Meade LX90-ACF 12" Advanced Coma-Free Go-to altazimuth


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If you have the dark skies to take full advantage of the immense light gathering capacity of this very big Meade 12" LX90-ACF, this scope can make you a happy astronomer and astrophotographer for the rest of your life. The Meade LX90-ACF has Advanced Coma-Free UHTC multicoated catadioptric optics that rival the performance of a professional Ritchey-Chrétien reflector at a mere fraction of an RC's price . . .
Our Product #: 12910ACF
Meade Product #: 1210-90-03
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Product Description

This Meade 12" LX90-ACF catadioptric telescope has Advanced Coma-Free optics to bring the astronomical image quality of a professional observatory to your back yard, at a down-to-earth price. The 12" Meade LX90-ACF is a very large aperture telescope at a very attractive price for both the amateur astronomer and the school or college observatory. It has a coma-free field similar to that of the Ritchey-Chrétien reflector optics used in most professional observatory telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope, but at a fraction the cost of a true Ritchey-Chrétien of similar aperture.

Its UHTC multicoated optics provide 15% higher light transmission for serious astrophotography. If you have the dark skies to take full advantage of its immense light gathering capacity (two and a quarter times that of an 8" scope), or are willing to make the effort to transport this rather heavy scope to the dark sky site it needs for best performance, it's a scope that can keep you happily observing and photographing the wonders of the heavens for the rest of your life.

Its standard equipment includes a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) receiver and AudioStar™ computer takes the guesswork out of finding your way around the skies. It lets you locate dozens of deep space objects like a seasoned observer your first night out. Once set up, the Astronomer Inside™ software and speaker inside its AudioStar™ computer hand control will talk to you, giving you four hours of audio descriptions of the celestial objects you are looking at and putting the knowledge and experience of a professional astronomer in the palm of your hand.

This Telescope's Optical System . . .

Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric designed to emulate the optical performance of a Ritchey-Chrétien telescope: 12" aperture (3048mm focal length f/10). Fully-multicoated UHTC (Ultra High Transmission Coatings) optics with oversized primary mirror for the highest possible image brightness. Aluminum tube construction with glare-stop baffling. Guaranteed diffraction-limited performance. For more details, click on the "LX90-ACF UHTC optics" icon in the support tab above.

Finderscope: 8 x 50mm straight-through achromatic design, with a 5° field of view and 12mm eye relief. It focuses by loosening the trim ring behind the objective lens cell, screwing the lens cell in or out to focus, and tightening the trim ring to lock in the correct focus.

Star diagonal: 1.25" 90° multicoated prism type.

Eyepiece: 1.25" 26mm Series 5000 Plössl (117x). The eyepiece field of view is 0.51°, a trifle larger than the diameter of the full Moon, for eye-filling lunar and deep space views.

This Telescope's Mount . . .

Fork mount/drive system: Die-cast aluminum drive base. Light-weight, but rigid, die-cast aluminum dual fork arms damp vibrations quickly. There is a carrying handle on each fork arm. The mount includes servo-controlled 12V DC slewing and tracking motors in both altitude and azimuth. The motors are powered by eight user-supplied C-cell batteries that fit into the drive base. The usable life of the batteries is up to 60 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.

An optional #RCXAC adapter is available to power the scope from 110-120 volt 60 Hz AC household current in your back yard to conserve battery life. An optional #607 DC cord with a cigarette lighter plug is available to power the scope from your car's cigarette lighter plug or a rechargeable battery for extended use in the field.For more details, click on the "LX90 GPS mount" icon in the support tab above.

Adjustable height tripod: The tripod is the same as the one used on Meade's premium 10" LX200 scopes, which has more than enough payload capacity to handle the 12" LX90. Its 2" diameter steel legs adjust the tripod height from 30" to 44". 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.

The simple tripod/altazimuth mount configuration of the 12" LX90-ACF makes setup reasonably easy. However, with a 60 pound optical tube/fork arms/drive base assembly to lift up onto the tripod, assembly is a task better suited to two people, rather than a single individual.

One suitably motivated person can assemble the scope, but it is not easy. In addition to lifting the heavy scope on the tripod, you have to line up a hole in the base of the mount (that you can't see) with a hole in the top of the tripod (that you likewise can't see) in order to thread a rod through the tripod and into the drive base to lock the components together. One person centering and steadying the scope on the tripod while a second individual threads the rod into scope base makes assembly much easier and safer.

AudioStar™ computer: The AudioStar™ 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! And a speaker built into the computer hand control lets the unique Astronomer Inside™ software provide you with more than four hours of fascinating audio descriptions of the objects you are observing. Astronomer Inside™ puts the experience and astronomical knowledge of a professional astronomer in the palm of your hand.

At the push of a button, the LX90-ACF will move at a fast 6.5° per second to any of the 30,223 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 AudioStar™ includes a dual-axis drive corrector with PEC (Periodic Error Correction). This allows long-exposure guided DSLR or CCD astrophotography in a polar mode, using an optional third party equatorial wedge. (The standard LX90 wedge #2590 will not hold the weight of the 12" LX90 when fully loaded with photographic accessories.)

The AudioStar™ computer includes hundreds of special event menus, guided tours, a glossary, utility functions, and telescope status options. It also allows fast alignment of the telescope in either an equatorial or altazimuth mode, using any of three alignment methods, including Meade's proprietary Easy Align method.

The built-in GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) receiver and the rapid alignment features of the AudioStar™ computer and its simplified Easy Align menus will start you observing in only a matter of minutes. The wide array of objects in the LX90-ACF database, and the 5 arc minute pointing accuracy of the AudioStar™ computer, will accurately speed you from object to object with no frustrating hunting or star hopping. With the 12" LX90, you'll spend more of your time looking at celestial objects and less time looking for them. For more details, click on the "LX90 GPS computer" icon in the support tab above.

AutoStar Astronomer's Edition Software Suite: This software package is included as standard equipment with the LX90. It integrates the telescope with your 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 to display on your computer screen. Connect the scope to your computer using the supplied cable, click on any object in the sky map on your computer screen, and your LX90-ACF automatically slew to that object.

You can use it to control your telescope remotely via the Internet. "Talking Telescope" software (included) converts AutoStar text displays to synthesized speech through your computer speaker. And you can use all of the program's planetarium features for planning future observing sessions when nights are cloudy by automatically generating AutoStar Tours of favorite objects with a simple point and click. For more details, click on the "AutoStar software" icon in the support tab above.

If you're a serious visual astronomer or astrophotographer, this easy-to-use fully-computerized 12" LX90-ACF with its unique Astronomer Inside™ software and talking AudioStar™ computer hand control will make your observing life a lot easier and productive. And it will do it at a surprisingly reasonable price for a full 12" scope with such advanced optics and computer features.

What can you see through a 12" LX90-ACF with Advanced Coma-Free UHTC optics?

With two and a quarter times the light gathering capacity of an 8" scope (45% more than a 10") for a visual limiting magnitude of approximately 15, this scope's 12" optics give the Universe an astonishing depth, dimension, and grandeur at dark sky sites. Add to that the 15% additional light transmission afforded by the UHTC optics, and you have an exceptional scope for visual and photographic observing of the faint fuzzies beyond the solar system.

The Orion Nebula grows to twice the area you see through an 8" scope, with subtle color variations becoming visible. Densely packed globular clusters are often resolved to the core. Thanks to the sharp coma-free field edge performance, all the stars in expansive open clusters stay sharply in focus across the full field, even in a very wide field eyepiece.

Jupiter becomes an interlocking web of fine structural detail, with shadowy detail on the surface of its largest moon, Ganymede, often visible. Faint galaxies and planetary nebulas, barely visible blurs in smaller scopes, often reveal structure during visual observing that rivals that in long exposure observatory photos.

With a photographic limiting magnitude of 17.5, you can photograph the sky in superlative detail (with surprisingly short exposure times) by adding a few inexpensive accessories. If you plan on doing extensive deep space photography in the winter with your telescope, you'll appreciate the shorter exposure times provided by the extra 15% light transmission of its UHTC multicoated optics.

This 12" scope will perform quite nicely on faint deep space objects such as galaxies and nebulas under mildly light-polluted suburban skies, if provided with a suitable light pollution filter. However, truly dark skies are essential if you want to take full advantage of this scope's very large aperture and superb optical performance. It's not a telescope that likes having its performance limited by a light-polluted suburban observing environment.

But, if you have regular access to dark skies, and the size and weight of the scope (a 60 lb. optical tube to lift up onto the tripod) doesn't daunt you, the 12" LX90-ACF with Advanced Coma-Free UHTC optics may be the perfect scope for you, particularly if you're a deep space enthusiast.

The 12" LX90-ACF has all the aperture and extra light-gathering you need to keep you busy observing and photographing for the rest of your life, with enough useful features to handle almost any observing and astrophotography chore you set for it . . . and a surprisingly reasonable price that won't break the bank.

Tech Details

Aperture 12"
Binary and Star Cluster Observation Very Good
Focal Length 3048mm
Focal Ratio f/10
Galaxy and Nebula Observation Very Good
Heaviest Single Component 60 lbs.
Highest Useful Magnification 610x
Lunar Observation Very Good
Weight 80 lbs.
Planetary Observation Very Good
Resolution 0.38 arc seconds
Supplied Eyepiece M5P26
Telescope Type Advanced Coma-Free
Visual Limiting Magnitude 14.9
Warranty 1 year


Review by:
I have owned this alt-az telescope for several years. It arrived perfectly collimated and remains so after hundreds of nights of viewing. Setup and alignment is straightforward and easy. The views are fantastic. Highly recommended. (Posted on 8/27/2019)
Review by:
I have had my LX90-ACF 12" for three years. Overall I am very pleased with it. Alignment, goto and tracking are great. The optics are perfect -- the planets hold up to very high magnification very well, and it challenges my 16" on faint objects. The only weak point is the mount, which is challenged by the weight of the OTA. If it is very windy you won't be able to use the scope, also you will need a light touch on the focuser. I find it to be adequate and it hasn't hindered my enjoyment of this telescope. (Posted on 8/4/2017)
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Supplied Accessories

  • 12" f/10 Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric optical tube assembly with UHTC optics (multicoated aluminum mirrors and a multicoated Schmidt corrector)
  • Double-tine fork mount with dual-axis 4.9" worm gears and control panel
  • Built-in Sony GPS receiver
  • Electric slow-motion controls on both axes
  • AudioStar hand controller with Astronomer Inside and digital readout display, 9-speed drive controls on both axes, and go-to controller
  • 30,223-object onboard celestial software library
  • Internal battery port accepts 8 (user-supplied) C-cells (optional accessories permit powering from either 12VDC auto cigarette lighter plug or from 110-120VAC home outlet)
  • 8 x 50mm straight-through viewfinder
  • 1.25" prism star diagonal
  • Series 5000 Plössl 26mm eyepiece (117x)
  • AutoStar Astronomer's Edition Software Suite
  • Standard field tripod
  • Operating instructions.