not leave the scope ticking away for days and days on end so what
was the issue with the old clock that needed to be corrected with this
new version?

Red Dot Viewfinder (SmartFinder) - I personally don't care for red dot
finders and if I really wanted one I could slap one on the thing for
cheap in tandem with the stock viewfinder. I really like the stock
correct image viewfinder and would really miss it if it was gone. Since
I don't own binoculars I took the viewfinder to WrestleMania XIX here in
Seattle and it worked really well. We were up in the cheap seats and the
little viewfinder zoomed in on the ring better than some of the
binoculars some people were using with a crisp clear image.

Spiffy graphics on the tube - Whee!It's pretty but so what...

They are good enough to throw in the PC interface cable so that's a

In short these improvements seem aimed to make the experience easier for
a novice user and no real incentive for me to say upgrade to a 125PE
from the 90AT. The mount and base are mostly still made of plastic and I
suspect the clutch, gears and bearings arethe same old same old as well.
A built in dew shield would have been great.

Oh well just my rambling thoughts on the subject :) Maybe I can find a
125AT at a bargain price if these PE things make the AC's obsolete!

-Michael Teige
Monroe WA
Mike here: I suspect, but don't yet know for certain, that with your location input they apply the correct magnetic variation for that location. As to whether the new features will be useful to you, only you can say. They will appeal to many new purchasers. Others will find them unnecessary or unwanted.

Return to the top of this page.

Go back to the Editorials Page.

Go back to my ETX Home Page.

Copyright ©2004 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittal Copyright © 2004 by the Submitter