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Posts Made By: Tom Bourg

July 4, 2004 11:37 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Serious question about Meade Cats.

Posted By Tom Bourg


I found out about this forum three weeks ago from a member (Thanks Ron!!) and really like it. The posters here are the politest group I have run across on the Net. Really great.

One of the members of our astrnomy club is a college professor who teaches astronomy and who is in charge of the clubs telescopes. I consider him an expert as he can take most scopes apart blindfolded and tweak them, repair them, or just about anything else he has a mind to do.

I was floored a couple of weeks ago when he began talking about how poorly the Meade cats were made and lousy their quality control is. He told me that just about every Meade he has come across has some problem when he opens them up that would lead to premature wear. He especially mentioned the overtightening of some componants which leads to premature gear failure and the nylon gears themselves which are prone to wear.

He was saying this as he just finished repairing one that had failed. He is, in fact, in the process of replacing the nylon gears on several Meade cats. with metal ones.

He also mentioned that the tripod screw can extend too far into the mount, contact the wiring and wrap it around the screw and pull everything loose.

I own a Meade 10" LX200 and I have to admit that it broke the first night I used it. The other guys there agreed with him and seemed to have the attitude that this was old news.

Now, the kicker to all this is that the Meade scopes are very popular with the members in spite of this. As a matter of fact, one of the members who is a professional astronomer and in the PhD program at the local university is planning to buy a Meade 14" Cat. soon.

So, my question is, "Does your experience bare this out?" Are the Meade scopes prone to breakage and premature wear?

Except for the one problem I had and the silly way the scope mounts to the tripod, I really don't have any complaints. As far as I am concerned it is an excellant scope.

Good luck and good seeing. Sorry this post is so lengthy.

Tom Bourg

July 10, 2004 07:18 PM Forum: Equipment Talk


Posted By Tom Bourg

Wow Mark,

I've only been coming here a few weeks, but I find the guys here great. Some of them have been around telescopes a long time and have their own personal views, obviously. I find that a big plus and they give great advice--for free!

Just today the Telrad thread and the no-touch mirror cleaning threads were terrific, to name just two.

And I had no idea that Meade and Celestron were at odds in the courts.

I've also learned more about Dobs and eyepieces here than I could have in years on my own.

Anyway, I hope you take the responses in the spirit in which I am sure they are given and that is to help which is what I am endeavoring to do with this post.

See you and good skies.

Tom B.

July 15, 2004 01:34 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Cheap Truss Dobs???

Posted By Tom Bourg


A couple of recent threads here have gotten me wondering why no supplier (i.e., Orion, etc.) has introduced a cheap imported truss dob. It seems like the mass and volume savings (shipping, etc) would make it worth their while, if nothing else.

I'm certainly no dob expert but wouldn't there be a market?

Is there something in a truss dob that would keep the price up or not allow for mass production?

I believe the finest optics I've used were on an Obsession 18" so I'm not advocating el-cheapo truss dobs, I'd just like some opinions.

This is a great site.

Good luck and good seeing.

Tom B.

July 16, 2004 09:08 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Making a 10

Posted By Tom Bourg


First off, even though I've been into astronomy a long time, I don't know much about what is available aftermarket for scopes so this question might seem like a silly beginner question to some. I beg your indulgence.

A few years ago my Dynamax 8" was stolen and the insurance company allowed me to replace it with a Meade 10" LX200, the non-GPS unit.

The insurance paid for a complete set of Meade plossl eyepieces, Lumicon deep-sky filter, 6.3 focal reducer and various other accessaries including a Lumicon OIII filter and a dew shield.

Now, I've since added a Scope-saver so I can easily mount the scope to the tripod, a Telrad, and a few other items.

I've recently become an active member of the local astronomy club and I would like to improve the performance and portability (if that is possible) of the scope as I find the 60#+ scope a bit unwieldy.

So, my question to you is if you were in my situation, what would you do to upgrade the scope? I am interested in visual use only and not photography, btw.

The optics are pretty good for a CAT, I am told and I agree with that although the scope has never been tested.

I guess if I had to list what is important to me, portability/protection during transport would be first, followed by optical performance (I just bought a Speers-Waler 10mm and a 16mm Konig II from the classifieds, btw), followed by durability of scope parts.

Thanks in advance, I've learned more about scopes since I found this site a month ago than I have the last 10 years.

See you and good seeing.

Tom B.

July 26, 2004 03:27 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Whatever happened to offsetting the diagonal??

Posted By Tom Bourg


I've got a sct nowadays but I have to admit that Newtonians are my favorite scopes.

When I was a teenager 35+ years ago I remember that it was common practice to offset the diagonal (lower it if I remember correctly) on Newtonians so it was below the optical axis by a few mm. I believe this was done only on large scopes, which meant 10" and above back then

I even remember reading an article in Sky and Telescope about it and I believe the author included a chart for offsetting the diagonals for different sized primary mirrors and focal lengths.

But nowadays I see nothing about this even though the mirrors available to the public are much, much larger than those available back then.

Was this a bogus practice or perhaps it is not necessary with the faster systems in general use now?

Thanks. Good skies everyone.

Tom B.

September 16, 2004 10:47 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

10 inch Meade too heavy, need lighter scope

Posted By Tom Bourg


Here's one that is an exercise in your personal preference.

I've developed a condition (multiple myeloma) that has caused me to become much weaker and I find that my 62# Meade 10" CAT is getting too heavy for me to move comfortably. I have a Scopesaver on the tripod so putting the scope on the tripod isn't that bad right now.

I see a time in the not too distant future where moving this thing to a dark site won't be possible without help, so I am considering another scope.

I purchased an Orion Skyview Pro 127 Mak that I am very happy with. I believe the optics are at least as good as the Meade's but I would like more aperture.

Here is what I have come up with as possible solutions to my problem.Some of you can probably come up with better solutions than I have.

Trading my 10" Meade Cat for an 8" Meade Cat.
Trading my Meade for a 10" Celestron with a German mount (each component would weigh less and be more manageable).
Selling my scope and getting a portable Dob, like an Orion or similar 10" (might still be too heavy).
Going the Truss DOB route with a TScope 13 or 14" or similar--Really my first choice, a lot of bucks, but you only live once.

I've seen several truss dobs for sale in the classifieds, but most sellers want pickup only and here in Louisiana I would have a long drive to Arizona or California where most seem to be sold. smile

So, what would you guys do? Although I have been into astronomy for over 40 years, I am not an equipment expert by any means so this is a serious question.

One more thing is that I really like Newtonians, and the chance to go up in aperture, even if I give up tracking would be a plus in my book.

Any and all opinions are welcome. And if you have come up with some way to easily move a 10" Meade Cat, I would be interested in that too.

Thanks guys, I really enjoy following the threads here and occassionally responding when I feel I have something positive to add.

Good skies everyone,

Tom Bourg
Baton Rouge, La--where Ivan didn't hit.

October 3, 2004 11:05 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Pentax eyepiece experience

Posted By Tom Bourg


I've always been a Pentax fan. Camerawise, I've owned a 6X7, two LXs an a couple of spotmatics back in th early 70s and lots and lots of pentax camera lenses. I've always thought their optics were very underrated as I considered them the equal of Nikon, Olympus, etc.

Well, since becoming interested in astronomical equipment again, I've been a bit apprehensive about the very high cost of the Pentax oculars. I've used Naglers and know they perform well, but until last Friday night I had not used a Pentax lens.

I was at the local observatory, like I do many Friday nights, working with our club showing the public some of the better sky objects through one of the Meade 10" GPS CATS the club/observatory owns. We were viewing M2 through a Meade 26mm plossl, the sky was clear, though a bit bright, and the gc looked really good. The guy with me said he would like to see it under higher magnification but we didn't have another lens with us. He disappeared into the observatory which houses the clubs 20" RC and came back with a Pentax 11mm (if I remember correctly). When he popped it into the scope I couldn't believe the difference in the view. The image appeared much brighter even though the magnification was more that double and the resolution was greatly increased. I assume the image appeared brighter because of increased contrast, but I don't know for sure. The eye relief was great and the lens provided a much more comfortable view.

This rather long story (Heck, I'm Cajun and it takes us five minutes to say hello) relates the fact that I am now disatisfied with the complete set pf Meade eyepieces that came with my 10" CAT (which is still too heavy and I am still deciding what to do about that.) and I see many greenbacks flying out of my bank account to purchase Pentax and other eyepieces of equal quality.

I guess I have just joined the eyepiece hunters club in the classified section of this site.

Anyway, I guess with premium eyepieces you do get what you pay for. I wish everything was like that.

BTW, for those of you in the know. What are some of the top quality manufacturers/eyepieces that should be considered when building a top notch set? I know Nagler and Pentax, of course, but what other brands are in that class?

Thanks. If you read all this stuff I just wrote, I really appreciate your time.

Good skies everyone.

Tom B.

October 23, 2004 12:32 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

So what's the problem with Meade????

Posted By Tom Bourg


I've been following the Coronado thread and have seen all the posts that are unfriendly toward Meade and I am wondering why. I know they won a law suit against Celestron, but it seems to me Celestron should be getting the flack for that and not Meade. I mean they are the guys found in the wrong.

To me it seems Meade is fairly cutting edge and their products seem to represented realistically. I am under the impression that it is pretty much of a toss up between Celestron and Meade scopes. Meade's advertising seems honest unlike Bose Audio and some other manufacturers that draw well-deserved severe critism.

Has Meade done some Bill Gates-like maneuver in the past to create hard feeling? Is the critism just because they are so large?

I own a Meade 10" CAT and I know about the quality control problems but I hear the same thing about Celestron and some others, so what gives?

I guess I am sorry that Coronado has been sold, but since the choices were probably sell or close the doors, I am glad a successful company bought them. At least the prices and supply might be okay.

Now I just hope the quality stays up. And since I am one of the guys who could never justify buying anything above the level of the PST, I can naively hope that the prices come down to the point where I can go up the Coronado line a step or two.

Good luck.

Tom B.

December 30, 2004 04:48 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

Counting Moons

Posted By Tom Bourg

With the huge telescopes available to amateurs these days and the really clear skies in some areas of the country, I am wondering about the number of moons some of you have seen around Mars and the gas giants.

I've got a 10" and the skies where I live here in Baton Rouge are so polluted that sometimes I have trouble seeing our moon wink let alone more than two or so on Saturn and the four Jovians.

Good luck and good skies in '05.

Tom B.

June 13, 2005 09:57 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Star Atlas Question

Posted By Tom Bourg


I did the dumbist thing I've done in quite a while. I tossed out my Skalnate-Pleso and Atlas 2000. I want mention the first three words I muttered when I realized what I had done.

Fortunately, my Norton's Star Atlas which I purchased as a young teenager in 1962 wasn't thrown away. The charts on that one, btw, are a lot better than the present version,imho.

Anyway, I remember a discussion here about a star atlas that contained three other star atlases. I have searched for the thread and done a Google and Yahoo search and can't locate it.

Can anyone help me locate it by giving me its name and where I may order it.
Thank you.

Tom B.