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What You Can See Through a Telescope
Most people who have never looked through a quality, moderately-priced telescope have no real idea of how much can be observed. Common perceptions are that a telescope capable of showing the rings of Saturn, for example, costs "thousands of dollars," or that reading an automobile license plate from one mile requires a telescope out of a spy novel. Such perceptions could not be more wrong.

The extremely wide range of celestial objects observable through amateur telescopes can be categorized into the following groups:

1. Objects in the Solar System
The Moon, Planets, Comets: Because of their relative proximity to Earth, the Moon and major planets have long been primary sources of interest to amateur astronomers. Each of the major planets from Mercury to Neptune is visible through any Meade telescope; only the outermost and faintest planet, Pluto, requires a telescope of 10"-aperture or larger to be seen.


The smallest Meade telescopes, Models 230 and 285, show about this level of visble detail on the surface of the Moon. Meade 10" Schmidt-Cassegrain photo by C. Arsidi.
The Moon: Observed through even the smallest of Meade telescopes (e.g., Models 230 or 285), the Moon is transformed into a stark world of impact craters, mountain ranges, pock-marks, rilles, and fault lines. Larger Meade models (e.g., the Meade ETX, as well as Models 390, 395, 4500, and 102ACHR/500) permit the resolution of very fine detail on the lunar surface: craterlets, surface color variations, and the structure of crater walls. With an advanced Meade telescope (e.g., Models 203SC/500 or 8" LX200) the Moon can become the subject of a lifetime of research study.

Mercury and Venus: Seen through the Meade Model 230, Mercury and Venus move through a series of Moonlike phases–crescent, half, and full–as they orbit the Sun. Larger telescope models can occasionally show dusky markings on the surface of Venus.

Mars: Long a subject of myth and mystery, the planet Mars shows a reddish coloration in the telescope, with dark surface markings, as well as white polar ice caps, observable in any Meade telescope. The ease of observing these markings is strongly dependent on Mars' distance from Earth, a distance that varies considerably from year to year. Larger telescope aperture is also greatly beneficial in observing Mars; advanced amateurs normally consider an 8" telescope (e.g., Meade Models 203SC/500 or 8" LX200) as required equipment for serious study of the planet.


The planet Jupiter shows a wealth of ever-changing detail when observed through a Meade ETX, or larger, telescope. Meade CCD image by Dr. Donald Burns; 10" LX200 telescope equipped with a Stellar Products AO-2 adaptive optics system.
Jupiter: Because of its wealth of observable surface detail, Jupiter is perhaps the most studied planet among amateur astronomers. In Meade Models 230 or 285 the planet's primary cloud belts are readily visible, as are its four largest moons, or satellites, in revolution about the planet and changing positions from night to night. Through larger Meade telescopes, such as the ETX, Models 390, 395, 4500, 102ACHR/500, or larger, the cloud belts take on added structure and color that are seen to change slowly but perceptibly from week to week. The high-resolution imaging afforded by the Meade ETX permits the study of significant detail on Jupiter's surface, including the Great Red Spot. Viewed through a Meade Model 102ACHR/500 or through any Meade 8" telescope under good atmospheric conditions, Jupiter displays numerous cloud belts, as well as an intricate web of whirls, festoons, and discontinuities, and the planet's four largest satellites become finite-sized orbs rather than pinpoints.

Saturn: Easily visible through any Meade telescope model, Saturn and its famous ring system are a stunning sight. Meade Models 230 and 285 also enable observation of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The Meade ETX permits resolution of Saturn's primary ring-division, the Cassini Division, observed as a pencil-thin line in the rings. The ETX and Model 102ACHR/500 also display, under favorable observing conditions, dusky, yellowish cloud belts across the planet's disc, as well as shadows cast by the rings on to the planet's surface.


The ETX Astro Telescope is ideal for lunar, planetary and deep-space observations.
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto: Unknown to the ancients, Uranus and Neptune can be tracked and observed even through Meade 60mm-aperture telescopes, Models 230 and 285. The planetary images, as compared to starpoints, are seen as finite-sized discs. The higher magnifications that may be employed with larger telescopes (e.g., Models 4500, 127NT/500, 102ACHR/ 500, and 203SC/500) sometimes allow observation of the pale greenish-blue atmosphere of Uranus and the yellowish color of Neptune. The automatic object-locating capabilities of Meade 10", 12", and 16" LX200 models are of particular value in observing the outermost planet, Pluto, visible as a tiny faint point more than 3 billion miles from Earth.


In 1996 Comet Hyakutake was a splendid object through any Meade telescope model. Meade CCD image by Jack Newton.
Minor Planets (Asteroids): Located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are thousands of minor planets (the largest of these is about 480 miles in diameter) called asteroids. Asteroids can be observed, and their paths plotted in motion among the stars, through all Meade telescope models. Larger telescopes, such as Meade Models 4500, 127NT/500, and 203SC/ 500, permit the observation of literally hundreds of asteroids of widely varying brightness levels.

Comets: Appearing generally on unpredictable schedules, comets often provide dazzling objects for observation through the telescope. Although bright comets are relatively rare, many fainter comets are observable through even small telescopes (e.g., Meade Models 230, 285, and larger) in almost every month of the year.

Objects in the Solar System, as fascinating as they are to observe, are only the first step of the grand space tour enabled by a Meade telescope. Outside the Sun's planetary system is the realm of deep-space–the realm of stars, star clusters, gas clouds (nebulae), and galaxies.

The Lagoon Nebula (M8), a diffuse nebula, is easily observed through small telescopes but it's brilliant red color can only be seen in long exposure photographs. Photo by A. Nakanishi; Meade 6" ED refracting telescope.
2. Objects in our Milky Way Galaxy
The Pleiades (M45), and open star cluster, displays several hundred stars through any telescope. Long exposure photographs reveal a blue enveloping nebulosity. Meade 10" Schmidt-Cassegrain photo by C. Kimball.

The Big Dipper in the constellation Ursa Major. Resolving the fainter star Alcor from the brighter Mizar is a good test for the unaided eye. Through any Meade telescope Mizar itself further resolves into two clearly seperated component stars.
Star Clusters: Positioned throughout our Milky Way galaxy are various types of star clusters, including loose stellar associations (open star clusters) and tightly packed ball-shaped star groupings (globular star clusters). The Pleiades, an open cluster of 6 or 7 stars easily visible to the unaided eye, becomes a glittering sight in any Meade telescope, with hundreds of stars now visible through the eyepiece. The globular star cluster (listed in celestial catalogs as M13) in the constellation Hercules is only a faint smudge without the telescope; through a Meade Model 4500, M13 resolves into a glowing ball of incandescence, with many outer stars in the cluster clearly resolved.

Double and Multiple Stars: Of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy, roughly half of them are multiple stars consisting of two or more stars linked in a common gravitational field and revolving about a common center. The famous star Mizar, located at the bend of the handle of the Big Dipper, resolves into two stars of about equal brightness. High in the summer sky the constellation Cygnus (the "Northern Cross") contains one of the most observed double stars, the star Albireo, which resolves into brilliant yellow and blue components when studied through a Meade Model 230, or larger, telescope. Hundreds of other double and multiple stars can be observed with any Meade telescope.

Variable Stars: Many stars are not fixed in their brightness levels, but periodically change in brightness, some in days, others over a period of years. In the easily-located constellation of Perseus, the star B (beta) Persei, or Algol, changes brightness rapidly every three days, dimming from moderately bright to moderately faint in a period of only about four hours. Algol's fascinating variability in brightness is easily studied in any Meade model. Larger telescopes, including Meade Models 4500, 203SC/500, LX50's, and LX200's, permit the observation of hundreds of variable stars throughout the sky.


Visible through the Meade ETX Astro Telescope, the diffuse Rosette Nebula reveals color and additional nebulosity in a long exposure photograph. Meade 6" ED refractor photo by Jason Ware.
Nebulae: Gas clouds, called nebulae, are scattered throughout our own galaxy, the Milky Way. These clouds typically are illuminated by nearby stars. Nebular objects are further grouped into sub-types as tenuous, amorphous clouds (diffuse nebulae) and highly structured clouds of gas (planetary nebulae). Use a beginning to intermediate Meade telescope (e.g., Models 230, 285, or 4500) to observe such spectacular objects as the Great Nebula in Orion, a diffuse nebula that fills the field of view at low powers. Within the Orion Nebula a grouping of four stars, called the "Trapezium" because of its trapezoidal orientation, illuminates the nebula and can be easily viewed with any Meade telescope. Larger telescopes such as Meade Models 102ACHR/ 500, 127NT/500, and 203SC/500, allow the observation of dozens of additional stars embedded in the nebula. Or consider the planetary nebula known as M57 (the "Ring Nebula") in the constellation Lyra. Visible through even the smallest Meade telescope, M57 is clearly defined in the Meade ETX, and becomes a splendid sight in larger telescopes, such as the Model 203SC/ 500. Long-exposure photographs of the Ring Nebula through Meade 8" models and larger reveal a faint central star that illuminates the gaseous ring.

3. Deep-Space

An island universe: the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Easily visible through all Meade telescopes, the galaxy resolves into a brilliant nucleus and glowing spiral arms in long exposure photographs through Meade 6" ED refractor photo by Jason Ware.

The Trifid Nebula (M20) is visible through small telescopes. Long exposure photography reveals the color and structure of the nebula. Photo by Jason Ware; Meade 16" LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.
Galaxies: Subdivided into spiral and elliptical types, galaxies are large islands of billions of stars located throughout the visible universe. From a practical point of view the number of galaxies in the universe is virtually uncountable. Bright galaxies abound in the night sky: the Andromeda Galaxy, seen without a telescope only as a fuzzy spot, blooms into a large elliptically-shaped field of apparently glowing gas (actually a grouping of more than 100 billion stars) through any Meade telescope; with the ETX or Model 4500 the galaxy's structure starts to become visible; photographed through a Meade 8" telescope (Models 203SC/500, 8" LX50, or 8" LX200), the Andromeda Galaxy is seen in wide extension, with the primary dust lanes in its spiral pattern prominently displayed.

It should be emphasized that the above listing only hints at the breadth of celestial objects within the view of any Meade telescope. The larger the telescope's main lens or mirror, the more detailed, the more resolved, the brighter will be all of the objects observed, from the Moon, to the planets, to deep-space galaxies. But even through the lens of the smallest Meade telescope, the Model 230, the night sky is transformed into a universe never before seen with the unaided eye. A Meade telescope of any aperture size permits the user to uncover some of the most stunning sights in all of nature and to observe these sights as most people never thought possible.

Locating Astronomical Objects: Finding objects for observation in the telescope requires only a modest knowledge of the sky, a knowledge that can be quickly and easily obtained from inexpensive Meade Star Charts, available in a large format for field use; or from Meade Epoch 2000sk astronomical software, perhaps the easiest means for learning the sky. Starting with the brighter constellations and objects, the novice observer finds that within one or two observing sessions at the telescope, he or she is "star hopping" from one, known, object to another, unknown, object with ease.

Photography Through the Telescope; Digital CCD Imaging
Photography of the Moon, planets, and deep-space objects adds an exciting dimension to any observing program, and, as demonstrated throughout the Meade website, many amateurs have achieved remarkable astrophotographic results, results which a few decades ago were possible only with large observatory telescopes. With a Meade Model 390, 395, 4500, or larger, telescope, optionally available photo adapters can be used with most 35mm SLR camera bodies for terrestrial photography or for photography of the Moon and planets. Long-exposure photography of deep-space galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters requires that the telescope be equipped with a motor drive and drive corrector.

Digital imaging of astronomical objects with the telescope by means of the CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) microchip has rapidly advanced in recent years. Meade CCD imagers permit the telescope user to take astronomical images, often in a minute or two, for viewing on the display of a personal computer. These images can then be processed to reveal nebular structures, for example, that are invisible in most astrophotographs.


All Meade telescopes can be used for a wide range of high-resolution terrestrial observing.
Terrestrial Observing: All Meade telescopes can be equally well applied for land-view applications as well as for astronomy, and in these cases the astronomical-quality optics generally outperform most telescopes designed exclusively for terrestrial use. Recognize the faces of people from more than one mile; study the feather structure of a bird from 50 yards; observe insects on a flower from 25 feet. Terrestrial applications of Meade telescopes are as limitless as your imagination.

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