Telescope Reviews: Meade 2120 LX-6

Telescope: Meade 2120 LX-6
Type: Catadioptric
Description: 2500mm f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain, 8x50 achromat finder, 26mm eyepiece, approx $2000 CAD used.
Setup: This scope has been out of production for years and has been superceded by the LX-200 series. However, my friend Chris owns a pristine example of the 2120 on the LX-6 mount. His scope has integrated digital setting circles, both RA and Dec motors and a hand controller. He also has the Meade focal reducer, a bunch of eyepieces and a Meade Dew Shield. I've had the opportunity to use his scope on many occasions over the years, but just recently he asked me to run a quick star test on it and share what I thought.
Appearance: First off, this scope is SOLID. The LX-6 mount is very sturdy, and the fork mount assembly sits on a beefy wedge. You can practically swing off the visual back without disturbing this scope. The trade off is that the whole rig is HEAVY and it takes a while to set up. It's right on the border between being a one and two person job. The optical tube assembly still has a nice glossy finish to it's blue paint. The optics themselves are in fantastic shape - the multi-coatings on the corrector lens are still smooth with no splotching. The mirror is showing no signs of degredation, even though this scope is probably close to 20 years old. The motors are so quiet, it's hard to tell if they're running. I haven't had a chance to try out slewing with the motors, but I'm willing to bet they're quieter than the dentist drill shrill of the LX-200's motors! The focuser is super smooth and it's easy to get fine focus with just about any eyepiece. Overall the construction of this scope is excellent and the appearance is very good.
Performance: The night of the star test wasn't perfect (about 6 out of 10 for seeing) but it was good enough to quickly evaluate the optics. The star test shows that the collimation is spot on, and the optics show no evidence of astigmatism, coma or roughness. The views are exactly what you'd expect from a 10 inch SCT - sharp and clear. The views of Jupiter and Saturn are highly detailed, and there's subtle detail improvements over similar 8 inch scopes. The scope itself is fairly easy to use, although sometimes you wind up in awkward positions trying to line up the scope with targets at zenith and due south (this is a common issue for most EQ mounts and fork mounted SCT's in particular). I love the smoothness of all the controls, and especially the quiet operation of the RA motor. My old ETX used to grind like a coffee grinder when tracking objects. This LX-6 is so quiet you don't realize the motor is running! Set up and tear down are a bit of a chore, simply due to the weight of the equipment. But once set up, the views are worth it!
Pros:
  • Tack sharp optics
  • Large aperture in a fairly portable package
  • Rock solid mount
  • Quiet tracking motors
  • Tons of accessories available
  • Awesome at deepsky and planetary viewing
  • An inexpensive alternative to new 10" SCT's
Cons:
  • Bulk may be more than average observer can handle
Conclusions: Overall, this is a great scope. It's about as portable as a fast focal ratio 10" Dob, yet it's much more flexible (EQ mount, motor tracking, photo applications, long focal length makes high power easily). Because of the age of these units, potential purchases will want to carefully check out the optics and the mechanical operation.
 
The bottom line? Recommended (Affordable big aperture SCT with great optics)
Reviewer: Rick Towns
Review Date: 9/2/2003