Last updated: 8 February 2002
Subject: ETX 125EC First Light Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2002 5:55:38 From: email@example.com (Don Tabbutt) On Friday I bought an ETX 125EC along with the #884 tripod, hard case, Autostar, and Electric Focuser. As a long time LX200 owner, I already have plenty of other gear along with four decades of experience as an amateur astronomer. I also own the ETX 90RA which now serves duty atop the LX200 as a guide scope. I also have an 80mm University Optics achromatic refractor, an older Meade 6" F/3.5 Schmidt-Newtonian wide-field scope, and a 6" F/8 Newt on a pipe-joint mount that I ground and built when I was 14 years old (I'm now a grandpa). Why the ETX 125EC? 1. Portability. The smallest LX200 system weighs at least four or five times as much. I wanted a travel scope. 2. The Maksutov design. It is, in my opinion, the best Cassegrain format in terms of consistent optical excellence. 3. The 5" aperture and long apparent focal length. Aperture matters, period. The long focal length allows excellent planetary images, and with the appropriate eyepiece, good deep space views. Rember this: focal length has nothing to do with brightness. Telescopes of the same aperture, at the same magnification, have exactly the same brightness, regardless of focal lenghth. Don't think of the F/15 ratio as a stopped-down camera lens. One degree field of view at the wide end is adequate for me (32mm Televue Plossl), and the smaller exit pupil size is better for most well-lit travel destinations than with a shorter focal length telescope. Granted, you won't get the entire Andromeda galaxy in this scope, but most wide views are best seen through binoculars, not small, portable telescopes. The similarly priced Televue Ranger/Pronto, for example, are best described as one side of a high-end 70mm binocular, which would serve one better. 4. GOTO capability. I hate star-hopping. I've been there, done that for decades, and it takes away from the pleasure of viewing the target. Some may disagree, but try both before you decide. If you want to learn the sky, buy Starry Night and have at it. Don't waste your telescope time. This is the new millenium...use technology to its fullest. 5. The electric focuser is important, and actually should be a standard feature of this telescope. Small, portable, lightweight instruments on lightweight tripods are inherently unsteady, no matter the brand. An electric focuser removes most of the jitters, and accurate focus is the most important aspect of fine images. First Light: Super Bowl Sunday 1. Set up the ETX in Alt-Az next to the LX200. I had previously trained the ETX's Autostar system using a Meade MA12mm fixed-reticle eyepiece on a terrestrial target, and I knew it was perfect. 2. Easy-Aligned with no problems or errors. Used an 18mm Meade SWA eyepiece in both scopes. This eyepiece has nearly the field of view as the 26mm Plossl, but with greater magnification. It's also wonderful with a 2X Barlow as a 9mm equivalent. 3. Did a GOTO Jupiter with both scopes, using the Meade 13.8mm SWA eyepiece. Io was about to disappear behind the planet, and I wanted to see the quality of the resolution in both scopes as Io neared the planet's edge. The LX200 dead-centered Jupiter, and the ETX had it about 10 arc-minutes off-center. Excellent ETX performance, especially for an object so high. Both scopes nicely resolved the separation between Io and the planet right up to disappearance, with a very slight edge to the LX200. 4. Did a GOTO M42 with both scopes using a 32mm Televue Plossl. The ETX centered on the Trapezium, while the LX200 centered a little southwest of it. The Trapezium was noticeably dimmer in the ETX, but again, aperture matters. 5. Did a GOTO Saturn with the ETX with the 13.8mm eyepiece, and it ended up nearly in the eyepiece. Corrected to center it, then went to the LX200 for some imaging I had planned. Three hours later, Saturn was still there in the ETX. I consider this to be excellent tracking. 6. In every observation, the brightness, contrast, and centering were better in the LX200. But the ETX held its own, offering similar images with outstanding resolution for its size. I am very pleased with the performance of my ETX compared to a system that starts at more than twice the price. I plan on taking it with me often as I travel. Second Light: Hangover Monday Watched Io transit Jupiter with the ETX. Beautiful little tiny sharp shadow with the 13.8mm SWA. I love this telescope! Summary 1. There is no contest in stability between the LX200 and the ETX. Nor should there be. One is an observatory telescope, and the other is a grab and run instument. The ETX does all it should. 2. The ETX optical performance is outstanding. I would hold it up against any similarly priced instrument by any manufacturer. 3. The Autostar GOTO performance is exemplary. Again, it's no LX200, but for a portable scope, it will get you in the ballpark. 4. I would like to see Meade own up to this scope's limitations in its marketing. It is a fine instrument for its size, price, and portability. But it won't do what Meade infers on the box and in its ads. I know Marketing is dog-eat-dog, but I would like to see a little more about straightforward capabilities and limitations all around, by all manufacturers. It's all about customer expectations, which are the source of many of the posts on your incredibly excellent site. Cheers, Don
Subject: New "supercharged" scope and Accessories from SightandSoundShop.com Sent: Friday, February 8, 2002 9:07:02 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brent Anderson) I just wanted to let you know my experience with a vendor from your site and Dr. Clay Sherrod. I ordered a "supercharged" ETX 125 from Sight and Sound, along with the 884 tripod, Meade electric focuser, 497 Autostar, the Meade 8-24 zoom eyepiece, and some assorted accessories. I did some research and after reading the many reviews on you site, based upon my lifestyle and the fact I have 3 young boys, I choose the ETX 125 for ease of use and portability. This is my second attempt at the hobby, after a disastrous "department store" scope many years ago. Michael Webb at Sight and Sound Shop was a pleasure to work with. He answered all my question and proved a valuable source of information. Dr. Clay Sherrod was very helpful and educated me on what to expect from the scope as well as pointing out many references on the web when I had questions about accessories and usage. He remained in constant email contact with me and helped to customize the Autostar to my requirements and locations. I received the scope last week and I finally got to use it last night. I got home around 9:30 and it was such a clear, but cold, night I decided to try the scope out. My Home location has terrible light pollution, but straight overhead Jupiter was shinning brightly. I set the tripod up, leveled it, and attached the scope to the base. After finding Polaris and re-leveling the scope I did the Easy align and got a drive error message after a few seconds of slewing! I turned off the scope and started over. this time it worked OK. It was pretty cold and the grease may have been a little stiff. I did notice some vibrations during the tracking that went away after the scope "warmed" up. At first I could not see anything out of the eyepiece so I just said yes to the easy align prompts. When it was done I selected Jupiter and pushed the goto button. After slewing to Jupiter I could still see nothing in the eyepiece. I could see a little "blob" of light in the finder , so I used the Auto start to center it and went back to the eyepiece. I saw the edge of a "washer" shaped disk in the lower left. I centered it and held down the focus button and the washer started shrinking. Out of no where it, (the "washer"), collapsed into Jupiter! I fine tuned the focus and Jupiter plus 4 moons jumped right out at me!! I could see 3 or 4 bands, and I thought I could just make out the Great Red spot! I ran and got the wife and dragged her out to see. She was impressed and stayed out with me while I played. Next I tried Saturn, this time after the slew was finished I fine tuned the alignment and Saturn was floating in the eyepiece with the Cassini (sp?) division and a band, or ring shadow, easily visible on the Planet!!! WOW!!! I looked at some stars and played for about 2 hours until the scope dewed over. I got the finder focused in and had a blast with the zoom eyepiece on the planets. I was going to wait for the moon but after the dew problem started I brought it inside and covered it with a pillow case until it dried out, (dew zapper here I come!). I have a Field doubler and the SAC7 CCD camera on order from ScopeTronics and cannot wait to try out some CCD imaging. I will send you some pictures when I figure it out! The scope has exceeded my expectations and I want to thank you, Michael Webb, and especially Dr. Clay Sherrod for the fine work you all have done in making my return to the hobby very satisfying!!! I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Sherrod's "supercharge" for any one wanting to get the most out of their ETX 125! Clear, Dark Sky's !! Brent Anderson Dallas, Texas
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