How to Focus a Meade LX200 GPS Telescope

Written by gerry arlen good
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How to Focus a Meade LX200 GPS Telescope
The moon is a great object on which to learn to focus a telescope. (moon image by Christian De Grandmaison from Fotolia.com)

Owning a Meade LX200 GPS telescope will give you the opportunity to view magnificent sights in the night sky, including planets, nebulae, star clusters and many other objects not visible to the naked eye. Before you can begin your visual journey, you must bring the telescope lens system to a sharp, crisp focus. This takes a little practice and some patience, but the rewards are well worth the effort. It's best to focus a telescope on something big and bright, like . . . the moon!

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Select a night when the moon is visible. Set up the Meade LX200 GPS telescope in a dark area, away from street lights and objects that may block the night sky. Select the widest field-of-view ocular (eyepiece) that you have (two are supplied with the telescope). Eyepieces come in sizes marked by their focal length in millimetres. Pick the eyepiece with the largest number, such as 25mm or 32mm.

  2. 2

    Place the eyepiece holder in the telescope. Insert the eyepiece into the holder. Lock the eyepiece into place by using the small finger and thumb screw found along the side of the holder.

  3. 3

    Point the telescope toward the moon while looking into the eyepiece. The bright, unfocused moon will be easy to detect against the black sky but will not be clear or sharp. When the unfocused moon is seen through the eyepiece, lock the telescope movement controls so that the telescope remains pointed toward the moon and does not shift when you release the telescope.

  4. 4

    Begin focusing by slowly turning the focusing knob on the telescope, first clockwise, then counterclockwise, until the moon begins to come into focus. On the Meade LX200 GPS telescope, the focusing knob is located next to the eyepiece holder.The earth is moving while you are focusing so the moon will slowly drift out of view. Make slight adjustment to the telescope to keep the moon within the field of view of the eyepiece.

  5. 5

    Adjust the focus knob until the moon is as sharp as you can get it. Remember, the moon is a sphere and the edges are farther away than the centre of the moon. You may need to refocus as you move from viewing the centre to viewing the edges of the moon.

  6. 6

    Switch to higher power eyepieces (such as 12mm or 9mm) by centring another object of interest and then switching eyepieces. After switching eyepieces, a slight amount of refocus will be needed. The motion of the earth will also become very apparent at high magnification, so you will need to readjust the position of the telescope frequently to follow the moon.

  7. 7

    Switch to deep-sky objects such as distant planets, star clusters or nebulae after you become familiar with focusing on the moon. Use wide-field eyepieces to get to the general area, then switch to high-power eyepieces after you centre the object of interest.

Tips and warnings

  • To reduce heat currents that form inside a warm telescope, set up your telescope outside and allow it to cool down for about 20 minutes before using. Heat currents inside a telescope interfere with getting a sharp focus.
  • Use a small stool to sit on while observing. You'll be more comfortable.
  • Never view the sun through a telescope without special solar filters because this can permanently blind you.

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