Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Meade Lightbridge 130 - Long Term Review - Part 1

Around October of 2016 I picked up a pair of Vanguard 8x42 binoculars to do some stargazing in Whittier NC at a cabin we rented. While the 8x42 binos were great for stargazing and meteor shower observation, a 7° FOV wasn’t enough to allow my lovely girlfriend and I to see anything super interesting. 

Fast forward about 9 months and I was thinking about visiting the mountains again in the fall. Knowing I wouldn’t see anything life changing with my binos I started researching telescopes. I considered the pros and cons of various scopes from small 90mm Maks on goto mounts to large 10” collapsible Dobs. I landed in the middle on a 5” reflector type telescope, aimed squarely at noobs, the Meade Lightbridge 130 .

Why did I choose the Meade Lightbridge 130mm over the vast array of other options?

First, I wanted a grab-n-go scope, something that I could plop behind the seat in my Tacoma and drive to a viewing site. I didn't want to fool with the alignment of a goto or equatorial mount when I decided to grab-n-go. The Dobsonian style Alt-Az mount is great for aligning a target and looking with no setup. Here is a basic formula that I wrote that explains the benefits of grab-n-go.

(Grab-N-Go) + (Wine and Cheese) + (Girl Friend) = Darn Good Night

The Lightbridge 130 cost around 200 bones on the street. The 130mm aperture of the scope combined with the fairly wide 650mm focal length results in a fairly bright scope for the money. More aperture means more light and more light means you see more stuff when you narrow the focus of the scope. 

Lastly, The optical tube assembly seemed to be of sufficient quality that it would benefit from other upgrades, new eyepieces, new finder, a nice 2x barlow, longer dovetail, and ultimately a better mount. All of the items displaced by upgrades are so cheap they're marginally serviceable. As a result, I won't feel bad replacing those parts with high quality components that I can carry forward or share with another scope.

I'll stop here and discuss my first impressions and basic use of the scope in the next post. Until then, may you have happy days and clear skies.

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