Monday, 5 September 2016

Meade LX600 StarLock


The LX600 is the latest model of Meade’s advanced line of fork-mounted telescopes that trace their roots back to the 1980’s. The LX600 features an extensive range of advanced features including Advanced Coma Free (ACF) optics; a much improved optical design over the traditional Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. In addition to the ACF optics other major innovations include fully automated star alignment, full-time auto-guiding and automatic Periodic Error Correction (PEC).



Advanced Coma Free


The LX600 is designed specifically for deep-sky imaging and it is available in apertures between 10” and 16”. The Advanced Coma Free optics remove coma all the way to the edge of the field of view. Stars appear perfectly round without distortion. Another difference from traditional Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes is the focal ratio; the LX600’s focal ratio is f/8 making it better suited for deep sky imaging rather than f/10 used in Schmidt-Cassegrains. Furthermore, the LX600’s primary mirror mounting system eliminates image shift completely.


AutoStar II Handbox

The AutoStar II is effectively a handheld computer that is used to issue commands to the telescope. It includes a database of over 145,000 celestial objects that are easily accessible on the Autostar II display. Some of the catalogues in the database are the NGC, Index, Messier, Caldwell, Herschel, Abell, Arp, Uppsala, Morphological, Variable Stars, SAO, Hipparcos and named objects.


Focuser

The LX600 includes a very smooth, dual-speed (7:1) focuser that simplifies precise focusing significantly. Focusing can be improved even further with the addition of the optional Meade Zero Image Shift Micro-Focuser. The Micro-Focuser is also controlled through the AutoStar II handbox. This is a practical solution that keeps cables and control boxes down to a minimum.


StarLock

The StarLock is an advanced new system that is incorporated into all LX600 models as standard. It eliminates the requirement of an external computer for star alignment and in addition it provides precision tracking and auto-guiding. At its centre StarLock is the logic embedded in the electronics of the telescope and it is assisted by the StarLock guide scope and two StarLock wide field cameras.

The best feature of StarLock is that it does not get in the user’s way. It works in the background, automatically selecting a star in the field of view and controlling the motors of the telescope to make fine speed adjustments in order to provide the most accurate tracking possible. The StarLock guide scope and cameras provide real-time data and any adjustments are made instantly. The red LED on the StarLock guide scope comes on to indicate when the system is auto-guiding.

StarLock also centres the target in the field of view automatically without any user input. Furthermore, StarLock provides training for periodic error correction in order to make precise adjustments to the telescope’s motor drive and polar alignment. StarLock technology is unique to the Meade LX600 and Meade LX850 telescopes.


Wedge

For astrophotography the X-Wedge is the must-have accessory for all LX600 models up to 14” in aperture. It is a robust platform with ball bearings and large hand knobs to make azimuth and elevation adjustments quickly. The LX600 16” model requires the larger MAX-Wedge.


Portability

Another innovation in the LX600 is the optical tube that can be detached from the fork mount and mount base in order to assist portability and keep the weight of each individual component as low possible. This reduces the total weight that must be lifted at a time by 16kg. Despite this, it is recommended that two people are in hand to assemble the telescope.


Summary

The LX600 leapfrogs Meade’s own LX200 as the premier fork mounted telescope. It is equally well suited for professionals and advanced amateur astronomers alike. For deep sky visual observation and imaging it is the obvious choice.

For an in-depth report on the Meade LX600 please refer to the review in the May 2016 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine.


Read more on the LX600 on the Meade UK website: