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Upgrading from Celestron AstroMaster LT 70AZ

Beginner Equipment Meade Moon
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#1 tiennou74

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 06:34 PM

Hi! We bought a Celestron AstroMaster LT 70AZ from Xmas and it's been a nice journey so far.

The telescope was for our 5 year old but I have to say I've become really interested in it too.

We took this photo of the moon with it  (iphone 12 pro)

Full Moon

But I feel we're now limited by the equipment (Jupiter is very small with almost not details) , Orion nebula is not very impressive  

Just bought the book Turn Left at Orion to see if I can spot more interesting objects but i think our current telescope is only good for moon and terrestrial. The mount is also very shaky making it a bit tough with the kids 
 

I was thinking of upgrading ~ budget is probably $500 max:
- someone local reached out with a big Meade LX200 10" - 1000$ (with dew shield, many eye pieces ) - I think this could be great but it is so big and heavy, double our budget

- Meade Quartz LX 5 8" - Pulse Drive Telescope 1988 - 250$ (image )
- ORION Telescope 130ST with EQ mount  -180$ (image)

 

I don't think we have enough space for a Dob so that's why i'm leaning towards Schmidt-Cassegrain or a reflector

 

What do you guys think?

Any telescope you've seen in the classifieds that could be a good next step for us? 


Edited by tiennou74, 26 January 2022 - 09:54 PM.


#2 zakry3323

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 06:57 PM

I just want to be clear- are you looking for something to upgrade to for better astrophotography or for better visual observations? 



#3 FlyingV74

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 07:02 PM

Good evening. And welcome aboard! I hope that you are prepared for the numerous and varying answers that you will likely receive. So be prepared to some research and soul searching before making a decision on your scope purchase.

I currently own two scopes, a 60mm refractor (childhood scope) and an 8” dob (purchased a couple of years ago). Both are currently set up in my dining room. And both take up about the same amount of space. I share this to say that a 6-8” dob takes up no more space than a small refractor if you are gonna leave it set up all the time.

Something to be prepared to learn about if you go down the Newtonian reflector path is collimation. You will likely need to pick up some tools to do this work (laser, collimation cap, etc.). There are plenty of us on CN that will help you along this path should you go down it. Like many say, once you learn the collimation process, it is much easier to do than it is to explain.

I’m not sure what eyepieces you have. But if it is the ones that came with the scope, chances are improvements could be had with some new eyepieces. A very popular choice for many is a zoom eyepiece such as the 8-24mm Celestron. The nice thing about an eyepiece is it can go with you to your new scope should purchase a new one.

Wishing you all the best in your astro adventure.

#4 SteveG

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 07:09 PM

Hi! We bought a Celestron AstroMaster LT 70AZ from Xmas and it's been a nice journey so far.

The telescope was for our 5 year old but I have to say I've become really interested in it too.

We took this photo of the moon with it  (iphone 12 pro)

 

But I feel we're now limited by the equipment (Jupiter is very small with almost not details) , Orion nebula is not very impressive  

Just bought the book Turn Left at Orion to see if I can spot more interesting objects but i think our current telescope is only good for moon and terrestrial 
 

I was thinking of upgrading ~ budget is probably $500 max:
- someone local reached out with a big Meade LX200 10" for 1000$ (with dew shield, many eye pieces ) - I think this could be great but it is so big and heavy, double our budget

- Meade Quartz LX Pulse Drive Telescope 1988 (looks like a 8"?) - 250$ (image )
- ORION Telescope 130ST with EQ mount  -180$ (image)

 

I don't think we have enough space for a Dob so that's why i'm leaning towards Schmidt-Cassegrain or a reflector

 

What do you guys think?

Any telescope you've seen in the classifieds that could be a good next step for us? 

Of those, in your price range, the 130 would be a nice upgrade from your 70.

 

The price on the SCT is pretty low, which makes me wonder what's wrong with it. You would need to buy a big, heavy tripod, and I'm thinking it's bigger than you realize.


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#5 Leia

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 08:13 PM

Welcome to CN, tiennou74. I think you'll find that people here are real nice and helpful.

Warning: The SCT will have a small field of view for the same eyepiece, if I remember stuff right, because of the long focal length. It would also be heavy, so if weight's a consideration, you might want to get something else. I was also recommended to not get a reflector on an EQ mount due to the EQ causing the focuser & EP to be at weird angles. The EQ mount also needs to be polar aligned, which may be hard depending on your Bortle level. 

 

SCT should be good on planets, but not so much if you like viewing wide-field objects.

 

Make sure the reflector has a parabolic mirror, as nonparabolic mirrors aren't as good.

 

The 10 inch SCT, if you go for it, could very well be a lifetime scope.

 

Just my opinion.



#6 aeajr

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 08:33 PM

Hi! We bought a Celestron AstroMaster LT 70AZ from Xmas and it's been a nice journey so far.
The telescope was for our 5 year old but I have to say I've become really interested in it too.
We took this photo of the moon with it  (iphone 12 pro)

 

But I feel we're now limited by the equipment (Jupiter is very small with almost not details) , Orion nebula is not very impressive  
Just bought the book Turn Left at Orion to see if I can spot more interesting objects but i think our current telescope is only good for moon and terrestrial 

 
I was thinking of upgrading ~ budget is probably $500 max:
- someone local reached out with a big Meade LX200 10" for 1000$ (with dew shield, many eye pieces ) - I think this could be great but it is so big and heavy, double our budget
- Meade Quartz LX Pulse Drive Telescope 1988 (looks like a 8"?) - 250$ (image )
- ORION Telescope 130ST with EQ mount  -180$ (image)
 
I don't think we have enough space for a Dob so that's why i'm leaning towards Schmidt-Cassegrain or a reflector
 
What do you guys think?
Any telescope you've seen in the classifieds that could be a good next step for us?

Congratulations on your new telescope.  Glad to hear you are enjoying it.

 

While I could recommend next telescopes, I want to be sure you are aware that you are not getting the full potential of your telescope unless you have added additional eyepieces and/or a Barlow lens.

 

Fortunately eyepieces are standardized so that any eyepieces you add to this scope can be used in a future telescope.

 

Your telescope came with beginner eyepieces.

 

Focal Length of Eyepiece 1: 20mm (.8")
Magnification of Eyepiece 1: 35x
Focal Length of Eyepiece 2: 10mm (.4")
Magnification of Eyepiece 2: 70x

 

 

If you were to add a 7 mm eyepiece you would add  100X magnification which would make the planets larger and you would see more detail on the Moon and the Orion Nebula.

 

If you were to add an 7-21 mm Zoom eyepiece you would have 33X to 100X and everything in between.  You would have all magnifications and could zoom in without having to change an eyepiece.  

 

If you were to add a 2X Barlow and combined it with the zoom you would have 66X to 198X.  Note that a 70 mm telescope would likely not provide good images at magnifications above 140X, with the possible exception of the moon. 

 

In most cases, the atmosphere is the limiting factor as to how high you can go in magnification with any telescope. 

 

A good example of items to add to your current telescope would be an SVBony 7-21 zoom and and SV Bony 1.5X/2X Barlow.

 

Zoom - $52

https://www.amazon.c...onics,59&sr=1-2

 

 

Barlow  $18

https://www.amazon.c...onics,55&sr=1-4

 

I have both of these.  They are certainly not high end optics, which could cost over $1000, but I find them quite workable for someone who is trying to add to their low cost introductory telescope.

 

 

Understanding Telescope Eyepieces- There are recommendations, based on budget,
but the meat of the article is about understanding the considerations and specifications
to know when selecting eyepieces.
https://telescopicwa...cope-eyepieces/

 

 

Understanding and using a Barlow Lens
https://telescopicwa...ens-and-how-to/


Edited by aeajr, 26 January 2022 - 08:49 PM.

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#7 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 09:03 PM

Why not use the scope you have for a while longer? There's a lot you can do with even a 70mm scope. I'd recommend if you're set on upgrading the StarSense Explorer 102, it's a frac as well, StarSense is incredibly handy and it offers a substantially larger objective and light gathering power.


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#8 barbarosa

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 09:52 PM

 

I was thinking of upgrading ~ budget is probably $500 max:
- someone local reached out with a big Meade LX200 10" for 1000$ (with dew shield, many eye pieces ) - I think this could be great but it is so big and heavy, double our budget 

- Meade Quartz LX Pulse Drive Telescope 1988 (looks like a 8"?) - 250$ (image )
- ORION Telescope 130ST with EQ mount  -180$ (image)

 

I don't think we have enough space for a Dob so that's why i'm leaning towards Schmidt-Cassegrain or a reflector

 

What do you guys think?

Any telescope you've seen in the classifieds that could be a good next step for us? 

Is your "budget" $1000 or $500? Until you decide that you are asking an open ended question. Some things you might tell us that will help refine our advice, Where will you use the scope, a brightly lighted city, a suburb where more stars are visible, a rural site where you can see many starts, the Milky Way,  where the the Orion Nebula has some glow to it?

 

Do you want  a simple setup where you point the scope by hand, and move it by hand to follow objects as they move across the night sky?

 

Do you want some degree of automation, an app that tells you were to point or where you are pointing, or a mount that has an onboard computer and goes to and tracks objects that you select from a list?

 

Do you know or are you willing to learn how to adjust (collimate) the mirrors in a reflecting telescope? It isn't hard but it can be a bit fiddley and takes some time to learn.

 

Do you know or are you willing to learn how to setup an equatorial mount?

 

Have you considered a smaller table top telescope like like this one or this one?

 

The large SCT could be a good buy or it could need parts that you may not be able to buy if the scope is an older model. The smaller Meade price shouts broken or missing parts.

 

Nothing wrong with an SCT, I've owned several of them, but  they do not have a wide field of view compared to some refractors and some Newtonians/Dobsonians.

 

If you want an SCT get one on a go to mount. Used prices are high these days so bargains are scarce. You can do a lot with a 5" or 6" SCT, a Celestron Nexstar SE 5 or 6 are worth a look. They are not heavy scopes or mounts (check out the specs). CL and similar are a swamp for the novice. Read up on how these scopes work, how to set them up and test them, what to look for when visually inspecting a used scope.

 

If you are near an astronomy club, one that is still putting on public nights, go and ask questions. Not everyone will want to chat but most will enjoy helping. You can see a range of scopes in action.

 

Don't be in a rush, the advice to spend more time with your current scope is good. It will inform you about what exactly you want to improve. It will help you ask sellers  focused questions .



#9 Echolight

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 10:25 PM

I’d have to ask exactly what eyepieces are included in the bunch. They could be worth the price of the scope or more on their own. Or they might be something that aren’t worth much at all.

 

This would likely be a huge factor in wether it would be worth it to go over your budget. You could always keep the bunch of eyepieces and flip the scope if it was too big.



#10 tiennou74

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 10:27 PM

Thanks all for the great answers and for taking the time - I think i'll spend a bit more time with the current scope , I did buy a 2x svbony barlow but didn't make a huge difference so i'll play with that a bit more and also having "turn left at orion" book should help me.

@barbarosa - all these are awesome questions to think about - I do like the Goto as that would maybe make it easier to show the kids/wife, 300-500$ is more realistic budget , willing to learn eq and collimation. The table tops are good options too but wanted to take it a step beyond. 

Here is the link to the smaller SCT https://www.facebook...304666811500449

I'm still eyeing that 250$ SCT Meade LX5  - it would be as old as me and maybe a bit fun to have a vintage scope

That Lx 200 could be great too as I saw you can add wifi to them for pretty cheap but yeah 1k is a big investment.

 

I just want to be clear- are you looking for something to upgrade to for better astrophotography or for better visual observations? 

@zakry3323 I think better observation for now - not sure I have the budget for astrophotography - I do have a sony nex5 but not sure if it can be converted or any good 


 



#11 aeajr

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 10:31 PM

Why not use the scope you have for a while longer? There's a lot you can do with even a 70mm scope. I'd recommend if you're set on upgrading the StarSense Explorer 102, it's a frac as well, StarSense is incredibly handy and it offers a substantially larger objective and light gathering power.


Starsense Explorer DX 102AZ or DX 130AZ would be an excellent next scope. 2 to 3x the aperture and the App that comes with it will help you find things in the sky.
https://youtu.be/3Hb0x-IdeDs

 

 

Starsense Explorer telescopes

https://www.astronom...ope_series=1039

 

Available from a variety of sources.  Right in your budget.

 

I just added a 102 mm refractor to my 12" Dob.


Edited by aeajr, 27 January 2022 - 12:00 AM.


#12 Echolight

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 10:38 PM

Well, there’s apparently one less choice to consider. And that’s the way it goes. If it’s a deal, you have to act fast.



#13 tiennou74

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Posted 26 January 2022 - 10:50 PM

Where will you use the scope, a brightly lighted city, a suburb where more stars are visible, a rural site where you can see many starts, the Milky Way,  where the the Orion Nebula has some glow to it?

We live in Marin, CA - we are yellow and green very close , sometimes we go camping too where the sky is magic


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#14 tiennou74

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Posted 27 January 2022 - 10:30 PM

I found a DX 130AZ for pretty cheap 200$ 
Will I be able to see more DSOs with that scope vs that old Meade LX5 8" SCP?


I did find a Skyquest XT8 dob for 500$ 



#15 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 27 January 2022 - 11:25 PM

I found a DX 130AZ for pretty cheap 200$
Will I be able to see more DSOs with that scope vs that old Meade LX5 8" SCP?


I did find a Skyquest XT8 dob for 500$


No, DSOs do best with dark skies and aperture. A 130mm scope is going to be outclassed by a 200mm one.

#16 aeajr

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Posted 28 January 2022 - 02:48 PM

You can see DSOs with a 70mm scope.

I just ran an observing list for DSOs to mag 6.5. 140 were listed. I would estimate at least 100 of these could be seen with a 70mm scope over an 8 hour period at your location.

Clearly more aperture will show you more and more detail.

I have no problem identifying targets for my 102 mm refractor.

More than half of the Messier list are considered binocular targets.

Edited by aeajr, 28 January 2022 - 06:04 PM.


#17 Atlas-notes

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Posted 28 January 2022 - 07:33 PM

I'd like to second some of the advice given by others in this thread.

 

First, don't underestimate your 70 mm refractor. The objective lens in those scopes is often very good, but the eyepieces could use some upgrading. Personally, I'd get a good 25 mm Plossl and a 2x Barlow before buying anything else. Those eyepieces would be valuable to you no matter how your interest in the hobby develops. (Others have suggested a zoom eyepiece and I'm not against them, but do some research. They have drawbacks.) I started with a 60 mm refractor with terrible .925" eyepieces, but once I upgraded the eyepieces I was happy for a couple of years. All telescopes give you smaller images than web pictures might lead you to expect.

 

If you want a much better beginner telescope, buy a Celestron StarSense Explorer 102 DX (or 130 DX). The price on these is going up rapidly, but they seem to retail in the $400 - $500 range. The neat thing about them is the finder app that lets you locate lots and lots of deep sky objects without difficulty and gives you plenty of fascinating information about those objects.

 

If you want a scope to last a lifetime, get an 8" Dob for about the same price . . . but you won't get any help from it finding things in the night sky!



#18 Anony

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Posted 30 January 2022 - 10:09 PM

I found a DX 130AZ for pretty cheap 200$ 
Will I be able to see more DSOs with that scope vs that old Meade LX5 8" SCP?


I did find a Skyquest XT8 dob for 500$ 

Assuming the DX is used, make sure it comes with the app code and is not all used up. I think Celestron might provide a code for used scopes (or so I read somewhere) if it doesn't come with one, but I am not certain about that.

 

The code gets 5 uses... so some folks make their own holder and use up the codes, then sell off the scope. Without the code for starsense, it's just a regular 130mm reflector, no way to use the app.

 

Otherwise, starsense is great. I have the DX5 flavor. Unfortunately this time of year (either freezing or cloudy) sort of limits its use right now for me, but when I was using it I found it super useful.

 

As for the Dob, it'll beat pretty much any scope you are considering. And size-wise, they really don't take up more space than a regular-size refractor or SCT ... just push them up and they fit in a closet if need be. Their size and weight are only really a factor if you have to lug them far distances.

 

Edit: And I found that ad for the DX130 ... she is taking offers and the ad has been up for a while. So I'd say offer like $125 and at the same time contact Celestron and see if they will provide you a code if it doesn't come with one. Then figure you'll meet in the middle, $150-$175ish.


Edited by Anony, 30 January 2022 - 10:31 PM.


#19 JohnnyBGood

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Posted 31 January 2022 - 08:46 AM

While I don't have exactly either scope I do have similar scopes: a Polaris 130 and an LX10 8" SCT.

 

The LX10 is a slightly newer but simpler scope than the LX5. You can definitely see more stuff and in more detail with the 8" SCT than with the 130mm reflector. However, it's also a lot heavier so it's more of a chore to drag it outside and set it up. While I really like the views through my LX10 I actually end up getting out observing less than I did when my biggest scope was the Polaris 130. Because it takes more effort to bring it outside it's easier to think of excuses not to observe. But I do love the simplicity of a manually operable SCT as compared with the completely motorized modern SCTs where you have to push buttons on a controller to move the scope at all. It's the only 8" scope I can fit in the back of my sportscar and still bring the wife and kids. I'll take it over an 8" Dob any day.

 

The 130 has been my favorite and most used telescope. For me, at least, it's a nice balance between capability and portability. It was a lot easier to learn to use than the LX10, which despite several years of experience with other scopes still took a while to get the hang of using. I ended up getting a focal reducer to make it easier to find things with the LX10 (reduces the focal length from 2000mm to a more manageable 1260mm, which is still nearly double that of the 130), so if the LX5 didn't already come with one that may be an additional $200 to figure into the budget. The difference is the amount of sky you see in the eyepiece; the SCT can't "zoom out" as much as the 130 so it can be harder to find things. But when you do find it, you can see fainter things and more detail.

 

I'd have a tough time choosing between the two scopes. I think it would depend on how far I had to carry the scopes each night to observe and how much "stuff" the LX5 comes with (and whether everything worked on it).



#20 tiennou74

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Posted 31 January 2022 - 05:04 PM

Quick update - I ended getting the LX5! 
It's big and heavy but i'm excited to start learning on it.

 

I have a ton of things to learn:

  • How to use a fork equatorial mount
  • How to align the finder scope (and seems like it is inverted)
  • How to do collimation - i took a look at Polaris with the 23mm and saw a nice donut focused in and focused out , does that mean i don't need to collimate?
  • How to use setting circles
  • How to deal with dew ( i took it outside and came back and saw condensation already forming)
  • How to use the motor for tracking
Meade lx5
 
Here are some resources i'll be looking at

https://deepskies.co...eadeLX5supp.pdf

http://arksky.org/as...setting-circles
https://skywatch.bra...ed/used_sct.pdf
https://groups.io/g/...-lx5-lx6/joined


Edited by tiennou74, 31 January 2022 - 05:05 PM.

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#21 JohnnyBGood

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Posted 01 February 2022 - 12:07 PM

-The fork equatorial mount is fun. Once I got used to using an equatorial mount I never wanted to use an alt-az mount again if I could help it. It's somewhat less fun to try to point to something to the north, and the closer to Polaris the less fun it is. However, the simple workaround for that is to rotate the whole mount around backwards 180 degrees. You lose the ability for tracking, but the closer to the pole the slower objects seem to move anyway. Our scopes have manual fine tuning knobs that work just fine. Your wedge may allow you to set the scope to 90-degrees which can make it easier to look North. Mine for the LX10 won't but I can with my ETX and 2045.

 

-Straight through finderscopes are traditionally inverted (upside down). Yours has a right angle finder... are you sure it's inverted? Normally those are not inverted but are instead mirror flipped. On the publisher's website, Turn Left At Orion has adjusted finder charts for mirror image finders (or correct image, or even the extremely odd upside down and mirrored image). If you have a star chart book you can scan the pages and use MS Paint to mirror flip them.

 

-Collimation isn't too hard to get roughed in. Fine tuning it seems to be an art (and will need a high power eyepiece), but there are a number of resources out there. I use a steel ball bearing I put far away in the yard and collimate using the sunlight glinting on it so I can do it during the day. There is a such thing as an artificial star for collimation, so it may be worth looking into.

 

-Setting circles are not useful for most scopes but ours are much larger than average and actually are usable. I wrote up an explanation of how the vernier works on my 2045 somewhere here on CN if you were curious about that. One nice feature of our scopes is that the RA dial is actually motorized and once you get it set in the evening you don't have to mess with it again.

 

-Dew is the enemy. The cheap, short term solution is to make a dew shield. Go to a craft store and pick up a sheet of thin foam and some pieces of stick-on velcro. Roll it into a cylinder around the telescope tube, mark where to cut it, add velcro to both ends and then you'll have something you can leave on the tube, slide it out when you want to use it, slide it back in when you don't. That'll work for short sessions but ultimately you may want a more active form of dew control. There are a lot of options for "dew straps" to keep the objective heated so dew doesn't form.

 

-The clock drive motor is absolutely wonderful. Get the scope polar aligned (I use Dr. Clay's Kochab Clock method, which is quick and easy for visual use), turn on the motor, point it at the target, engage the motor and then it happily follows the target all night long. Once you get used to it it's decadent.

 

One other thing I find very useful is a green laser. It may not work for you if you're close to an airport and there are some legal issues to research first. Amazon sells an inexpensive Pinty branded laser that's made for firearms that works well. You'll need a few inches of Picatinny/Weaver rail but you can attach that to the scope with double sided Gorilla tape. Makes it a lot easier to put the scope on the first star for starhopping, especially with that right angle finder. I use it with my kids a lot, too. I find something to view, paint the target with the laser, then they put the red dots on their scopes (or their finder crosshair) on the end of the green laser beam and then they can see the targets with their scopes, too. The motor drive helps with that a lot because I can go help them as long as I need and my scope ticks along tracking the object as it moves across the sky.

 

You've got an excellent scope, so take your time getting the hang of it. It'll show you a lot of things.



#22 tiennou74

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Posted 01 February 2022 - 02:57 PM

Thanks a lot for your tips @JohnnyBGood

 

A few pics:

meade lx5 8"
Meade quartz lx pulse drive

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