Meade Instruments has earned a reputation over the years as a producer of some truly impressive telescopes. Despite having experienced its own financial woes in the recent past, under new ownership by a Chinese firm, Meade is still making exceptional consumer and professional grade products. A case in point is their LX200 Advanced Coma-Free Cassegrain telescope with GPS. The Meade LX200 was built for professional astronomers as well as amateur stargazers who are willing to endure the rather steep learning curve to master the many features and capabilities of this scope.
The following will attempt to answer some of the questions one might have when deciding whether the LX200 is right for their own needs, desires and preferences.
What is the Meade LX200 Telescope?
When researching telescopes, one will come across the abbreviation SCT. This stands for Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes. These scopes have catadioptric (or compound) optics, essentially meaning they combine the best features of a reflector and refractor scope design. The LX200 is an SCT. Two of this design’s chief advantages are its relative compactness — which aids portability and convenience — and its high focal ratio of f/10, which makes for good narrow-field, extended space viewing, as well as more-than-adequate planetary and lunar observation.
The LX200 features a coma-free design, the same technology that is used in research telescopes, including on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The consensus from many users is that the 10″ LX200 is an extremely well-built, high-performing scope. More about user experiences will be offered further below.
Pros and Cons to Using the Meade LX200 Telescope
- GoTo function works very well, automatically pointing when properly aligned to 145,000+ sky objects.
- Highly defined, sharp and bright images.
- This is a great telescope to upgrade over time, particularly if one is interested in astrophotography.
- Though fairly heavy, the telescope and tripod can be moved about by a healthy adult.
- The finder scope is not of the highest quality.
- Meade’s customer service line has cut costs and in general has declined in quality.
- The AutoStar® software takes some effort to get accustomed to if you aren’t already familiar with it.
- In general, there is a steep learning curve for some, and the manual is not that clearly written.
Where to Find the Meade LX200 Telescope
You can purchase the Meade LX200 from all popular online sellers, such as Amazon, or specialized sellers, like Protelescope.com. The average price for hte Meade LX200 is around $4.000.
Although there are listings on eBay for this telescope used, purchasing a used telescope is not always advisable, especially if you or a proxy cannot inspect all of its parts before buying.
The LX200 is more than adequate for planetary and lunar viewing, but with a focal ratio of f/10, it is especially ideal for deep-space viewing. As mentioned, this is an SCT with a coma-free design. This allows for diminished diffraction spikes and improves astigmatism, which lessens visual aberrations.
In addition, Meade has improved the quality of their optical coatings with a series of ultra high-transmission coatings, which works to enhance the brightness of objects.
For those interested in astrophotography, the LX200 sports a number of features. For example, this scope includes Meade’s SmartDrive technology, which allows for permanent periodic error correction when training your scope for long-exposure photography.
In Meade’s original marketing literature for their coma-free telescope design, it was said to be a variation on the time-tested Ritchey-Chrétien variant. After a legal conflict, Meade now asserts that the LX200 “rivals” the Ritchey-Chrétien, both in terms of cost and performance.
Users have sung almost unqualified universal praise for this instrument. Many users have upgraded the original scope to fit their preference and interests, as again this is an extremely upgradeable telescope. Though it can get quite expensive and requires much effort to master, some users love this scope for its great potential for setting up an astrophotography rig of their own.
Users have also reported that the included handset is not ideal. For easier access to its electronics, it is possible to use two serial port adapter cables to connect it to a PC or laptop.
In general, this telescope is reported by many users to be a thoroughly well-engineered, professional grade piece of equipment that is also intended to “wow” amateur stargazers who perhaps are looking for a worthwhile, high-performance upgrade.
The key factor in maintaining a telescope for many years of use is to store it in a safe place that is relatively dry and of moderate temperature. Coverings are advisable, as is making sure the lens caps and dust covers are in place.
Included in the Meade LX200 package is a Sony GPS module and a removable finder scope. There is a plethora of compatible upgrades and accessories for the LX200. Visit Meade’s site for a comprehensive list.
Warranty and Guarantee Information
Meade offers a full one-year factory limited warranty on the Meade LX200.
With a price tag of around $3500, this scope is certainly not an impulse buy for most and is potentially out of reach for many. And the weight of this setup may not be convenient for some. Nevertheless, Meade Instruments has clearly invested a great deal of engineering and technology into the Meade LX200, and judging from user satisfaction, this telescope is a wonderful instrument that will reward those passionate about exploring the sky with an almost infinite number of breathtaking sights to see.
Passionate about astronomy? Share your experiences or opinions – or get your question answered – in the comments.