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thoughts on the Meade ETX70AT

Started by kd4avp_1, 04/15/2005 01:03PM
Posted 04/15/2005 01:03PM Opening Post
I have an opportunity to pick up an ETX70AT at a good price. I am not very familiar with this scope, but it will also possibly be my first real scope. Any pros and cons on this item? Is it a good starter? Thanks for reading!
Posted 04/15/2005 01:33PM #1
I haven't used the 70AT, but have used the ETX90RA as well as several small short tube refractors of the same ilk as the 70AT, so I have indirect experience. I would suggest to you that you'll likely get bored pretty quickly with a 70mm diameter scope. It will be nice for widefield views of bright star clusters (e.g. Pleides), scanning the Milky Way and maybe also Andromeda, but it just doesn't have enough aperture to show you very much more, and really doesn't lend itself for use as a scanning instrument in my opinion. This scope certainly will have a fair amount of chromatic aberation also, so really it isn't the best instrument for lunar or planetary viewing either. Unless you need an ultra portable scope (and even then there are much better options), I would suggest that you pick-up a 6-8" Dob, small Mak or larger refractor (i.e. 4-5"). With the Dob, you'll have much brighter, more detailed images and plenty more objects to view. The Mak and 4-5" refractor are also nice in that they tend to require less maintenance than a Dob (i.e. less collimation) and tend to yield nice, sharp views (though you'll still have some false colour with the achromatic refractor).

Anyway, rather than buy the 70AT and find yourself feeling underwhelmed, I'd suggest that you cool your heels a bit, and look for a more versatile instrument.

Best regards,
P.S. likely the majority of items in the 70AT database will be well beyond the light grasp of this scope, so don't waste your time thinking about the size of the GoTo database for a scope of that size. Also, you might enjoy spending some time learning the constellations and hunting down astronomical objects; I certainly do! If you start out with a GoTo scope, you may miss out on this. Just my 2 cents.
Posted 04/15/2005 02:47PM #2

Ed Ting has a review of the 60mm model, which isn't going to be substantially different than the 70mm model. It's a so-so review, but I think the relevant part is right here:

"It's billed as a beginner's scope, but I found that advanced astronomers got the
biggest kick out of it. Beginners tended to be stymied by all the features and
modes, not knowing which ones were important and which ones weren't. And with
all the hype that the Autostar doles out, the actual views tended to disappoint."

Full review at
Posted 04/15/2005 06:11PM #3
Here is a link to what I would consider a sweet deal on a good starter scope -- an 8" dob. It doesn't have goto or point to but with a star map it isn't hard to find stuff anyway.
Posted 04/15/2005 06:50PM #4
Thanks to all that replied. You do make some very good points. The price on the scope is what made me flinch. Kind of one of those deals "you just cant refuse". I had reservations on the Dob since I live in a neighborhood with several streetlights nearby. I was thinking the 70AT would not be as effected by these as would a 8 or 10 inch Dob. Then again I may be totally in left field in my thinking. Thank goodness there is this board to get feedback from those that have "been there and done that".

Thanks all!