Last updated: 22 January 2002
Subject: Another hooked 'newbie' Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 18:29:10 From: email@example.com (Devin Bennett) In August of 2001 (as a 30th birthday present to myself), I purchased a Meade ETX-70AT. One of my best friends of 20+ years turned me onto this model (he has the ETX-60AT) a few months before my birthday. I was amazed by its simple-to-use, elegant design and considerable 'bang-for-the-buck'. One of the things that has kept me away from exploring astronomy for so long was the apprehension of being such a novice (and not the world's best mathematician). Being an artist (by birth and profession), I am a very observant, visual person. In my own way, I have been a 'star gazer' ever since I first looked into the night sky as a very young lad... I've been captivated ever since. Anyway... back to my praises for the ETX-70AT. Upon purchasing my scope from The Discovery Channel Store** at a nearby shopping center, I couldn't wait to set it up that night! And I was not disappointed in the least! The basic field tripod, included in the deal (for $299) is more than adequate, although I'd warn people to be careful with it as there are no cross braces for added stability... not a big problem, if one's careful. It comes with a rugged snap-on accessory tray (which I recently broke on a cold night... DOUGH!... I'll get to that incident later*). The moon was the very first thing I studied, and it was stunning! Next, I looked at the planet Mars... which at first is unimpressive, appearing as a bright orange speck... until I realized that it is a very distant object (and with the limitations of a smaller scope, I shouldn't expect "Hubble-like" images). Still... the fact that I was looking at the planet Mars with my own eyes was enough to excite me a great deal! Then it was onto Saturn... again, small but thrilling! I could clearly make out the rings, although the image appeared flat. Then, it was onto Jupiter... very cool! I could clearly see the planetary "ball" and two of it's four moons which appeared like stars. VERY EXCITING! And thus concluded my first night as an ETX owner! Since then, I've purchased more accessories for my Meade ETX-70AT... and plan on a few more things as well! I would recommend that all new ETX-60 & 70AT owners follow their product manual and purchase the lenses they suggest (the #124 2x & #128 3x Barlow lenses, the PL 4mm, PL 5mm eyepieces)... trying to match your needs and desired results. I personally love the #128 Barlow/PL 4mm eyepiece combo... which gives an overall power of 264x! With that combination, I am able to see Jupiter as a 'pea-sized' sphere... and tonight, I'm proud to report that I saw my very first planetary detail (the two dark equatorial belts!) What a wonderful little scope! And also, with that same lens configuration, I saw my very first hints of three-dimensional perspective from Saturn (although the planet Saturn appears quite small, I could make out a faint shadow cast across the rings (and even a very faint hint of the "Cassini Division"). I expect on a calm, clear night I'll see even more! Wonderful stuff! And the moon... stunning! *As I cracked the snap-on accessory tray the other night, an idea occurred to me that I thought I'd pass along to other ETX-70AT users with the same tripod. VELCRO! I am going to place strips of Velcro on the outside of each leg, and a matching patch on the back of the Autostar Hand Controller. This will make it more convenient and safe to secure the controller... avoiding 'chord wrap'. I have seen Velcro strips with strong adhesive sides at fabric stores... and that's my answer! ** Link to the Discovery Channel Store Meade ETX-70AT deal: shopping.discovery.com/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10000&storeId=10000&productId=11810&langId=-1&categoryId=11417&parent_category_rn=1109 I've enjoyed reading through your site, and am encouraged by what I've learned (both through your site, and on my own). I am truly impressed with the Meade ETX-70AT, and look forward to learning all that I can from it (and through it!)... as I prepare myself for a larger scope in the future. I would encourage any new astronomer to spend the $300 on this wonderful tool (frankly... you'd be hard-pressed to find a better piece of equipment for the money). Learn from it, fall in love with it, and don't be discouraged by its limitations... look past them and you'll see a whole wealth of wonderful things it can help you explore! Sincerely, Devin Bennett Mayfield Heights, Ohio USA
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