Observing History and Geographic Location
I am submitting a review for a 12.5” Meade Starfinder dobsonian telescope
that operates at F 4.8 with a focal length of 1525mm. I am a newcomer to astronomy
and have been observing for about 1 year. As you will see by my review, it will
be quite non-technical in nature. I live in the Kansas City area, and my favorite
things to observe are deep space objects.
Explain My Choice
I took the advice offered by every astronomy website and joined a local astronomy
club. After attending a couple star parties, observing through several types
of telescopes, and talking with members, I was ready to buy. I wanted the largest
aperture telescope I could find for around $1000, and easily transport in my
SUV without help of a second person. I bought the 12.5” Starfinder dob
from Lymax, a local dealer in Kansas City. I am not mechanically inclined, and
knew the added service from a local dealer would prove quite valuable. (especially
knowing of the quirks of the Meade dobs) The telescope was in stock, so I didn’t
even have to wait.
The telescope came with a telrad finder, 10x50 finder, and 2 Meade series 4000
eyepieces for $1000. Originally it just came with the telrad, but I negotiated
adding the 10x50. The best part? It was already assembled!!! The telescope came
equipped with inadequate feet to provide a solid foundation and it was quite
wobbly. The dealer replaced them with solid treated wooden blocks and the base
is now solid as a rock. Also, as you moved the scope up and down vertically,
it clunked and was quite quirky. The dealer replaced the pads and it moves up
and down very smoothly. At Lymax, they also made adjustments to the base, to
allow for smooth left and right motions with just the right amount of tension.
Now it glides in all directions quite nicely and holds its position in any position.
I find it very easy and effortless slewing and tracking objects. They also attached
some heavy washers to the base of the mirror cell to get it in perfect balance.
Try getting that service with an online purchase!! I definitely recommend buying
from a dealer.
The tube weighs 55lbs and the base weights 41lbs. I can easily get the scope
where it needs to be in 2 separate pieces. Keep in mind the size because some
people might have trouble carrying around the tube. Also, this scope will not
fit in a sedan. A minivan, SUV, or vehicles with back seats that fold down are
a must. The tube is 15.1”x58” long. Keep that in mind. Setup time
is just about nothing. I keep the scope in my family room, and my setup time
is the time it takes me to carry the tube and base outside, which is just about
I feel that the optical performance is excellent. Meade dobs are known for
having good optics. Being inexperienced, I cant go into technical detail about
how the mirror performs. Plenty of club members have commented on the sharpness
and crispness of the images. I’ll take their word for it. I have no complaints.
I have tried the scope on a variety of objects and have been very pleased with
the views. I have compared views next to larger and more expensive telescopes,
and was very pleased with the results. I have made direct comparisons with a
10inch Lx200, and the brightness and sharpness was astonishingly better in the
12.5 Starfinder. Much more than I would have expected with only a 2.5-inch jump
in aperture. I made direct comparisons next to a Celestron C-14 scope, and the
little Meade dob held its own quite well. I have been able to see great detail
in M27 at 157x along with several imbedded stars in the nebulosity. The Ring
Nebula is fantastic and bright at 118x! I easily tracked Neptune at 314x and
saw Triton. That same night, taking advantage of great seeing conditions, Saturn
and the ring divisions were stunning at 314x. The detail in the Lagoon nebula
was spectacular at 59x. Any jump in magnification, and I would have to pan around
to view the whole lagoon. I found the telrad very helpful in pointing. I find
it easy to find objects by first pointing with the telrad, then star hopping
over through the 10x50 finder. I don’t know what I would do without it.
Collimation is easy and quick. I have never had to make any adjustments to the
secondary, but the primary adjusts quickly and easily from 3 positions on the
rear of the mirror cell. The mirror came center marked from the dealer to easily
Most negatives associated with the telescope relate to its cheap construction
and mechanical operation. It comes standard with a cheap plastic 2” focuser.
As soon as it breaks, I’ll surely get a nice Crayford. The mirror cell
is cheaply made and enclosed with little ventilation. The altitude and azimuth
motions need to be improved for smooth operation. The base is wobbly. If you
think about it, that’s about all of its mechanical operations!! As noted
above, many adjustments are necessary to give the scope a solid foundation and
smooth slewing functions, but can be quickly and easily fixed.
I would recommend the Meade 12.5-Starfinder. It has several mechanical shortfalls
because of its cheap construction. All of these can be easily remedied. If you
find a good dealer, you wont even have to make any adjustments. I didn’t!!
In fact, it took the dealer about 2 hours to make all necessary adjustments
while I waited. By the way, they did not charge extra for the modifications.
Most people will agree that the optics in the Meade Starfinders are quite good.
I think this is the perfect telescope for the amateur who wants large aperture
but doesn’t want to spend $2500-$3500 for a quality 12.5” truss dob.
For about $1000, it is well worth its price and any necessary modifications.