LX850 12" Go-to StarLock equatorial ACF catadioptric

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This Meade 12” LX850 StarLock system Advanced Coma-Free telescope has:

• 12” f/8 Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric optics
• optional 2” 3-element focal reducer for operation at f/5
• an aspheric corrector of premium Schott glass from Germany
• UHTC optical multicoatings for the highest possible light transmission
• internal Crayford-type dual speed focusing to reduce image shift during use
• 1.25” 25mm 60° field HD-60 long eye relief eyepiece (97x)
• new 90 pound payload capacity AutoStar II go-to GPS mount
• StarLock full-time automatic guiding for 1 arc second drive accuracy when viewing or imaging
• AutoStar II computer hand control with 144,000+ object go-to library
• and much more

This Meade 12” f/8 LX850-ACF go-to catadioptric telescope has new faster focal ratio Advanced Coma-Free UHTC optics that are ideal for imaging. It puts those optics on a revolutionary new 90 pound payload capacity go-to German equatorial mount with a full-time StarLock guiding system that automatically centers objects with a +/- one arc minute accuracy and tracks them for viewing and imaging with an accuracy of +/- one arc second.

The 12” Meade LX850-ACF provides the serious observer, astro-imager, and school or college observatory with state-of-the-art coma-free f/8 optics (which an optional reducer can get down to a very fast f/5). Whether you are a visual observer or a serious astrophotographer (or both), this Meade 12” f/8 LX850 ACF can keep you happily observing and photographing the heavens for the rest of your life.

This Meade Telescope’s Optical System . . .

  • Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric design emulates the coma-free optical performance of a Ritchey-Chrétien telescope: 12” aperture catadioptric (2438mm focal length f/8) optical tube, weighing approximately 40 lbs. The low-expansion primary and secondary mirrors of borosilicate glass and the aspheric high spectral transmission catadioptric corrector of Schott Borofloat glass from Germany are all fully multicoated with Meade’s time- and observer-tested UHTC (Ultra High Transmission Coatings) for maximum light transmission. An optional custom-designed large-format 2” three-element focal reducer/field flattener is available from Meade to bring the focal ratio down to a fast f/5.

  • Focuser: Internal Crayford-style, zero image-shift primary mirror focusing with dual speed 7:1 ratio fine focus control. Crayford design minimizes image shift and mirror flop to eliminate the need for separate mirror locks.

  • Finderscope: 8 x 50mm straight-through achromatic design, with helical focusing.

  • Star diagonal: Meade Series 5000 2” mirror type with 99% reflectivity dielectric coatings and a 1.25” eyepiece adapter.

  • Eyepiece: 1.25” 25mm Meade Series 5000 HD-60 (97x). The eyepiece field of view is 0.62°, almost 25% wider than the full Moon, for truly expansive lunar and deep space views.

This Telescope’s Mount . . .

  • Meade StarLock full-time automatic guiding LX850 German equatorial mount: 90 pound payload capacity machined stainless steel and aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum mount weighing approximately 163 pounds, including counterweights and tripod. It uses a 1.75” stainless steel RA shaft. 225 tooth 5.8” diameter aluminum right ascension and declination drive gears, driven by DC servo motors turning 0.68” diameter precision-machined brass worms. The mount will track 20 degrees past the meridian during imaging. 
  •  
    The RA and dec shafts ride on precision roller bearings for rock-solid tracking. There are home sensors on each axis. The 12 volt 5 amp DC mount is powered by a supplied 110-120 volt 60 Hz universal AC power supply. Internal cabling prevents cable snags and tangles. 
  •  
    With a 90 pound payload capacity, and optional counterweights readily available to balance virtually any load, the Meade LX800 mount can be the heart of a vastly expanded optical system. The dovetail on the mount head will accept both Vixen-style and Losmandy-style D-plate dovetail bars, giving you great flexibility in choosing other optical tubes for the mount to support. You can use it to hold larger catadioptric and Cassegrain optical tubes, refractors, reflectors, dual scope systems, and more. The sky is virtually the limit with the Meade LX800 mount as the centerpiece of your observing/imaging system.

  • Counterweights: Two 18 pound stainless steel counterweights are provided for precise payload balancing on the 1.75” diameter threaded stainless steel counterweight shaft. Additional optional weights are available.

  • Tripod: The Meade 36 lb. giant field tripod adjusts from a height of 29" to 45" and damps vibrations quickly. It has 3" diameter stainless steel legs, with a center leg brace for rigidity. A single threaded rod with a large hand-tighten knob simultaneously holds the equatorial head firmly on the tripod and locks the tripod legs rigidly in the most stable position.

  • StarLock/GPS/AutoStar II computer system: A GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver is built into the mount. The GPS receiver, in conjunction with Meade’s AutoStar II computer control and unique StarLock automatic guiding system, automatically aligns the scope on the sky so that the AutoStar II computer can locate for you the more than 144,000 stars and objects in its memory. 
  •  
    The system starts by having the GPS use the signals from Earth-orbiting satellites to determine the scope’s position on Earth in three dimensions with an accuracy of a few meters and set the time with an accuracy of fractions of a second. 
  •  
    Then, the revolutionary Meade StarLock system takes over to model the sky overhead. StarLock – the heart of the LX850 – is a revolutionary new technology that makes target acquisition in your eyepiece and on your imaging sensor (and accurate guiding during viewing and imaging) completely automatic. With Meade’s exclusive LightSwitch technology at its core, StarLock uses a two camera system to automatically find your target with high precision, immediately capture a field star for guiding as dim as 11th magnitude, and then guide while you view or image. And it does it all with an incredible accuracy of +/- one arc second. The built-in StarLock cameras include a super wide angle 25mm f/1.04 optic with a 1/2 inch format CMOS sensor that has a field measuring 14.72 x 11.78 degrees for star field acquisition, and a narrow angle 80mm f/5 refractor with a 1/2 inch format CMOS sensor that has a field of 57.2 x 45.8 arc minutes (with a resolution of 2.68 arc seconds/pixel) for precise centering. 
  •  
    StarLock achieves its exceptional +/- one arc second accuracy because, unlike add-on guiders, the StarLock cameras are firmly attached to the moving equatorial head itself (not the optical tube where it might get misaligned during use as is possible when using a separate photoguide scope attached to the optical tube). In addition, StarLock is integrated into the telescope control system and communicates directly with the motor controllers in real time with a maximum precision of 0.01 arc seconds. There’s no need for a separate guide scope and computer and the StarLock system requires no calibration, no user focusing, and no manual guide star selection. 
  •  
    StarLock even automatically programs periodic error correction into the drive and then corrects any other errors down to virtually zero. StarLock also provides computer-assisted polar alignment using the drift method for extreme precision. No expensive shaft encoders or add-on guiding systems can provide this level of performance. 
  •  
    Once the Meade StarLock system has locked the scope on the night sky, the AutoStar II computer quickly and automatically moves the scope to any desired object with just a few strokes on the 20 backlit LED buttons on its hand control, guided by the readouts on its double line, 16 character liquid crystal display. The scope will move to your chosen object at a slewing speed of 3° per second and with a cantering accuracy typically in the +/- one arc minute range. Once on the selected object, it will flawlessly track the object while you observe or image at your leisure. Available tracking rates include 0.01x to 1x sidereal; 2x, 8x, and 16x sidereal; and 1/4°, 1/2°, 1°, and 3° per second. 
  •  
    Tracking modes include EQ North and EQ South. Alignment procedures include 2-Star Align, 1 Star Polar Align, and StarLock assisted semi-automatic drift alignment for ultra-precise polar alignment. High-precision guiding accuracy is +/- 1 arc second RMS (with good seeing). It has a 1 to 4 second correction update rate depending on the guide star magnitude. The faintest usable guide star can be as dim as 11th magnitude. In addition, the Meade AutoStar II computer provides numerous additional visual, tracking, and photographic tools and functions to make your observing easier and more enjoyable.

With its combination of the finest Advanced Coma-Free multicoated optics, robust 90 pound payload capacity mount, and revolutionary new StarLock full-time automated integrated photoguide system, this 12” f/8 LX850 from Meade Instruments is the most complete 12” astro-imaging solution available. Meade calls it “the picture perfect platform for effortless astrophotography.” Who are we to disagree?

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.
610x
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).

14.9
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.

2438mm
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.

f/8
Resolution:
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.

0.38 arc seconds
Aperture:
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.
12"
Weight:
The weight of this product.
approx. 153 lbs.
Heaviest Single Component:
The weight of the heaviest component in this package.
55 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. 
No
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
Photography:
Yes
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.
No
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. 
Yes
Planetary Photography:
Yes
Star Cluster / Nebula / Galaxy Photography:
Yes
Warranty:
1 year
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Meade - LX800 12" Advanced Coma-Free Go-to StarLock altazimuth

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Meade - LX800 12" Advanced Coma-Free Go-to StarLock altazimuth
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The 12” f/8 Meade LX850-ACF puts Advanced Coma-Free optics on a 90 pound payload capacity go-to mount, and adds a revolutionary new StarLock full-time automated integrated guider system that takes the drudgery out of finding faint deep space objects and guiding during astrophotography . . .





. . . our 34th year