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Meade LS6 VS. Celestron Sky Prodigy 6

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#1 MrFiremouth

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:43 AM

I have a Celestron C6 refractor and it is about 100lbs to move around. I have not been using it because it takes time to set up and because the hand set does not align stars properly.

I am selling it for $600 with Gt mount. Once it sells I am going to replace it with either the LS6 or the Skyprodigy 6. My question is which one is better and why?

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#2 Griffin!

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 11:36 AM

From what I can tell the Skyprodigy mount is basically a DS type mount/tripod with self-guiding added on. The LS mount and tripod seems to be more substantial, and you have the option of ACF, but it's also more expensive.

I haven't seen any reviews of the Skyprodigy scopes yet (I'll go search around again), but the LS series has been getting mostly positive reviews with the latest revision.

I think it comes down to what you're willing to spend.

#3 rmollise

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 03:04 PM

Meade made the DS. The mount on the Sky Prodigy is an adaptation of Celestron's NS mounts, which are quite problem free compared to the poor DS.

The LS got off to a very shaky start, but seems better now. If you ask me, a NexStar 6 without the self-align stuff is a better, proven deal than either.

#4 yweln

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:02 PM

The SkyProdigy telescopes are toys with autoguiding piggybacked onto them. They're the same kind of telescopes you'd find at Costco or WalMart.

The LSs are serious SCs. There's really no comparison.

#5 rmollise

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:13 PM

The SkyProdigy telescopes are toys with autoguiding piggybacked onto them. They're the same kind of telescopes you'd find at Costco or WalMart.

The LSs are serious SCs. There's really no comparison.


Negative. Have a look at the 6-inch.

#6 yweln

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 05:01 PM

Have a look at the 6-inch.


I have. Classic Meade optics. Decent telescope. What don't you like about it?
Especially in comparison with any of the SkyProdigys?

#7 Jay Wise

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 06:26 PM

My 6 month old 8" LS is a great trouble free scope. Well, at least so far. To watch it align itself is my idea of astronomy fun! I do recommend a good stable power supply. I use a Pyramid 5 amp transformer because I have a AC power supply at my observing area. I would forget flashlight batteries! Get a good 12 volt heavy duty marine style battery or a heavy duty car starting unit. The tripod was a bit shaky however. The 6" would probably be OK. I cured my "shaky" problem with a tripod from an older 12" LX. It is now the best SCT scope I have ever owned. If you go Meade I highly recommend the ACF version.

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#8 rmollise

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 06:52 PM

Have a look at the 6-inch.


I have. Classic Meade optics. Decent telescope. What don't you like about it?
Especially in comparison with any of the SkyProdigys?


I am skittish about its performance, since so many people have had so many serious problems with it. I hope those are fixed now, but I am not willing to say that is the case, not yet.

#9 yweln

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:16 PM

From what I've heard, the early problems were with the GPS functions. The unit I looked at didn't have those problems. Aligned perfectly inside of two minutes, and an entire night of viewing without any hitches (this was three months ago).

So, do you recommend the SkyProdigy, or just not have heard issues about it?

#10 JustPlainBill

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:30 PM

The SkyProdigy 6 uses the same OTA as the 6SE, just has a different paint job. You can ask a lot of people that own 6SEs if they like them (I love mine). I don't know about the tripod, it looks a little shaky to me.

I would say to just get the 6SE, but I'm biased :)
IMHO, 'point at any 3 bright objects' is simple enough, but I guess watching an automated system would be more fun.

#11 yweln

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:43 PM

The SkyProdigy 6 uses the same OTA as the 6SE, just has a different paint job.

yes, and on a very spindly tripod. I'd say look at the specs:
http://meade.com/ls
http://celestronsites.com/skyprodigy/

#12 rigel123

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:07 PM

I have had my ETX-LS6 for nearly 3 years now and mine was good right out of the box. I know others had some issues with the GPS alignment, but I never did. Optics are great, and I even did some imaging with it but have moved on to an GEM for imaging and use the LS6 for visual now. I have the ACF and views are crisp with nice contrast.

With the newer revisions in firmware it aligns quickly and gotos are very accurate. It's pretty nice to flip a switch and just let it do it's thing!

#13 MrFiremouth

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 11:24 PM

I was wanting the LS6 ACF, then I saw the Celestron and wondered if it would be worth getting? I have had problems with my GT mount and hand set, and I have the DS-2114 which is a good scope, but has smaller aperture. Star alignments can be a pain for me. To just go out and let the scope do it automatically is an awesome feature. I do a lot of outreach with my club and I waste a lot of time trying to get an alignment. I also had tracking issues with my C6 refractor. The views are stunning, but the scope mount is a pain. I am looking for something with more user friendly electronics for the out reach program.

I am also looking for the assembled weight of the Meade LS6 and LS8 with tripods. I need to know what I will be carrying out into the fields from the van in weight. If the LS8 isn't too heavy I might opt for it. I am saving money for them now and just need to sell my scope.

#14 donnie3

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 01:22 AM

i will second uncle rods suggestion about buying a nexstar 6. i have one and love it!! the mount is light, the goto is accurate and easy to set up. i have it on a table top.

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#15 rmollise

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:37 AM

From what I've heard, the early problems were with the GPS functions. The unit I looked at didn't have those problems. Aligned perfectly inside of two minutes, and an entire night of viewing without any hitches (this was three months ago).

So, do you recommend the SkyProdigy, or just not have heard issues about it?


Take a stroll through the Yahoogroup archives of the LS group, and you'll see the problems were more extensive than just the GPS. As I said, those _might_ be all fixed now.

I recommend _neither_. The self align function is problematic for many folks. If the area where you observe doesn't have a clear view of the sky, you will likely find yourself aligning manually anyway. I think most folks would be happier with a semi-automatic telescope like the NexStar 6. :lol:

#16 rigel123

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:04 AM

I am also looking for the assembled weight of the Meade LS6 and LS8 with tripods. I need to know what I will be carrying out into the fields from the van in weight. If the LS8 isn't too heavy I might opt for it. I am saving money for them now and just need to sell my scope.


The LS6 is 28lbs and the LS8 is 30lbs and the tripod is 9lbs
and the LS series have a carrying handle at the top of the mount. I ended up getting the case from JMI for mine so I could roll it out which is nice.

#17 MrFiremouth

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:50 PM

So the total weight of the LS8 with tripod is 39 lbs?

#18 rigel123

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 08:14 PM

That's what I come up with. I was always surprised the 8" was only 2 more lbs than the 6". It has a nice "beefy" feel (6"). I got an Orion case for the tripod so carrying that over one shoulder and the scope with the handle on the mount isn't too bad, but as I stated I got the JMI case for the scope and just roll it out when I'm going to use it.

#19 ProAstroPD

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 02:25 PM

>QUOTE
The SkyProdigy telescopes are toys with autoguiding piggybacked onto them. They're the same kind of telescopes you'd find at Costco or WalMart.

The LSs are serious SCs. There's really no comparison.

--------------------
8" LX90-GPS
NexStar 5SE
ETX125
>UNQUOTE

Nothing could be further from fact, WRT Sky Prodigy. Cloudy Nights prides itself on objectivity - before you categorically snob a telescope, please consider owning or at least operating one for a spell to give it a fair shake. The staff here obtained two early on, to study the guide algorithm. Stand by for long-winded response <wink>....
Been an ATM/AA for about 44 years, scratch-built optics, mounts, gotos and robotic scopes and their electronics and systems. Bought the same, too. Eventually became a professional astronomer and observatory director in that time. I say that because, I have not only been involved with buying, making and operating goto and upper end avocational telescopes for many years, I am quite familiar with the astrometric methods used in a Sky Prodigy that we use in large professional instrumentation in the $ten-figure class. So I think I can speak with some accuracy on how the little Prodigy's work.
Contrary to the innuendo, this kind of sky alignment algorithm is not used in dimestore telescopes, but is a technique used in the orientation and navigation of billion dollar spaceborne intelligence systems, strategic aircraft, and special shipboard systems. That "ACN and ST" (Automated celnav & star-tracker) field is far, far more advanced than anything seen here on CN; and while the little Sky Prodigy is not so fancy either, its pointing heritage certainly does not put it anywhere near "dimestore" class. Having used one at length, I can say it does not deserve that slight.
While Sky Prodigy certainly is aimed at novices, that alone is important to an amateur astronomer -- most of whom want to perpetuate the hobby. I get countless PR appeals from newbies that they cannot align the telescope to then "goto", and along those lines, I am sure Celestron wanted to answer that key issue for novices. You can't maintain an avocation's people-base by intimidating entrants. But Sky Prodigy still is useful for more than just the rote beginner as we see it (and no we were not paid by Celestron LOL).
When my staff got ours a year ago to actually see how Celestron's code aligned the instrument the turned out surprisingly easy for us to use (our pro's know the night sky BTW) and reinvigorated an aesthetic appreciation for the sky. Like I said, we were comparing SP to advanced alignment systems -- specifically to understand the relationship of the StarSense algorithm to angles-only Kalman filtered algorithms . There even, Celestron did a quite good job -- especially for the price. We may look at "Autoalign" on Meades next, but they are really not in the same alignment league, relying on GPS, time of day, expected positions, etc, not star fields alone. Last year's news, Meade and Celestron (with somewhat similar SkyAlign, have tested those), can go arm-wrestle about who is on who's turf there; we wanted to focus on how the SP did its alignment.
We've tested a Sky Prodigy for a year... and it is no dimestore telescope. While optomechanically similar to its Nexstar brethren, and at least equal to that line of optics, the mount at or better than an SLT's beefiness, and it is much much easier to operate. Every time I could walk up and goto 30 objects in sequence across 2 pi-steradians -- and find them well centered, after every starsense alignment. I know the night sky well, but it sure is impressive to set the unit out, and go inside for a coffee, come out and watch it finish self location, then present itself for tracking. The 130 would be easy to backpack as well; did that. Optical collimation remains quite solid both using ole Techtron tools, and also cross checking in our optics lab on a Zygo interferometer-- after a year being roughly used.
BTW people here have hip-shot that the instrument is basically a" Nexstar with autoguiding piggybacked onto them". This is also false and very misleading; sounds like someone got confused with Meade's Starlock system.... Go read up on how the Sky Prodigy operates (and some nice videos and Youtubes out there too). I don't believe it's the best principle instrument for an advanced amateur... any more than I would put an advanced amateur on a robotic liquid helium cooled IR 2-meter with an echelle at the naysmith, a professional's tool... BUT, SP would be a great, quality beginner telescope to bridge a lack of sky knowledge and get an exhuberant youngster excited to keep looking at he sky. It's a great knockabout quickie scope too, can throw in the car or the pack (sort of) for some desert fun.
In fact it would come from a line more capable, and is IMO better than than the LS. And as an aside, I'd be careful about how one uses the term "serious SC" as amongst amateur telescopes, as _very few_ currently marketed SC's are indeed "serious" telescopes, from an expert point of view, either - Point being -- it's *all* a *point of view* - and such subjectivity should be avoided when fairly evaluating an instrument... SP is as optomechanically decent as most all other small Celestrons.
Finally, I know some AA's disdain making alignment and learning the sky 'too easy', as abjuring some rite of passage. To them I'd say don't dismiss this novel and simpler method for aligning a telescope, as some short circuit as to learning the sky, anymore than oldsters of yesteryear used to dismiss a 4 function calulator as cheating vs. a slide rule... I've actually seen little kids at open houses marvel at the auto-alignment, then start to spatially grasp the sky as the SP marched from object to object. It is the future, and hopefully the method will spread into upper end amateur instrumentation, like GOTO once did.
So, the technology under the Sky Prodigy's hood is actually advanced, and not dimestore-trivial, and so instead makes the alignment, goto and operation all the simpler -- time to pay attention to other things more important. Like your smartphone made life simpler (allegedly LOL). If you are satisfied with Nexstar and CG quality, the Prodigy easily equals or betters that, but is just alot easier to use. If you like GOTO this is the next step. Try one; I will probably buy my own 6" variant in fact, after our staff experience with the littler SP's (I do wish Celestron sold just the Starsence mount, sans OTA; I have a nice 6" R-C that would be just great riding on a Sky Prodigy arm!). FWIW.... again sorry so long - I just did not want a dimestore innuendo have people miss what a different experience for our staff the little SP's provided. Your mileage may vary.

#20 SDTopensied

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:20 PM

My personal observations, having used both...

The SkyProdigy 6 is "over mounted" in my opinion. The altitude clutches handle the 90 mm Mak just fine, but the 6" is a bit too wobbly for my taste. The alignment process is an automated derivative of the SkyAlign process (which I love!) as far as I can tell. I like the new handset. The keys are not nearly as mushy as the previous version. The new version is the one with the Celestron logo on the lower leftmost key. Optically, both are equal as far as I can tell. The Celestron
OTA exhibits less image shift while focusing than the Meade.

The tripod and mount are sturdier on the Meade. Additionally, the Meade uses worm gears, while the Celestron uses spur gears. A well trained and backlash adjusted Meade mount will be more accurate in tracking and gotos than the Celestron. I like the way the AutoStar handset feels better than the new Celestron handset. I also like the AutoStar scripting language that lets me write my own tours. I don't like the fact that you have to use a third party application to upload those tours because the AutoStar Updater from Meade scrambles them on upload to the 497EP.

My two cents...go with the LT6 or the 6SE. The LT6 will save you some money over the LS6 and give you the same goto and tracking functionality. The 6SE will give you a better mount and more stable tripod than you'll get with the Sky Prodigy.

By the way, you can't judge a product by activity on the yahoo boards. No one ever goes to a tech board to talk about how problem free their scope is. Every scope has its issues, and the Celestron and Meade scopes are no exception. These goto mounts are not kitchen appliances, rather they are complex robotic instruments. All have issues and all require some amount of tinkering to work just right.

-Steve

#21 SDTopensied

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:37 PM

The Meade LS8 is a big scope, and over mounted in my opinion. The 6" is about as big of an OTA as the mount will handle without excessive shaking and wobbling. I feel the same way about the Celestron 8SE.

-Steve

#22 Rat

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:26 PM

How are the 6 inch Meade optics...I haven't heard much about them.

#23 rmollise

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:20 AM

I've never found the Meade more accurate in go-to than the Celestron. In fact, the Celestron usually pulls ahead a little bit in that department. Both do well, however.

#24 ProAstroPD

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 03:38 PM

Nice observations Steve, thanks! I had wondered if the 6" mount was a rebuild or the same mount used with the 90 and the 130... Sounds like the latter and if so I'd agree that unless they really lightened up the 6" OTA, the same smaller SP arm is not going to like pushing a bigger OTA around, agreed.

BTW used SkyAlign alot, and SkyProdigy does not use an algorithm much like SkyAlign, though it takes the nice simpicity of SkyAlign matching "geometries", and advances alignment procedure in the generalest sense. Roughly, SkyAlign takes the stars (you don't have to know what the selected bright stars are) and fits their geometry in a pattern to a catalog in memory. It needs a time and location assist (GPS, user or the like).

By contrast, SP takes spaced, entire images of the celestial sphere, the matches the image patterns of the field, to the astrometrically defined fields in memory, to ID both where it is, and where it is pointed. The comparison of starfields requires no position or time assist in fact... Celestron does not elaborate alot, but what they DO say is here:
http://www.celestron...omy&attr_id=135

A litle over-glitzey, the Youtube here (again, target = newbie but with at least Nexstar quality), gives a rather simplistic show of what happens in an SP:
http://www.youtube.c...d&v=lnt-P5Tze80

The CPU-intensive image correlation in a SP is like Skyalign in the vaguest sense; in the sense that all alignment procedures let the observer compare multiple star geometries and thier interrelations to determine the pointing. But to that end SkyAlign is much more like an automated version of two-star alignments where you know the stars targeted. Really Sky Prodigy is a wholly different technique and process -- all "under the hood" to the observer...

Of course you can use the other Celestron alignment methods from a SP mount, if you somehow want to...

#25 Jb32828

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:41 PM

I got to use a skyprodigy 102 a few weeks ago. Let me say going in that having owned the Nexstar SLT 80, I had some pretty serious doubts. I absolutely hated my Nexstar, it spent more time in the shop than under the stars, and after the third failure went into the trash. So lets be honest I was completely biased against this scope having what looked like the SLT mount and tripod with some little camera. I really thought it was Celestrons idea of a joke when it first came out.

I could not have been more wrong.

The tripod is still the same tripod. Lets get that out of the way up front. So yes, it has the wobbles...however, the 102 refractor being a short tube has a very compact center of gravity and the wobbles dampen quickly. The wobbles inside the mount though are gone, so they must have made improvements to the mount build.

So I am watchng my neighbor with his new toy, and I certainly wasnt gonna begrudge him. I was of course going to humor him, even if it went badly. He turns the thing on, presses a button, and the scope starts slewing around and making noise and small movements and I'm thinking to myself this is a quite funny show...then the guy says OK, whatcha wanna see? And I say, ahhh, how bout M13? Since he had only looked at moon and planets up till then I had to show him how to punch up a messier object on the handbox, but darned if that thing didnt slew to M13 and throw it right in the center of his 15mm plossl. His response was "Hey are all those stars?" and now ya have a guy who was happy as a clam spending 7 C notes on a scope to look at Saturn, Mars and the moon, who just found out about the messier catalog, furiously downloading goSkyWatch on his iPad, marveling at a globular cluster and couldn't believe he had a telescope that could find that and M57 automagically.

So, for the people who have the money to afford these as their first scopes, Celestron has absolutely smacked this one over thre green monster in left field and into the street. Guarantee ya this guys gets hooked (his first look through a scope was looking at Mars through my 12" dob in the driveway) and will buy a better rig eventually - because he absolutely cannot get frustrated with this scope. As long as the electronics hold up and give the buyers two good years out of these things, they will get upgrade customers out of it.

You are hearing this story by the way from someone heavily biased against Meade and Celestron mounts. Wouldn't touch em with your money. Still won't, but happy to see a guy invest 700 bucks and be ecstatic about his purchase.






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