Are you looking for a telescope that significantly reduces aberrations that are a natural cause of some telescope optical systems?
A Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with some important changes may be what you need.
The Meade LX90 ACF telescope answers that call.
It’s a telescope that can be considered the jack-of-all-trades.
For both visual and astrophotography performance, GoTo capability, and coma-free viewing, it’s a telescope worth knowing more about.
Meade LX90 ACF 8 inch Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: ACF optics
❌ Worst Feature: Tripod confusion
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Limited Astrophotography, Intermediates
- Optical Design: Schmidt-Cassegrain
- Aperture: 8”
- Focal Length: 2000 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/10
- Eyepieces Included: 26 mm
My Verdict: In my opinion the Meade LX90 ACF telescope is an excellent telescope and a serious one for a buyer looking for a long-term, GoTo setup. With coma-free optics and stellar performance for both visual and imaging, the LX90 is an all-round performer.
Who is the Meade LX90 ACF Best Suited to?
I believe the Meade LX90 is not a first-time telescope for a true newbie, however, it’s an excellent upgrade for the beginner who is looking for a serious scope with GoTo and possible upgrading for full astrophotography benefits.
Intermediate level users will quickly adapt to the LX90, but there is still a learning curve required. I think serious astro imaging users will find the scope limiting, but additional accessories will bring out its full potential.
Even though I think this premium telescope is an expensive buy, its quality build, GoTo, and coma-free optics provide value. This deep-sky stargazing telescope is for the developing beginner and the intermediate user looking for a reliable, high-performing astronomy instrument.
How Does the Meade LX90 ACF Perform?
Exactly as advertised. The Meade is an SCT telescope with ACF optical components. Even though the primary mirror is a spherical one, it’s a non-issue due to its focal specs and its spherical and coma-free benefits thanks to its optical design.
With the LX90, you can expect stellar performance on DSOs that includes constellations, galaxies, nebulae, open clusters, and more – and all without aberrations that includes chromatic and spherical. With a limiting magnitude of 14, there is plenty to explore. Open clusters like M36, M37, and M38 can be seen with magnificence. Galaxies M3, M13, M81, M82, and more through the LX90 offer spectacular views, and it performs superbly for lunar and planetary observation.
Features & Benefits
ACF stands for Advanced Coma Free. What’s the big deal? Coma is an optical aberration that distorts off-axis objects. These objects are away from the center of the field of view and closer to the edges.
Objects, especially point sources, appear with small trails or are distorted in a way that negatively affects imaging and viewing details of stars, open clusters, and other DSOs. With an ACF optical system, coma is significantly reduced to provide clear and sharp images with no color degradation or diffraction spikes. How did Meade do that?
The optical path is a Schmidt-Cassegrain (SC) even though the glass components are often compared to a Ritchey-Chretien (RC) design. The RC allows for coma-free viewing, but instead of using two hyperbolic mirrors, the ACF system uses a full aperture aspheric corrector lens directly behind a hyperbolic secondary mirror and a spherical primary mirror.
The primary mirror is also oversized, so it helps to bring more off-axis light to the eye. The result? Optics that deliver outstanding coma-free performance as advertised.
UHTC stands for Ultra High Transmission Coatings. Not only is glass important when you manufacture an optic, so are the coatings. Coatings reduce reflections and increase the rate of light transmission. Meade incorporates these coatings in a multi-layer process to improve light transmission up to 15%. You get a better and brighter image of sky bodies.
AutoStar Hand Control
The brain of the entire GoTo system is the AutoStar computer. It has a 30,000+ database, GPS receiver with 16 channels, and SmartDrive with Periodic Error Correction. Initial alignment couldn’t be easier. Upon startup, simply enter the AutoAlign command and the GPS system and the drive’s technology module will do the rest.
Mount & Tripod
The tripod is the same that is equipped on the LX200 series. It’s strong, has easy-to-use adjustable lengths, and each leg has a lever locking handle for durability and support. The mount is made from cast-aluminum with double-tine forks. It provides alt-azimuth movement, but with a wedge, it can also provide equatorial movement for tracking and imaging.
It offers multiple slew speeds, has mechanical locks, and slow-motion controls for both axes if manual motion is desired. The system can be powered by an external power supply or batteries.
Astrophotography is a field of its own. Excellent photographs have been taken with the LX90 ACF, but with an alt-azimuth mount, even with GoTo, field rotation will present tracking issues. As is, short exposures under three minutes is allowable.
To upgrade the system for longer exposures and images of DSOs, you’ll need to acquire additional accessories such as an equatorial wedge, an off-axis autoguider, and other accessories. For an LX model that is suited for astrophotography, consider the Meade LX200 ACF telescope.
It appears there are many buyers that don’t receive a tripod with their LX90 ACF telescope purchase. Often, the telescope and the tripod arrive in two separate boxes, and it seems some vendors often neglect the shipping of the included tripod. This has led to the confusion that the LX90 lacks a tripod in the buy.
To clarify, Meade supplies a standard field tripod that weighs 19 lb and is 30”-44” in height with all their LX90 telescopes. Buying through trusted retailers will provide confidence in the buy and that you will receive the tripod.
Other Telescopes to Consider
The LX90 ACF is one of our favorite stargazing telescopes so if you want it for that purpose I recommend taking a look at some comparable telescopes as well to ensure you get the best telescope for your needs. They are the Celestron Omni XLT 150 and the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX102 AZ.
A 26 mm Super Plossl eyepiece is the only eyepiece included with the LX90. It provides 77x magnification with excellent wide-field views. A 16-channel GPS receiver, 1.25” diagonal prism, and 8×50 finder with a 5-degree field of view are also included in the package with the LX90 telescope.
No computer is required to align the telescope. The AutoStar features an automatic alignment that incorporates the GPS receiver to extract your location and time and align the tube with North. The hand control offers features that allow you to use the scope as a self-contained system without requiring a computer for use.
Yes! The AutoStar has a feature that allows you to input the R.A. and Dec. coordinates of an object and the GoTo will slew in place to put the object within the field of view. Obviously, the coordinates must be known beforehand. Research online, libraries, and astronomer books and magazines to find the coordinates of objects not already loaded into the AutoStar database.
The LX90 comes with a 1.25” diagonal but also requires an erecting prism to provide a fully corrected oriented image for terrestrial use. With these accessories, you can view land-based objects through the telescope. Extremely high magnification and a phenomenon called mirage can distort and destroy viewing quality. Use a lower power eyepiece to widen the field of view.
Meade offers a 1-year warranty on the LX90 ACF telescope. The warranty starts from the date of purchase and is not owner transferable. There are conditions to keeping the warranty intact. Actions such as removing the corrector plate from its cell, unauthorized repairs, and normal wear-and-tear are not covered under the warranty.
In my opinion the Meade LX90 ACF is a high-performing telescope that allows you to see more lunar and planetary details as well as DSOs in all their brilliance.
I think its an excellent visual telescope with the potential to offer full astrophotography benefits. Although it’s not as large as its siblings in the series, it’s more compact and mobile.
I believe the 8” LX90 is a good balance between cost, size, and performance.