Need help with a garage sale find
Posted 30 April 2013 - 12:48 PM
Two days ago I unintentionally ended up at a garage sale and came home with a once well loved Meade 70AZ-AR 70mm Altazimuth Refractor for my 11 year old. Its missing its lens caps and only has one 25mm eyepiece but for $10 I'm not going to complain. Especially since other then some dust it appears to be fully functional. Since, at least as far as I can tell from general googling, it doesn't appear to still be in production/generally available anymore I was hoping to get some advice on accessories for this, particularly replacement caps and maybe a second or third eyepiece to play with or a good case to keep it in when not in use.
Also because it is a used scope that appears to have just been left sitting in a garage for a few years unused I was wondering if there is any kind of special maintenance I should perform or anything in general I should look for/be aware of that might cause problems. Since I've bought it it's been overcast and rainy so I haven't been able to really take it out and try it other then some terrestrial viewing at my parents farm but so far I haven't noticed any issues. Images are clear and crisp and all moving parts move well/don't stick. There does seem to be a little dust on the end noticeable when looking through it thanks to the missing lens cap but I was thinking to just blow that off with a canned air duster.
Any help or recommendations are greatly appreciated. Cheers!
Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:57 PM
I was writing a long response to your post. Getting right to the end, something happened and I lost the whole thing. I will have to get back with you later.
For now, you have a good scope, most likely. Blow the dust off and look for any obvious things that look or feel wrong. Try scopehed1 or lipstickonapig on eBay for a lens cap and eyepieces.
Check the scope over and let me know of anything that is questionable to you. Especially, look for scratches on the lens, a lot of wobble in the focuser tube, and the rack and pinion of the focuser not working correctly.
I have several posts about doing things to the present Meade 70 mm refractor and some other sizes to make them better. I think I posted them in this section, but am not sure without doing a search. A lot of what I say in those posts would apply to your scope as well.
Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:31 PM
As far as eyepieces go, the MA eyepieces are not bad for starting out and probably what is more in line with your present expectations, considering the purchase price of the scope. You can normally find these on eBay in roughly the $15 range.
Personally, I am purchasing the Meade 4000 series plossles for the NG 70 telescopes that I am buying for my grandchildren and my sister's grandchildren as they reach the age of eight. I am getting them a 32,20, 15 and 12.4 mm eyepieces and a 2X shorty barlow (Meade #126). I am pretty used to buying eyepieces and want each child to have a good enough set to keep them from being frustrated from not being able to find things or see things properly. I am probably going overboard, but they will have a set that will last them a very long time, through any number of scopes.
Now I am going to get eyepiece nerdy:
You may want to consider Meade's MA eyepieces, which is probably what you have with your 25mm. The MA is a three element eyepiece while the plossles are four. The apparent field of view (the width of the observing area as it looks to you through the eyepiece) of the MA eyepieces are at most 45 degrees and may be as low as 40. With the plossles, all but the 32 mm are 52 degrees and the 32mm actually has about 50. The 32 mm takes in something like 2.3 degrees of actual sky and really helps out when trying to find things. There is a 40mm, but it does not get quite the contrast, has a narrower apparent field of view at 44 degrees and really does not gain you much in field width.
I normally like to step down in size with the next shorter focal length being something around 60% of the preceding one. Starting with your 25 mm MA, I would then go down to a 15mm if you can find one. Meade does make a 17 mm that works out pretty well. The next one down would be a 9 mm. A 9 mm is probably what came with the scope along with the 25 mm. But, going from 25 mm to 9 is a pretty big step. They make a 6 mm, but I am not sure about the quality of the view, but it would give you a magnification over 100X, which the scope is capable of. You might want to consider picking up a 2X shorty barlow, like what I mentioned sometime and use that with other eyepieces.
Meade has made a set of MA eyepieces that came with some scopes a while back that you can find sometimes on eBay. The set comes with 25, 20, 17, 12, and 6 mm. I took out the 20, shifted the 17 and 12mm up a notch, and stuck in a 9 mm for what I consider a better set. The set itself is normally priced in the $60 range, give or take a little, and comes in a nice plastic box with a cutout piece of foam to hold eyepieces. With you already having the 25 mm, the set might not be the way to go and just buy a few that you want instead.
Before I forget, as you get shorter and shorter with the focal length, the distance between your eye and the eyepiece (called eye relief) gets shorter. With a six mm eyepiece, you are really getting close and some people do not like it. I am not sure about MA eyepieces, but with plossles below about 8 mm, the performance of the design starts falling off. Using a barlow and a longer focal length eyepiece gives a better view. I highly recommend the Meade #126 2X Barlow and am having better and better feelings about the #128 3X as I become accustomed to one. I use a #126 all the time with my small refractors and like it a lot.
Well, I have probably hit you with enough. Please reply back with questions. Either I or someone else will answer back.
Everyone else, please voice your ideas and opinions.
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