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First Impressions: Meade ETX-80AT-TC

Yesterday I did something great, I bought my first telescope. So far I’ve been using binoculars and my telephoto lens on my DSLR to look at the heavens, but yesterday I finally bought a telescope, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

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I settled for the Meade ETX-80AT-TC, it was one of the better beginner scopes I could get my hands on in the near vicinity. I’ve only used it for about an hour so far, so this is truly my first impression.

The telescope comes in quite a large box weighing in at about 10 kilograms, this version comes with a tripod, a bag for the tripod, a 26mm and a 9.7mm eyepiece and the scope itself in its computerized mount. It was very easy to put together, and get going.

The computerized mount lets you align the scope to a couple stars and then you can just tell the scope to go to a certain star, planet or feature and it can get you there.

I noticed the mount make quite some noise when slewing the scope, but when tracking an object on the sky it makes almost no noise, and when turned off of couse it is totally silent. Not sure how I feel about this so far, but it will make things a lot easier for a beginner like me. In the future I will probably know more about what I need from a telescope and make a more educated choice.

Anyhow, on to my short observing session.

I went out at about midnight, I had set the scope up inside and just had to carry it outside. I tried using the auto align but had a little bit of trouble with it, I had read that this is fairly common when using this telescope for the first few times. Finally I just pointed it manually at the moon and peered into eyepiece, and wow!

It took me a little while to focus, and I played around a bit with the eyepieces and the built in barlow lens, and I got some great views of the craters on the terminator. Tracking the moon with the hand control was easy and not as noisy as when slewing the telescope around at top speed.

Next time the weather allows I will fiddle with it until I figure out the alignment function and try looking at some stars and other features, sadly Jupiter or Saturn are not visible at night currently.