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Thoughts about the new Meade introductory scopes

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#26 Bill Steen

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 07:57 PM

I forgot to mention that the mount can go vertical if the polar adjustment screw is completely removed.  If the screw is not removed, the upper part of the mount will hit it and stop at about 85 degrees, maybe.

 

Bill Steen



#27 BDS316

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 07:53 AM

 

I have to wonder at what market these telescopes are aimed. Put yourself in the position of a beginner in the hobby/science of astronomy. As an experienced amateur, would you really recommend any of these as a first scope for somebody?

The impression I get from the review is that they all come equipped with inferior-quality, small-field eyepieces, often permitting high magnifications and tiny fields-of-view which (on a non-driven and likely poorly-aligned mount) are likely to frustrate the beginning observer more than elicit the preferred ooohs and aaaahs of delight.

If Meade is bent on turning potential astronomers away from the hobby, this perpetuation of 'department store telescopes' sure looks like a move in that direction.

Grant

Agree.  Especially the Bird-Jones reflector with the spherical mirror and the barlow/corrector lens in the focuser.  Really bad.

 

The Astronomers with Boarders 5 inch f/5 minidob would be a far superior beginner scope than any of the meade offerings, especially the Bird jones scopes.



#28 Bill Steen

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 08:12 AM

It could very well be that you are correct, but you will not know for sure until you have looked through both.  I think a lot depends on the needs of the particular person.

 

I have written and submitted a review of the Infinity 102 and am working on one for the Polaris 130.  Even though I can always find things to improve, both of the scopes have surprised me in positive ways.  I believe they are the best manually operated entry level scopes that Meade has sold in many years.

 

The one you mentioned as being better than the Meade scopes sounds like a very good choice as well.  I will have to look it up.



#29 tnakazon

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Posted 21 October 2014 - 09:49 PM

If the Meade Polaris 114 truly has a 1000mm focal length (the pdf manual says 900mm) and the equatorial mount is equivalent to a EQ-2/CG-3, then this scope is a great deal for $169.95 retail.  Most similar 4.5" Newts have a 900mm focal length and are mounted on an EQ-1 type mount.   



#30 Bill Steen

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Posted 21 October 2014 - 10:43 PM

I believe the scope is 1000 mm fl.  The mount is quite beefy for an introductory scope.  The issue is with tripod legs, the tripod mass compared to the mass of the mount and scope,  and stopping the resultant wiggle.  I have been experimenting and have some fixes that I will be talking about in a review of the Polaris 130.  I have to do a little more testing, then get everything written down, proofed, etc. before submitting a review.



#31 tnakazon

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 02:26 PM

Looking forward to the Polaris 130 review and how you dealt with the tripod legs if it is a bit wobbly for the mount and scope.  Still, I'm intrigued with the Polaris 114 - thinking of getting one even though I already have a 900mm focal length 4.5" Celestron Powerseeker Newtonian mounted on an Astromaster CG3 (equivalent to an EQ2 in terms of load capacity I think).


Edited by tnakazon, 27 October 2014 - 02:26 PM.


#32 Bill Steen

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 09:43 PM

With a combination of a lot of things, some easy and some a bit harder, I got the average wiggle time under 2 seconds.  This was timing five of each movement:  focusing inward, focusing outward, RA in each direction, Dec in each direction.  If your scope has the rounded out triangular plastic tray that clips into the leg braces, then I suspect you have the same tripod that the Polaris scopes have.  I believe the mount on the Polaris 114 can handle to optical tube, but without actually working with one, I am reluctant to give much of an afirmative.  The mount does come out of the tripod as do most equatorial mounts and you can most likely put the mount in a heavier tripod or other supportive device, like a pillar or post rig of some sort. 

 

If one can judge from the quality of the optics in the 130, the 114 should be the real deal.  However, I have one last check to do on the 130 and I have no idea if the mirrors in the 114 are coming from the same place as the 130 mirrors.  I will let this cat out of the bag on the 130 primary mirror I have.  Doing a star test on a bright star, I cannot tell any significan difference between inside focus and outside, other than the dark center of the inside of focus is larger than it is when outside of focus.  I have tried it several times with different stars, different times, etc., and any slight variations from time to time average out to the image inside and outside of focus being equal.  Unless I am simply missing something, which is always a possibility, this is the best non-custom/non-premium mirror I have ever had.

 

I bought an HD 60 25 mm to really give the 130 a good checkout with a wide view with an eyepiece good enough that any glitches that show up are definitely in the telescope and not the fault of the eyepiece.  Unfortunately, the size of my pupil has mysteriously decreased from around 5 mm to about 4 1/4.  The view was great but dark, due to the pupil size of the scope and a 25 mm eyepiece being 5 mm.  I am afraid the darker image could hide defects that would have showed up with enough light.  I am currently inquiring with people and am looking for a 20 mm by 68 deg eyepiece in 1.25 inch format to do the checkout.  I want to have a view a little past 2 degrees TFOV.  When I get that done, then I think I can finish up the review.  I am hoping my review on the Infinity 102 makes it soon, but I am thinking there is a glitch in the process.  There have not been any new published works in a while.  When I get feedback, either from the good folks with Cloudy Nights, or with other readers, then I will know if I am on the right track with my review process for the Polaris 130.


Edited by Bill Steen, 27 October 2014 - 09:47 PM.

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#33 scopeboy42

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 04:17 AM

If the Meade Polaris 114 truly has a 1000mm focal length (the pdf manual says 900mm) and the equatorial mount is equivalent to a EQ-2/CG-3, then this scope is a great deal for $169.95 retail.  Most similar 4.5" Newts have a 900mm focal length and are mounted on an EQ-1 type mount.

The Meade Polaris 114 is 900mm focal length f/7.9.  At least that is what is stated on the OTA.

 


Edited by scopeboy42, 31 October 2014 - 04:18 AM.


#34 Bill Steen

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 09:48 AM

Is the scope one of the new ones with a rounded triangular eyepiece tray, round legs, blue tube?  In Short, one of the newest ones?  Some of the older 114 scopes used the name Polaris, but had black tubes and did not have the rounded triangular eyepiece tray.

 

If the scope you are referring to is one of the new ones, there is a problem with either the documentation or the label on the scope.

 

I will make an inquiry.



#35 scopeboy42

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 02:58 PM

Is the scope one of the new ones with a rounded triangular eyepiece tray, round legs, blue tube?  In Short, one of the newest ones?  Some of the older 114 scopes used the name Polaris, but had black tubes and did not have the rounded triangular eyepiece tray.

 

If the scope you are referring to is one of the new ones, there is a problem with either the documentation or the label on the scope.

 

I will make an inquiry.

It is brand new from a dealer - the new model - blue tube, tubular legs, blue setting circles, red-dot finder.  P/N 216004.

 

The label says 900mm f/7.9 as does the manual (hardcopy & download form).  The OTA tube is just under 36" so it must be 900mm.

 

Meade's website does not actually give the focal length.  All the dealers I have seen that list the telescope and Astronomy Magazine's New Products section in December 2014 issue say 1000mm.

 

OOPS! :shocked:


Edited by scopeboy42, 31 October 2014 - 03:17 PM.


#36 Bill Steen

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 03:15 PM

Thanks for the information!  I have a call in to somebody I know already.  If yours is stamped (printed) on its name plate as being 900 mm, then it most likely is, even though I have seen pictures of scopes that had the wrong labels.  As you mentioned, all the literature that has been put out there says 1000 mm.  A 900 mm has a wider field of view, which helps when trying to find things and allows looking at wider star clusters and nebula.  A 1000 mm one would be better at planets, the moon, and splitting close double stars.  For spherical mirrors, a 1000 mm would inherently have a little bit sharper image than an equally well made 900 mm.  900 mm is the traditional focal length for a long tube 4.5 inch reflector and a lot of people have had good experiences with them.

 

I would be interested in hearing how well this scope works out for you.



#37 tnakazon

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 03:09 AM

Re: the 114mm long tube reflector - thanks for clearing this up Scopeboy!  Yes, the info given in dealer's ads (1000mm FL) and what was on the downloadable pdf instruction manual (900mm) was confusing.

 

I've had a really good experience with my Celstron Powerseeker 4.5" F/7.9 Newtonian OTA so far.  It is mounted on an Astromaster CG3 EQ mount, supposedly equivalent in load capacity to an EQ2. 



#38 Bill Steen

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 05:41 AM

Re: the 114mm long tube reflector - thanks for clearing this up Scopeboy!  Yes, the info given in dealer's ads (1000mm FL) and what was on the downloadable pdf instruction manual (900mm) was confusing.

 

I've had a really good experience with my Celstron Powerseeker 4.5" F/7.9 Newtonian OTA so far.  It is mounted on an Astromaster CG3 EQ mount, supposedly equivalent in load capacity to an EQ2. 

I believe your Celestron Powerseeker came from the same source as the Polaris 114, possibly with a few little changes.  It is good to here that it is working well for you.  If the mirrors are made correctly, it should be a good performer for an entry level scope.  Mirror was a question mark with scopes built for a few years, but the quality control seems to have improved in recent times.



#39 tnakazon

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 12:45 PM

 

Re: the 114mm long tube reflector - thanks for clearing this up Scopeboy!  Yes, the info given in dealer's ads (1000mm FL) and what was on the downloadable pdf instruction manual (900mm) was confusing.

 

I've had a really good experience with my Celstron Powerseeker 4.5" F/7.9 Newtonian OTA so far.  It is mounted on an Astromaster CG3 EQ mount, supposedly equivalent in load capacity to an EQ2. 

I believe your Celestron Powerseeker came from the same source as the Polaris 114, possibly with a few little changes.  It is good to here that it is working well for you.  If the mirrors are made correctly, it should be a good performer for an entry level scope.  Mirror was a question mark with scopes built for a few years, but the quality control seems to have improved in recent times.

 

Yes, the spherical mirror on this scope is good, but the parabolic mirror on the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ where I got the CG3 EQ mount from was a dud.  Couldn't focus sharply with it, even after I center-spotted it.  Unfortunately, I had it in the box for many months before I opened it, so the store return warranty had already passed.by the time I found out.    Fortunately I got it for only about $166 new, and the mount works well on my Powerseeker 114.       



#40 Bill Steen

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 03:19 PM

That is unfortunate about the mirror in the Astro Master 130.  An f/5 five inch mirror will never be as sharp as a well made 4.5 inch f/8, as far as I know, but it should still be reasonably good.  I have the Meade version, Polaris 130, to review.  I normally am not lucky with things, so I am hoping it means all of the mirrors are the way mine is.  I do not think I could reasonably ask for a mirror better in an introductory scope than the one I received.  It looks as if they hit spherical correction dead on the money.  There may be other things wrong with it that my eyes are not good enough to see right now, but I am very pleased with it.

 

Your long 114 will be better with bright objects and will handle light pollution better as they are originally built.  Mine will do better with nebula and things like that with dark skies, as well has having a wider view with, let's say a 25 mm eyepiece.  Neither will be as good as a long refractor for splitting tight double stars, but yours will be better at double stars than mine, I think.

 

I have done a lot of things to mine to combat light pollution in my dark red zone back yard, which I will discuss in my review.  I picked up the nebulosity in M-29 like I have never seen before.  This morning, I got up early and had a look at the Great Orion Nebula.  Beautiful!!! I could really see the streamers coming a long way out and was able to see all kinds of subtle shading.


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#41 tnakazon

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 01:32 AM

Fortunately, I have another 130mm F/5 Newtonian to fall back on - the Bushnell Ares 5 - which is identical to the AWB collapsible 5" table-top Dob, but painted black instead of dark blue.

 

Haven't used it much, but awed by the views the very few times I have.  M57 and the double-double in Lyra looked really good from my white zone front driveway - the dark hole in the center of the Ring nebula was so pronounced it looked like a smoke ring in the sky.  At magnifications of 100X and up, M13 and M22 were just exploding with stars from my orange-zone observing site outside of the city.  

 

But the 4.5" F/7.9 is still my main observing scope for now at least.  



#42 Bill Steen

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 06:36 PM

A 4.5 inch is a good scope, if made properly.  I had one that was good, except for the mirror.  I found someone (years ago) that would refigure it to a parabolic.  This was a father daughter project with the father directing and the 6th grade daughter doing the work.  It came out better than a tenth of a wave.  I think something about that size and focal length is really hard to beat for a nice back yard scope.  It is a bit narrow in terms of true field of view, but the observer can handle the pupil size, a 32 mm Plossl realy helps pull in the wide stuff.



#43 GreyDay

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 05:33 PM

With the new line-ups, at least they all have 1.25 inch focusers. This unlocks a door for the people buying the smaller scopes.

Even small scopes are capable of more than a lot of people think. I found and split all of the double stars in the Astronomy League's double star list with an NG 70 that I had gone through. I did it from a back yard that was a bright red light pollution zone and not terribly far from a white zone.

From what information I have gathered, the new scopes should be better than the introductory scopes Meade had before, and I liked most of those as long as I could do a little tweeking on them and set them up right.

Bill Steen

 

Hi Bill,  Before i start this reply i would like to point out that i'm not here to rubbish Meades products or small scopes in any way. When i first saw your review for Meades Infinity range of telescopes, I was immediately drawn to the 50mm scope with 1.25" focuser.

a while ago i was looking for a suitable 2"scope useable for Astronomy League's Galileo Club challenge. My first choice was the "Galileoscope" but these are rare in the UK, so i opted for a Celestron 50AZ. the poor quality of Celestron's offering resulted in immediate return to vendor. After more searching i found a Meade telescope 50mm with 1.25 focuser! the vendor has it listed as "Visiomar by Meade" here's a link http://www.scopesnsk...omar50x600.html As you can see, the telescope in question other than livery is identical to meades "New"? infinity 50AZ. Unfortunately this scope has been out of stock since early last year! I feel i should also mention that the new Infinity 50AZ does not have a 1.25" focuser but comes equiped with a "Hybrid" .965-1.25" Diagonal. heres a link to the Meade user manual for the infinity 50. http://www.meade.com...ctor_manual.pdf

 

My eventual purchase was a Zennox 50x600 (which if anyone cares to google this scope, is except for livery the same as the Meade Infinity50AZ) the zennox itself has a very good air spaced achromatic objective lens, the rest of the scope is pure plastic but when used with my .965 eyepieces from 1960's refractors, will give very good images. As long as Meade keep the price down it would be a reasonable beginner scope. i say reasonable as the zennox required "Blacking" of the optical tube and focuser to make it useable. I hope meade have spent a little extra having theirs done at the production stage,  not left for the end user to contend with.

 

I too don't mind a bit of "tweeking" to make a telescope perform at it's best, but i feel a scope aimed at beginners shouldn't need to be tweeked and should work properly from the box.

 

regards, Brian



#44 Bill Steen

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 06:58 PM

Hi Brian,

 

I agree with you that an introductory scope should work reasonably well, just straight out of the box.  Then, with a few tweaks, like sanding the dew shield and painting it flat black, the scope can be turned into a good scientific instrument.  Optics should be good at the very start.  The focuser, mount, and tripod need to be managable right from the start with someone making changes to make things better if they choose.

 

I personally do not recommend scopes with a .965 inch focuser or eyepieces.....ever.  Nor do I recommend a scope with Huygens eyepieces without an explanation that they will need to be replaced with something better.  I cannot think of a way to discourage a newcomer faster than with the Huygens eyepieces that normally come with the smaller introductory scopes.  I really wish the 50, 60, and 70 models had exactly the same MA eyepiece and Barlow compliment of the 80, 90, and 102.  That setup really does get the job done.  Not like Plossles would, but definitely good enough to get someone going and help them learn about astronomy.

 

With the Infinity 50, I have not experienced one myself and am keeping a "wait and see" attitude about them until I can actually handle one.  The picture I have of the Infinity 50 does not look like it has a hybrid size situation as you described, but I could be mistaken and am simply being fooled by the picture.  I need to get my hands on one sometime and find out.

 

I have used scopes similar to the Infinity 60 and 70.  I expect the optics in the scopes themselves to be good for a scope at that level.  I personally do not like the kind of mount on the 60 and 70 without modification to get away from the altitude bar.

 

I have one of the Infinity 102 refractors and it worked very well, right out of the box.  Then, I did some things to it to make it better still.  I like the mount, but I did need to make some adjustments to it.  I expect the Infinity 90 to work even better than the 102 due to it having a more conservative f ratio at the expense of less light gathering power.  The Infinity 80 is f/5 and I have never experienced an achromatic f/5 refractor, so I am maintaining a "wait and see" attitude about the optical tube.

 

There is a difference between Meade Europe and Meade.  The European portion of Meade was sold off a number of years ago and is acutally a seperate company.  I am not sure what the relationship is between the two, but some things they have are different, coming from different sources, than what Meade has itself.  The Infinity and Polaris lines are completely new scopes to Meade.



#45 GreyDay

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 08:57 PM

Hi Bill, couldn't agree more re the .965 eyepieces. i have a few 1960's kellners and a few diagonals etc that i keep handy for the small scopes. I checked the user manual for the infinity50 which stated .965 fittings, sad really as these small scopes are begging for more light to the eyepiece.

I have a few small scopes ranging from 40 to 70mm and enjoy each of them by their own merit, though i wish the manufacturers would just "up" the price a little and provide a better mount and accessories. we should be glad at least that these companies are still producing achromatic refractors at all.

 

You mentioned the infinity 80mm F5, I own a Celestron Travelscope 70 which is F5.7 and works well (If you don't mind a bit of CA). Views of clusters and brighter dso's are good but the faster ratio means tiny eyepieces to get reasonable magnification. highest mag i've used was 100x and the scope handled it well. CA is only really an issue on lunar observing and some bright tight doubles. personally i don't mind a bit of CA, as long as the objective provides good images.

 

regards Brian



#46 Bill Steen

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Posted 22 November 2014 - 06:09 PM

Hi Brian,

 

I know a little better now about an f/5 refractor.  I received an ETX 80 the other day, but have only had it out for a few minutes before clouds did their thing.  It looks better than I had feared.  In fact, it looks pretty good.  It will be a nice rich field scope to talk about.  It is my first f/5 refractor, first 80 mm refractor (my others are either larger or smaller), and my first ETX.

 

As far as eyepieces go, I wish that Meade or Sunny could see their way to just putting the full three piece set of 1.25 inch eyepieces and the 2X Barlow with all of their entry level manual scopes.  They are doing it with all but three of them anyway (50, 60, and 70 mm AZ scopes).  If the 50 mm has a 0.965 focuser, change that out to a 1.25.  Even though I personally have a few other tweaks I would do to a few of them, I think with just the improvement with the three smallest refractors they would have a power house line up for any level of buyer.  I had my doubts about jumping all the way from 26 mm down to 9 mm, but it is working out really well so far, and having all three eyepieces plus the good little Barlow really opens the door for a beginner, or anyone else for that mater.

 

Thanks,








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