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Meade versus Celestron?

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Meade versus Celestron? was created by DOM

I know that is a familiar "discussion" on various astronomy forums but I'd like an Irish view on this for a change...

I'm planning to eventually get a Schmitt-Cass 8 or 10 inch OTA to mount on an EQ mount.

Apart from a slight difference in prices, is there any really difference between the two leading brands? What are the pros and cons of the Celestrons and Meades?
9 years 1 month ago #97372

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Replied by lunartic_old on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Oh boy, this is like the Canon/Nikon debate, there will be some who will swear by Meade and another group who use nothing but Celestron.

To the best of my knowledge, both Meade and Celestron are manufactured in the same Chinese factory, and therefore should be subject to the same quality controls.

As to the pros and cons, are there any? When you say an EQ mount, are you talking about a fork mount or the German EQ mount? Both companies manufacture both. They both offer features such as enhanced mirror coatings and other bells and whistles.

The best advice I can give is have a go at both, if you can, you may find that one or other brand appeals to you, I have seen through both Meade and Celestron SCTs and both looked pretty good to me.

The bottom line is, I guess, there is no right answer, the OTA or either company should perform the same, the performance of the mount depends on how much you are prepared to pay, the mount is also crucial if you are planning astrophotography, the sturdier the mount the better the performance.

Confusing, isn't it? :s

Paul
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better programs, and the universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

Rich Cook
9 years 1 month ago #97373

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Replied by DOM on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Yes Paul, I know I'm opening a can of worms with this one!

Anyway, the main reason I ask is that there is definitely a price difference between the two brands (several hundred euros for the OTAs if I'm not mistaken) with the Celestrons the cheaper option. Just curious to know why if they basically do the same thing?

My plan is to get an EQ6 and buy a SCT separately to put on it. I read that the Meade fork isn't great - but then again I could be wrong?

Dominic
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by DOM.
9 years 1 month ago #97375

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Replied by lunartic_old on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

An EQ6 should be able to hold a 10" SCT no problem, the load capacity is approximately 18kgs.

As I said, the OTAs themselves are basically the same, I had a couple of SCTs in my time, both Meade BTW, that is not an endorsement for Meade, and one thing I, personally, don't like about SCTs is the focusser, I find the image shift annoying because the focusser shifts the mirror to achieve focus, but, as I say, that's a personal thing.

Paul
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better programs, and the universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

Rich Cook
9 years 1 month ago #97379

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Replied by DOM on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Well, at the moment I have an 8 inch Dob but am eyeing a short tube scope like a SCT. Something that looks good as well as being easy to store/transport etc.

Would you recommend them as a good "all-rounder" telescope for visual and maybe starting out on astro-photography or are there other options such as the SCT, NM or RC?

One of the main attractions is the short tube - something that is also on the Ritchey Chretien scope.

Also, what's an f10 like to use?

Dominic
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by DOM.
9 years 1 month ago #97385

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Hi,
I own a 12" meade sct and I'm trying to avoid sounding like
"its a fab scope just cos I own one",
Ive also used other scts, both meade and celestron and Ive seen both have image shift in their focusers and some that are unable to hold collimation of its secondary mirror. It's more of a "was the scope assembled on a friday evening"

The newer meades are not quiet scts optic wise these days, they have the acf optics while celestron have the HD optics, I really dont know if there is much between them I do remember hearing that the meade ota's are a little heavier.

TBH, until recently this was more a question about the mount, if you want a fork mount , then its a meade. If you want an eq mount then its a celestron. but now meade have the new LX850 self guiding eq mount, then again the celestron has a proven reliable eq mount already out there.

so, so many options.
Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by dave_lillis.
9 years 1 month ago #97388

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Replied by DOM on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Yep, so so many options when it comes to SCT scopes. It's probably going to take me six months to make up my mind!

One issue with the Meade fork mount. It looks cool but from what I've read its useless for astrophotography and the way to go is an EQ mount. Is that right?

Also, when it comes to buying Meades/Celestrons - has anyone ordered them directly from American websites and had them shipped over? They seem to be cheaper than those sold by Irish suppliers but would I get stung for importation taxes?
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by DOM.
9 years 1 month ago #97389

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Replied by lunartic_old on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

When it comes to buying from the US you have to add about 25% of the cost of the scope and the shipping, to the price, also I believe that the warranty does not extend to Ireland when bought outside the EU, I wait to be corrected if I'm wrong, worth considering when buying.

There are many great retailers in Ireland and the EU, and it might be cheaper when the extra cost is added to the US price.

Paul
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better programs, and the universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

Rich Cook
9 years 1 month ago #97390

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Replied by DOM on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Thanks Paul, was just checking that there's not a "cheap" option when it comes to Meades/Celestron and I'm sure the main Irish suppliers are doing there best to sell at the cheapest rate but sometimes you can get better deals abroad...

What's the secondhand market like - do SCTs come up often?
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by DOM.
9 years 1 month ago #97391

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Hi
no meade/celestron supplier will sell you a scope across the atlantic, you can also kiss your warrenty goodbye if it breaks down aswell, so this is not an option unless youre willing to accept the risk. I wouldnt!

A EQ mount is always going to win hands down over any fork mount for long exposure astrophotography, you can do deepsky imaging with a fork but it is more work. Planetary and lunar imaging is not so troublesome. Ive taken some simple enough shots using the 12" fork on a wedge, all in my flickr account if you want to have a look.
You need a wedge for a fork scope for long exposure astrophotography,making it more susceptible to vibration and wind, if you have an observatory setup then you can avoid such problems.

There is also the situation where in a fork situation, the tube cannot ever be taken off the forks for transportation, the forks and tube are a single unit. For an EQ mount, the tube can be detached. on the other side of the coin, some say that an eq mount is more hassle for observing as you need to polar align it and watch out for the meridian flip .

In the secondhand market, you can get a really good bargin, only thing is again you have no warrenty, if it breaks down, then its going to cost you. Also, if buying secondhand, you'd want to be fairly sure the motors and electronics were looked after and the the drives were not abused. You dont want to end up with a scope with grinded down gears or with electronics on the brink of been on the fritz.
Having said that,most astronomers look after their gear, so you could make a killing going secondhand, freeing up money for eyepieces.... :)
Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by dave_lillis.
9 years 1 month ago #97392

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Replied by phoenix on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

OPT Telescopes in the States will sell you Meade and Celestron gear from their clearance and second hand range but as Dave pointed out no warranty cover plus about $400 shipping then import duty.

I've done enough imaging with the Meade 10" to know the pitfalls. Near zenith they are pretty stable but backlash is the main problem. You usually loose some of your sub frames due to backlash even with autoguiding. If you keep exposure times short you can get away with only loosing a few. Think the worm gear has an 8 minute period at which point I often got a small jump off target then the autoguiding had to fight the backlash which meant a frame loss. Still capable of getting some nice images but a small field of view. Good for planets and lunar plus astrometry/photometry work and supernova searching. Meade tend to hold good collimation from my own experience since I've never needed to adjust it.

Mine plus accessories is up for sale on here at less than the cost of an OTA from K Tec.
Kieran
16" ODK (incoming), Mesu Mount 200, APM TMB 80mm, SXV H16, SXV H9
J16 An Carraig Observatory
ancarraigobservatory.co.uk/
9 years 1 month ago #97393

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Replied by mykc on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Hi Dominic,

I can't comment on Meade v Celestron, never having owned a Meade, but the fact that both brands are very successful suggests that both produce good products (and some not so good ones too). When you have a clearer idea of what type of scope and mount you want, you may be able to make decide between brands on the basis of reviews of the competing offerings.

I began with an 80mm f6 refractor (Ascension), then had a 200mm f5 Newtonian (GSO) for a couple of years and recently switched to a 280mm f10 SCT (Celestron), so I have a little experience of the strengths and weakness of different setups (though I have no clue about RC designs). All three were used on an equatorial mount (Celestron CG5) and I agree with the views in this thread that a GEM, while a little more difficult to setup and align, offers greater versatility than an alt az mount and is the better choice if you want to keep the option of astrophotography open. It makes good sense to buy the OTA and the mount as individual items, so that you can change/upgrade either separately if your interests change.

Small refractors excel for wide field observing and imaging; if you aspire to beautiful images of large nebulae, they're the way to go. You seem more interested in larger aperture instruments and that inevitably means smaller fields of view, and more stringent demands on the mount if you wish to image. For example, my 280mm f10 SCT has a maximum fov of approx. 1 degree - the design means that, even with a focal reducer, the fov is limited due to vignetting by the baffle tube. That fov is large enough to image most clusters and galaxies, but the slow focal ratio means that for most targets exposure times will be very long unless a focal reducer is used. Even with a focal reducer the focal length is quite long, so good guiding and a sturdy mount will be needed for low surface brightness targets such as galaxies. On the other hand, imaging bright targets such as planets, double stars or brighter clusters is relatively easy even with a light mount such as the highly portable CG5. The long focal length is a big advantage for imaging small targets such as planets and double stars. As with most things in life, there is no perfect general, solution, what will work best for you will depend on your interests, your resources, and your observing site.

I'm primarily a visual observer and I think that is where larger aperture scopes really shine. Large reflectors are the best value for money, but, above about 250mm, they are unwieldy on equatorial mounts, and the eyepiece is often in an awkward position. SCTs, and related designs, are much more convenient to use. They are much more compact, and are easier to transport, and to place on the mount (SCTs up to 300mm are light enough to lift fairly easily). Also, the viewing positions are much more comfortable and that makes them much more enjoyable to use, as well as allowing you to make more difficult observations. Careful observation of a difficult double star is no problem when you are sitting comfortably at the eyepiece on an SCT, but can be very difficult if you are standing on a stool peering into the eyepiece on a Newt mounted on a GEM. Dobsonian mounts are the way to go with larger Newts.

Unfortunately the greater convenience of an SCT carries a substantially greater price tag. I couldn't justify the cost of a new SCT, but pre-loved ones do come on the market from time to time and that's how I got mine. There is a greater risk when you buy privately, but, as Dave Lillis said, most amateur astronomers are good people, and provided you check out the scope thoroughly before parting with your cash, there is little reason to worry. I have bought loads of stuff second hand and have never had a bad experience. I was quite nervous when buying the C11, but it has worked out great. I'm delighted to have moved to a larger aperture scope that gives more magnification and brighter views, but is actually significantly easier and more enjoyable to use.

The main weaknesses of SCTs are the difficulty of obtaining precise focus and the related problem of mirror shift. Those problems can be solved by replacing the stock focuser with a microfocuser (though that does not eliminate image shift), or by adding a Crayford style or helical focuser. I chose a helical focuser, which gave a significant improvement in ease of use, and this is an upgrade that is definitely worth the extra cost, in my view. It is worth bearing in mind that the cost of accessories, such as a focal reducer, a microfocuser, a 2" diagonal for use with longer focal length eyepieces, and various adapters to connect all the bits together, can be very substantial. You may well find that you spend as much again (over a period of time) on eyepieces and accessories as you did on the scope.

The thoughts above are just one opinion; some of the other posters are much more experienced than me, and everyone has their own particular views and requirements. Take you time and try to get some hands on experience, which is easy if there is a Club near you. You may find the advice on Starizona (starizona.com/acb/basics/index.aspx) useful too. Good luck in your search.

Mike
Skywatcher 120 mm ED on a CG5 mount.
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by mykc. Reason: error correction
9 years 1 month ago #97396

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Replied by albertw on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

The main weaknesses of SCTs are the difficulty of obtaining precise focus and the related problem of mirror shift. Those problems can be solved by replacing the stock focuser with a microfocuser (though that does not eliminate image shift), or by adding a Crayford style or helical focuser. I chose a helical focuser, which gave a significant improvement in ease of use, and this is an upgrade that is definitely worth the extra cost, in my view. It is worth bearing in mind that the cost of accessories, such as a focal reducer, a microfocuser, a 2" diagonal for use with longer focal length eyepieces, and various adapters to connect all the bits together, can be very substantial. You may well find that you spend as much again (over a period of time) on eyepieces and accessories as you did on the scope.


And even those solutions may not be enough depending on what you buy. For example my (second hand as it happens!) Celestron CPC 9.25 has no way to lock the mirror in place. There are DIY solutions to this which involve basically drilling holes into the tube and adding screws to keep the mirror in place, but not what you want to do with a new scope!

I haven't gone down that route (yet anyway!), my astrophotography isn't yet at the level where that's the lowest source of error! But I do find my helical focuser great, especially for photograph, you just can't get that accuracy of focus from the regular SCT focus knobs.

You can image with a fork provided you have a decent wedge as Dave says. Mind you a decent wedge is another €500.

Secondhand SCT's come up reasonably regularly here. Check back over the for sale section, or try posting in the wanted section.
Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section
www.darksky.ie/
9 years 1 month ago #97399

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Replied by mykc on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Skywatcher 120 mm ED on a CG5 mount.
9 years 1 month ago #97400

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Replied by albertw on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

You might be interested in this solution Albert.

www.maison-astronomie.com/bagues-et-acce...celestron-8-925.html
www.sciencecenter.net/hutech/misc/focuslk/


Thanks. The trouble with those types of solutions is that they don't actually lock the mirror, they really just secure the focuser. That gives an improvement but doesn't eliminate the problem from what I've read. I was thinking more of this www.marsastro.org/presentations/MARS_Mirror-Lock.pdf or look at adding screws to lock the mirror like the 'transport screws' the C14 has.
Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section
www.darksky.ie/
9 years 1 month ago #97401

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

I see that the newer meade sct's come with a mirror lock to stop mirror flop, mine is an older model with no lock, but it did come with a shipping bolt so I can use a modified version of this bolt to lock down the mirror, I had found that without this, the weight of the 12" mirror+cell shifts the fov when it crosses the meridian. I got the peterson focuser mod and it worked a treat to make the focuser a little smoother. The scope also came with the a microfocuser so you can lock the mirror with the bolt and further refine the focus, its not thee best mircofocuser out there, but it does works ok for me.

Keep in mind that ACF and HD optics will not work with a standard f6.3 SCT focal reducer, the meade ACF scopes can be either F10 or F8. The HD scopes are F10 but capable of been hyperstarred, meaning they can be set to f3~ for imaging, a big plus for widefield imaging.

Interesting work around there Pheonix, buying from their clearance depo from the US shop, thanks for that !.
Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by dave_lillis.
9 years 1 month ago #97404

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Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

...or look at adding screws to lock the mirror like the 'transport screws' the C14 has.


I'm not sure if Andy is still making his locking mechanism - but there is an email address for him...

www.intint.com/andy/build.html

I bought his older version (without the indicator at the time) a few years back and can attest to the fact they lock down the mirror enough that mirror flop is not a huge problem all the time. Of course, you only need to do this for astrophotography - but you then have to attach a motorised focuser that can move your camera to achieve focus (since the mirror can no longer move). It can get very expensive...

Overall, I think any debate about Meade/Celestron is like any other debate about competing similar products (VW v Ford v Renault v Opel ...). Decide what you want to do and pick the product that covers as many of the bases you need - or all of them if you're lucky.

Of course, you could just buy one of these: www.rcopticalsystems.com/mounts/hispeed.html

Dave
9 years 1 month ago #97406

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Replied by DOM on topic Re: Meade versus Celestron?

Thanks Paul, Dave, Kieran, Mike & Albert. These are some great insider tips and it'll digest them all as I think about my next move.

As I said it's early days yet as I'm only getting to know my way around the sky using the 8inch Dob.

Once I get more confident I'm sure I'll begin to focus on one or other combination of a scope and mount.

Dominic
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by DOM.
9 years 1 month ago #97408

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Replied by PMU on topic Meade versus Celestron?

how do these SCT`s work with binoviwers.is there enough travel in the focuser.I have a burgess type bino-viwer.Pat
8 years 3 months ago #100077

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Replied by michael_murphy on topic Meade versus Celestron?

I have a Nexstar11 SCT and it works with my bino-viewer.

Michael.
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8 years 3 months ago #100079

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