LX200-ACF 14" Advanced Coma-Free Go-to altazimuth

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AutoStar software
An AutoStar Suite Software CD-ROM is included as standard equipment with each LXD-75, LX90, and LX200 telescope. This software package integrates the telescope with a Windows-based PC or laptop computer for an enhanced range of performance features. It includes a planetarium program with a database of 19,000,000 stars and deep space objects for display on your computer screen. All of the best on-screen display and star chart-printing features of a standard planetarium program are included for stand-alone use when nights are cloudy, or for planning observing sessions.

The software lets you enable or disable the Hubble Guide Star Catalog; set the on-screen Viewpoint to go to the current zenith or any R.A. and Dec. coordinate; choose any object by catalog name or number; enable or disable custom catalogs; add new catalogs; set magnitude limits; flip the star map for correct orientation as you observe through the telescope; zoom the star map display from 180° down to tiny fractions of an arc second; adjust label fonts and colors, coordinate grid colors, and brightness and contrast; enable or disable the night vision mode; and more.

In addition, if you connect the scope to your computer, the program lets you click on objects in the sky map that is displayed on the computer screen and have your telescope automatically slew to those objects. You can automatically generate AutoStar Tours of favorite objects with a simple point and click, as well as using the program to keep observing logs.

The software lets you control all AutoStar functions from your computer or laptop. You can use it to create observing lists and download them to the AutoStar for use in the field when you don’t have your computer or laptop with you. “Talking Telescope” software (included) converts AutoStar text displays to synthesized speech through your computer’s speaker. An AutoStar Update Tool in the software keeps your AutoStar II computer hand control current by downloading the latest system firmware updates and comet, asteroid, and satellite data from the internet.

You can also use the software to control your telescope remotely via the internet. Designed to be the ultimate platform for remote digital astronomy with your Meade telescope, the AutoStar Suite Astronomer’s Edition contains tools for dome controls, weather sensors, and other functions required for this purpose. You can reach your telescope and dome through a single network connection. You can then communicate via an IP address, using the AutoStar Net Scope program to control the entire observatory over the Internet. This solves the biggest problem in setting up for remote access to your telescope – the problem of your distance from the scope itself. You can be in your living room to control the scope in your backyard, or just as easily, control a friend’s system in another country!

The minimum computer requirements for installing the AutoStar Suite Software are a PC running Windows 98SE or later, with a minimum of 64 MB of RAM, and 200 MB of free hard disk space.

LX200 computer
This Telescope’s AutoStar II Computer, Smart Mount, and GPS System . . .
  • GPS/AutoStar computer operation: The operation of an LX200 is simplicity itself. Once you mount the scope on its tripod, you simply turn it on. An integrated true-level electronic sensor levels the optical tube parallel to the ground. A 16-channel GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver in the left fork arm uses a network of earth-orbiting government satellites to first quickly triangulate the scope’s position on the earth with an accuracy measured in meters, then determine the time to fraction of a second accuracy. A built-in electronic compass automatically rotates the scope optical tube to aim it due north (the home position). This is a tremendous help if trees or buildings block your view of the north. Built-in software compensates for magnetic declination errors (the difference between true north and magnetic north at your observing location).
        Once the scope reaches the home position (it only takes a minute or two), press the “enter” button on the AutoStar II hand controller to start the astronomical alignment. The LX200 slews at 8° per second to the first of two alignment stars (6° per second in the case of a 16” scope). If that star is not precisely centered, a touch or two on the AutoStar II hand control directional push buttons quickly centers it. Do the same with the second alignment star the scope moves to and you’re ready to observe. That’s it! For the rest of the evening, a computer in the AutoStar II controls the scope’s altitude and azimuth motors to keep you precisely centered on whatever you aim at, for as long as you want to observe.
        It takes only a few moments to begin observing, since you never have to line up on the celestial pole, take the time to precisely level the tripod, input observing latitude and longitude and accurate local time, or adjust imprecise manual setting circles to match the sky.

  • AutoStar II computer: This scope’s AutoStar II 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! The computer’s 3.5 megabyte flash memory (which you can upgrade at any time for free via the internet) contains the following objects:

    • the entire NGC (New General Catalog) of 7840 nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters

    • the IC (Index Catalog) of 5386 nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters

    • the Messier Catalog of the 110 best known deep sky objects

    • the Caldwell Catalog of 109 fascinating objects that Messier missed

    • 227 named objects

    • the Herschel Catalog of 400 faint and difficult deep sky objects

    • the Abell Catalog of 2712 galaxy clusters

    • the Arp Catalog of 645 irregular galaxies

    • the Uppsala Galaxy Catalog of 12,940 galaxies

    • a portion of the Russian Morphological Catalog listing 12,939 of its 30,642 galaxies down to magnitude 15

    • the General Catalog of 28,484 variable stars

    • the SAO and Hipparcos Star Catalogs of 31,090 stars

        Also included are the eight major planets out to Pluto, the Moon, asteroids, comets, Earth satellites, and more. You can also add your own selected favorite deep sky objects in a separate catalog. The AutoStar II computer keeps a total database of 147,541 stars and objects in its memory for you to observe.
        Granted, a good number of the faintest objects will not be visible in the smaller aperture telescopes (for example, the 14th through 15th magnitude galaxies of the Russian Morphological Catalog are not eyepiece objects in an 8” scope that has a visual limiting magnitude of 14 under perfect dark sky seeing conditions), but they are all photographable with any of the telescopes given the right equipment and a modicum of persistence.
        Simply call up any of these 147,541 discrete objects on the AutoStar II hand control’s two line/sixteen character night-vision red screen by using the 20-button numeric keypad. Then press the “go-to” key. The LX200 slews to that object at a fast 6° to 8° per second (barely 11 seconds to go from horizon to zenith). The telescope quickly centers your chosen object in the field of view for you to enjoy. It routinely centers objects with an accuracy that puts them well within the field of the standard equipment eyepiece (usually within two arc minutes of dead center). The supplied Smart Mount Technology system (see below) can improve that accuracy still further.
        Once the object is located, the hand control screen tells you its catalog number, type, magnitude, size, right ascension, and declination. If you have the coordinates of an object not in the computer’s memory (a comet or asteroid, for example), enter those coordinates, press “go-to,” and your LX200 takes you there at speeds of up to 8° per second, as well. You can find faint deep space objects almost faster than you can read about it. If you want to scan the skies on your own, the AutoStar II keypad lets you move the scope in any direction at any of nine scanning and centering speeds up to 8 degrees per second.
        The AutoStar II computer includes an RS232 serial port for interfacing with a Windows-equipped computer. This allows remote control of the scope, as well as the ability to upgrade the operating system and database at any time at no cost through Meade’s website. The scope hand control provides brightness control of the computer keypad, a real-time digital readout of the telescope position in right ascension and declination, and a variety of other unique keypad/display panel functions.

  • Smart Drive: The LX200 has built-in dual-axis Smart Drive permanent periodic error correction (PPEC) to make deep space photography easier. This computer circuit automatically corrects for the minor drive errors present in every telescope – regardless of size, brand, or cost. It reduces by up to 90% the number of guiding corrections needed to compensate for those errors during long exposure photos. Simply use an optional illuminated reticle eyepiece to guide once on a star for a short time. Use the AutoStar hand control to make the corrections needed to keep the star centered on the eyepiece crosshairs. The Smart Drive remembers those corrections and automatically plays them back whenever the telescope is operating – virtually eliminating repetitive corrections during astrophotography. The dual-axis Smart Drive even corrects for declination errors, not just right ascension errors as with competitive scopes.

  • SMT (Smart Mount Technology): This standard equipment software program provides improved (and constantly improvable) pointing accuracy with the LX200. The already high pointing accuracy of the telescope is further refined with every object that you center precisely and synchronize on during a night’s observing. The program works in both altazimuth and equatorial modes. It includes a simple routine to refine the pointing accuracy for the entire sky with your particular equipment configuration and alignment. The refined pointing data can be saved and reused for permanent and portable setups.

  • Home Pulse Acquisition on 16” Models: Included as standard equipment with all 16” LX200 models, and unique among commercial telescopes, is a special “home pulse” feature that allows the telescope’s operating system to maintain the telescope’s pointing position in non-volatile memory, even when the telescope is turned off. This allows the telescope to be remotely aligned and operated over a long distance (even thousands of miles), by using a modem link to the telescope’s RS-232 serial interface. In this way Meade 16” LX200 telescopes may be operated through a pre-programmed sequence of, for example, CCD imaging, without a human operator being present in the observatory.
LX200 mount
The mount’s drive base is made of heavy-duty die-cast aluminum, as are the dual fork arms that support the optical tube. The fork arms are shaped to damp vibrations quickly. There is a carrying handle on each fork arm. An adjustable bracket to hold the Autostar computer hand control can be attached to either carry handle, for convenient hands-free viewing of the computer display and operation by either a right-handed or left-handed observer. Both manual and electric slow motion controls are provided in both right ascension and declination. Analog setting circles are provided on the mount (5” in declination and 8.75” in right ascension), in addition to the digital r.a. and dec readouts on the Autostar computer hand control. The drive base has a 7-port multi-function control panel, including two RS-232 serial interface ports for communication with an external computer and other ancillary equipment.

The mount includes servo-controlled 12VDC slewing and tracking motors with 5.75” worm gear drives in both altitude and azimuth. The declination axis is supported by three 1.83” diameter ball bearings. Two ball bearings (one 4” and one 2.25”) provide smooth motion in right ascension. The drive system has 185 individually selectable drive speeds in both right ascension and declination to permit observatory-level precision in tracking, guiding, and slewing. You can choose from 0.01x to 1.0x sidereal, variable in 0.01x increments; 2x, 8x, 16x, 64x, or 128x the sidereal rate; as well as 1°/sec. to 8°/sec., variable in 0.1° increments. You can select either a sidereal or lunar tracking rate, or you can custom-select a drive speed from 2000 incremental rates to match solar or planetary motions.

The scope is powered by eight user-supplied C-cell batteries that fit into the fork arms. You don’t need an external battery pack or AC power supply as you do with competitive GPS scopes. Battery life is typically about 20 hours in warm weather, decreasing as the amount of slewing increases or as the temperature drops. Optional adapters (with 25' cords) are available to allow you to power the scope from 110-120 volt 60 Hz AC household current in your back yard to conserve battery life, or to power the scope from your car's cigarette lighter plug or a rechargeable battery for extended use in the field.

LX200-ACF UHTC optics
Features of this Telescope’s Optical System . . .
  • Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric designed to emulate the optical performance of a Ritchey-Chrétien telescope: The traditional two-mirror Ritchey-Chrétien (RC) design uses approximately hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors to produce images that are free from coma over a wide field. Because of this wide coma-free field and a relatively fast focal ratio, the Ritchey-Chrétien design is particularly well suited to astrophotography. The RC is the design of choice for most of the major professional observatory telescopes built in the last half-century. For example, the Hubble Space Telescope and the twin 10-meter Keck telescopes in Hawaii are Ritchey-Chrétiens.
        However, because of the complexity of fabricating and testing a large aperture hyperbolic mirror (just ask the people who built the initially-flawed, but not discovered until it was in space, Hubble Space Telescope), traditional two-mirror Ritchey-Chrétiens are very expensive to manufacture and purchase, too expensive for many amateur astronomers.
        To emulate the coma-free performance of a true RC telescope, while keeping the cost within reason, the LX200-ACF Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) catadioptric optical system uses a full aperture aspheric corrector lens in conjunction with a simple spherical primary mirror. This creates a two-element primary mirror system that performs like an RC’s single hyperbolic primary mirror from the optical point of view of the LX200-ACF secondary mirror. The hyperbolic secondary mirror itself is mounted directly on the rear of the corrector lens, rather than in the traditional RC’s conventional spider vane assembly. This eliminates the image-degrading diffraction spikes of the secondary mirror support structure visible in commercial RC scope images. The result is RC-class coma-free wide-field performance in the LX200-ACF, at about a fourth the cost of most true RC systems.
        The corrector-modified design would itself be expensive to fabricate were it not for Meade’s more than a quarter-century of experience making Schmidt-Cassegrain correctors, which are in the same optical family as the corrector needed for the coma-free design of the LX200-ACF. An additional benefit of the full aperture corrector in the ACF design is slightly better correction for astigmatism than the traditional RC design.
        In addition, the LX200-ACF, due to its front corrector plate, is a closed tube design. This keeps the primary optical components protected from dust, moisture and other contaminants that might fall on the optical surfaces of the primary and secondary mirrors as can happen with the traditional open-tube RC design.
        While the LX200-ACF may not be a traditional RC design, its performance is RC-like in all important characteristics. A review in Sky & Telescope magazine of the predecessor of the Meade ACF optics said the bottom line is that the optics do “indeed perform like a Ritchey-Chrétien.” Another such review, in Astronomy magazine said, “This scope delivers Ritchey-Chrétien-like performance at a fraction of the cost.”

  • Oversized primary mirror: The diameter of the primary mirror of each LX200-ACF is larger than the diameter of the corrector lens at the front of its optical tube that admits the light. The primary mirror of the 8” scope is actually 8.25” in diameter, compared to the 8” diameter of the corrector lens. The 10” primary is 10.375” in diameter; the 12” is 12.375”; the 14” is 14.57”; and the 16” primary is 16.375” in diameter. 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 primary and secondary mirrors are vacuum-coated with aluminum, enhanced with multiple layers of titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide for increased reflectivity. A overcoating layer of durable silicon monoxide (quartz) assures long life.
        A series of anti-reflective coatings of aluminum oxide, titanium dioxide, and magnesium fluoride are vacuum-deposited on both sides of the full aperture 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. Overall light throughput (the amount of light collected by the objective lens that actually reaches your eye or camera) is approximately 89% at the focal plane.
        UHTC multicoatings provide a 15% increase in light throughput compared with standard single-layer coatings. They effectively add the equivalent of 15% extra light-gathering area to the performance of a scope with standard coatings. It’s the equivalent of three-quarters of an inch of extra aperture in the case of a 10” scope, for example, but with no increase in actual size or weight. UHTC coatings 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 center of 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 tube. The result of these baffle systems is improved contrast in lunar, planetary, and deep space observing alike.

  • Mirror lock: A progressive tension lock knob on the rear cell locks the telescope’s primary mirror rigidly in place once an approximate manual focus has been achieved. The standard equipment electric focuser, described below, is then used for fine focusing. Locking the mirror eliminates the possibility of mirror shift (the image moving from side to side while focusing, caused by the primary mirror tilting on the central baffle tube as the mirror moves fore and aft along the tube). Mirror shift, once the bane of CCD astrophotographers because it could easily move the image off a small CCD chip, is non-existent with the Meade system.

  • Electric focuser: The supplied zero image-shift electric microfocuser is controlled by the Autostar II computer hand control. It moves an externally-mounted eyepiece or camera to focus, rather than moving the primary mirror. This eliminates mirror shift during precise image centering and focusing for CCD applications. The microfocuser has four different operating speeds, from very fast down to an extremely slow creep, giving you focusing accuracy to a truly microscopic level during critical visual and astrophotographic applications.
        The focuser is designed to hold 2” star diagonals and eyepieces. A supplied 1.25” adapter allows the use of 1.25” diagonals and eyepieces in the 2” focuser. Another supplied adapter duplicates the 2” rear cell thread used on Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes to allow the use of off-axis guiders, T-adapters, etc. A 1.25” visual back is not supplied with the scope. If you want to do high magnification eyepiece projection photography of the Moon and planets, you will have to add an optional 1.25” visual back #9135 and a tele-extender to the focuser’s supplied 2” rear cell thread adapter.
The Meade 14” LX200-ACF with Advanced Coma-Free UHTC optics provides the serious amateur astronomer and school or college observatory with state-of-the-art, high-transmission, coma-free photo/visual optics in a large-aperture telescope at a very attractive price. If you can’t afford the optical performance of a 14” true Ritchey-Chrétien, and few of us can, the Meade 14” LX200-ACF provides remarkably similar coma-free performance at a mere fraction the price.
If you have the dark skies to take full advantage of its immense light gathering capacity (three times that of an 8” scope), or are willing to make the effort to transport this heavy 166 lb. scope to the dark sky site it needs for best performance, this is a scope that can keep you happily observing and photographing the heavens for the rest of your life.

This Telescope’s Optical System . . .
  • Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric designed to emulate the optical performance of a Ritchey-Chrétien telescope: 14” aperture catadioptric (3556mm focal length f/10). Fully multicoated UHTC (Ultra High Transmission Coatings) optics with oversized Pyrex Grade A primary mirror for brighter field edge illumination. Aluminum tube construction with glare-stop baffling and mirror lock. Guaranteed diffraction-limited performance. For more details, click on the “optics” icon above.

  • Finderscope: 8 x 50mm straight-through achromatic design, with a 5° field of view and 14mm eye relief.

  • Star diagonal: 1.25” prism-type.

  • Eyepiece: 1.25” 26mm Series 4000 Super Plössl (137x). The eyepiece field of view is 0.37°, three-quarters the diameter of the full Moon, for detailed lunar, planetary, and deep space views.

This Telescope’s Mount . . .

  • Fork mount/drive system: Drive base and dual fork arms of die-cast aluminum. For added strength and stability the fork's polar cross-bar assembly is cast in one continuous piece from one fork arm to the other. In addition, the motor drive base includes a thickened cast floor to minimize flexure of the telescope when mounted on the optional #2575 X-wedge at low latitudes. 
  • The mount includes servo-controlled 12VDC slewing and tracking motors in both altitude and azimuth. The motors are powered for up to 20 hours (depending on ambient temperature) by eight user-supplied C-cell batteries that fit into the fork arms. Optional adapters (with 25’ cords) are available to power the scope from 110-140 volt 60 Hz AC household current in your back yard to conserve battery life, or to power the telescope from your car’s cigarette lighter plug or a rechargeable battery for extended use in the field. For more details, click on the “mount” icon above.

  • GPS/Autostar computer: A 16-channel Sony GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver is built into the top of the telescope’s left fork arm. The GPS receiver, in conjunction with a built-in electronic compass and Autostar computer control, automatically aligns the scope on the sky so that the Autostar computer can locate for you the more than 145,000 stars and objects in its memory.
    In addition to quickly and automatically moving the scope to any desired object (with an accuracy typically in the two arc minute range) and flawlessly tracking the object while you observe at your leisure, the Autostar computer provides numerous visual, tracking, and photographic tools and functions to make your observing easier and more enjoyable.  
  • Unique “Smart Mount” technology can constantly improve the already high pointing accuracy of the telescope with every object that you center precisely and synchronize on during a night’s observing. For more details on these features, click on the “computer” icon above.

  • Adjustable height tripod: Due to the size of the 14” scope, a special shortened version of the giant field tripod is supplied to keep the eyepiece at a convenient observing height. The 50 lb. tripod adjusts from a height of 32” to 42”. Even with the tripod legs fully retracted at a tripod height of 32”, the eyepiece is located between 48” and 56” above ground level, depending on whether the scope is pointed at the zenith or the horizon. The tripod has 3” diameter steel legs, with a center leg brace for rigidity, and damps vibrations very quickly. Six 1.25” diameter holes in the leg brace can hold eyepieces while observing. A single threaded rod with a large hand-tighten knob simultaneously holds the scope firmly on the tripod and locks the legs rigidly in the most stable position.

  • AutoStar Software Suite: This standard equipment software package is designed to integrate the telescope with your Windows-based PC or laptop computer for an enhanced range of performance features. The AutoStar Software Suite includes a planetarium program with a database of 19,000,000 stars and deep space objects for display on your computer screen. It includes all the standard planetarium program features for stand-alone use when nights are cloudy. In addition, it contains programs for controlling the telescope from your laptop or PC. For more details on the many capabilities and features of the AutoStar Software Suite, click on the “software” icon above.

What can you see through a 14” LX200-ACF with Advanced Coma-Free UHTC optics?

    With a resolving power of 0.33 arc seconds, a field that’s flat and pinpoint-sharp from edge to edge, and with 15% higher light transmission than conventionally-coated optics, this 14” Meade is an advanced instrument capable of serious research and astrophotography for amateur and university alike. With more than three times the light gathering capacity of an 8” scope (almost twice that of a 10” scope), this telescope’s fully-coated 14” optics let you explore the Universe to a greater depth at dark sky sites that no smaller scope can approach – no matter how good that smaller scope might be. Visual observing is an extraordinarily rewarding experience. 
The advantages of the scope's large diffraction-limited aperture and flat field are immediately apparent, particularly to the experienced observer with an eye trained to see extremely fine detail. The more obscure Messier and NGC objects (such as planetary nebula NGC 3242 in Hydra, spiral galaxy M100 in Coma Berenices, and open cluster NGC 6231 in Scorpius) show a heightened level of resolution invisible in smaller scopes. Difficult objects like the Crab Nebula (M1) in Taurus, the face-on Spiral Galaxy (M33) in Triangulum, and the Owl Nebula (M97) in Ursa Major begin to show their essential structures under high-power visual observation. 
The stars in open clusters remain crisp and point-like to the edge of the field, thanks to the coma-free performance of the Advanced Coma-Free optics that is similar to that of professional Ritchey-Chrétien optics, but at a fraction the price.  
These same objects yield magnificently detailed long-exposure CCD and 35mm images thanks to the higher light transmission of the UHTC multicoatings. However, field rotation will cause stars at the corners of an image to streak during exposures longer than five minutes. So, if you plan on doing deep space photography, you'll need to add an optional #1220 field derotator or #2575 X-wedge.
This scope needs truly dark and steady skies if you want to take full advantage of its large aperture, high transmission, and superb optical performance. It’s not a scope that’s happy in a light-polluted suburban observing environment. Because of its size and weight, it’s also not a scope you can take out to a dark sky site on the spur of the moment, particularly if you’re the Lone Observer. This scope needs either a permanent observatory building or a crew of at least two to travel. 
The scope is very substantial in both size and weight. While it is transportable, it is not truly portable. The optical tube and fork arm assembly weighs 115 lbs. Two people are needed to lift the scope safely onto its 50 lb. tripod. In addition, once on the tripod, a blind hole in the base of the scope has to be aligned with a blind hole and threaded rod in the top of the tripod to lock the scope in place. A third person to thread the rod into the scope base while the two lifters position the scope to line up the holes would make the job easier and less adventurous in the dark.  
But, if you have dark skies and help getting to them, or the thought of a permanent observatory doesn’t faze you, the 14” LX200-ACF with Advanced Coma-Free UHTC optics may be the ultimate scope for you. It has all the aperture and state-of-the art optical coatings you need to keep you busy observing and imaging for the rest of your life. It also has enough useful features to handle almost any observing or astrophotography chore you set for it. And it does it all at a price that may surprise you when compared to competitive 14” scopes that are not nearly as advanced.
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.

0.33 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.
166 lbs.
Heaviest Single Component:
The weight of the heaviest component in this package.
115 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.
Advanced Coma-Free
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.  
Very Good
Planetary Observation:
Very Good
Binary and Star Cluster Observation:
Very Good
Galaxy and Nebula Observation:
Very Good
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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1. Swen on 5/15/2013, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
I love my LX200. The quality and the easy to use is great.
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2. Dana on 3/12/2013, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
There are a few things you need to consider when you get a scope this large. These are the things that I considered and learned before and after my purchase.
1) Can you afford it? Make sure that the cost of this scope and accessories is not going to put you into financial stress. If it does you most likely will be selling it within two years of your purchase at a much lower cost.
2) Next is, are you going to travel with it or use it on in an observatory? I do both. Traveling with this size scope is not easy. I have a 2011 Ford Escape and this scope and all accessories fill the entire back of my care with the seats down up to the roof. I need help lifting this in and out of my car. I purchased the JMI case, which works great! I would suggest a small trailer if you can tow one.
3) Do you have dark skies? If you are buying this scope you want to see those deep sky objects. You want a fairly dark sky away from the light pollution. When I got mine, I was in a dark sky but job requirements required me to move and now I am in the northern part of Buffalo, NY. I cannot see these dark sky objects any longer with my scope like I did 90 miles south of Buffalo. This is why I travel with it.
4) Set up time, when traveling really does not take that much time, about an hour. When it is in the observatory, 5 minutes as long as you park the scope. This is of course after you get yourself familiar with the scope and know where everything is.
5) If you decide you can afford this scope it is spectacular when you view in dark skies; the deep sky objects jump at you in the EP! It is worth every dollar I have spent on it!
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General Accessories
Dewcaps and Lens Shades (1)
#614 For Meade 14" SCT, gloss blue finish aluminum
by Meade
Drive Motors and Drive Accessories (2)
Meade #607 Car Battery Cord
by Meade
Meade AC power adapter for Meade telescopes
by Meade
Visual Accessories
Eyepieces (1)
56mm Series 4000 Super Plössl
by Meade
Filters (2)
Filter Set #1 – #12, 23A, 58, and 80A
by Meade
#ND96 Neutral density grey 1.25" Series 4000 Moon filter
by Meade
$12.99 On Sale 
Flashlights, Night Vision (1)
Skylite Water-resistant variable brightness two-color LED astronomer's flashlight
by Rigel Systems
  • 14” f/10 Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric optics with UHTC group multicoatings (multicoated enhanced aluminum coated Pyrex mirrors overcoated with quartz and multicoated water white glass corrector lens), integral glare stop baffles, and primary mirror lock
  • Heavy duty fork mount with carrying/tube positioning handles, 4” diameter polar axis ball bearings, electric and manual slow motion controls and locks on both axes
  • 16-channel GPS (global positioning system) automatic alignment system, with electronic true-level sensor and automatic magnetic declination correction
  • Autostar II go-to computer control system with Smart Mount Technology, 3.5 Megabyte flash memory, multifunction keypad hand control with 2-line digital readout display, permanently programmable Smart Drive dual-axis periodic error correction, 9-speed drive controls on both axes (with slewing at up to 8 degrees per second), High-Precision Pointing, 145,000-object onboard celestial software library
  • Adjustable tilt hand control holder on fork arm
  • 7-port multi-function control panel on drive base, including two RS-232 serial interface ports
  • Computer-controlled high-torque 14 volt DC right ascension and declination worm gear drives with 5.75” main drive gears
  • DC power supplied from internal battery compartments accepting 8 (user-supplied) C-cells (optional 25’ cords are available for powering from auto cigarette lighter plug or from 110-140 volts AC)
  • Straight-through 8 x 50mm finder on removable dovetail
  • 1.25” visual back
  • 1.25” prism-type star diagonal
  • 1.25” 26mm Series 4000 Super Plössl eyepiece (137x)
  • Adjustable-height all-metal field tripod
  • Dust cover
  • Autostar Software Suite Astronomer's Edition.
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Meade - LX200-ACF 14" Advanced Coma-Free Go-to altazimuth

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Meade - LX200-ACF 14" Advanced Coma-Free Go-to altazimuthCloseup showing the finderscope, GPS antenna, carry handles, and eyepiece.
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Our Product #: 14210RU
Manufacturer Product #: 1410-60-03
Price: $6,999.00  FREE ground shipping - Click for more info
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If you can’t take pictures through one of the 300" Keck telescopes in Hawaii, this big Meade 14” LX200-ACF with Advanced Coma-Free optics may be the next best thing for serious amateur astronomers, schools, and colleges.

. . . our 38th year