Last updated: 26 April 2005

Subject:	ETX 105/EC Versus the Weather - User Report
Sent:	Sunday, April 24, 2005 08:06:13
From:	Miles (
Here is an account you could add to the user observation section for the
ETX105 EC (with UHTC),  bought new with autostar and the 844 tripod in

I got my 105 for my 40th,  and expecting a 90,  was delighted and
surprised to see the 105,  for some reason I had missed this model.  
Thankfully my spouse found a good  dealer who  pointed out the small
step up from the 90,  with the better viewfinder and sturdier build, and
threw in 4  series 3000 eyepieces instead of the LPI - that advertised
offer had expired.

Despite the thorough research I thought I had done,  I soon felt pretty
dumb not having  added  in one of the most important determining factors
in what you will see with your new scope - the weather.  First night out
of the box it was cloudy - and it was that way for a week.   By the
second week, I had had enough of looking at birds, aligning the
viewfinder and training and stuff, and was getting pretty despondent.  I
must point out that the British Isle are one of the worst places for
clear skies - it is a battle ground for weather systems.

Then one night I stepped out for some late shopping and looked up to see
an appreciable gap in the clouds. I ran back in, checked the charts and
realised that if the upstairs south facing window sill was deep enough,
I could get a glimpse of saturn.  The little scopes broad base sat
perfectly, with the deep ledge allowing the tube end  to be outside, and
there it was, a perfect jewel in the 26mm lens.  Upping the
magnification brought out the  'wows', and  'thats amazings!'.    The
series 3000 plossls seam fine, they are japanese made, and so far the
atmospheric conditions have rarely allowed me to see there full
performance anyhow, so I will not be replacing any yet.   It seams a
little mean to only include one eyepiece for new buyers,  but then I
guess the after sales market would dry up if to much came with the
scope!   Another say, 15 or 10mm lens, or / plus a Barlow would be
essential straight off - so add that to any purchasing calculations.

The weather never really cleared for five or six weeks, if it did it was
 late, or an obviously temporary affair that did not encourage taking
the whole thing out.  However,  now that I realised we had South and
North facing deep window ledges I kept and eye on the sky every half
hour and simply moved  the scope round the house whenever a usable gap
appeared,  and used it as a mini dob - tapping the motors to keep things
in view.  Over the course of a month,  from indoors,  I have managed to
see some beautiful clusters in Cancer, the spring farewell of the Orion
nebular, many fascinating star systems,  saturn,  jupiter - (including
shadow transits), and countless views of the moon.  The views have been
very good.  Bright stars focus crisply, clusters look very jewel like, 
moonscapes are very contrasty with astonishing detail and '3d' views,
and the Cassini division and markings on the globe have been visible
everytime on Saturn.  Obviously with these limited vistas it was hit or
miss what became viewable but I am astonished when I count up  what I
have seen from 'indoors' - the compact portable nature of this machine
has really come in to its own.

Finally - an autostar test.

Eventually, after about five weeks it was clear enough and early enough
to take it out and switch it on.

This was actually the third attempt, since I had ran outside  previously
trying to quickly do  alignments during gaps in the cloud.  Human error
resulted in many fails - including,  (to my embarrassment but to give
hope to others!) :

Pointing the scope north  towards Polaris while  leveling  the tripod, 
failing to tighten it up after star hoping,  watching the motors in the
base throw the compass out,  getting British Summer Time mixed up, 
droping stuff in the dark, and of course not having enough knowledge
about the sky to replace the stars hidden behind roofs!   The moral is
take time and practice and make sure human error has been eliminated
before worrying.

Eventually all was textbook.  Autostar is an amazing device - being able
to dial in objects  and watch the scope swivel itself and get the object
centered, and then track it has to be seen to be believed.   I will
point out that GOTO is far from a 'dumbing down' of astronomy.  You will
find yourself having to think about alignment and understanding the
concepts of telescope mounting to set it up, and at the very least you
will need to expand your knowledge of bright stars - the chances of your
backyard offering unobscured views of automatically chosen stars,
anytime of night, is slim.

Some thoughts and things for potential buyers.

The compact nature of this little thing weighs heavily in its favour. 
Any other scope needs to be on a tripod, but the fact that this thing
can operate like a mini observatory on any level surface makes it highly
desirable - if you can, compare this in a store with other models, of
similar sized aperture -  even much smaller scopes are useless without
the big tripod.  I have sometimes left this thing on my bedside table -
ready to set it on the window ledge to peak at Jupiter in my nightshirt
out of an open window!   Shame about no holder for the controller

The 105 is worth seeking out over the 90,  its still very portable but
is better made and for a relatively small jump in price band puts you in
the big small scope bracket.  Remember the upgrade for the 90 finder
will eat into that price jump.  (On this point I fail to see why people
complain about the finders position, it does say in the instructions to
rotate it away if smaller eyepieces are blocked, it is not a major
design flaw).

Optically the views are very good. I have limited experience, but can
report beautiful images through this thing. Everything seams crisp and
well focused with no vices - when the seeing settles, planetary views
can be thrilling.

This scope is not battery reliant. Switched off with the clutch loosened
it moves smoothly if you want to just star hop or scan around,  GOTO
does not rule out making your own way around.

Do research and take time before buying your first major scope, though I
must admit to  wanting an  ETX since it reminded me of the Questars I
had seen in the copies of Omni and Scientific American my uncle used to
bring me from the States - I didn't want a Questar, just that type of
compact design.  However some astronomy communities have the view that
any money not spent on aperture - even if that means a huge cardboard
tube held up by doweling and rubber bands -  devalues your credentials
as an amateur astronomer.   Realise though its 'hourses for courses'. 
Some love small scopes, some large, some apo's, some binoculars. Try not
to be influenced by others, hey -  even if its the color you like -
thats fine,  but  read and be sure about what you really can and cannot
see through different scopes - then you won't be disappointed.  However,
also realise that even an pill  sized low power well imaged view of
Saturn seen through YOUR  scope with YOUR eyes on a cold night  is
infinitely more thrilling than seeing the best picture someone else has
managed with their 24 inch and super CCD.   In fact if what you can see
in the diminutive  ETX 70 does not impress you and ignite a  passion for
observing, then its doubtful any larger scope will. ( However I'll bet
that even people on the Hubble team during  all night image processing
sessions  have mumbled to themselves 'if only we could see just a little
bit more!')


There is no doubt this is a fine instrument,  and I must admit that I
only followed up the reports in detail on this site after I had bought
it, and some of the bad things obviously make people doubt the
excellence of the ETX range.  If I had read some of these things first,
I might have shied away - but Im glad I didn't because I have obviously
been lucky,  or perhaps this is normal...these things should work!    I
have two powerbooks that I depend on for work,  but if I visit Apple
forums, apparently they are always going wrong, and for some Apple sell
nothing but underpowered over-designed lemons!  So Meade may have a QC
issue,  but specialist forums do skew things towards the bad.  I will
let you know if I am proved wrong!

Best Wishes


P.S. thanks for the site - and thanks for the links to the constellation
and observation guides - though tech and spec talk is interesting to a
point - its great to be finally clicking on those links - and getting

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