MAX mount computer

This Telescope's AutoStar II Computer, Smart Mount, and GPS System . . .

  • GPS/AutoStar computer operation: The operation of a Meade MAX mount is simplicity itself. Simply turn it on. If you are using a tripod-mounted scope in the field, you should have the polar axis aimed approximately at the north celestial pole before operating the scope. After installing, a permanently pier-mounted scope in an observatory will already be precisely aimed at the pole. A 16-channel Sony GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver on the top of the right ascension assembly 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 determines the time to fraction of a second accuracy.
        Once the GPS system has acquired this essential knowledge, the mount slews your optics at 2° per second to the first of two alignment stars. If that star is not precisely centered in your scope optics, 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 mount 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 right ascension and declination motors to keep you precisely centered on whatever you aim at, for as long as you want to observe.

  • AutoStar II computer: This mount's AutoStar II computer can show you the planets and thousands of deep space objects. 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.
        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 MAX mount slews to that object, routinely centers your chosen object with an accuracy that puts it well within the field of the standard equipment eyepiece of your optics (usually within two arc minutes of dead center). The built-in Smart Mount software (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 MAX mount takes you there, as well. You can start to find faint deep space objects almost faster than you can read about it. If you want to scan the skies on your own, pushbuttons on the AutoStar II keypad lets you move the scope in any direction at any time, keeping track of where it is pointing at all times so that it can again move under computer control whenever you desire.
        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 MAX mount has built-in upgraded dual-axis permanent periodic error correction (PPEC, also known as PECTOOL) 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 periodic drive train errors and the need to make repetitive corrections during astrophotography. The dual-axis Smart Drive even corrects for declination errors, not just right ascension errors as with competitive scopes. The mount's raw periodic error, typically in the already very good 5 arc second range, can be improved to a virtually imperceptible 2 arc seconds by using the mount's PECTOOL program.

  • SMT (Smart Mount Technology): This standard equipment software program provides improved (and constantly improvable) pointing accuracy of the MAX mount. The already very good 2 arc minute pointing accuracy of the mount is further refined with every object that you center precisely and synchronize on during a night's observing. The software 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.
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