For New or Prospective LX200 Owners

MAPUG-Astronomy Topical Archive     AstroDesigns    MAPUG-Astronomy.net

 

rule

Subject: Tips for New LX200 Classic Owners      Top

From: Ralph Pass

Since last year, I have learned a few tips on the LX200 that all of you new users may not be aware of. These really make observing a greater pleasure. Heres some of what I have learned, feel free to add to this list:

1. In performing the 2-star alignment, its only necessary to know exactly where one star is. Follow the keypoard prompts till you come to choosing the second star. When you know which star is going to be your second star, find the stars name and press enter. Then, instead of centering the second star in the eyepiece, just hit the "GoTo" button and the telescope will slew to that star as best it knows. If your last alignment was done in the same general area, the star will probably at least be viewable in the finder. This helps if you don't know exactly which star is the one in Orion or Gemini as an example, just give it your best shot and press "GoTo" instead of centering. This works great! Its not listed in the manual.

If you set up level and pointing south it gets even easier. All you really need is the name of a star that is up. Power up. Press the STAR key. Press ENTER twice and select the star name. Press GoTo. The scope will slew near to where that star is. It is most likely the brightest in the area. How close it comes depends on the accuracy of the clock, Lat & Long, level and pointing south. Once you have the star centered you can perform the above process.

2. When you have hit the "GoTo" comand and the telescope is slewing, you can stop the slew by just hitting the "GoTo" button again. It will stop the slewing of the scope. To resume slewing, just hit "goto" again and the slew will continue to its destination. This is a nice feature if you have a fear of maybe the eyepiece or your camera hiting the fork or bump into another part of the scope. Its nice to know how to stop a slewing scope.

This is not in the manual either. These next few are just ways to make the night viewing more comfortable.

3. Take a comfortable chair with you. Even a bar stool is probably OK as long as you can sit at the eyepiece and view. An adjustable one is better. Sometimes, objects or details will become much more apparent once you have viewed thru the eyepiece for a few minutes. This is also great on tired feet or backs as the night lingers on.

Adjustable is very important. A comfortable height can mean the difference between relaxed viewing and back strain. A few inches can make a difference.

4. Make yourself a Rob Roy Pizza pan. This is one of the greatest simplest ideas ever. Buy your self a 16" pizza pan for 10 bucks or so and cut out an offset hole in it to slide over your tripod. Place your telescope on the tripod as usual and you now have a very nice tray to hold a eyepiece, filter, flashlight, a sandwich, twinky, cigar or what every you have that you need to sit down for a minute as you make adjustments. But most of all, this is a terrific place to hang your key pad anywhere around your telescope, the full 360 degress around the tripod. You will never leave home without this! I guarantee this! Ask the group for more details on this Pizza pan idea.

**Archive Editor: check-out the Meade Tripod Shelf Design on the AstroDesigns Home page (click the Home button on this page) for a shelf that also aligns the scope base to the tripod's center bolt--it eliminates a major frustration of setting-up the scope.

5. Get the Rob Roy Joystick for your keypad. Its the most natural looking option you could get for your keypad and like all joysticks, it will give joystick control over your telescope. This will also work on LX-50's also. This along with the pizza pan are the two items that any LX200 owner should always have. This is another one of those "don't leave home without it" items.

6. An extended Keypad coiled cord. I bought a 20 foot black coiled telephone cord at Radio shack for about 5 or 6 dollars. It has the correct plugs to plug right into your keypad and control panel. You can test it by removing the coiled cord on your telephone and trying out this one. This gives lots more mobility for you without giving up the keypad. The cord hangs about a foot from the ground so things dont get tangled into a mess.

**Make sure you get the right kind of phone chord. There are two kinds. One works, and one can be disastrous. I'm not sure whether the reciever type or the phone to wall type is correct.

7. A JMI Motofucus NGF-S focuser. This is a $250. item so I included it last. This is in my opinion the only way to get rid of image shift focusing. Without this focuser, very high power viewing is very difficult to focus. This unit is well made and fits the telescope perfectly. Its expensive, but then, so was the telescope.

Don't forget Bill Arnett's Jiffy Focuser. See his web page: <http://nineplanets.org/>

These are items that I found are very useful to know about and use and makes operating the LX200 much more pleasurable and comfortable. With the number of new telescope owners out here, I thought it would be good to share this information.

rule

Subject: Which LX200? Recommendation      Top

From: Doc G

Recommendation:

I have had in the past three years all three of the Meade LX200 classic telescopes, the 8", 10" and 12". I have found all three excellent optically. The 8" was sturdy and easy to set up. A friend still has it and is still very pleased with it. I consider this to be high praise since he may be even more fussy than I am and an expert at making things break.

I got the 12" next and found it excellent optically. It was too large and heavy for me to set up without help. I mounted it in a trailer but still found it hard to lug about. I had a building built for it at a dark site belonging to the Madison Astronomical Society and donated it to the Society. It is now mounted solidly and I use it regularly.

I then purchased a 10" which I found to be the best of the three optically and just right for my imaging interests. (the middle one was just right as in the story) The point of telling this is that I feel you get a lot of optics and a fairly good mechanism for your money. I would buy a Meade telescope again. However, there is another consideration. When you purchase a telescope you should if possible think about the uses you will make of the instrument.

The 8" is from an imaging point of view a really nice long telephoto with a mechanical mount that is more than adequate to point it. The 12" is large and heavy and has a focal length that is so long that for much CCD imaging the field of view is rather small. Additionally the mount for the 12" and the 10" are almost identical in terms of the motors, the gears and so forth. I believe the mechanism is fine for the 10" but a bit undersized for the 12". I also got the 10" which is the f6.3 version to get a larger field of view for CCD imaging. It is clear that the 10" mount gives good stability while the 12" mount is under stress. I believe this relates directly to the marginal sizing of the gears and cetera for the 12".

In all of the telescopes the electronic pointing mechanism is very good and it is a joy to wander about the sky looking finding the dimmest objects at the press of a few keys. I remember distinctly the first night I had the 12" out and aligned properly. I thought, "Well, Uranus must be out there somewhere high in the South." I keyed in STAR 907, GOTO and Bingo the nice little blue-green disk appeared right in the middle of the finder. The scope proved itself that night and ever since.

When you purchase your LX200 it is wise to try to get the one most suited to your viewing interests. They are all very good and they all have essentially identical electronics and good and bad points. Any one telescope will probably not satisfy all your astronomical needs.

Knowing what I now know, I would get the 10" f/6.3 as the first choice. I really like the LX200s. There are better and much more expensive telescopes out there if money is no object. Meade gives you a lot of telescope and a basically good telescope for the money in my opinion. Almost all of the remaining problems I am having with my instruments are fundamental to the fork mount design. But that is a big topic not appropriate to this message.

rule

Subject: Selecting Best Focal Lengths for New Scope  Top

From: Doc G

For telescopes of the amateur type, say up to 14", the focal lengths are of course just the apertures times the focal ratio. Looking at a few numbers, we get 120" for a 12" f/10 scope, 100" for your 10" f/10, 63" for a 10" f/6.3 and so forth down to shorter focal lengths for refractors which are usually 4" to 6" in diameter but a bit faster at F5 to F10. That would give, for example, for a 5" f/6 refractor a focal length of 30".

Thus there is a considerable difference between amateur scopes. In general however they run from 20" for smaller refractors to 120" for the larger SCT scopes. So the answer to your question might well be that scopes with a focal length of 20" to 50" are short (small) those in the 40" to 90" range are medium and those longer than 90" are long (large).

This rather arbitrary set of ranges however only answers the questions of how large a real field of view you can get. Get with what? The field of view depends on the size of the field stop in an eyepiece or the size of the chip you are using for imaging.

I have felt that it is important when selecting a telescope to choose a focal length that will allow you to see the object you are viewing fully. For planets, you would want to use a barlowed long focal length so as to get a large enough image of the planet to be useful. On the other hand if you want to view many nebula, you need a short focal length telescope and a 2" eyepiece to get a large real field of view.

So armed with your needs in the first place you can judge what would be the best focal length for your viewing habits. You can see immediately that no one scope focal length will satisfy all of the large range of needs. As it turns out, many persons purchase 10" or 12" scopes only to find that they cannot image a large range of interesting objects. Thus they use focal reducers to effectively shorten the focal length of the base telescope. On the other hand the same telescope will need to have a focal extender (barlow) to effectively increase the focal length for things like planet viewing.

So you see, this is a dilemma. I feel that no one telescope will do it all and I think a lot of people agree with this assessment. A folded design like an SCT in the range of 100" focal length is a good choice. Then for very large objects a focal length of 40" is a reasonable choice. These scopes can then be extended or reduced with an optical element of reasonable construction.

So while the designation of short, medium and long is rather arbitrary, the practical application of focal length as a primary characteristic of the telescope is not.

rule

Subject: LX200: Choosing Between 8" Vs. 10"    Top

From: David Bonnell, Date: May, 1998

> I am in doubt about which LX200 to choose.
> As you know the LX200 8" OTA weighs 43 lbs and the tripod 20 lbs, while
> 10" OTA weighs 51 lbs.

The weights you list are apparently total weight, including probably the tripod and accessories (shipping weight?). The real issue is the tube and fork weight, which, for the 10" is about 70 # (with finders... attached) vs. perhaps 40 # for the 8". This weight difference (and the physical size difference) is very significant logistically (moving around, setting up, storage...).

Although I have a 10" (LX-50), and really appreciate the extra aperture, I will have to admit that the setup effort probably keeps me from trotting it out on marginal nights (esp. when the moon is up). As for taking it to dark sky sites, the difference there is not a big one (I do have a small van). If you plan on other kinds of travel, the availability of commercial cases... is a real advantage. One issue is the physical weight in picking up and mounting - I find I need to wear a back brace to avoid a sore back in the morning - and heaving the assembly up onto the tripod is more than slightly an effort, especially compared to an 8".

If you want the most scope you can haul around and set up by yourself, the 10" is it in a Meade SCT - I know of people who can assemble the 12" rig by themselves, but generally do not! The Celestron C14 on a German mount is also a one-person system, as the German mount disassembles into more manageable chunks -- But, to take advantage of the large scope, you need to be dedicated to observing, need the extra aperture for photography, or just be a big guy for which 70 # of dead weight (VERY EXPENSIVE dead weight) is not an issue, for the 10" to be a choice. There is a very real possibility that the extra size/weight of the 10" will actually keep you from observing, when the 8" would be "just right."

There has been a lot of other good advice provided to this thread - you need to weigh the pros and cons - the 10" is a great scope, and I don't regret my choice. I probably would have always felt that I stopped short, somehow, particularly since the (relatively small) price difference makes the 10" one of the real buys. You rarely get 50% (light or whatever) more for less than 10% more cost. But the 10" is physically a BIG rig, and 1/2 magnitude is not a lot of seeing. The 8", one the other hand, is pretty easy to manage for almost anyone. Taking an 8" to a really dark site can more than make up for the aperture difference! And, as the light pollution gets worse, the advantages of the 10" seem to melt away.

My advice -- unless you are planning a major commitment to this avocation and DSO's (deep space objects) are a passion, the 8" is probably a better entry point scope. But, if aperture fever is an issue, and you really want to look at DSO's, the extra 1/2 mag gain is noticeable (IMHO) - but I have looked through a number of scopes from 6"ers to 15"ers, and for those objects (like most of the Messier list) that are moderately bright, the differences in what you see are relatively subtle, rather than "knock-your-socks-off" different.

Don't get me wrong, the 10" is manageable, and a really sweet scope - just be aware that dead-lifting 70-odd #s on and off the tripod is tougher than it sounds. You cannot "hug" this load very close to your body, so a lot more arm strength and control is required than you would expect. If you decide on the 10", be sure to get one of the base to tripod head locator products (Scope Saver) on the market or that are discussed on the Ed Stewart's home page, chose Stewart Sled: <http://www.MAPUG-Astronomy.net/AstroDesigns/>

The good news -- you can't make a mistake -- both sizes are good tools, with lots to recommend them.

rule

Subject: Sources of Information for Beginners     Top

From: Jim Lowry <jim-lowrya_tatt.net>

There have been many questions recently from novices, both to MAPUG and to astronomy in general. Having been there myself just some two years ago, I would like to recommend some books and URL's that have been EXTREMELY helpful to me:

"The Backyard Astronomer's Guide" by Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer

I believe that this book is an absolute must for the beginner. It starts off basic, but goes into wonderful detail. Types of telescopes, both pros and cons....... types of eyepieces, all types....... filters ...... what to expect through the scope...... eye relief, barlows, observing the planets, moon, and others.... you get the idea, it is thorough, detailed, easy to read, with wonderful pictures.

"The 20-cm Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope" by Peter L. Manly

Many have called this the bible for SCT's. Even though I have the 10", it really goes into detail on the optics, mechanics, and maintenance of a SCT.

Get on the web and spend some time exploring. Here are sites that are a constant source of information for me. There are of course others. Can't list them all:

Ed Stewart's page <http://www.MAPUG-Astronomy.net/AstroDesigns/>

Gems and pearls of wisdom from Ed and other MAPUGers. A must see!! 

Doc G's website . Note: should open a new browser page over this one.

Technical data and information galore. Find out why we treasure our professor, and many thanks to others who have contributed pages to Doc's site.

Bill Arnett's page <http://nineplanets.org/> Note: should open a new browser page.

An incredible wealth of information on general astronomy. Great links to SEDS and other places, I visit this site often. Thanks to Bill!!

and last but not least.......... especially for beginners: SKY and TELESCOPE Astronomy Page
   <http://skyandtelescope.com/> Note: should open a new browser page over this one.

This site also has a wealth of information, how to buy, what to buy, what to look for, what is seeing, secrets of deep sky observing, etc. I hope that this list of informatio will prove useful to others. Enjoy our beloved hobby. I do!

rule

Subject: LX200-7" Maksutov Vs. 8" SCT --part 1 of 2     Top

From: Colin Haig <chaiga_tcompuserve.com>

John Hilliard wrote:

>considering purchase of a LX200 7" Mak.
>I am aware of the claims for lunar, planetary, double
>stars etc. but from a dark sky
>site, how are they for deep sky. I am looking at the
>comparison to an 8" LX200.
>Disregarding the price difference, but performance wise on deep sky.

John, I have the 7" Mak, and in 3 words: "I love it". I have head-to-head compared it with several other scopes - 8" , 10", 12" Meade and others, 7" astrophysics, and basically, it puts the 8" to shame.

Short answer:

If you must choose between 7" and 8", buy the Mak. You are only gaining V=0.5 Magnitude by moving to the 8", at a considerable loss of optical quality, resolution, and really poor contrast (some people call it washed out images).

I went through the same question, and decided that the real question is Mak or 10". Ultimately, size, weight, and performance made me decide on the Mak, which I have had for nearly 2 years and 100,000 light years now. The 10" will get you another full magnitude, which was not enough for me to put up with 61 lbs versus 45 lbs.

Some Thoughts:

Meade's specs as published in the owners manual are "conservative" on the Mak, in my opinion. I had a "disagreement" with a 10" owner who insisted his scope had to be better, cuz Meade said so. Then he looked through it. Surprise! He spent the rest of the night collimating. The 8" is the lightest at 37 lbs, and its tube will swing through the forks for slightly more compact storage. The 7" Mak has a longer OTA, so this causes the weight/length trade-offs. Otherwise, mechanically they are identical.

The Mak has a fan to cool the interior of the OTA, and takes longer to dew up so you get more viewing time if you forgot your Kendrick Money-Removers ;-> You also have to collimate the 8" well to get a great image, and there's no need to collimate the 7".

A few others on this list have tuned up their 8" scopes with flocking paper, and other mods to make them very good scopes. Rob Roy taught me a fair bit about his, and also shared some of his "challenges" in getting a good set of optics out of Meade. He was a great resource, and influenced some of my thinking. (Thanks Rob).

If dollars aren't the issue, consider the 10 or 12. If resolution and contrast, combined with portability are the issue, then buy the Mak.

The 10 and 12 are heavier and bulkier. The 12" has significantly greater light grasp which puts it ahead a fair ways. These are ideal scopes if you have a permanent observing facility. I would own a 12" (as well!) if I was in that situation.

Personal Experiences:

For dark skies under good seeing, you will really be glad if you purchase the Mak. Contrast is much better, and images are tack-sharp without need to mess around with collimation and field flatteners. I have used my scope for deep sky under moderately dark skies as well as up in darkest "cottage country" - northern Ontario, and am very satisfied with its performance. The best conditions let you get down better than 13th magnitude.

With my particular scope, it is bested by the 7" astrophysics in resolution only slightly. I've had them both up over 650x on lunar craters and double stars. For fun we tried a 2.5mm Lanthanum once at Starfest, but that was silly (over 1000x in my scope), but it was workable as a "bet settler".

Resolution wise, a former university astronomy technician who owns a 12" decided to do some head-to-head comparisons with my scope. We agreed that the difference was virtually imperceptible on a rare night of near-perfect seeing in the winter, splitting Eta Orionis (1.5') easily, so we went on to tougher challenges, like 32 (?) Orionis (0.7'), which was still perceptibly split. And did I mention nice diffraction rings?

From a light-gathering viewpoint, this is not a scope for deep sky photography. I have successfully used it for a fair bit of CCD work, and video-astronomy. 9th magnitude is the limit on video cameras, and no limit on CCDs (Magnitude 15 or so is as far as I have had patience for). I also purchased the Meade f/3.3 reducer which gives about f/5 on my scope, and this works well with the video camera and CCD. (Paul Goetz came up with some mods to the PC-23C camera, and I have to check out how low I can go now that I did it to my unit).

If you need a light bucket, buy the 10" or save up and buy the 12" and rent an assistant to heft it around. I often use the Meade standard f/6.3 focal reducer to "shorten" my Mak to f/9.5, and then it is virtually identical to the 8", with less central obstruction, better contrast, better resolution. I use this combination for galaxies (because the field of view is narrow on the Mak) and for lunar photography.

If you are a "refractor guy" then you will love the Mak. If you want a light bucket this isn't it, but then neither is the 8".

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Subject: LX200-7" Maksutov Vs. 8" SCT --part 2 of 2  Top

From: John Hopper JohnLX200a_taol.com Date: Oct., 1999

I think you've overstated the case for the 7" Mak, perhaps from not having looked through enough collimated SCTs. Comparing to an uncollimated or poor sample of an SCT is like stepping on a frog, any scope can squish one.

First, the weight/aperture is downright bad. It actually is listed at 54 pounds (not 45) vs. 61 for the 10" and 38 for the 8" in my manual. Meade threw in an iron disc to keep from having to lengthen the forks to reach balance, and some people (including me initially) didn't realize most of the additional weight was not all glass and Meade blue, but just dead weight. It's also got to be one of the main reasons for the fan, to get that iron disc to ambient temp along with the optics.

I've owned an excellent 7" Mak LX200, good 10" LX200, good 10" OTA, and excellent 8" OTA. I've also used some others, including a superb 10" LX200, owned by Ken Milburn that we viewed Omega Centauri and other southern objects with before the 1998 eclipse in Aruba.

I loved my 7" and can still remember what the moon looked like at 1111x in it (see, your 1000x wasn't so outrageous!) In some respects, but not all, it can hold its own against either of the 10" Meades I've owned, but it just doesn't compare at all to an excellent or better 10", much less a superb one like Ken's was that night. It's quite comparable to my excellent 8" SCT, an f/6.3 no less.

Comparison to a 7" AP refractor is at least partially wishful thinking, probably caused by average seeing when the comparison was done. Understandable, because by definition seeing often IS average. Under the same circumstances, you might find a 5" AP performing about like the 7" AP also, with the 4" not far behind if at all, except for brightness at a given power of course.

rule

Subject: Accessory Recommendations for New Owner     Top

From: Danny Cobb <dndcobba_tbellsouth.net>

I faced the same questions back in January when I purchased my first scope, a 10" f/10 LX200. I started out with the scope, the supplied 26mm Plossl and the #140 2X Barlow. Then I caught a case of accessory fever. I did extensive reading on the web and pondered and agonized over each purchase, so maybe my experience will be of value to you. Some of this stuff may be old news to you, so apologies if any of it's too basic. Here's what I've purchased so far and my comments. Please remember that these are my opinions and that I've been at this for less than a year.

  1. Dew shield. In hindsight, I'd make one. It doesn't have to be pretty to work. Kept me dew-free during the winter.
  2. ScopeSaver table. Makes it soooo much easier getting the scope mounted on the tripod. The eyepiece holders are a real joy to have once you start accumulating more eyepieces. Once you have it, you'll wonder how you got along without it. Mine stays attached to the tripod, but since it attaches with three screws, you can remove if necessary (e.g. car transport.) Editor's note: there's a do-it-yourself design on the AstroDesigns home page.
  3. 35mm Panoptic and 6mm Vixen Lanthanum. I highly recommend an eyepiece with a wide actual FOV. You might want to consider the TeleVue 55mm Plossl and the new 31mm Type 5 Nagler in addition to the 35mm Panoptic. The 31mm Nagler was just recently announced and may be hard to obtain for a while. Will also probably cost a zillion dollars. You'll need a 2" diagonal as well. I only get to use the 6mm on rare nights of exceptional seeing; I'd advise against this much magnification until you start running out of things to buy. However, I do use it when aligning the scope as the small FOV makes for more accurate centering. (An illuminated reticle eyepiece would be even better though.)
  4. Full aperture Type 2+ solar filter. Nice to have, but doesn't get much use.
  5. 14mm Pentax and 22mm Panoptic. Both get a lot of use, especially the 22. The 22mm has an actual FOV that is wider than that of the 26mm Plossl, so it's somewhat of a duplication in eyepieces. You may want to consider the 19mm Panoptic for this reason (but the FOV of the 19 is still close to that of the 26.)
  6. I bought a battery, converters, etc. and made a field power box that supplies 12vdc, 18vdc and 120vac. Based my design on those in the archives. Can send you plans and photos if you want. Probably spent $250, but it's been well worth the investment. Mine looks amazingly like the ($390) Kendrick power box, although I didn't see the Kendrick until after I made mine. (But the Kendrick doesn't have 120vac.)
  7. Kendrick dew heater (controller and 10" heater.) The dew shield alone wouldn't keep me dew-free during warm humid nights in the South. Pricey, but well-made and effective.
  8. Filters. (These are only my opinions!) The 82A is too light to notice much effect. Ditto for the 12 yellow. The 80A is better, but I think the 56 light green enhances Jupiter better. The 56 also works good for the light colored features of Mars. The 21 orange is also good on Mars. Of course it will be a while before you need to worry about prime viewing of Mars. I tended to stick with the lighter color (higher transmission) filters; I figured the least amount of coloration that would enhance the contrast would be best. Some folks may say to use darker filters for maximum effect since you have 10" of aperture. A neutral density filter works well on the moon; you'll need something to attenuate it with 10" of aperture. Of course, the colored filters can do this as well. In hindsight, I should have bought a "4-pack" to save money instead of buying them one at a time. An Orion UltraBlock and Lumicon O-III filters help with nebulas, but I would put them down on the list due to the cost; I bought 2" filters so I could use them with both 2" and 1.25" eyepieces (use a 2"-1.25" adapter with 2" filter threads when using 1.25" eyepieces.)
  9. A "large" UV/dust seal. This screws onto the large (3.25"?) threads on the back of the scope. This item has given me great peace of mind as it keeps the interior of the scope protected against contaminants. I would get this right away to protect your investment. I went ahead and bought the large one instead of the SCT thread one in case I need the larger opening for a NGSF focuser or other attachment in the future.

In summary, I would advise on getting the ScopeSaver and dust seal ASAP. Also plan for a dew shield, or you'll likely dew over and get little observing done. You could use a hair dryer if you get dew despite the shield and have 120vac handy. The blast of heat will degrade your seeing for a while, though. In the field, I use a "hot air brush" to clear dew from eyepieces, etc. Costs about $11 at Wal-Mart. Runs off a 140 watt inverter. You could also use the Orion 12vdc blower.

I started out using the 140 watt inverter (about $40 at Wal-Mart) to field power the scope using the supplied 120vac-18vdc power supply. Later, I mounted it in my power supply box along with the Meade 12vdc-18vdc converter. Have read of problems with the 1812 converter, but mine has been fine.

Colored filters are helpful with Jupiter. I generally don't use them on Saturn. Mars won't be in opposition again until 2001, so no rush there. If you don't have something to filter the moon, you'll need sunglasses!

I would suggest planning to go ahead and go for 2" capability. I got the Meade 2" diagonal. It is fine after you put an o-ring in the SCT threaded end to keep it from locking down (use a 1-13/16" x 2" x 3/32" o-ring; industry standard #2-133); there's more on this topic in the Topical Archives. I now have a TeleVue Everbrite 2" diagonal as well, but have not yet gotten the adapter to use it on SCT threads. Most folks seem to think the TeleVue diagonals are better, but then again, they cost a lot more. If you don't go to 2", the widest field of view will be with a 32mm or 40mm Plossl, which isn't all that wide, if your scope is f/10.

Happiness is a new eyepiece! I love having just the right magnification. I don't use the Barlow very much. I don't like having to mess with it if I can avoid it, plus I don't like having a one pound eyepiece tilted over to the side on the end of a long Barlow - looks too prone to falling over or hitting the forks. My eyepieces give me a 55-60% increase in magnification each time I change to the next higher power: 35mm, 22mm, 14mm, 9mm, and 6mm. (I'm not including my 26mm and 20mm Plossls.) I recommend similar planning for your ultimate set of eyepieces. If you were to get eyepieces of, say 32mm, 26mm, 20mm, 14mm and 8mm (differences of 6mm), this will not work out to uniform relative changes in magnification. Also remember to try and avoid eyepieces that give similar or overlapping actual FOVs, as this is really a duplication even though the magnifications are different.

Good luck with your LX200. I feel that the extra money for the GoTo capability was well worth it. Takes the frustration out of it for a beginner. Now, I'm learning to star hop with a TV-85 refractor that I bought for those times when I can't take the LX200 along or don't have time to set it up. Also, I've never had the first problem with my LX200 (knock on wood) - it's always worked perfectly. By the way, I'm still hauling it around in the original white cardboard box. I didn't like the idea of a soft case and, although I drew up plans for making a trunk for it, I'm avoiding the extra weight that would add.

rule

Subject: Re: LX200 Newbie - Top 10 books  Top

From: Rashad Al-Mansour

The Night Sky Observer's Guide Vol. I & II

--------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Edmond Pepper

Constellation Guidebook - Antonin Rukl, ISBN 0-8069-4299-1
The Messier Objects - Stephen James O'Meara, ISBN 0-521-55332-6
Philip's Color Star Atlas - John Cox & Richard Monkhouse, ISBN 0-913135-08-9 4) Sky Atlas 2000, Wil Triton & Roger W. Siinnot, 0-933346-87-5
Choosing and Using a CCD camera - Richard Berry, ISBN 0-943396-39-5
Astronomical Image Processing - Richard Berry. ISBN 0-943396-32-8

-------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Dave Feldstein

The Backyard Astronomer by Terrence Dickerson
Starware second edition by Phil Harrington
A Practical Guide to CCd Astronomy by Patrick Martinez
Advanced Sky Watchers Guide by the Natures Company

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From: Tom Wideman twidemana_tearthlink.net

Burnham's Celestial Handbook (3 vols) Night Sky Observer's Guide (2 vols)
Messier Objects (O'Meara)
Sky Atlas 2000
Backyard Astronomer's Guide
Skywatching and Advanced Skywatching
Star Names and their Meanings
Subscriptions to S&T and Astronomy

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From: Ray Mote rmotea_train.org

Amateur Astronomer's Handbook, by J.B. Sidgwick, Dover Publications, 0-486-24034-7
Practical Astronomy With Your Calculator, 3rd edition, by Peter Duffett-Smith, 0-521-35699-7

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From: Michael Cook <michaeljcooka_trogers.com>

Observational Astronomy for Amateurs by J.B. Sidgwick Astronomical Algorithms by Meeus.
Software and Data for Astronomers by David Ratledge.

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From: Daniel Kell Date: Nov 1999

Guy Ottewell's Annual Calendar/Almanac.
365 Starry Nights
Uranometria 2000 (All three volumes)
The Photograhic Atlas of the Stars
Rukl's Atlas of the Moon

rule

Subject: Aperature Fever, Need Advice...    Top

From: Doc G, Date: Sept., 2000

Brent Boshart wrote:
> Okay, I have aperature fever and am considering letting go of my 8"
> LX200 and acquiring a 12" LX200. I would be interested in hearing
> comments from anyone else that ever made this move. Was it worth it? Any
> regrets? I'm kinda nervous about letting go of the 8" as it has been
> absolutely flawless in operation for me. I wouldn't have considered this
> before but now I'm putting up an observatory and don't have to worry
> about the weight.

I too had aperture fever. I had the 8" then got the 12". The 12" needs to be in a permanent building in my opinion. That is why I donated it to the Madison Astronomical Society and built a building for it at their dark site.

I then got the 10" f/6.3 which I find easier to handle, but still a big pain to setup for imaging. I may well set it up in a permanent building as well and soon.

The 12" f/10 and the 10" f/6.3 complement each other since they have different focal lengths by a factor of two. With focal reducers and extenders this gives a large range of focal lengths and speeds. I believe that a medium focal length is most appropriate for CCD imaging because of the small size of the chips.

I strongly suggest you evaluate your purchase on the basis of focal length and the objects you expect to image. I follow SBIGUSER carefully, and see that most of the better imaging is done with modest focal length scopes. It is exceedingly hard for a mount like the LX200 to control a scope of 3000 mm focal length.

Unfortunately, there is no single scope that will do everything. You need a medium focal length for most extended objects, but a very long focal length for planets. However, any scope is easier to use with a permanent setup since a major issue for imaging is precise equatorial alignment and excellent collimation. Both of these things are easily attainable with a permanent setup.

rule

Subject: Pointing Accuracy--The Real Story    Top

From: Bill Arnett <billa_tnineplanets.org> Date: Sept., 2000

> Scott-- You will hear a lot about the pointing accuracy of LX200.
> everyone of us has its story to say...

And a lot of it is wrong. For instance, pointing accuracy is not strongly dependent on leveling or time of day or geographic position. (Finding the Moon may be screwed up if you're off by an hour or more but you can find the Moon without the computer can't you? :)

I have aligned my LX200 and gotten good pointing with the base off level by 20 degrees or more. Careful leveling just isn't worth it.

Choosing a good pair of alignment stars (in altaz mode) is moderately important but you'll get good alignment even with a "bad" pair if you do the rest carefully. Jim's "bestpair" program is neat but you'll get perfectly adequate results if you just pick any pair of stars that aren't too close to the horizon or zenith (the good zone is from 30-60 degrees elevation but you can fudge that a little if it's convenient).

What really does matter is centering the alignment star in the field. **Use an eyepiece with a reticle** or if you can't do that then use a very high power eyepiece. This is by far the most important thing.

Aside from making sure you're scope is mechanically tuned up, that is. If you have too much backlash in your gears you've no hope of good pointing accuracy. My Dec motor has several degrees of slop at one point. But it's not hard to take out most of the slop. check the archives.

The bottom line: forget about your carpenter's level, your GPS and your WWV time source. But check your mechanical slop and get a reticle eyepiece.

rule

Subject: Eyepiece/Accessory Case Hints   Top

From: <SkySgta_taol.com> Date: Nov., 2000

There has been some discussion about accessory cases here recently. Here are some of my ideas on eyepiece case layout. Hope this info helps!

1. I have two of the WalMart aluminum cases. One is for all my optical equipment (i.e., items with lenses and/or mirrors). It contains my eyepieces, Barlows, focal reducer, varimagnifinder, filters, camera, lenses, etc. The other contains all my non-optical equipment. These items include power cords, hand-controller, cables, JMI focuser, tele-extenders, etc. After a long night of observing, I’m usually too tired to unpack the van in the morning. This dual case situation allows me to quickly grab my optical equipment (and my scope) for an initial unload of stuff that I don’t want sitting around in a hot vehicle.

2. You do not have to pluck out both layers of foam for items. Most eyepieces require only plucking out space in the top layer. This keeps them near the top and within easy reach. If you pluck out both layers, you will most likely have to “dig down” to the bottom to reach your smaller items.

3. You have to do some layout planning prior to plucking out the foam. Once plucked, it does not have the same rigidity or handling/support characteristics as the non-plucked foam. Trying to put it back in place leaves a lot to be desired. The plucked foam tends to fall, or gets pulled out, when removing items.…

4. Even the intact foam is rather limp and wimpy, and provides rather poor support. To help the foam hold items in place, I use the original box that each item came in. I simply cut off or remove the top of the box and insert it into an area I have plucked that is the same size as the box. This also prevents items from falling between the two layers of foam.

5. Wondering what to do with all those instruction manuals that come with your accessories? I place them in a large zip-lock plastic bag and store it in the lid of the case. …Just pull out the “egg-carton” foam liner, insert the manuals, and replace the foam. They are now safely and conveniently stored for future use.

6. Is your foam just too lightweight for your liking? Find a specialty foam distributor in your area (my area, San Antonio, has a few listed in the Yellow Pages under “foam fabricators”). Take your prearranged, pre-plucked foam inserts to them and ask them to die-cut some denser foam, using your foam inserts as templates. You can select as dense a foam as you like. Then, simply place the new die-cut foam layers in your cases and your ready to go!

rule

Subject: Light Pollution Filters Recommendations --part 1 of 2  Top

From: Scott Oates <SOates4616a_taol.com>

I live in Las Vegas and as you might guess, the LP here is BAD. I have used several filters and the IDAS is the best I've found. Provides great views even here. Take a look at the following link for IDAS filters:

   <http://www.sciencecenter.net/hutech/tokai/lps.htm> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

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Subject: Light Pollution Filters Recommendations --part 2 of 2

From: Paul Markov <pmarkova_tsympatico.ca> Date: Jan 2003

For advice on light pollution filters (and others), take a look at a straight-forward article I wrote some time ago about light pollution filters at:  <http://www.astrobuysell.com/paul/filters.htm> (All reference prices noted in the article are Canadian dollars).

rule

Subject: Nebular Filters URL     Top

From: Robert Garrett <rgarretta_tcais.net>

Here's an interesting link from a thoughtful observer who gives a pretty thorough run down of the various nebular filters including the Lumicon O-III and UHC.

  <http://www.blackskies.com/tips.html> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

rule

Subject: Telescope Dealers Rating Webpage     Top

From: Paul Markov <pmarkova_tica.net>

This makes for very interesting reading. Here you can find out what customers think of many astronomy shops and you can even cast your own vote.

  <http://www.excelsis.com/> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

This page echos what was said here over the past couple of weeks; OPT and Pocono rate quite well, among others.

rule

Subject: Tips Web Page      Top  

From: Leroy Guatney <lwlguatneya_tusa.net>

I've been working on an LX200 tips web page. It is heavy on new user stuff. Have a look:
  <http://home.earthlink.net/~ngc5139/SCI/LX200tips.html> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

I still have a few more items on my list and am always getting ideas for more. Enough so, that I've had to start making a list.

rule

Subject: Warning!! New LX200 Owners--Check Bolts      Top  

From: Edward Cafarella <edward.cafarellaa_tdpw.com>

Just thought I'd put out this general warning to all of you who've purchased an LX 200 recently. A while back I posted a message about my new 10" f/10 that arrived with an Allen head screw sheared off leaving just the shaft of the screw in the fork where it mounts to the OTA. I told Meade and they offered to have it shipped back, at their expense, and send me a new one.

When the new scope arrived, the first thing I checked was that all of the Allen head screws were intact, they were. After two weeks of horrible conditions I decided to take the scope out a few nights ago. Before moving it and after reading so many messages about the fork/OTA mount Allen bolts being loose on new scopes people received, I decided to get out an Allen wrench and see if the four bolts were tight. Three of them were tight but one was very loose. As I continued to tighten the screw, it never got any tighter, When I pulled the hex key out, you guessed it, the head of the Allen screw came off with it. Yet another sheared Allen head screw. I guess the head was hanging on by a thread.

I decided not to send this one back to Meade. It took me an hour, but I managed to scribe a line on the broken off shaft and back it out with a screwdriver.

The only reason as to why this is happening is that possibly Meade must have read the threads here and on the Yahoo forum and told the assemblers in the factory to make sure those bolts were tight, Unfortunately they've been tightening them too much.

rule

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