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Meade LXD55 5-inch Refractor

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Date: 7-10-2002
Price: $699.99
Design: Traditional refractor featuring an f/9.3 optical system with a 127mm lens
Description: Large refractor that comes equipped with a GOTO capable equatorial mount, 8x50mm finder, and 26mm Super Plossl eyepiece.

Why I Bought This

I purchased this scope primarily for the GOTO LXD55 mount. The mount looks very similar to my CG-5 mount (which came with my Celestron G9.25) in terms of size and weight, although it may be ever so slightly beefier in the RA portion. The first thing I noticed about the mount was that it wasn't painted with the same beautiful glossy finish that my CG-5 has, which I have come to admire. The CG-5 mount is eminently more attractive and finished more professionally. The LXD55 mount that I received had many small scratches, nicks and paint imperfections in its powder coated type finish. I was quite disappointed with the overall visual fit and finish. This however, does not affect the mount's performance in pointing and tracking accuracy. The mount will keep an object in the FOV for over 45 minutes if left alone (provided you do a good polar alignment which is easy to do thanks to the good illuminated polar scope included). The other item worth noting is there are no manual knobs to allow you to control the scope without the motors as the CG-5 allows. I would have appreciated the option to use it manually if I wanted to use it without the motor's noise.

The GOTO accuracy of the Autostar controller and the LXD55 drives has also been excellent during the few times I've done a good polar alignment. The sound the motors makes during the alignment procedure and goto slewing is very loud and can be a problem if your neighbors leave their windows open and are trying to sleep. The drive motors sound like an electric hand drill during goto and alignment slewing! The slewing speed just under maximum speed is not nearly as loud and would be preferable to use when I'm observing from my apartment complex. Unfortunately though, the Autostar computer doesn't allow for the user to limit the maximum speed of the mount during alignment and goto, to the speed just under maximum. I'm hopeful that Meade will create a firmware update to address this wish. A lot of people will sleep easier because of it!

I have been pleasantly surprised with the optics of the OTA, and will not be selling the tube as I had initially planned on doing.

The objective lens has very nice green/purple coatings, very similar to the coatings on my excellent Meade Series 4000 26mm eyepieces made in Taiwan. The quality of the optics perceivable through the eyepiece are equally as impressive. The light throughput of this 5" scope reveals great images of M13, and M57. I also saw decent detail on M51 although the spiral arms weren't detectable. The combination of light throughput and contrast causes this scope to perform close to the DSO performance of my friend's 8" dob (which throws up a great image), but not quite. The dob will show a brighter image and bring a hint of the arms into view, but there is something special about the image quality in a good refractor. The pinpoint stars and contrasty images make for a very pleasing image. There is noticeable purple fringing on the brightest objects such as Vega which becomes more obvious the higher you go in magnification. At low powers the chromatic aberration is very minimal. The two times I was able to view Jupiter (low in the horizon) revealed an obvious purple halo around the limb of the planet. The purple halo didn't seem to affect the detail on the surface of the planet though, which showed decent banding and color within the bands. I thought I could barely make out the red spot as well during one observation but due to the low position relative to the horizon, the conditions weren't ideal to say the least. The small amount of chromatic aberration is something easily acceptable to me being that my G9.25 is my main scope and wouldn't expect even a fluorite APO 5" to out perform it on planets.

The focuser deserves some criticism. During focusing, the eyepiece and image will bob up and down depending on if you're focusing in or out. This effect can be minimized if you tighten the focusing lock-screw but causes the focus play to be too tight.

The supplied 1.25" mirror diagonal is of very low quality and is probably the worst single component of the LXD55 package. The supplied 26mm Plossl is excellent though.

Meade also loses a point for shipping a finder scope bracket and base plate that aren't compatible with each other! Because of this I have been unable to use the finder which makes sighting Polaris difficult. Meade's excellent and responsive customer service somewhat makes up for this manufacturing/QA problem. I'm told that the replacement bracket and base plate are being shipped to me FedEx 2nd day air. Meade should be congratulated on their excellent customer service.

Overall, despite my criticisms, this scope is an unbelievable value and comes highly recommended.

Submitted by Will Klein

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