The LX70-8r is an 8 inch Newtonian reflector with a focal ratio of f/5 in the LX70 series of scopes. I titled this post "First Impressions" because I have not had decent enough weather to give this telescope a full shake down. This is my second Meade telescope; the first being a Polaris 130. When I purchased my LX70-8r, I also purchased the drive motor kit and the polar alignment scope. I will review these separately in another post.
The OTA is big - a meter long and about 10.5 inches in diameter. However, the weight is very manageable. The focuser is smooth and the tension is adjustable. It requires adapters (included) for both 1.25 and 2 inch eyepieces. The spider for the secondary mirror is adjustable. The main mirror lock screws and adjustment screws are designed for fingers. The primary mirror appears to be of excellent quality, however, I have done no testing except for actual viewing. The mirror is center-marked, so collimating with a Cheshire or laser collimator is easy. When my scope arrived, both secondary and primary mirrors required adjustment. The optics in the spotting scope are excellent.
I am particularly impressed with the quality of the equatorial mount and tripod. So far, I get enough height without extending the tripod legs, which are rock-solid. I get very little vibration! The equatorial mount is smooth on both axes. The scope comes with two counter weights and both are needed due to the weight of the OTA and eyepieces (especially 2 inch).
I have not yet used the drive motors, because the DEC motor's mounting plate nut was machined incorrectly. Meade replaced it with no problems, although it took a bit of time. I have not used the polar alignment scope either. However, the polar alignment scope has a reticle with three constellations etched in it. It should be a breeze to get an accurate polar alignment.
I think it is appropriate to mention why I chose this telescope. I was not unhappy with my Polaris 130, but after seeing and using a Meade LX200 10 inch and 12 inch telescope, I was attracted to a computer controlled scope. Then, I got to thinking about perhaps the most important feature of a telescope: light gathering capability. A 6 inch mirror has about 28.3 square inches of surface area. An 8 inch mirror has 50.3 square inches of surface area. That is nearly double! In my price range, I would not be able to afford a computer controlled scope that had much in the way of mirror size; certainly less than 6 inches. Secondly, a big part of my interest in astronomy is learning how to find objects (star hopping) as well as the science behind them. Dialing in objects is very convenient, but I much prefer doing it manually. Interestingly enough, some of the members in my small astronomy club that have go-to scopes, have little conception or understanding of the stellar coordinate system and the motions in the universe. I am not faulting these individuals, nor is their interest in astronomy any less than mine; it is just different. Anyway, 8 inches gives me some significant light gathering, and I favored that over the convenience of dialing in objects.
As stated, 8 inch Newtonians are big! However, this scope is highly portable and takes only a few minutes to set up. I think Meade did an excellent job in creating a telescope series in the LX70 price range. The quality per dollar is exceptional! I think once word gets around about this scope, sales are going to skyrocket, if they haven't already. As a matter of fact, I highly recommend to Meade that they create an LX70 series forum. I am amazed that it doesn't already exist.