LS8-SC LightSwitch 8" Go-to altazimuth

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LS SC optics
  • Low thermal expansion mirrors: The primary and secondary mirrors are made of low thermal expansion Pyrex to limit the possibility of the focal length changing as the temperature drops. This reduces the possibility of the focus changing during critical through-the-scope CCD imaging.

  • Oversized primary mirrors: The diameter of the primary mirror of each ETX-LS is larger than the diameter of the corrector lens at the front of its optical tube that admits the light. For example, the primary mirror of the 8” scope is actually 8.25” in diameter, compared to the 8” diameter of the corrector lens. Oversizing the primary mirror in this way gives you a wider fully-illuminated field than a conventional catadioptric scope whose corrector and primary mirror are the same size. The result is a gain of 5% to 8% more off-axis light available to your eye or camera, depending on the telescope model.

  • Fully-multicoated UHTC (Ultra High Transmission Coatings) optics: The low thermal expansion primary and secondary Pyrex mirrors are vacuum-coated with aluminum that is enhanced with multiple layers of titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide for increased reflectivity. These multicoatings are then overcoated with a protective layer of silicon monoxide (quartz) for long life.
        A series of anti-reflective coatings of aluminum oxide, titanium dioxide, and magnesium fluoride are vacuum-deposited on both sides of the Schmidt corrector plate. These antireflection multicoatings provide a high 99.8% light transmission per surface, versus a per-surface transmission of 98.7% for standard single-layer coatings.
        UHTC multicoatings provide a 15% increase in light throughput (the amount of light collected by the objective that actually reaches your eye or camera), when compared with standard coatings. For example, they effectively add the equivalent of a little more than four-tenths of an inch of extra light-gathering aperture to the performance of the 6” optical system – but with no increase in actual size or weight. The UHTC multicoatings also improve contrast, for lunar and planetary images that appear sharper and more crisply defined.

  • Fully baffled optics: A cylindrical baffle around the secondary mirror, in combination with the cylindrical baffle tube projecting from the primary mirror, prevents stray off-axis light from reaching the image plane. In addition, a series of field stops machined into the inner surface of the central baffle tube effectively eliminates undesirable light which might reflect from the inside surface of the baffle tube. The result of these baffle systems is improved contrast in lunar, planetary, and deep space observing alike.

This Meade LS SC 8” LightSwitch telescope has:

Hot Product LightSwitch technology for hands-free/eyes-free automatic alignment on the sky
• proven Schmidt-Cassegrain optics
• built-in 640 x 480 pixel color CCD camera with 8° field
• Astronomer Inside multimedia output with built-in speaker and video output
• UHTC optical multicoatings
• AutoStar III computer control with 100,000 object database

    This Meade 8” LS SC LightSwitch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope aligns itself on the skies automatically to make astronomy easy. You don't have to know Polaris from the Pleiades, or Albireo from Zubeneschamali, to align the scope on the sky each night. You just have to turn it on. As Sky & Telescope said when naming the LightSwitch technology a Sky & Telescope Hot Product for 2010, “Meade’s LightSwitch technology adds a new level of automation to the set up and use of Go To telescopes.” Here’s a link to a rave review of the Meade LightSwitch go-to technology in the December 2010 issue of Sky & Telescope.

    The Meade LS SC LightSwitch Technology uses a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, proprietary LNT (Level North Technology), an AutoStar III computer, and an ECLIPS (Electronically Controlled Locate Identify Position System) CCD camera to make the scope amazingly simple to set up and operate. Simply turn on your Meade LS SC. First the GPS receiver automatically determines where and when you are on Earth from the signals it receives from a network of Earth-orbiting satellites. Then the LNT system automatically levels the optical tube and points it north. Next, the AutoStar III computer automatically points the scope at two alignment stars. And finally the wide-field ECLIPS CCD camera images those alignment stars and automatically centers them for you to refine your celestial alignment.

    You never have to look through the eyepiece or finder, or touch any button other than the on/off switch, to have your Meade LS SC perfectly align itself on the skies, ready to find 100,000 celestial objects for you at the touch of a button. You can be observing dozens and dozens of deep space objects like a seasoned observer your first night out.

    Remember that the best telescope for you is not always the biggest scope money can buy. It’s the scope you use most often. And with its superb balance of sensible aperture, reasonable weight, unique features, and low price, you will find yourself using the highly portable 8” Meade LS SC Schmidt-Cassegrain with UHTC multicoatings a lot. The 8” Meade LS SC – a Sky & Telescope Hot Product for 2010 – may well be the perfect telescope for you . . . for life.

This Meade LS SC Telescope’s Optical System . . .

  • Schmidt-Cassegrain catadioptric: 8” aperture (203.2mm aperture 2000mm focal length f/10). Oversized Pyrex primary mirror. Schott water white glass front corrector lens. Fully Fully-multicoated UHTC (Ultra High Transmission Coatings) optics for the highest possible image brightness. Aluminum tube construction with glare-stop baffling. Guaranteed diffraction-limited performance. The scope has a standard Schmidt-Cassegrain rear cell thread, allowing the use of most 8” to 14” SCT visual and photographic accessories manufactured over the past 30 years. For more details, click on the “optics” icon above.

  • Finderscope: The Meade LS SC finderscope is a SmartFinder non-magnifying red dot finder for object centering and star-hopping when using the AutoStar III hand control manually to stroll through the heavens without using the computer to guide you. This straight-through wide-field red dot finder allows easy non-magnified views of the sky, with a projected red dot of light showing exactly where the scope is pointed at all times.

  • Star diagonal: 1.25” 90° multicoated prism type.

  • Eyepiece: 1.25” 26mm Meade Super Plössl (77x). The eyepiece field of view is 0.67°, over a third wider than the full Moon, for expansive lunar and deep space views.

  • ECLIPS CCD camera: The ECLIPS (Electronically Controlled Locate Identify Position System) color CCD camera is mounted under the optical tube. Its wide-angle short focal length lens is aimed parallel to the tube and records wide angle images of the sky centered on the object at which the scope is aimed. The ECLIPS camera forms a vital part of the LightSwitch automatic sky alignment system, by imaging the stars that the scope points to during its alignment sequence and centering them precisely to refine the scope’s pointing accuracy.
    However, the ECLIPS camera is more than just an alignment tool. It also takes full color 8° panoramas through its own wide angle lens of whatever you observe during the evening while you observe with an eyepiece through the main scope optics. It can save these images to a user-supplied SD card with no computer needed at the scope for later processing indoors on your computer. An SD card slot allows easy software upgrades and storing of your ECLIPS astrophotos on your SD card. If you prefer, it can also display the images in real time on an optional monitor or TV set via a video output jack on the LS for all to see while you observe. The camera does not shoot high power images through the telescope optics, but rather uses its own low power lens to take complementary wide angle panoramas of what you are visually observing at higher powers through the scope itself. This helps to put the close-up objects in context against the larger celestial background.

This Meade LS SC Telescope’s Mount . . .

  • Fork mount/drive system: Die-cast aluminum drive base. The light-weight, but rigid, die-cast aluminum single fork arm of the Meade LS SC damps vibrations quickly. There is a carrying handle at the top of the fork arm. The fork arm is long, to allow most cameras to clear the drive base when the scope is pointed at the zenith. The mount includes servo-controlled 12V DC slewing and tracking motors driving 4.875” precision worm gears in both altitude and azimuth. The motors are powered by eight user-supplied C-cell batteries that fit into the drive base. Because of all the electronic features built into the LS, the usable life of the batteries is only 3 to 5 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.
    An optional #RCXAC wall power adapter is available to power the LS SC from 110-120 volt 60 Hz AC household current in your back yard to conserve battery life. An optional #607 cigarette lighter cord is available to power the scope from your car’s cigarette lighter plug or a rechargeable battery for extended use in the field.

  • Adjustable height tripod: Self-centering steel leg field tripod. A single threaded rod with a large hand-tighten knob and spreader bar simultaneously holds the scope firmly on the tripod and locks the legs rigidly in the most stable position. The spreader bar has cutouts to hold three 1.25” eyepieces close at hand and up and out of the evening’s dews and damps.

  • LightSwitch Technology: The unique Hot Product for 2010 LightSwitch Technology of the Meade LS SC allows completely automatic hands-free/eyeball-free alignment of the telescope on the sky at the beginning of each observing session. A built-in GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) receiver and the patented LNT (Level North Technology) in the system’s Integrated Sensor Module combine with the built-in wide angle ECLIPS CCD imager under the telescope tube to allow the LS SC to completely align itself with the sky without any input or guidance from you. You simply flip the LightSwitch on. The LS SC automatically uses its GPS receiver to lock onto radio signals broadcast from orbiting GPS satellites to identify its location, time, and date. It then aims its optical tube north and levels it, then locates and centers the appropriate alignment stars for a perfect celestial alignment every time. You don’t have to look through a finderscope or eyepiece to automatically align the scope on the heavens for an evening’s observing enjoyment.

  • AutoStar III computer: The AutoStar III computer can show you the planets and thousands of deep space objects the very first night you use your scope – even if you've never used a telescope before! At the push of a button, the LS SC will move at a fast 6.5° per second to any of the 100,000 objects in its database. You can choose from Messier, Caldwell, IC, and NGC deep space objects, binary and multiple star systems, the Moon, planets, asteroids, and comets. You can also automatically move to any object that’s not in the database simply by entering its right ascension and declination coordinates. The AutoStar III computer includes hundreds of special event menus, guided tours, a glossary, utility functions, and telescope status options. A hand control holder is built into the scope drive base for hands-free computer controller operation. The scope electronics and AutoStar III hand control provide full USB 2.0 support for accessories like optional through-the-scope DSI and CCD cameras.

  • Astronomer Inside Software: It's a marvelous experience to look through a telescope at a distant object – but nothing can match the experience of knowing things like how many years its light has taken to reach your eye, how fast it’s moving, how big it is, etc. Thanks to the built-in Astronomer Inside multimedia software, the Meade 8” LS SC enhances the observing experience as no other telescope on today's market can. Right at the telescope, you have a complete audio/visual library at your fingertips . . . just waiting to give you a full tour of the night sky. Thanks to a built-in speaker and video-out jack, the whole family can share in the fun! An optional LCD monitor is available to let you see the more than 75 on-board animated video files in the “Astronomer Inside" software in your LS8 SC, while the scope’s on-board speaker plays the accompanying audio. It will also display the “Astronomer Inside" still photos and menus and will display a current sky chart when not playing back videos.
    The Astronomer Inside multimedia software has over four hours of professionally produced audio content with descriptions of hundreds of objects such as the planets, Moon, stars, constellations, star clusters, nebulas, galaxies, and more. Astronomer Inside will let you learn the secrets and details of the objects you observe while you are viewing them in a fun and interesting way. It has custom guided tours of the best objects that are visible from your location, at any time and date during the course of the year. The built-in speaker in the scope’s drive base can announce audio instructions and object descriptions for all to hear. If you’d prefer to listen in private (at a star party, for example, or in your backyard when people are asleep nearby), there is also an audio out jack that will let you listen privately through optional headphones or earbuds.
    The video output jack for the optional monitor can show you more than 30 minutes of video presentations (movies and animations of celestial phenomena) and still images of many celestial objects, plus give you an instant display of images from the ECLIPS CCD imager and easy on-screen menu navigation. The multimedia presentations feature the voices of Sandy Woods of the “Star Date” astronomy radio program and George Woods, Hollywood actor.

    The simple tripod/altazimuth mount configuration of the LS SC with UHTC optics makes setup fast and easy. The automatic alignment of the LightSwitch Technology system will have you observing in only a matter of minutes. The wide array of objects in the LS SC database (100,000 of them!), and the pointing accuracy of the AutoStar III computer, will accurately speed you from object to object with no frustrating hunting or star hopping. With the LS SC, you’ll spend more of your time looking at objects and less time looking for them.

    If you’re one of those busy people whose schedule doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy astronomy, an easy-to-use fully-computerized Meade LS SC with UHTC optics will make the most of your limited observing opportunities. The 8” LS SC is a scope that one person can easily move outside to observe by himself or herself.

    This 8” scope has enough light-gathering performance to keep you busy observing and photographing for the rest of your life. And the 8” LS SC has all the advanced features you’ll ever need to keep you happy out in the field or in your backyard. The LS SC is big enough to keep you observing for many years to come, portable enough to make it easy to take outside for spur of the moment observing, with superb optics and enough useful features to keep the most ardent gadget lover in seventh heaven ‘til the cows come home . . . all at a price that won’t break the bank.

    The 8” Meade LS SC with LightSwitch Technology and UHTC multicoated Schmidt-Cassegrain optics may indeed be the perfect scope for you.

Supplied Eyepiece:
The eyepiece that is supplied with this telescope.
Highest Useful Magnification:
This is the highest visual power a telescope can achieve before the image becomes too dim for useful observing (generally at about 50x to 60x per inch of telescope aperture). However, this power is very often unreachable due to turbulence in our atmosphere that makes the image too blurry and unstable to see any detail.

On nights of less-than-perfect seeing, medium to low power planetary, binary star, and globular cluster observing (at 25x to 30x per inch of aperture or less) is usually more enjoyable than fruitlessly attempting to push a telescope's magnification to its theoretical limits. Very high powers are generally best reserved for planetary observations and binary star splitting.

Small aperture telescopes can usually use more power per inch of aperture on any given night than larger telescopes, as they look through a smaller column of air and see less of the turbulence in our atmosphere. While some observers use up to 100x per inch of refractor aperture on Mars and Jupiter, the actual number of minutes they spend observing at such powers is small in relation to the number of hours they spend waiting for the atmosphere to stabilize enough for them to use such very high powers.
Visual Limiting Magnitude:
This is the magnitude (or brightness) of the faintest star that can be seen with a telescope. The larger the number, the fainter the star that can be seen. An approximate formula for determining the visual limiting magnitude of a telescope is 7.5 + 5 log aperture (in cm).

This is the formula that we use with all of the telescopes we carry, so that our published specs will be consistent from aperture to aperture, from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some telescope makers may use other unspecified methods to determine the limiting magnitude, so their published figures may differ from ours.

Keep in mind that this formula does not take into account light loss within the scope, seeing conditions, the observer’s age (visual performance decreases as we get older), the telescope’s age (the reflectivity of telescope mirrors decreases as they get older), etc. The limiting magnitudes specified by manufacturers for their telescopes assume very dark skies, trained observers, and excellent atmospheric transparency – and are therefore rarely obtainable under average observing conditions. The photographic limiting magnitude is always greater than the visual (typically by two magnitudes).

Focal Length:
This is the length of the effective optical path of a telescopeor eyepiece (the distance from the main mirror or lens where the lightis gathered to the point where the prime focus image is formed). Focallength is typically expressed in millimeters.

The longer the focallength, the higher the magnification and the narrower the field of viewwith any given eyepiece. The shorter the focal length, the lower themagnification and the wider the field of view with the same eyepiece.

Focal Ratio:
This is the ‘speed’ of a telescope’s optics, found by dividing the focal length by the aperture. The smaller the f/number, the lower the magnification, the wider the field, and the brighter the image with any given eyepiece or camera.

Fast f/4 to f/5 focal ratios are generally best for lower power wide field observing and deep space photography. Slow f/11 to f/15 focal ratios are usually better suited to higher power lunar, planetary, and binary star observing and high power photography. Medium f/6 to f/10 focal ratios work well with either.

An f/5 system can photograph a nebula or other faint extended deep space object in one-fourth the time of an f/10 system, but the image will be only one-half as large. Point sources, such as stars, are recorded based on the aperture, however, rather than the focal ratio – so that the larger the aperture, the fainter the star you can see or photograph, no matter what the focal ratio.

This is the ability of a telescope to separate closely-spaced binary stars into two distinct objects, measured in seconds of arc. One arc second equals 1/3600th of a degree and is about the width of a 25-cent coin at a distance of three miles! In essence, resolution is a measure of how much detail a telescope can reveal. The resolution values on our website are derived using the Dawes’ limit formula.

Dawes’ limit only applies to point sources of light (stars). Smaller separations can be resolved in extended objects, such as the planets. For example, Cassini’s Division in the rings of Saturn (0.5 arc seconds across), was discovered using a 2.5” telescope – which has a Dawes’ limit of 1.8 arc seconds!

The ability of a telescope to resolve to Dawes’ limit is usually much more affected by seeing conditions, by the difference in brightness between the binary star components, and by the observer’s visual acuity, than it is by the optical quality of the telescope.

0.57 arc seconds
This is the diameter of the light-gathering main mirror or objective lens of a telescope. In general, the larger the aperture, the better the resolution and the fainter the objects you can see.
The weight of this product.
39 lbs.
Heaviest Single Component:
The weight of the heaviest component in this package.
30 lbs.
Telescope Type:
The optical design of a telescope.  Telescope type is classified by three primary optical designs (refractor, reflector, or catadioptric), by sub-designs of these types, or by the task they perform.
Based on Astronomy magazine’s telescope "report cards", scopes of this size and type generally perform as follows . . .
Terrestrial Observation:
Observing terrestrial objects (nature studies, birding, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial observing. Scopes with apertures under 5" to 6" are generally most useful for terrestrial observing due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes. 
Lunar Observation:
Visual observation of the Moon is possible with any telescope. Larger aperture scopes will provide more detail than smaller scopes, thereby getting a higher score in this category, but may require an eyepiece filter to cut down the greater glare from the Moon's sunlit surface so small details can be seen more easily. Lunar observing is more rewarding when the Moon is waxing or waning as the changing sun angle casts constantly varying shadows to reveal craters and surface features by the hundreds.  
Planetary Observation:
Binary and Star Cluster Observation:
Very Good
Galaxy and Nebula Observation:
Terrestrial Photography:
Photographing terrestrial objects (wildlife, scenery, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial photography. Scopes with focal ratios of f/10 and faster and apertures under 5" to 6" are generally the most useful for terrestrial photography due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes.
Lunar Photography:
Photography of the Moon is possible with virtually any telescope, using a 35mm camera, DSLR, or CCD-based webcam (planetary imager). While an equatorial mount with a motor drive is not strictly essential, as the exposure times will be very short, such a mount would be helpful to improve image sharpness, particularly with webcam-type cameras that take a series of exposures over time and stack them together. Reflectors may require a Barlow lens to let the camera reach focus. 
Planetary Photography:
Star Cluster / Nebula / Galaxy Photography:
1 year
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General Accessories
Drive Motors and Drive Accessories (4)
Power Tank 7 Amp-hour 12V DC rechargeable battery
by Celestron
Meade #607 Car Battery Cord
by Meade
Power Tank 17 Amp-hour 12V DC rechargeable battery
by Celestron
AC Power adapter for Meade LX200, LX90, ETX-90/105/125, LXD-75, and RCX400 scopes
by Meade
Extended Service Program (4)
Three-Year Advance Shipping Program
by Meade
Five-Year Advance Shipping Program
by Meade
Three-Year Sky Assurance™ For Meade telescopes priced between $1200 and $1999.99
by Meade
Five-Year Sky Assurance™ For Meade telescopes priced between $1200 and $1999.99
by Meade
Visual Accessories
Miscellaneous (1)
Kit of 1.25" eyepieces and visual accessories
by Astro-Tech
Star Diagonals (1)
1.25" 99% Reflectivity dielectric mirror diagonal
by Astro-Tech
Telescopes (1)
3.5" Color LCD monitor for LS-series telescopes
by Meade
  • 8” f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain optical tube with UHTC optics (multicoated mirrors and a multicoated Schmidt corrector)
  • Single-tine fork mount with dual-axis 4.875” worm gears and control panel
  • LightSwitch Integrated Sensor Module with built-in GPS receiver, electronic level sensor, electronic magnetic North Sensor, and ECLIPS (Electronically Controlled Locate Identify Position System) CCD camera
  • Electric slow-motion controls on both axes
  • AutoStar III go-to hand control with digital readout display and 9-speed drive controls on both axes
  • 100,000-object celestial object database
  • Internal battery compartment accepts 8 (user-supplied) C-cells (option accessories cords permit powering from either a 12vDC auto cigarette lighter plug, rechargeable battery pack, or from a 110-120VAC home outlet)
  • Non-magnifying straight-through illuminated red dot finder
  • 1.25” diagonal prism
  • Series 4000 Super Plössl 26mm eyepiece (77x)
  • Astronomer Inside multimedia software plays audio through a built-in speaker and shows video on an optional monitor through a video out jack
  • Standard field tripod
  • Operating instructions supplied on a media disk for your computer (no printed manual supplied).
Meade - LS series lightswitch manual 1910 KB
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Meade - LS SC LightSwitch 8" Go-to altazimuth

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Meade - LS SC LightSwitch 8" Go-to altazimuthFull-length image of the 8Close-up of the right rear side of the 8Close-up of the left rear side of the 8Close-up of the left front of the 8
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Our Product #: LS8SC
Manufacturer Product #: 0810-03-12
Price: $1,799.00  FREE ground shipping - Click for more info
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Clear skies,

This Meade 8” LS SC with Schmidt-Cassegrain optics – the newest of the Meade LightSwitch scopes that were named Sky & Telescope Hot Products for 2010 – is the easiest to use telescope you will ever own. You never have to touch or look through the scope to align it on the sky for an evening’s observing. Simply turn it on. The 8" Meade LS SC aligns itself on the sky automatically and hands-free. Its Astronomer Inside software even talks to you to tell you interesting facts about what you’re seeing . . .

. . . our 34th year