Meade 8 LX200 ACF Telescope Review

You may have drooled over the LX200 series once upon a time, and now that you have discovered credit cards, owning one might just be a reality.

The 8 inch LX200 ACF is one of the affordable models of the LX series of telescopes.

But, is it really an SCT (Schmidt Cassegrain)?

What does ACF mean?

We get into the details about the LX200 and determine if it’s worth the high price.

For a telescope over $2000, you best be doing your homework on it!

Zooming in…

✔️ Best Feature: ACF optics

Worst Feature: SCT Limitations

👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Astrophotography, Intermediates, Experts

  • Optical Design: Schmidt Cassegrain
  • Aperture: 8”
  • Focal Length: 2000 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/10
  • Eyepieces Included: 26 mm

Our Verdict: The Meade 8 LX200 allows you to see more with excruciating detail that you may not have anticipated. Be ready for a breathtaking experience. With accurate GoTo tracking, the huge AutoStar II database, and the optical system made for extraordinary imaging, the LX200 is a winner in our books.

Who is the Meade 8 LX200 ACF Best Suited to?

The Meade LX ACF telescope is best recommended for intermediate and expert users. While its price may be attractive to the beginner who is looking for their next serious upgrade to take their astro-imaging skills to the next level, the slower optics and limitations of this SCT design may require a bigger investment than first impressions may imply.

With additional must-have equipment needed to excel in astrophotography, there is a legitimate concern for budget, and while the LX200 may be a good deal in the optics itself, you must be prepared to spend more for accessories and ensure you have compatible camera equipment to take advantage of the focal specs.

How Does the Meade 8 LX200 ACF Perform?

The Meade LX200 telescopes have been a dream scope for many and for good reason. The 8 LX200 may be the smallest model, but its 8” aperture is large enough for those who are upgrading, and it provides the lightest weight.

It’s an 8”, f/10 telescope with an ACF optical system that provides a flatter field, no diffraction spikes, and minimized astigmatism. What does that translate to out in the skies? You can fill your FOV for a fantastic view of clear and sharp star details from edge to edge without coma or aberrations.

High magnification from 100x to 400x is completely usable with excellent resolution and sharpness. For example, M15, M27, M76, and M74 are identifiable and observable with clarity and awe-inspiring, high-contrast views. Want to see Uranus as more than just a distant emerald? Pump up the power and see it in all its 3D glory.

Needless to say, the Meade 8 LX200 performs.

Features & Benefits

ACF Optics

ACF stands for Advanced Coma Free optics – Schmidt Cassegrain with a twist. The original LX models had Schmidt Cassegrain OTAs, but with ACF, a hyperbolic secondary mirror is used to counteract for coma for a flatter field. Meade claims this system provides aplanatic performance not unlike a Ritchy-Chetein system, but it is unclear if the primary mirror is a parabolic or hyperbolic one.

When it comes down to it, both visual and imaging quality is excellent. The aberration-free system and optical system provides outstanding resolution that excels in wide-field, planetary, and astro-imaging performance. Yes – not only can you see planets; you can see its features and satellites with more detail and clarity with the LX200. 

GoTo & AutoStar II

Computerized control is thanks to the AutoStar II hand control system. It allows access to a database of over 145,000 objects that includes satellite data, DSO catalogs, and even a built-in GPS system. With its smart tech sensors, it will automatically figure out where you are in the world and will proceed with auto-alignment.

AutoStar II – the computer’s brain, is housed at the base of a cast-aluminum double tine fork mount. Attached to the standard field tripod with adjustable legs, the mount is an Alt-azimuth mount, but it can also be used in equatorial mounting alignment. It can be controlled mechanically and electronically.

With a Smart Mount, Smart Drive, and nine slew speeds, the GoTo is very accurate and puts the desired object right within the FOV, of course, especially so with lower power eyepieces.

Astrophotography

The LX200 is well suited to astrophotography. You can do both piggybacking and prime focus photography depending on your camera equipment, accessories, and skill level. For long-exposure imaging, you’ll likely need a wedge, perform a One-Star polar alignment, and definitely a cable operated shutter release. 

PEC (Periodic Error Correction) training can be done in both Alt-az and EQ alignments to allow for high precision astro imaging. The Meade telescope is also compatible with their Deep Sky Imager (DSI) and AutoStar Suite. The DSI is a planetary CCD camera that allows you to use software for your PC to take photos.

The DSI and AutoStar Suite is a separate purchase. Other accessories you may need include a T-adapter, piggyback brackets, off-axis guider, and more.

Portable

The 8” model is certainly not the most lightweight telescope system around for its aperture, but it’s the lightest out of the LX200 lot. The telescope system weighs 46 lbs and the tripod weighs 20 lbs. Without additional accessories, you already have a combined weight of 66 lbs.

It’s not going to be easy to haul out, but it’s definitely more doable than its larger siblings whereas the 16” model (only double the aperture) weighs 318 lbs! In that sense, the 8” is conveniently portable. 

Limitations

SCT Limitations

Yes, there are some downsides to the SCT, but the gain provides so much more for those who are willing to have a long-lasting and high-performance telescope system. Some things to be aware of is the need to purchase additional equipment for serious and professional astrophotography and visual use.

This is not unlike other telescope buys where more gear is required. Such things may include a wedge, focal reducer, additional eyepieces and astro-imaging equipment, and an anti-dew system.

More experienced observers and imagers will invest in having the right equipment that is able to make the most out of the LX200. This includes the type of camera used as the long focal length and moderately slow optics can be a huge challenge for beginners as tracking, autoguiding, and periodic error have their roles.

Popular Questions

Can the Meade LX200 be used for Terrestrial Viewing?

Yes! With the diagonal prism, images will not be upside down, but they will still be reversed. To obtain a correctly oriented image, you must purchase an erecting prism that allows for viewing land-based objects as you would normally see them. It’s best to use low power eyepieces like the 25 mm one that is included due to mirage that degrades viewing quality.

Can You Manually Slew the Meade LX OTA by hand?

Yes! Slow motion controls can be done electronically via the hand control or mechanically. To manually slew by hand, you must loosen the R.A. and Dec. locks to allow the tube to move freely within the mount. Provide support the tube since releasing the Dec. lock could allow it to free-swing within the fork arms.

Position the object you wish to observe within the viewfinder’s crosshairs and then center it with the eyepiece. Tighten down the R.A. and Dec. locks. As a reminder, the primary mirror has its own lock to prevent movement when focusing with high power. Ensure it’s loose before focusing.

What is Smart Drive?

Smart Drive is the name for the PEC (Periodic Error Correction) technology. Due to the imperfection of worm gears, Smart Drive is needed to correct for periodic error.

Why is this important?

Periodic error interferes with imaging since inconsistent tracking rates, sometimes due to the slewing of worm gears as they make their rotations, makes for inaccurate tracking which results in less than best photos.

What Accessories are Included with the LX200?

The OTA, AutoStar II hand controller, double fork arm mount, and tripod are included. A 25 mm Series 4000 Super Plossl eyepiece, 1.25” diagonal mirror, and an 8×50 viewfinder with crosshair reticle are also included. The focuser that comes standard with the OTA is a single-speed focuser.

What is the Warranty on the Meade 8 LX200?

The manufacturer warranty provides 1-year protection on defects in materials and workmanship. The warranty starts from the date of purchase and is not transferable. You should be aware that if you do not remove your batteries from the fork arms (4x in each arm) while the scope is not in use and damage occurs, it voids the warranty. Be sure to remove the 8x batteries when observation is complete. You may want to consider buying a 12V power supply.

Conclusion

The Meade 8 LX200 is an incredible telescope for the money.

Yes, it’s expensive in the $2000-$2500 range, but it’s made for those who want more out of their scope and imaging. As is, it has great value, but you must consider the fact that you will need more accessories to get the most out of it.

If you have deep pockets or are willing to invest in what should be a serious hobby, this telescope may just be for you.

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