Meade telescopes – Buying guide & Comparison
Finding a good Meade telescope is never easy, especially when you’re a beginner. Despite hearing the name of this legendary telescope manufacturer, you probably don’t know nearly enough about these devices to make sure that you buy the best model for your astronomer adventures. Fortunately, we’ve searched the internet for the best entry-to-mid level Meade telescopes to bring you a selection of the very best. When it comes to a great all-around telescope, the Meade Instruments LX90-ACF is surely the best one you can find. While a bit pricey, it comes with all the great features you could expect from a pro model. You get to learn as you use it, thanks to the AudioStar computer module, which will teach you about the secrets of the universe with an extensive database. In the unfortunate event that the Meade Instruments LX90-ACF is out of stock, the Meade Instruments LightBridge Mini 130 is yet another great choice you should consider.
One of the first mistakes beginners make before buying a telescope is not learning the basics. How can you be sure that you choose the right model when you don’t know what a focal length is? It is understandable that you don’t have the time to read books or extended guides on the internet, and this is the reason why we have compiled a much shorter guide which should help you make a great pick without wasting too much of your precious time.
Aperture and focal length explained
With a telescope, regardless if it’s a reflector or refractor type, you always have an aperture. This is the diameter of the main optical element, be it a lens or a mirror. Apertures capture light bounced by distant bright objects, and the larger they are, the more light they can capture. If you want bright and highly detailed images of planets and stars, then you need a large aperture.
However, telescopes with large apertures can be pricey, and you may also prefer to watch closer objects such as the Moon. This is where the focal length comes it. It is the distance from the main lens to the focal plane, and it affects how close or how far distant objects appear.
Narrow or wide field of view?
Divide the focal length by the aperture, and you get the f-number or the focal ratio. The bigger the number, the higher the magnification but you get a narrow field of view. The smaller it is, the lower the magnification, but you get a much larger field of view.
You also get eyepieces, each with its own focal length, which can increase or decrease magnification, so a telescope is quite versatile and provide you with plenty of observation opportunities for all your astronomy adventures.
How much are you willing to spend?
This is an obvious consideration. If you’re just starting out, perhaps you want to test and see if this passion is really going to stick. This is why a cheaper and less complex model is great for beginners, as you don’t want the priciest telescope for sale only to abandon it in the basement in case you lose interest.
However, if you are already excited by learning about the wonders of the universe or you have related hobbies, then getting a more expensive telescope isn’t a bad idea. The learning curve is going to be steeper since you’ll have a lot more components, knobs, and aligning accessories to familiarize with, but you won’t need to buy a new model when you start getting the hang of it.
Top Meade telescopes reviews in 2018
Finding the right telescope that’s not overly complex to use, with a good focal length, wide enough aperture and all the features and accessories you’ve come to expect from a legendary manufacturer such as Meade is not as easy as it sounds.
This company has quite a few great models on the market and picking the one that best suits your knowledge, skill, and budget could take a lot of your time. Fortunately, we have analyzed and compared all the top rated telescopes on the market to provide you with a list of the 5 best products, each with a short description, to help you make the best possible choice.
The LX90-ACF is perhaps the best telescope from Meade Instruments in its class. With a wide aperture of 8 inches and a focal length of 2000mm or 78.43 inches, this is one of the larger models which can provide superb quality details of far away objects as well as good magnification.
All glass components use the latest Ultra-High Transmission Coatings which ensures that more light gets in at the correct angles to make the images brighter as well as with a much higher contrast.
The Meade Instruments LX90-ACF also comes with a stable mount which provides increased stability without sacrificing portability, ensuring that you get to take it with you on field trips.
This model benefits from the dual-fork mount which provides better, faster and smoother tracking abilities. The AudioStar computerized module can help you locate distant celestial objects while also giving you access to a large database containing a lot of useful information.
The LX90-ACF is one of the most powerful telescopes available on the market today. It comes with an 8-inch wide aperture and a 2000mm focal length.
The build of the design is one of the features that recommend it as it comes with all-glass components that boast Ultra-High Transmission Coatings.
On top of that, the model is accompanied by a particularly stable mount, which means that you won’t have to put in a lot of effort to look at crisp and clear images.
Given that the unit is outfitted with a dual-fork mount, the tracking abilities of this model are superior when compared to those of other options in the same line.
There have been some complaints from users who say that the Plossl eyepiece that comes with the device has poor eye relief.
What’s more, the unit comes with a finder scope that isn’t the easiest to use.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1499)
LightBridge Mini 130 203003
The LightBridge Mini 130 is a portable and easy to set up telescope that’s meant for both amateur stargazers as well as enthusiast astronomers. With a 130mm or 5.11-inch aperture, this model will provide you with a great view of the Moon and planets in our solar system as well as deep sky objects, depending on which eyepiece you choose to equip.
Thanks to the 360-degree swivel mount, you can point your telescope in any direction easily, allowing you to smoothly track any distant object you wish to observe.
The LightBridge Mini 130 comes with a modern red dot viewfinder which can aid you in accurately aiming your telescope, as well as a 26mm eyepiece for low magnification and a 9mm for high magnification.
Thanks to its compact design and one-arm Dobsonian-style mount, you can easily have it ready to look at the stars, whether you’re in your own backyard or in the great outdoors.
If you’re in the market for a telescope that’s remarkably easy to set up and utilize, the LightBridge Mini 130 might just as well be your safest bet.
The model is outfitted with several user-friendly features, and the fact that it comes with a lightweight and portable design is, without a doubt, beneficial.
The 130mm aperture of the LightBridge alternative will enable you to look at a wide array of celestial objects ranging from the Moon and the planets in our solar system, but also deep sky objects.
You can accurately aim your telescope thanks to the red dot finder that is integrated into this telescope.
Unlike other models out there, this one won’t have you breaking the bank.
As reported by several customers, the 9mm eyepiece isn’t of the best quality.
For lunar observations, you may have to get a lunar filter, which can be purchased separately.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($189)
If you’re looking for the best Meade telescope with a long focal length, then you definitely don’t want to miss the new ETX125.
With a 127mm 5-inch aperture and a 1900mm 74.80-inch focal length, this f/15 focal ratio Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is surely one of the best telescopes to get a close-up view of even distant planets and stars.
You get to easily control the movement of the entire assembly with the DC Servo Motor mount, smoothly tracking objects as the Earth rotates around its axis and the Sun. You also get to enjoy greater stability with a solid steel tripod with a special EQ equatorial tilt plate.
This telescope comes with two Plossl eyepieces: a 9.7mm and a 26mm, providing you with both a wide view of close objects such as the Moon and planets as well as a deep-space images of star clusters and nebulae.
One of the main features you might be interested in if you’re still having second thoughts about trying out the ETX125 is its long focal length.
With its 190mm focal length and 127mm 5-inch aperture, this device will enable you to have close-up views of distant stars and planets.
Something else you might want to know about the product is that it is outfitted with a DC Servo Motor mount, which means that you will have superior control over the movement of the assembly.
The device is accompanied by a tripod made out of steel, which means that it is both durable and stable enough to allow you to observe your favorite celestial objects easily and conveniently.
Two Plossl eyepieces are part of the deal with this unit.
Seeing how there have been some complaints from people who say that the packaging isn’t the best in the world, we recommend checking on all of the components and the entire assembly before using it for the first time.
StarNavigator NG 90 218005
The Meade StarNavigator NG 90 is a great telescope model for beginners.
It comes with a 90mm 3.5in aperture, a focal length of 1250mm 49.21in and a focal ratio of 13.8, making it a balanced telescope to suit both beginners and advanced astronomers.
With the 26mm and 9mm Super Plossl eyepieces, you get to explore Moon’s craters in amazing detail, observe Saturn’s rings or Jupiter’s moons.
Benefiting from a single speed internal focuser, you can easily get sharp images of objects in the deep sky. You also get extra help thanks to the Red Dot focuser, which will help you get started.
The Meade StarNavigator NG 90 also comes with a computerized AudioStar hand controller with a database of 30,000 objects. It’s like having an expert astronomer, as it will tell you all you need to know about objects in view and enhance your sky gazing experience.
This 90mm telescope boasts a 1250mm focal length and allows you to look at a wide array of celestial objects, most of which should be located in our solar system.
The unit is marketed as one of the sought-after models designed for beginning and advanced astronomers, although the latter might require a better aperture and a longer focal length.
As with other Meade telescopes out there, the StarNavigator model is accompanied by two Plossl eyepieces, a 26mm, and a 9mm one.
The red dot focuser you might find in other devices in the same line will enable you to focus on the celestial objects that interest you the most.
The computerized hand controller that this model comes fitted with allow you to access the 30,000 database it comes with.
The 90mm aperture might be a little restrictive for people looking to observe particularly distant planets and stars, or deep-sky objects.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($328.95)
Polaris 80 EQ 216002
The Meade Instruments Polaris 80 EQ is a very good telescope for beginners. You get to start exploring the deep sky without emptying your pockets, as this entry-level telescope comes at a more than affordable price.
With an aperture of 3.2 inches and a 35.43-inch focal length, this device can provide the novice astronomer all the controls needed to enjoy a great stargazing experience.
This achromatic refractor comes with fully-coated optical elements, which means that you get to enjoy brighter and more detailed views of distant planets, galaxies and star clusters. With the Red Dot focuser, aligning should be a breeze even for a beginner.
The Meade Instruments Polaris 80 EQ also comes equipped with the AutoStar Suite Astronomer Edition software which contains engaging information on more than 10,000 celestial objects, helping you learn planets, stars, and nebulae on the go.
Despite being one of the most budget-friendly units that we have come across, this model manages to raise up to par in terms of beginning astronomers’ expectations.
The entry-level device comes with a 3.2-inch aperture and a 35.43 focal length, which means that an amateur astronomer that is only learning the basics of stargazing could give it a try.
The fully-coated optical elements that the Polaris 80 EQ is equipped with will enable you to enjoy detailed and bright images of planets and galaxies.
As with other models we’ve stumbled upon, this one features a red dot focuser that will provide you the assistance you need to align the image efficiently.
As per the complaints issued by several owners, it seems that the method of attaching the tube to the mount can make the finder harder to use. On top of that, the same method limits the user’s ability to balance the Declination axis.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.95)
Frequently asked questions about Meade telescopes
Where are Meade telescopes made?
One of the neat things about Meade as a brand is that it is American. This automatically puts it above similar manufacturers. However, despite its headquarters, located in Irvine, California, one can’t know for sure whether the components of the telescopes sold by the brand are truly made in the United States.
While the assembly and some of the parts are American, without a doubt, there are many that are manufactured in other countries. In fact, most of the products sold in the 1970s were made in Japan, which as we know, is one of the leading countries in the tech industry.
Are Meade telescopes any good?
It’s relatively difficult giving a straight answer to this question, and that’s because Meade telescopes differ largely in terms of their features from one model to the next. Beginning stargazers might need to go for a unit that comes with a 70 to 90mm aperture while those interested in looking at deep-sky objects, star clusters, as well as nebulae, might have to opt for a wider one.
Before you decide to purchase any Meade telescope, we suggest you do your own research and make a correct assessment of your skills and expertise as an astronomer. This way, you won’t risk purchasing the wrong model. For any extra info, it would be a good idea to check the review section at some retail websites.
How to clean Meade telescope lens?
First of all, you should never clean the lenses of an optical instrument, whether it’s a pair of binoculars, a monocular, a telescope, or a microscope using a solution that has not been recommended by the manufacturing brand. While it might be hard to believe, some people try cleaning the lenses using regular tissues or paper and even dishwashing soap.
Do not touch the surface of a mirror or lens as the acids in your skin oil can attack its optical coatings. Besides, you risk leaving a fingerprint that can affect your user experience. Make sure you disassemble the telescope in a safe space and that you have all of the components neatly organized.
A pure cotton cloth works best when cleaning lenses, and you can use a solution like Crystal Clear (pure methanol). However, we do recommend checking on the company’s website before deciding to use this liquid or any other.
How to assemble Meade telescope?
One of the neatest things about this manufacturer is that its website can give a hand to people who hardly know anything about telescopes. As such, you can find support manuals on the official Meade website for virtually any model ever to have been produced by the brand.
On top of that, you can use your creativity and check the info you might find online. If you search on Google, you’ll come across at least three YouTube videos that can detail how you can assemble various models. Always read the user manual before putting together your telescope and make sure to keep everything organized so as to avoid damaging or losing any parts.
How much do Meade telescopes cost?
There isn’t a universal price for all Meade telescopes, and that’s due to the fact that they all come with unique features. It goes without saying that a device that comes with superior aperture and a longer focal length than those encountered in cheap telescopes will cost a pretty penny.
The most affordable Meade telescopes are usually priced under two hundred dollars while those that are more or less expensive and as such, might not make great choices for a beginning stargazers, can cost as many as six to seven thousand dollars.