Meade 12 Inch Cassegrain
Aperture: 12-Inch. Focal Length: 3048mm. Focal Ratio: f/10. UHTC coatings, Standard Field Tripod, 1.25-Inch Diagonal Prism, 26mm Series 4000 Super Plössl Eyepiece. The most widely used research quality telescope now features the most advanced optical system. Meade’s LX200-ACF brings Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) optics within reach of aspiring astronomers everywhere. Nearly every observatory reflector in the world uses an aplanatic (coma-free) optical system like the Ritchey-Chrétien (RC), including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Now you can own similar optics to what the professionals use. The LX200-ACF includes all the field-proven features of the LX200 including GPS, Primary Mirror Lock, Oversized Primary Mirror, SmartDrive; Smart Mount, AutoStar II and more. The new LX200-ACF. It’s the biggest news in astronomy since, well, the LX200.The “advanced” in Advanced Coma-Free. A traditional Ritchey-Chrétien (RC) is a type of reflector that delivers a coma-free, flat field of view via hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors. Because the mirrors in these telescopes have always been very expensive to make, few amateur astronomers could enjoy them. Fortunately, Meade engineers developed a radical new Advanced Coma Free design by combining a hyperbolic secondary mirror with a corrector-lens-and-spherical-primary-mirror combination that performs as one hyperbolic element. This ACF design produces a coma-free, flat field of view that rivals traditional RC telescopes at a fraction of the cost. The design even eliminates diffraction spikes and improves astigmatism, both of which are inherent in the traditional RC design. When reviewing Meade’s LX200-ACF Advanced Coma Free, Sky and Telescope magazine said, “ [It] does indeed perform like a [Ritchey-Chrétien]. The difference between the off-axis images (compared to a Schmidt-Cassegrain) was dramatic to say the least.”
This is an excellent instrument for amateur astronomers. The price is not unreasonable for an instrument of this caliber. It includes: a very sturdy field tripod, GPS and Meade’s AutoStarII, the optical tube assembly and fork mount, a finder scope and a 25mm plössl eye piece. The combined weight of the tripod/GPS/fork and optical tube assembly is about 125 lbs., so it can be moved by just one person, but it is heavy. Setup took less than a hour, and I was able to complete it by myself.
Once powered on with either 8 C cell batteries or one of the optional power supplies, the telescope will go through the alignment process in just a few minutes. Because GPS is accurate within a certain measure of distance and you may need to rely on coordinates of the city closest to you, you will want to spend the time setting up and aligning the finderscope for any fine adjustments. Aligning the finderscope is really not a tough job, especially if you know what you are doing. The resolution through the finderscope is very nice as well.
Navigating through the AutoStarII’s menus will take some getting used to if you are not familiar with them, but overall it is pretty intuitive. The GOTO option is excellent, and the included database of objects is large enough to keep you viewing for decades. The tracking on the scope is very good, and with the hand controls on the AutoStarII hand unit, the overall control of this large aperture telescope really fits in your hand.
The images seen through the scope are well defined and sharp, and because of the large aperture, they are nice and bright. Planetary viewing is good. At this time of year (June) I have been able to see Mars, including faint hints of contrast of the planet’s surface. Saturn’s Cassini division is easily seen with the included eyepiece. Although this telescope does a great job of planetary viewing, it is really intended for deep sky objects as it is a (f/10). The Messier objects stand out and are satisfyingly bright. I am looking forward to the Fall with much excitement, so I can point the scope at Andromeda.
Because of the large aperture this telescope has the ability to to capture incredible images for astrophotography, but you will need to get a wedge, as it is not included.
This telescope is not a toy, it is a scientific instrument, but you will feel like a kid when you get such a grand view of our local Universe!
Orion 8964 SkyQuest XX14g GoTo Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope
Announcing the largest aperture Orion Dobsonian equipped with GoTo motorization and closed-loop tracking, the 14-inch Orion SkyQuest XX14g GoTo Truss Tube Dobsonian. Not only does this beautiful behemoth feature exceptionally large 14-inch diameter optics, but its Orion-designed collapsible GoTo Dobsonian base and truss tube make the XX14g conveniently portable, since you can break the entire telescope down into bite-size component pieces. Imagine, a 14-inch diameter Dobsonian reflector with motorized GoTo object location and tracking, capable of being packed into a small car. The optical tube and base both separate into smaller components — without tools. Once broken down, everything fits easily into even a compact car, for the trip to your favorite dark-sky site. The rigid 8-pole truss tube of the XX14g virtually eliminates flexure observed in 6- and 3-pole collapsible tube designs. Stability of the assembled XX14g Dobsonian base is enhanced by its 1-inch thick composite wood base panels, which are laminated with water-resistant black melamine. GoTo and tracking motors are pre-installed on the base panels, making assembly nice and easy. Once the tube and base are assembled, the optical tube attaches to the base with a dovetail trunnion and locks securely in place with a single captive hand knob. Since all base and truss tube hardware is captive, you don’t have to worry about leaving a screw behind after a long night of viewing in the field.
The Orion SkyQuest XX14g is top of the line in terms of the Orion SkyQuest series. Not only does it have an incredible depth, spying deep into the cosmos, but t’s the perfect telescope if you want to gaze at the sky without constantly playing with knobs. That’s because the XX14g is completely motorized. As soon as you tell the encoder what you want to track, the telescope will do the rest. Unless you’re intent on slewing objects by hand, this motorized dobsonian is the best way to go.
Many experienced night watchers will tell you that you must begin with a non-mechanical telescope so you can learn how to slew the night sky. This may be important to learn, but it can be argued that it’s better for your motivation if you don’t spend all night slewing for individual objects with only a relatively short viewing time. If you’re new to astronomy, you might consider the XX14g if you want to start out with a bang. On your first night you’ll be watching some great objects with ease.
Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
“The apochromatic refractor telescope. They are the big, bad, and by far the best telescope you will ever own. Period!”
Nothing screams astronomy like a refractor telescope. Likewise, nothing will make an amateur or professional astronomer drool faster than the thought of looking through an apochromatic refractor telescope. And for good reason. They are simply the best.
The APO refractor is famous for its totally color corrected optical system and delivering jaw dropping, razor sharp images. But is all the stuff you read about APOs just hype? Not a chance! Here is why.
Red, green and blue light (the three main food groups of the electromagnetic color spectrum) are really different frequencies of light. So? So plenty. A refractor uses a series of lenses on the business end of the telescope to bend the incoming light toward you eye. The problem is that light waves of different frequencies bend at slightly different rates as they pass through the lenses. If the difference in “bending” is not adjusted for, you will see a great looking object through the telescope, but it will be surrounded by a pretty awful rainbow of colors.
This rainbow effect is commonly called chromatic abberation. Pretty fancy name for a rainbow, huh? To eliminate this problem, the achromatic refractor telescope is usually are designed with three or more glass elements. These various lens elements are optically designed to bring the varying light frequencies into perfect alignment. Hence. No rainbow. All that is left are stunning images, high contrast and amazing detail.
The downside? An apochromatic refractor telescope ain’t cheap. But it is a small price to pay considering you will get to use this telescope for the rest of your life. Perfect views, no less. Plus, you will be the envy of your astronomy club and your friends. APOs may not make you rich or famous, but everyone will assume you are.