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Meade LX50

There are a lot of people out there that bad mouth Meade and especially LX50's. I have had mine for 2 years now and have found it to be a good scope. By good I mean a scope that performs at the specs in which it was designed. While I agree that Meade shouldn't advertise the LX50 as an Astrophotography scope, I do think it can be used as one (to a certain extent) with a little knowledge and a few enhancements.

The first year of ownership, I used my LX50 for visual observing only. I found the scope easy to setup and use. I live in a highly light polluted suburb of Denver. I rarely get the chance to get to a dark site so I do highly recommend a Broadband Filter. I regularly take my scope up to 300X magnification, easily high enough to see the rings of Saturn or the bands of color on Jupiter. So for a versatile, visual scope I would recommend the LX50.

I also want to point out that some people have had bad luck with there scope and didn't receive very good customer service from Meade. I have only had to interact with Meade once for a new DEC motor and the 6.0 Drive Chip. My experience dealing with Meade customer service was great. They sent me out the replacement motor and upgrade chip the day I called.

The short-comings of the LX50 really start showing themselves when you try to do some Astrophotography.

First, the mount is hard to do a really accurate polar alignment. The Alt adjustment sucks. The adjustment screw only pushes on one side of the wedge and is a pain to move because you need to use a allen wrench. I upgraded the Alt adjustment with a Deluxe Latitude Adjustment tool made by ScopeTronix (Jordan Blessings Company).

Second, the drive ratio on the DEC motor is too low and will lead to "Jumping". The motor will speed up and slow down while making adjustments. I bought a DEC gear Kit from ScopeTronix that increased the torque and decreases the speed of the adjustment. This fix helped the DEC and I also try to minimize my adjustments by making sure to precisely polar align my scope.

Third, I wanted to go beyond the 5-15 min exposures so I bought a SBIG ST-4 to guide my scope. The Periodic Error is not the best on the LX50 and the scope comes with no Periodic Error Corrector (PEC). Autoguiding is a problem with this mount because the PE is cumulative. Meaning that the problem gets worse as time goes on, until the autoguider losses the guide star. I haven't successfully gotten it to track yet. I have moved to a Mountain Instruments MI-250 to mount my 8" OTA and my new AP130EDT on.

Fourth, fork mounts (that seemed very sturdy for visual use) are not the best platform for astrophotography. I know there are a lot of folks using fork mounted scopes to make great Astrophotos but I have a lot of problems with the wind shaking my mount. I do not have a wind break and that may be the difference but my GEM holds my scopes steady in the winds that make my fork mount tremble.

I think the LX50 is a good VISUAL scope to start with. It offers good optics and is easy to operate. It will help you learn your way around the heavens and allows you to learn how to operate the scope.

If you are just starting out, make sure to examine all the different models of telescopes. Decide what type of astronomy interest you and pursue information on equipment that best suits that arena of astronomy. Talk to people who have used the various types of telescopes so that you might find out the relative strengths and weaknesses are. If you think astrophotography may be in your future make sure to investigate German Equatorial Mounts (GEM) and get the best GEM you can afford. You may find yourself changing/adding OTA's in the future but you can always stay with the same GEM.

These are only opinions and they are my own. If you don't agree I welcome any feedback I get as long as it's not flaming :-)