The Urban Astronomer's Guide by Mollise Rod

By Mollise Rod

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Kellners can do well in large focal ratio instruments like SCTs, however (large focal ratio telescopes are always more forgiving of eyepiece deficiencies than small focal ratio ones). Kellners seem to be on their way out lately. With the advent of dirt-cheap Plossls from the Far East, telescope manufacturers can afford to include “better” eyepieces with their new scopes, and there’s little reason for an amateur to buy a Kellner when a Plossl is only a few dollars or pounds more expensive. Like the Kellner, the Orthoscopic design has been around for well over a century.

Even with a low-power eyepiece in the main scope, you’re in for a lot of hunting around. This happens because, unlike a finderscope, a Telrad can’t deliver more stars than your eyes alone can reveal—a finderscope’s objective easily gathers much more light that your naked eye. The same problem exists for other nontelescopic aiming devices now available for astronomy: not enough stars. If you want to use a Telrad or other zero (or “unit”) power finder in the city, fine, but be advised that you’ll need to use one as a supplement to your finderscope, not as a replacement for it.

The ETX does use a lot of plastic in its construction to keep both cost and weight down. In most cases this has not caused problems with the scopes, and Meade continues to improve both ETX hardware and software. If there’s any real problem with the ETXes, it’s their aperture. The maximum available, 5 inches, isn’t always adequate if your sky is as bad as mine is. But a light, inexpensive go-to scope like this is a godsend for many urban users. All the ETX models, like Meade’s SCTs, can be ordered with enhanced UHTC coatings.

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