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Laypersons Review of 12" Deluxe Meade Lightbridge
Submitted: Thursday, 7th May 2009 by Mark Nesti
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Meade 12" Deluxe Lightbridge

Background

First of all I wish to point out that I have been an avid Astronomer for at least 3 weeks. I have enough understanding about scopes and optics to look like a complete idiot, so don’t expect any terminology beyond ‘Big Mirror’, ‘Little Mirror’ and ‘Focuser Thing’.
 
So why would I wish to write a review of a product I have little knowledge about or qualification on?! The answer is quite simple and two-fold; I’m not reviewing the products’ specifications and attributes, I’m reviewing what the product has given me and how easy it is for a total newbie to make a transition into the hobby, but to get something out of it. This is of course, for the most part, intangible and can only be experienced on a personal level. The other reason is that when looking for a telescope, I reviewed many articles, none of which answered my really big questions; is it cool, fun, am I gonna be blown away, can I see pattern on Jupiter and stuff, how far can I see? They were a little too clinical for a newbie. 

Why buy one

I’ve wanted a telescope since…forever, and have always been interested in stars and space. Now that I’m almost 40, I’ve actually got one and my family and I can explore the heavens. About time!
 
The motivation to spend the money and to have a go, came from an unusual area; I’ve just finished being tutored in Astrophysics by an ex student of the late Sir David Bohm. For many years this guy worked for NASA on stellar mechanics (plasmas etc) and taught math at Cambridge etc, so he knew exactly where to lead me in my quest to complete a book that’s taken 23 years to write. Besides all of that, I just want to look at stuff.

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To the skies!

The product

Along with the scope, which comes with a Meade 26mm QX eyepiece, I purchased a 9mm and 14mm Meade 5000 Plossl and a 6.7mm Meade 5000 ‘Ultra Wide’ eyepieces, 10x50 binoculars (essential), laser collimator, planisphere, star atlas and kitchen sink.
 
Something which wasn’t suggested to me when I purchased the scope, but has become an absolute necessity with a 12” magnifying glass (also 8” and 10” probably), is that I desperately need filters for the moon and a few of the planets. I believe that at least one should be included with the deluxe version, or at least recommended.

Build

Putting the telescope together was a piece of cake. A Philips screwdriver, an Allen Key, and you’re done in 30 min or so. Destructions were not needed; I went off the pretty pictures.

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Looking Down

Collimation

It’s a simple concept and easy to do. Small moves on the secondary mirror (top oblong 45 deg fella) and it will be perfect. When adjusting the primary mirror (big bottom one), apply a little pressure inwards when you turn the knobs and it will track smoothly (the bushing in the recesses can sometimes move, causing the mirror to stop moving as the springs are not strong enough, then it will reseat with a clunk and moved way too much). Once you’ve looked at some stars, do the collimation again, but this time, with the focuser half way out, and do it with the scope at the same angle you intend viewing, and then note the difference.

Viewing

The moon: With a full moon and a 12” mirror, kiss all other viewing for the night good-bye without a filter; you’ll be night blind for ages, but it’s worth it, the detail is insane. The 6.7mm Wide Angle puts you at arms length from the craters…it seems!

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Red Dot Finder

Jupiter: For me, this is the nicest of all the planets to look at, with the 9mm eyepiece you can make out cloud bands and some detail. Moons are also a good size.
 
Saturn: With the 9mm, you can just make out cloud bands and see separation between the planet and the Cassini division. Moons like titan are quite big, Mimas (closest to outside of rings) can be seen regularly. Don’t expect to see ring detail like in books. Seeing it live more than makes up for it.
 
Venus: Again, with the 12” aperture, you might as well be looking at the sun. I couldn’t see much else for 20 min.
 
Pluto: Yes, Pluto. The manual which comes with the scope says that the 12” version has resolving power to 0.45” (arc seconds?) with a visual magnitude limit of 14.5. Utter rubbish! I have been tracking Pluto for a week and a half, from the west side of Perth, across a heavily light polluted sky toward the east. Pluto, just off Sagittarius, has been 20-30 deg off the horizon and visible with even the 14mm eyepiece. The bible says that Pluto (this month) is diameter 0.1” and a magnitude of 14.0.
 
Without any doubt, in dark skies, I believe that my ability to track the scope (which has now become automatic and easy to do) would become an issue well before the resolving power or visual magnitude does, even with a mild astigmatism in both of my eyes.
 
Galaxies: I’ve seen plenty of them, but I won’t see any detail until I go to the farm again.

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Eyepiece

Quality

I think quality is relative to cost, and do you feel ripped-off at all. That being said, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this particular scope again…in fact I am, for my father in law. The only difference with him, being 65 yo, I may have to spend the extra money and get some very good eye pieces with good relief.

Value for money

For me, this is a measure of experiences against dollars spent. And I’ll answer that with in simple terms, not dollars per aperture inch or dollars per lightyear viewable.

How many 16 yo kids can talk about Pluto or Jupiter’s red dot at school, and say they have actually seen it…live…heaps of times. Or perhaps the tell-tale trails in the ejecta blankets on the moon, where debris has skidded?
 
I’ve always been interested in Astronomy and Cosmology, but I never really look up and stared much since I was a kid. My son already knows how a geodesic pathway is created, he never looked up much either, he reckons Grand Theft Auto and Counter Strike are way cooler!
 
We look up and stare now because of a $1,600 scope and a few hundred dollars in eye pieces, have shown us that there’s a whole new world up there…maybe there’s a few of them.
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Out in the Field

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With the Kids
Review by Mark Nesti (nesti). Discuss this review on the IceInSpace Forum.
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