Last updated: 21 April 2002

Subject:	ETX 70AT user review
Sent:	Saturday, April 20, 2002 7:20:07
From: (Uckfield Judges)
I think this is going to be long but is basically a good review of the
ETX 70AT. I'll start at the beginning...

For my Birthday my wife and parents got together to buy me a telescope
as I have a history of interest in astronomy which has been rekindled by
the ISS and the availability of information on the internet. It was a
Meade 4505 in a package from CostCo. (I'm in the UK so it cost 200,
Telescopes are more expensive over here.)It came with a motor drive and
"Starfinder" GoTo controller (not Autostar but similar)

The 950mm focal length and 4.5" mirror gave magnifications up to about
3-400 with the supplied eyepieces and it was mounted on an equatorial
mount. In all respects it was an impressive piece of kit.

Views of the planets were fine (Saturn's rings, Jupiter's bands and
moons etc.) but alignment was very difficult and the GoTo never managed
to get any object in the very narrow field. Deep sky objects where very
difficult to locate as they could not be seen in the view finder and the
narrow field left no room for slight errors.

One night it "Ran away" and the tube crashed into the motors and broke
the mount. After replacing the broken part I got the "Motor Drive Fault"
error. Although Telescope house ( said they would
look at it Costco would only give money back on the whole package. So I
started looking into "Starter scopes" to find an alternative.

I read loads of internet articles on starter telescopes. Most of these
are either small aperture refractors or 4-5" Newtonians but with a 900+
focal length. For 200 (GBP) I could not find one with a GoTo function. I
considered the problems I had had with the 4505 and it came down to.

Too much magnification
Too small field
Too heavy to transport
Too difficult to align


Cheapest telescope (not a Starter Telescope) is ETX 70AT. At 319 (GBP)
it's 119 dearer than a "Starter" but the advantages are..

Lower magnification (with the option to increase)
Larger field (Because of the short focal length, most objects will be
found in view with GoTo even with slight misalignment)
It's light so it's easy to transport
It's easy to align (The AltAz mount makes this simple almost point and go)

OK so I set my heart on the scope but how can I justify the extra 119.
(This next bit is a plug but if you are in the UK I the best deal you'll

ETX 70AT plus..
Standard Field tripod
Barlow lens
PC connect cable
T adapter (You still need the T2 to connect a camera)
319 from SCS Astro in Somerset (

Yesterday (19/04/2002)it performed fantastically. Jupiter (faint bands
but four moons distorted by proximity to moon) Moon (Wow) Ikeya-Zhang
(You have to see the new comet and the PC cable enabled me to find it
with the GoTo)

The image is slighty smaller than the 4505 (I think this may be an
optical illusion)but the clarity is amazing.It's early days but the
extra money is well worth it.

When my niece (age 4) peered into the eyepiece to look at the moon she
exclaimed.. "It's the Clanger's planet!"

I hope this will help anyone looking for a "Starter Telescope" This site
is brilliant for information so I guess I'll have to buy the book.

best regards

Richard judge

PS In answer to Ed. I found that Jupiter was disappointing but the
proximty to the Moon causes a glare effect. We will have to wait until
the Moon moves away.

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