Last updated: 22 January 2002
Subject:	Another hooked 'newbie'
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 18:29:10
From: (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

** Link to the Discovery Channel Store Meade ETX-70AT deal:

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!

Devin Bennett
Mayfield Heights, Ohio  USA

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