Posted 14 February 2012 - 08:32 PM
It's ben some time since I accessed this site as a matter of fact you had just recently received your LS-8. I was wodering if you would give us an update on your LS-8. The pros and cons?
Posted 16 February 2012 - 06:11 PM
I just pulled in to a hotel about four hours from home. After a full day at work and then travel, I think I am a bit too tired to give your question the thought it needs. I will answer more fully later. In general, it is a fun scope that I am really just now starting to get used to. Optics are great and it has been pretty much spot on when locating objects. It is starting to wear in a little, I think, and is probably time to recalibrate the drives as objects are not quite as dead center in the field as they were originally.
My over-all opinion of the scope is very positive. As with any telescope, it has its strengths and weaknesses. I will discuss those later.
Thanks for asking!
Posted 19 February 2012 - 06:13 PM
Hopefully, this is not too wordy for you, but I am trying to give you an accurate picture of what I see in this particular design and size.
Your question is an interesting one for me and made me stop and think for a while. Until very recently, I have used my LS-8 ACF for introducing people to astronomy or turned it on to try to work out a problem or two other people have had with their LS telescopes.
I have had the scope out a few times lately, just for the fun of it. I have been very impressed with what it can do, in light of the purpose of its design as I understand it.
The purposes of the design, as I can discern are:
1. A scope that can simply be turned on and it self aligns.
2. A scope that can be easily transported by an average person.
3. A scope that can be readily used for outreach with sound and visual enhancements.
4. A scope that can fill the gap between the ETX and LX-90 series.
The LS-6 certainly meets all the goals. The six inch SCTs on the LS and LT scopes are the only telescopes that Meade offers in that size. The LS-8 actually matches the smallest size of the LX-90 and the LX-200 series.
As far as optics go, the LS-8 appears to be identical to the optics that the LX-90 and LX-200 have. Not having seen either of the eight inch LX scopes personally, I can only assume the difference between them may be the tube the optics is contained by, if even that. As a general group, I doubt that there is a better product in that size class and general configuration anywhere from any company, other than maybe a few individual telescopes that have been carefully hand made. I am very happy with the quality of the optics.
The ACF version, through optically superb does have a drawback, in my opinion. What I have noticed with most long focal length scopes is the classic battle that their owners have to fight for field of view, while people with short focal length scopes seem to fight for magnification. With a more conventional SCT, the answer is a corrected focal reducer. There are many on the market that attach directly to the back of the scope to decrease the focal length to a more manageable amount for general use. In my case, that general use is visual, rather than digital. The difficulty lies with the ACF not requiring correction. The only focal reducers made that screw on the back of the scope, cost something like $400-$500 and are made by a company that I will not buy from. Both the price and the company making them put these reducers out of my reach. It seems like making a reducer without coma correction in it would be easier than making one with it. The price should be less, not more. And, I would think someone would be willing to make one like the current f/6.3 reducer without correction. Personally, I would prefer one that makes my LS an f/5.0 or 4.0, but I would take a 6.3. That is probably my biggest frustration at the present time. However, I must remember: The LS was not built necessarily with being a one stop shop for all my observing needs. I will simply have to be patient and wait until someone builds the right reducer. When that happens, the rest of my scopes will probably just gather dust.
Why is this important to me? The LS-8 meets every criterion I have for being my grab and go scope to take out into the back yard on a moment’s whim except that I want that scope to be able to get the Pleiades and similarly sized objects completely into the field of view. The LS and all similar scopes cannot do this by themselves. They need a good focal reducer.
Admittedly, there are reducers that screw onto the eyepiece. In order to get these very wide views, the 1.25 inch screw on reducer I have cuts into the field of view and looks pretty weird around the edge. One that screws onto the scope itself would do the trick, I think.
The self aligning features of the scope have worked wonderfully for me so far. The only times I have had trouble is when I tried to use it too close to sunset and when it was a bit too cloudy.
There have been a few glitches along the development way with the software. This happens with just about every kind of software. Most of the glitches have been discussed in other posts. I have run into another one, but so far cannot make it repeat. I was wearing gloves at the time and apparently hit a combination of buttons that confused the program and locked up the scope. So far, try as I may, I cannot find the right combination again. When I do, I will report it so that it can be fixed.
For outreach work, I have a hard time understanding how a scope could be much better, especially with the little video display. One interesting thing I observed was the guide star showing up on the little screen when the scope is taking pictures for alignment. The first picture will be off and the second one, after the scope adjusts its position a little is directly in the cross-hairs.
I like the little monitor for my personal use and not just for outreach work. When I go to the various menus, the whole list or at least a major part of it shows up on the screen for viewing instead of just the one line on the hand box. The screen, however, is too bright when looking through the eyepiece. I can hold a hand over it, but sometimes I need both hands for looking in the eyepiece and drawing in a note book. I taped six layers of red cellophane over the screen to get the brightness level I like. I have suggested that brightness and contrast controls for the video signal like the ones for the hand box.
One of the items on the scope that really fires up my imagination is the USB port marked for future use. I am hoping that it will be set up to take on an imager put into the eyepiece holder. I hope that software will then allow pictures to be taken, stored on an SC chip and/or shown on the screen.
The light weight has been impressive. The scope and mount weigh 30 lbs, while the LX-90 version weighs 33 and the LX-200 is something around 54. The tripod of the LS weighs 9 lbs, while the one for both LX versions weighs in at 19. With a total weight of the LS-8 is 39 lbs, while the LX-90 is 52 and the LX-200 is something like 73. The light weight of the LS compared to the LX-90 is not a big thing for me, but I can certainly see it being an issue for a smaller person.
The light weight tripod does have a down side in that the scope does wiggle a little more than I would like when focusing. The wiggle does go away fairly quickly and shortening the tripod seems to stiffen it up some helps. The shorter legs also serve a couple other purposes. It makes it easier to use my observing chair, which I am addicted to, and it makes the scope easier to haul through doors. In fact, my LS is easier to take to the back yard than my 90 mm refractor.
The mount itself is appears solid as a rock. If it were put on the LX tripod, I think it would rival those mounts for stability in the six and eight inch scope size. If I get into imaging, I will most likely purchase an LX tripod and make an adaptor plate to fit the two together.
Once I made the adjustments to align the camera with what I see in the eyepiece, the location of objects is pretty much spot on, even when not using the precision mode. I have not run a test to see how long the mount can track a particular object. So far, I have seen no drift at all with the casual viewing I have done.
Battery consumption is a problem. The LS will consume a set of eight C size batteries in about four hours. The LT takes 20 hours as does the LX-200. The LX-90 can last up to 60 hours on one set of batteries. I normally use a power supply or a cable I bought that plugs into a car cigarette lighter. I plan eventually to purchase a small battery type power supply that I can carry without too much trouble.
The reason I am interested in a battery power supply is that I would like to take the scope to a place where I will have to carry it a quarter to a half mile. I think the LS can be packed in a back pack, with the rest of my gear packed around it and the tripod being carried in a hand. I do not know if one could do that with an LX-90 and am sure I would not want to do that with an LX-200.
One last item on my list of notable things is the scope’s ability to hold extra lenses and their need. Being used to using shorter focal length scopes, I am used to having many eyepieces at hand for different functions. On the manual mount I built for my 90 mm refractor, I have places for twelve 1.25 inch eyepieces or whatever else I need in that size. The tripod on the LS has holes for three in the brace between the legs. So far, three 5000 series plossles, 26, 14, and 9 mm, have been adequate, due mostly to a long focal length and not trying to see really wide angle objects. If I ever get that focal reducer, I am confident that I will want more places to stick things to carry them outside along with the scope. I am currently figuring out how to do that. I think a brace could be built with six holes in it. However, most people will probably not care too much about this and it will not really be a justifiable change for Meade.
Well, that is enough for now. Let me know if you have any questions.
Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:40 AM
A lot of my astronomy club members are very impressed with the image I get through the scope.
I'm very pleased with it, it has taken me a while to get to know what eyepiece works but i think that would be the same with any scope.
One thing would say was let it do "its thing" when starting up where I live I sometimes have problems with it getting a good GPS lock and can't always get a good star alignment first time but it gets there in the end you have to be a bit patient.
I agree with Bill it does 'wiggle' a lot when focusing and you have to let it settle after moving the focus knob so I'm thinking about getting an electric micro focuser but they are £200 so not cheep.
Posted 21 February 2012 - 09:17 PM
Just FYI. JMI makes a focuser device that fits where the existing focus knob is. Seems like they list it at $180 on their website.
This focuser device is not the real fine focus of the Meade focuser and it has its own handset.
However, it does go through some slow-down routine that the Meade controls do not.
Naturally, I do not know how that equates to pounds.
Posted 22 February 2012 - 08:41 PM
Thanks for your info and, an No it was not too wordy. You may or may not recall that several years ago I bought a DS series telescope and had real problems with the "Go To" feature (Kept spinning when seeking North) To top it off I had what I perceived to be real problems with Meades Tech staff. I will say they tried but the problem was they, did not understand the problem and rather than investigate it they just sent me replacement scopes, or parts that exhibited the the same problem.
The result of this is I soured on Meade and eventually purchased a Celestron "NexStar 8SE" which I am more than pleased with. Since then I have developed Back problems and set up is a major problem. The result I rarely take it out. Now Celestron has come out with a new scope that looks as if they took the 6SE optical tube and married it to a camera set up to automatically go thru the set up like a LS series. that is what prompted me to ask you about your experience. The question in my mind was, is the technology for these scopes reliable and from your response it seems so
So again, thanks for your response.
Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:37 PM
I cannot speak for what Celestron has done, but my LS is working wonderfully as far as fully functional SCT goes.
Where I am with the scope is exploring the possibilities with it that may not have been anticipated in the initial design.
It is a fun scope to use.
Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:57 PM
Even though the price is $399, I am putting it on my list and will start saving up my pennies. It is a three element reducer that is being linked to the new LX-800 system.
With that addition, my LS-8 will definitely be my grab and go scope. Currently, for wide field views, I am using a 90mm refractor that I overhauled. What is interesting to me is that the LS is easier for me to take outside than the refractor, even though it is heavier. I have three doors to go through, but do not bump tripod legs into door frames as much with the LS.
How wide can I go with this reducer, the limiting factor is now how wide of an image will fit through the iris in my eye. I should be able to fit a 2 degree field of view or a little more. A younger person, with the right eyepiece, could fit maybe 2.4 degrees.
Posted 06 March 2012 - 07:45 PM
I am trying to sell my Celestron C6 refractor and save money for the LS. I know I can afford the LS6, but would have to wait till the end of summer to save up for the LS8. I am assuming I would want to spend the extra cash and get the LS8. I want to enjoy better planetary views, nebulas and deep space. I am not so concerned with stars and double stars, but do enjoy globular and open clusters.
I like to first find a target with my Televue 40mm plossl. The 41mm panoptic is probably awesome, but $550!!!!
Will the 40mm work on the LS6 and LS8?
Then I have the Televue 2.5 powermate. Will the powermate work? It did not work on the DS2114 I had. I could not get focus.
I also have a Baader Hyperion Telescope 8mm Eyepiece that I use for the Moon and Jupiter. It gets a bit dim at 6" for targets like Andromeda or other DSO.
If I got the LS8 would this eyepiece set work well for my viewing?
I also do a lot of astronomy outreach with the Riverbend Astronomy Club....
we use the Nasa Night Sky Network/JPL kits and wesite for our outreach activities....
Meade LS-8 ACF
Posted 07 March 2012 - 06:18 PM
All of the eyepieces you mentioned will work with either size LS.
I do not think you will need the powermate if you get the HD-60 set. The 4.5 and 6.5 mm are getting into the range of magnification for both scopes that either imperfections in your eyes or atmospheric disturbances will limit their abilities part or most of the time. Especially the 4.5. Even at high elevation and perfect weather pretty much puts a limit at a 4mm eyepiece or the equivalent with either scope. The two f/10 scopes have long enough focal lengths to assure that. For most conditions that I run into, the 6.5mm HD-60 would be the limit. The 6 inch scope will be at 231x with the 6.5 and 333x with the 4.5. For the 8 inch, those magnifications are 308x and 444x respectively.
The limiting factor is actually on the other end of things, the low power limit. The trouble is stuffing the image from the 8 inch scope through the pupil of the eye. The pupil can open up to about 7mm for young people and decrease with age, down to as low as 5mm in some people when they get up in years. Using 6mm as an average, the lower magnification limit for the 8 inch (which is a little bigger than 8 inch) is something like 205mm divided by 6 mm or 34x. Your 40mm eyepiece will give an image around 5mm in diameter, going through your pupil...plenty of room, hopefully, with a magnification of 50x.
With these scopes at f/10, folks are normally fighting to get a wider field of view for things like the larger nebula and open clusters. You might want to check out an 8 inch SCT that someone else has to make sure you are comfortable with the field of view. It will be narrower than what you are used to with your refractor at a focal length of 1200 mm. That is what I have had to get used to compared to the scopes I have used the most before getting my LS-8.
I suspect the planetary views with your refractor may be a touch better than the 6 inch LS, just because of the nature of the designs. The 8 inch may be a draw over all with more light gathering power.
The biggest advantage of the LS over your present scope is portability and ease of use. I have a C-11 on an older E-5 mount that sits in a box because it is such a pain to set up and use. I used to have a lot of back pain for three or four days after using it. I can guess at what you have with the C-6, plus that long of a focal length refractor tube swinging around when the equitorial mount does its flip. The LS is vastly superior to those issues. Your refractor with its eq mount will be better for serious imaging, since the image does not rotate like the alt az configuration does with the LS. Hopefully, Meade will come out with a wedge for it sometime.
In terms of outreach efforts, the LS blows away anything else that I have tried to use for that kind of activity.
With all that said, I am not trying to steer you away from an LS. I am just trying to point out that you do have a very good scope and want to make sure you understand the assets and liabilities of each system along with the various angles and perspectives of the change you are planning.
I am planning on getting one of the new focal reducers that will take the focal length of my LS-8 down to 1000mm for wide views...sort of like changing from two wheel drive to four wheel in a jeep. The $399 price tag is high, but I am comparing it to having to purchase a second eight inch f/5 scope to get the wide views. The focal reducer is a lot cheaper and less complicated in terms of the overall system I am trying to set up.
Well...hope this helps and does not confuse the issues for you too much.
Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:33 PM
My club has a variety of scopes, mainly SCTs from Meade and Celestron that average between 8" and 14", and we have a few big Dob people with a 12" Orion and a 18" obsession. I have aperture fever and really thought about the 16" light bridge and the 14" Orion goto dob, but their size and ease of use are my problems. My refractor has burnt me out due to some flaws with it. For one the handset is jenke and it does not do proper star alignments. After a 3 star alignment it will point to the ground when Jupiter is in the East and is the selected target, also I have to constantly realign the tracking during outreach for each viewer! I borrowed another handset for a GT5 and it worked well. The other problem is lugging the weight. It is not that I am lazy, but I have the tripod, the tube, the weights, the battery, and the accessory case. It usually takes some one to help me get the tube on the mount too. If I had a shed and a pier mount, I would probably keep it, replace the handset, and add a GPS module to the mount or get a better mount like a CGE pro. But because I travel with the scope, I want something that I can grab and go, but knows how to figure out where "it" is at regardless of my location, and then track normally for viewers to use.
I think in many regards the LS8 may foot the bill. The weight is good, a carrying case on wheels will make it better, and it can be a boon to outreach events. I believe that my refractor has just as good of a view because of contrast as most normal 8" and 10" scts in my club, they are just a little brighter but I feel like I am seeing the same thing at the same magnifications. It isn't until I look through one of the big Dobs that I begin to really see that "wow!" factor. For that reason, I am glad that my home has some large annoying trees that prevent me from using a roll off shed, otherwise I may be in serious debt for something 16" or larger!!! I have a good night sky for being so close to St.Louis too. I can see all the stars of the little dipper, most star clusters are visible at zenith, and Andromeda is visible as a glow. but I do have a lot of light pollution on my horizons. It is kind of like being in a bowl.
We travel to Lake Carlyle for our dark site and it is much darker. There are hundreds more stars visible and the milky way bands are visible as rivers of stars. All star clusters stand out, and meteors are much more vivid. It has always frustrated me to have bought a GoTo scope that doesn't GoTo! I got it used for $600 and that was a deal, but I am just not into hunting an object as much as I am into viewing one! When in a group setting I can find a target quickly because I have help aiming at it, but when I am alone it is quite the hassle to track it down. To help I have the Celestron SkyScout but even with that I need to hunt for a bit. I am hoping that the LS8 is an avid self hunter and can make my life much easier!
Meade LS-8 ACF
Posted 08 March 2012 - 03:53 PM
The LS8 will do you a good service.
The only time that my LS had not had the object in the field of view was the first time I used it after bumping into the camera on it with something pretty hard.
The alignment between the camera and the scope were off a little too much. I do not remember now exactly what it was that I bumped into the scope with or the circumstances. I just remember being momentarily overwhelmed with stupidity.
I recalibrated the camera, which is really easy at night. I also re-trained the drives using Polaris.
When the scope goes to a new target, it may not be dead center, but it will be within maybe half the radius of the field with a 26mm 4000 series plossl.
You will not need a wide angle eyepiece for finding things, just for getting all of really wide objects in the field of view.
The thought of an LS-8 and a set of HD eyepieces is very apealing to me. If I did not already have four different sets of plossles, two sets of planetary eyepieces, and a six piece set of 70 degree eyepieces, I would be eyeballing a set of those myself.
You will still want your power supply, but keeping a set of C cell batteries installed is a good backup in case someone kicks the power cord out of its socket in the dark. You can keep batteries in the mount and still use a power supply. The mount is smart enough to tell which one to use and not let the batteries get damaged or let them damage the scope.
Posted 17 May 2012 - 03:42 AM
I never keep batterys in any of my scopes.
I add them when i go to a remote site.
There is nothing worse then finding out they leaked acid and made a mess on the inside of a scope.
I always prefered a battery pack like that comes with a LXD mount.
Fife Lake, Mi.
Posted 16 July 2012 - 07:21 PM
Meade LS-8 ACF
Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:15 PM
Just my thoughts.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 01:21 AM
It is excellent and very useful; the control box from JMI is an option but is mandatory for fine focus as it provides an internal electronic brake that the meade LS doesn't have.
BUT, be very careful (at least for the LS-6) if you plan to attach an APN at the back focus; you should have to turn your APN 90°, otherwise the APN will not fit and bump the electric focuser.
Posted 13 August 2012 - 06:06 PM
I have wondered if one of those really worked.
Posted 14 August 2012 - 07:47 AM
I just ordered a JMI focuser. Are you saying using the JMI with the Meade hand controller does not allow you to achieve fine focus?
Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:58 PM
I took it out that night to a Boy Scout Outreach! Huge success! I viewed 18 targets, rapidly too! I would bring up a target like Andromeda. Then 20 kids of all ages and their dads would look at the target through the supplied 25mm eyepiece, I would press media and they could hear an explanation of the target, and then on to the next one!!!!! We did this over and over and every target was on mark! I just used tonight's tour and off we went! That crowd didn't leave me for a whole hour!!!!! I have never had a crowd like that with my big refractor. This scope is exciting!!!!!
The views were excellent! I did not try to switch up magnifications because it was first light and I was inexperienced with it, I got into a rhythm and went with it. Had a blast! Set up in the field was about 15 minutes and teardown was 5 min!!!! I used the battery cable adapter and a Celestron power tank. I also used a 9" monitor. I plan to get an Orion Starshoot Deep Space V2 Color Video camera. ($499) to do live viewing.
Lightwieght, portable, and entertaining!!!! My favorite part of the night was when each dad wanted to know what it cost(cause they wanted one too!) and I told them $2 Grand and they totally gave up! LOL It was out of thier league! I am not rich by any means and it took almost a year to save for it, but I am so proud that I did!!!! I am stoked!!!!
Meade LS-8 ACF
Posted 18 August 2012 - 05:00 PM
If you are like me, you will be having a lot of fun with it.
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