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MEAD > SEC Filings for MEAD > Form 10-Q on 14-Jan

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#26 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:26 PM

Many thoughts on my end, as I have been using Meade products since I was a young teen in the 1970's. I even have one of the original LX200's that is going strong to this day (I am putting it to use tonight in fact). And yes, I am very interested in purchasing the LX850...if it ever comes out.

My quick reactions (wishing not to write an essay here):
-- I wish I could buy the company and take it private. Then go "Steve Jobs" on the business.
-- I would in the interim build the scopes in Mexico, but likely move it to my base in New Mexico. Maybe the "Built in America" concept would help. Certainly cheaper building a telescope here than in California or many other states.
-- Work closely with the Amateur community.
-- Create a PROFITABLE entry level scope that would capture the imagination of the budding amateur astronomer. Yes, a Tasco 60 mm scope was my first, but I dreamed of getting that RV-6 Criterion reflector. I wished and wished and wished and when I was 14 years old I got it. Not as a birthday or christmas gift, but purchased so I can grow as a young scientist. Now? I design satellites - and I am still active in the hobby. Meade needs a product like this.

I have some other ideas, but these are the starters. I am a successful entrepreneur and I am confident I can pull this off. The question is - how to get skin in the game.

Andrew
 

#27 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:25 PM

David (Bicparker) said in post #5629289 - "the 2012 telescope market total was estimated by one analyst to be around $127 million, compared to over $200 million in 2002"

That's about a 37% drop in one decade and that is deeply-troubling to me.

For all astronomy-related companies, the future looks very uncertain indeed.

I would love to see Meade come out with a minimal-plastic, CNC-machined aluminum, rock-solid, lightweight, mid-range, highly-portable GOTO scope mount with an ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber wheeled travel case that can be easily-checked as luggage on commercial airlines and the whole kit, with travel case, under 50 pounds. Maybe the LX-80 comes close in this category but I haven't touched one yet to know.

Include some GREAT manuals and GREAT How-to videos with every scope and mount. Not the lame, monochrome, monotone pamphlets they include now. Since duplication costs are the same, putting a lot more effort into the quality of the content is only a single-time expense! And a full-color, interactive manual in PDF format on the included DVD doesn't require color printing! It should have everything required to get a neophyte from "finding the Moon" to doing a successful GOTO mount alignment. I believe the correct path is not with more fancy, complicated electronics (that often don't work right) but instead in creating a fun, colorful, interactive path of discovery for the new scope user and their family. After all, that is exactly why they bought the scope in the first place. The "journey into discovery" is the real product. The telescope in the same box is only an accessory to that end.

Make scope accessories and spare parts your REAL profit center. That is what all of the automotive and appliance manufacturers do and it seems to work out well for them. I believe selling spare parts would also be a big PR-boon with serious amateurs. Being reluctant to sell spare parts is the single biggest rant I read every day on dozens of Meade forums. Meade needs those people as their extended sales force. Not likely to happen when so many of them are angry at Meade.

Give up on dealer networks and go direct. Dealer networks are the past. Make every customer purchase just a couple of painless, impulsive mouse-clicks away. Make no distinctions between people in the USA and those anywhere else. Sell to everyone you can, within the bounds of whatever trade restrictions exist around the world.

Offer customer support via email, web page, company forums and phone. Make it super-easy for every support contact to turn into a parts or accessory sale. Get out of the past before you become part of it.

And one thing I learned many-years ago about creating a successful business. Unless its illegal, never say NO to a customer. Just cheerfully negotiate a mutually-acceptable price.

Just my $.000000002
 

#28 AntMan1

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:55 PM

So many great ideas from you guys that seem like no-brainers! Why don't they do any of them? If i were in there position i would be looking everywhere for inspiration & a way forward.

Spacetravelerx "Andrew" , Chris Erickson & David "bicparker" Buy MEADE!

I could only imagine what you three could do with all your knowledge.
 

#29 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 05:36 PM

So many great ideas from you guys that seem like no-brainers! Why don't they do any of them? If i were in there position i would be looking everywhere for inspiration & a way forward.

Spacetravelerx "Andrew" , Chris Erickson & David "bicparker" Buy MEADE!

I could only imagine what you three could do with all your knowledge.


Of course it is easy to armchair quarterback Meade's business operations. We aren't aware of all of the challenges they certainly face behind the scenes.

For ten years I worked for a large phone/CATV/ISP/WISP/Satellite/Undersea-Fiber company up in Alaska and most of our customers thought of us as a large, tyrannical monopoly that was greedily picking their pockets at every opportunity. They never had any idea how complicated our products were on the back side. And they would never have believed how many countless hours we spent worrying about their happiness and customer-retention in a fiercely-competitive market.
 

#30 GSO

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:55 PM

.... Make scope accessories and spare parts your REAL profit center. That is what all of the automotive and appliance manufacturers do and it seems to work out well for them. I believe selling spare parts would also be a big PR-boon with serious amateurs. Being reluctant to sell spare parts is the single biggest rant I read every day on dozens of Meade forums. Meade needs those people as their extended sales force. Not likely to happen when so many of them are angry at Meade.

Give up on dealer networks and go direct. Dealer networks are the past. Make every customer purchase just a couple of painless, impulsive mouse-clicks away. Make no distinctions between people in the USA and those anywhere else. Sell to everyone you can, within the bounds of whatever trade restrictions exist around the world.

Offer customer support via email, web page, company forums and phone. Make it super-easy for every support contact to turn into a parts or accessory sale.
....
Just my $.000000002

Great! I've bought Meade scopes and accessories since 1988 !! (8"SCT)
and 2006 (12" SCT)....
Would love to throw down for a 16' LX600 but the Silence from Meade is not encouraging .... :crazy:
 

#31 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:06 PM

Great! I've bought Meade scopes and accessories since 1988 !! (8"SCT) and 2006 (12" SCT)....
Would love to throw down for a 16' LX600 but the Silence from Meade is not encouraging .... :crazy:


I don't think Meade is trying to be silent. However I worry that they are mostly-shouting in all the wrong places.

My LX200GPS-16 is quite a beast to move around but I love it. I had an observatory for it in Alaska but use it as a portable scope here in Hawaii. However I am sorely-tempted to make another observatory for it in the back of my driveway. Accordingly, I would suggest considering a used LX200GPS-16 in CN Classifieds or Astromart. The going price seems to be about $7500 to $8500 and they are a steal at that price.

It is the MAX-20ACF that I find really-tempting these days...
 

#32 bicparker

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 10:19 PM

So many great ideas from you guys that seem like no-brainers! Why don't they do any of them? If i were in there position i would be looking everywhere for inspiration & a way forward.

Spacetravelerx "Andrew" , Chris Erickson & David "bicparker" Buy MEADE!

I could only imagine what you three could do with all your knowledge.


Anthony,
Thanks for the encouragement, but I cast myself a long time ago as someone in the camp who thought Meade should just liquidate (when their book value started to double their market cap). And this is not an emotional decision here. It is great to feel hung-ho about a brand and its products, but that doesn't pay the bills (this is going to sound like a "Greed is good" diatribe).

Truthfully, I admired a lot of things that Steve Jobs did, but one thing that he managed that I admired best in his 2nd run at Apple was not to keep a product in the pipeline that lost any money. Even Apple TV and the Mac Mini's made money at their lower volumes of sales. On the other hand, Apple dropped a lot of things very quickly that didn't earn a profit.

So, I don't mean to sound cold, but this is a pretty straightforward capital budgeting problem and the math results are not promising for an investment. And someone already tried a re-investment solution for the past few years and it didn't work.

My reasoning for liquidation and not an investment back then is the same as now (actually, even more so). So here is a bit of my reasoning and the numbers behind it:

1) The amount required to buy them out, take private, and take the debt down to a manageable level would be some number over $5 million (not including $6 to 10 million replacement costs noted below).
2) My required equity return on $5 million, even at a number well below venture cap rates (which go up to 65%), would be about 20% (before taxes) just to make it simple. A lot of others would require much more. I'm just making using this as to what a generous example would look like.
3) So we need a $1 million net income amount.
4) Based upon their current 3rd quarter numbers, their gross profit is only $1.7 million before Selling and G&A expenses. Meade's gross sales have basically dipped below their fixed cost line (which was probably around $15 million at their current relevant volume range).
5) The sales increase necessary to recover above their fixed and variable cost structure will need to be around $12-15 million. That is almost double their inventory turnover pipeline for the year.
6) Their manufacturing equipment is almost completely depreciated and needs to be replaced, which will require another $6 to 10 million.
7) After slashing Selling and G&A expenses by about a 3rd, they are losing $2.7 million, which makes them with nearly $4 million to make up in order to make the required return, plus another $3 to cover return on replacement costs, for a total of $7 million.
8) Meade's product lines and business model is in a shrinking market.
9) On the other hand, they could liquidate assets and probably (if this is managed correctly) clear around $1 million which will give the common shareholders around $0.50 on the dollar at the current market price (which is far more than they would recover in a business failure or chapter 11.
10) A liquidation would also give a reasonable chance for Coronado to continue as a separate going concern given the right investor steps in for them.

The math here just doesn't make sense for an investment. There are other factors also piling on right now. If you look at some of the sub-schedules in their SEC filings, you can see that their supply chain numbers are out of whack and their warranty and return expenses are high. This does not bode well against future income since those are past expenses that they will still be recognizing while trying to recover their current losses.

A liquidation, however, would give a chance for the brands (Meade and Coronado) to at least continue. Perhaps they will be a bit different, but changes are afoot anyway.

This may somehow still turnaround or magically change in a way that none of us could predict or anticipate. But this is my own thinking and logic behind it.
 

#33 rcdk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:27 AM

How would that work? Would that mean that Meade the company would no longer exist, but some form of the Meade/Coronado brands/products get marketed by someone else?
 

#34 astro_baby

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:19 AM

David, oddly I made a similar post on another forum. In a past life I used to work for an official receiver/liquidator and at one time was taken on by an electronic company to turn it round. I did succeed but we werent in the same pace as Meade. We had dud inventory and no customers but we did have cash in hand. It was brutal and meant sacking lots of people to get costs under control before the money ran out.

I cant say I have read Meades SEC filing as well as you have but I did read it and I was playing mind games in my head of how you might turn it all round. I agree with you, the inventory, bad debt and supply chain coupled with the lack of ready cash seems to be a perfect storm. The only way I could see out would be liquidation and acquisition by someone else.

I cant see how you would solve any of the problems without spending more cash than they seem to have available.

I cant see how you would sort the inventory without using up even more cash or how you solve the dealer issues. I happen to know a dealer who has a stockroom full of busted Meade gear in the UK and whose view on it is he wont touch Meade again. There must be others like him. How do you get those guys back on board is another big headache. How do you get them back on board without spending any cash seems to me impossible.

Meade have been 'about to go bust' a long time and rumours of their death have been exagerrated. But it does look bad for them right now. Personally I hope they pull out of it.

Something else that causes me to be nervous by proxy is what happens to dealers. Some of these guys will get hit with warranty returns and if Meade arent around to repair/replace then the dealer is going to have to cough up the cash. Given the narrow margins in astro Meade going down might well cause some dealers to go with them.

My interest, purely academic really. I used to get involved in company liquidations and turn rounds.

I dont know the US regs on SEC bu I do lnow the UK ones and theres a lot that can be left out of a filing in the UK and books can be painted one way or another based on the skill of the accountant and what the management want to portray.

I always watch companies and occasionally invest in a small way. I am hoping Meade will turn round...i will certainly be intested how they do ir.
 

#35 ken svp120

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:26 PM

...Something else that causes me to be nervous by proxy is what happens to dealers. Some of these guys will get hit with warranty returns and if Meade arent around to repair/replace then the dealer is going to have to cough up the cash. Given the narrow margins in astro Meade going down might well cause some dealers to go with them...


Just a question here. If Meade were no longer in business would that not simply void all warranties? Or is it in fact the case that if Meade ceased operations then dealers would still be required to honor existing warranties?
 

#36 astro_baby

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:50 PM

Well its probably different in the US. Here in the UK we have the 'Sale of Goods Act' basically it says ...

1/ Your contract is with your shop - so the shop you buy from is responsible if things dont work out - they cant opt out by saying 'well the manufacturer let us down etc'

2/ Goods must be of reasonable quality, must work as advertised and must be of reasonable durability.
So if you buy a paper cup the durability test is differnt from if you bought for instance a car.

The bottom line is if you bought a Meade scope from ABC Astro Shop and the scope breaks down the shop carries the responsibility for putting things right. Obviously if the manufacturer has gone bust the only thing the shop can do is hand you back your money. But that means a dealer takes in a scope he cant resell and hands the cash back - its the same situation as if the dealer just ordered up a dead scope and paid money for it.

This kind of law is very common in Europe so if a manufacturer goes down its not entirely unknown that the retail chain selling it goes bust as well.
 

#37 dale67cameron

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:07 PM

I hope Meade finds a way to survive. I have several of their ota's and have been impressed with the optics on the lx200 series. I hope they are still around someday when I am ready to move up to that 16" lx200.
 

#38 bicparker

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:43 PM

How would that work? Would that mean that Meade the company would no longer exist, but some form of the Meade/Coronado brands/products get marketed by someone else?


Basically, yes. Brands, trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual and intangible property (such as trade secret manufacturing methods, designs, etc.) can be bought and sold. And it is being done more often than most people realize.

Hostess is a very good and prominent current example of where something like this is happening now, liquidating its brands and lines such as Twinkies and such. But there are many others. Bushnell, for instance, has gone through several ownerships and itself, as a company, has owned and traded several different brands and brand licenses (including Simmons, which it acquired from Meade). It also bought Tasco, which has really been just used as another brand (among many that it owns). Trane HVAC systems sell at least two different known brands of A/C units that come off of the same assembly line, but are made slightly differently and have a different brand stamp put on at the end.

Obviously, this usually ends up where the brand name becomes a commodity and often loses their quality associations. On the other hand, if a company like Bushnell's parent purchased the Meade brand, they may use it as a premium branding and even continue some of the Meade products where it makes sense (and for which they have manufacturing capabilities).
 

#39 akulapanam

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:08 PM

As someone who recently purchased a scope I can tell you that I evaluated Meade. The financial situation of Meade and fact that Celestron was less expensive for the same quality of equipment definitely entered the equation. Celestron also had the all star polar align which I view as a big plus.

StarLock technology is really cool but it seems like the LX600 and LX850 are overpriced. I can pick up a AT72 and Orion AutoGuider or Lodestar and a ATRC, Celestron, or Orion IN and still be less and have another widefield scope option.

I do worry that if Meade goes out of business we are going to see a large price jump from Celestron. The competition between Meade and Celestron seems to keep the prices down on scopes up to 14". Celestron doesn't produce a 16" scope and there almost a $10,000 jump for those last 2" of mirror.

I also worry that we will see innovation stop. Current scopes and mounts really don't even utilize near the computer technology the could and probably should.
 

#40 ken svp120

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:34 PM

Well its probably different in the US. Here in the UK we have the 'Sale of Goods Act' basically it says ...

1/ Your contract is with your shop - so the shop you buy from is responsible if things dont work out - they cant opt out by saying 'well the manufacturer let us down etc'

2/ Goods must be of reasonable quality, must work as advertised and must be of reasonable durability.
So if you buy a paper cup the durability test is differnt from if you bought for instance a car.

The bottom line is if you bought a Meade scope from ABC Astro Shop and the scope breaks down the shop carries the responsibility for putting things right. Obviously if the manufacturer has gone bust the only thing the shop can do is hand you back your money. But that means a dealer takes in a scope he cant resell and hands the cash back - its the same situation as if the dealer just ordered up a dead scope and paid money for it.

This kind of law is very common in Europe so if a manufacturer goes down its not entirely unknown that the retail chain selling it goes bust as well.


Can anyone tell me if its the same here state-side? Would US retailers have to honor the warranties even if Meade were no longer around or would they not have to?
 

#41 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:47 PM

Well its probably different in the US. Here in the UK we have the 'Sale of Goods Act' basically it says ...

1/ Your contract is with your shop - so the shop you buy from is responsible if things dont work out - they cant opt out by saying 'well the manufacturer let us down etc'

2/ Goods must be of reasonable quality, must work as advertised and must be of reasonable durability.
So if you buy a paper cup the durability test is differnt from if you bought for instance a car.

The bottom line is if you bought a Meade scope from ABC Astro Shop and the scope breaks down the shop carries the responsibility for putting things right. Obviously if the manufacturer has gone bust the only thing the shop can do is hand you back your money. But that means a dealer takes in a scope he cant resell and hands the cash back - its the same situation as if the dealer just ordered up a dead scope and paid money for it.

This kind of law is very common in Europe so if a manufacturer goes down its not entirely unknown that the retail chain selling it goes bust as well.


Can anyone tell me if its the same here state-side? Would US retailers have to honor the warranties even if Meade were no longer around or would they not have to?


I suspect that this varies state-by-state and in general, dealers are not involved in manufacturer's warranties. There may be various responsibilities and remedies that exist in each state for purchased goods within that state.
 

#42 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:15 PM

Ken et. al.

Based on my conversations with a dealer (and I am NOT a legal expert on this), the dealer would have to honor it. Hence why two customers are holding back $600k in accounts receivable - if Meade goes belly up they need that money to service scopes and handle returns. Of course this fuels the death spiral for Meade, sadly.

I have been a backer of Meade since they were founded, and I do hope they get back on track some how, some way. I am holding out for the 14" LX850, though it has been recommended I now consider the CGE Pro HD (which looks like a nice kit). In the mean time I am purchasing other Meade products - all the add ons for my LX200 Classic which works wonderfully to this day and for tonight's Jupiter-Moon event. Hopefully, purchasing eye pieces and such will help a little for Meade. And maybe, just maybe I can get the LX850...

-- Andrew
 

#43 bicparker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:18 PM

I don't know the specific laws here, but i think that this is why you often see manufacturer's warranties quoted with purchases here in the USA, which are differentiated from any other protection plan that may be sold by the retailer. I don't think that a consumer would generally have recourse through the retailer, unless the retailer misrepresented the warranty, of course. Then you could have a deceptive trade act situation.

One thing that is generally certain, most of this would fall under state law except where there would be FTC considerations.

There are lots of good sold here in the USA that were manufactured by defunct companies and I don't know of any comparative law in the USA to what was quoted by AB as being in the UK. The only thing close is where there are product liabilities and someone gets maimed or killed by a telescope. That is one of those warranties you cannot disclaim. Then the whole chain of distribution and sale can be held liable.
 

#44 astro_baby

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:30 AM

Chris, why do you think the evaluation is that the astro market is sheinking. Everything I see in the UK, Europe and on ebay suggests more people buying. I am curious is all.

Is that the cost of kit has dropped so much ? Ie mote units sold but at lower prices or is it a general malaise where the oerception is the market is growing but its just a false perception.
 

#45 astro_baby

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:34 AM

Hmmm ounds like US dealers might have a measure of protection then. European dealers might get hit but I cant think of many dealers who are massively reliant on Meade at least in the UK so they might also be well enough insulated.

I guess at the end of the day its the nature of capitalism that companies grow, thrive and die. Very few companies last even a human lifetime. In some ways they live,, they die and death not ends it because their products are built on by other companies.
 

#46 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:06 AM

Chris, why do you think the evaluation is that the astro market is sheinking. Everything I see in the UK, Europe and on ebay suggests more people buying. I am curious is all.

Is that the cost of kit has dropped so much ? Ie mote units sold but at lower prices or is it a general malaise where the oerception is the market is growing but its just a false perception.


I have seen this observation stated in numerous places. Basically the average amateur astronomer is now 55 or older, young people are more interested in electronic gadgets that give instant gratification and in general, the science and engineering scores in Western countries have been dropping steadily for about 40 years.

Sad.
 

#47 bicparker

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:08 AM

There are also some business market analyses done measuring the total monies spent... they are lower, especially in the USA, but this is a bit of a worldwide phenomenon, too.
 

#48 MDavid

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:31 PM

Many thoughts on my end, as I have been using Meade products since I was a young teen in the 1970's. I even have one of the original LX200's that is going strong to this day (I am putting it to use tonight in fact). ...
Andrew


My first scope was a Meade 60mm AZ which I bought in Denver Colorado from Hobby Lobby (~$60) on our way to Yellowstone National Park for a family vacation. We had fun looking at the Moon from our Madison Campground campsite after an evening of hearing about the history of Yellowstone in their Amphitheater. It amazed us how fast the “Moon kept moving”. Eventually, on a clear March evening, we saw Saturn through that scope from my backyard (a white zone, although, I didn’t know it at the time). There tends to be a general disdain for the "department store" scopes but that 60mm Meade was my family's first look at many familiar celestial objects. Who knows, maybe that’s why I eventually chose Meade over Celestron for our 8” CAT (which is awesome). I know my nostalgia isn’t going to fix a broken business, but I like seeing I’m not alone in the hope that they find a way to get back on their feet.
 

#49 astro_baby

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:07 PM

Perhaps the UK is the exception then, every few. Onths the BBC runs a program called Stargazing Live, basically its about two hours worth on the main BBC channel.

Everytime they run this the UK scope mafket appears to go ballistic. Last year there was such a huge uplift that stocks of just about anything astro related were exhausted in most dealers after about a week !!!

They just ran it again here in the UK and there seems to be a groundswell abain of new scope owners.

Its strange though that the market is declining. We have an older population and older people usually have money to spare, kids left home etc. that was the case with me. Once my kids were grown up I could re indulge myself in the hobby.

Ah well. I suppose we will have to wait and see. Maybe Meade will sell, spmeone will fix the QC issues and I may yet have a scope with a Meade logo on it.
 

#50 AntMan1

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:42 PM

Does not make sense. Why would the amateur astronomer be over 55? Especially after all the latest missions to mars, all the new space telescopes even the older ones like Hubble, gave us views never possible before! Now Kepler finding new planets all the time?

You would think the opposite would be true? On top of that all the goto scopes? Meade's Audiostar giving us a verbal history and the LS giving us a verbal and video history is unimaginable a decade ago. Does not make any sense to me?

Is it because we never went back to the moon or further with maned space flight? If this is the trend we can kiss our hobby goodbye in 50 years. :foreheadslap:

PS: New app from Meade looks great on my ipod touch!

http://www.meade.com/skykey
 






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