I have always been fascinated by astrophotography. Whether it was pictures from the Hubble Telescope showing dozens of galaxies in one frame or those gorgeous side shots of the rings of Saturn or those time-lapse shots of the Milky Way over the desert. These pictures always spoke to me in a way I thought was beautiful and haunting.
This led me to explore getting into astrophotography for myself so I could take my own pictures of the night sky and space. I quickly ran into a problem. Telescopes that included astrophotography features were either very expensive or poorly made. I had the option of getting a basic telescope with a cheap plastic tray to set my phone on to try and take a picture that way or a telescope that cost thousands of dollars.
This was discouraging but a little more research led me to something interesting. The Meade Instruments 205004 ETX90 Observer Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope came with a feature that I knew was exactly what I was looking for. It was a flip mirror system that allows for double viewing. One for me, and one for my camera.
The Meade Instruments 205004 ETX90 Observer is a 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope that comes with a fully computerized go-to mounting system and a database of thousands of objects that it can track and find for you. This will allow any budding astronomer, interested in astrophotography or just interested in the night sky, to get an easy grasp on thousands of objects in the sky without too much hassle. Advanced knowledge and skills are not required to unlock all of the wonders of space with this telescope.
Meade Instruments ETX90 Observer Specs
- 90mm primary aperture
- 1250mm focal length
- f/13.8 focal ratio
- 180x highest useful magnification
Dual Viewing for Astrophotography
The thing that initially drew me to this telescope was the ability to have a camera attached to the scope and still be able to view it meaning I could see what my camera was seeing. This was a great feature that allowed me to really hone in on my astrophotography. As a beginner, this really helped me tweak and learn my craft in a way that most other telescopes would not allow me to do.
If you are trying to get a great shot of Saturn, now you can attach your camera, look through your eyepiece, and make sure that the telescope is lined up properly and in focus before snapping the perfect picture. On other telescopes with single eyepieces you would have to set up the telescope, attach the camera and take the picture and hope that in the process, the telescope did not move out of alignment and focus.
This could be frustrating for anyone if it does not work out exactly right. This removes the guessing game that can be a huge hindrance to anyone trying to dabble in astrophotography. This feature is smart and it works well.
Computerized Go-To Mount With Object Database and Audio Tour
The other big draw to the Meade Instruments 205004 ETX90 Observer Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope is the inclusion of a computerized mount that works in conjunction with the database of celestial objects. This means that the telescope can be told to find a certain object and it will automatically locate it and track it. All you have to do is wait for it to finish and then look through the eyepiece at the desired object.
Is astrophotographers possible?
This is also great for potential astrophotographers as they can plug in whatever object they want to try and photograph and the telescope will do all of the legwork allowing you to focus on the photography aspects.
This is also great for beginners who are not familiar with the night sky and could get frustrated trying to line up their telescope with the objects they’re trying to find. Some objects can be difficult to track because of their size or distance requiring very fine motor skills and knowledge to line up perfectly. With this system that is no longer an issue.
As a bonus, Meade also included an audio tour of the sky. With four hours of recorded information, this telescope can give you an educational tour of the objects in the sky which can be perfect for families, school groups or stargazing parties. This is a unique touch that highlights the amount of technology Meade has put into this telescope.
However, some users reported issues with the software as it shipped with the telescope. The database needs proper alignment in order to function, as do the audio tour feature and some people reported issues with getting the alignment to synch up with the database. This is frustrating because that is a software issue that can hamper the function of this telescope. This problem was not widely reported but it did show up enough to warrant mentioning.
Accessories and Addons
Meade has also included some useful accessories and addons that add value to this telescope kit. One of the best parts of choosing a telescope kit is finding out what kind of nifty accessories the manufacturer has decided to include.
- Two eyepieces
- Red dot viewfinder
- Removable tube assembly
- Carrying case
- AutoStar software bundle
None of the accessories included are particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary but together they make up a standard accessory kit. The viewfinder is useful to have in general but with the go-to mount, you probably won’t be using it as often as if you didn’t have a computerized mount.
The dual eyepieces are standard but not super valuable. This kit does not include any extra magnifiers like a Barlow lens or a focuser. All in all, it adds some value by giving you the accessory setup you would expect from a telescope at this price point but it will not rock the boat.
If the astrophotography angle is not something that interests you then you might not need to invest in the Meade Instruments 205004 ETX90 Observer Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope. There are a couple of similar telescopes in this price point that can offer similar features without the astrophotography dual mirror system which adds some extra cost.
If you like this telescope but don’t want to spend the extra money for the astrophotography features you can drop down to the ETX80 which is extremely similar but comes in at a lower price. It still includes most of the computerized features including the database.
If you like the idea of a computerized telescope but do not want to deal with the risk of getting a lemon in terms of the software you can check out the Celestron SE series of computerized go-to telescopes. They also boast a large database but have reported fewer issues with their software.
If you are getting into astrophotography and that is a niche that interests you then this telescope is great. The dual viewing features make getting into astrophotography extremely easy by eliminating some of the biggest frustrations with the field for novices. It works as intended and is able to give you some great shots with a camera.
There aren’t many telescopes geared towards astrophotography, especially beginner photographers that aren’t super expensive or poorly made. This telescope is neither.
However, you are not interested in astrophotography then this telescope can safely be passed by. For a similar price or cheaper price, there are telescopes that are just as good if not better than the Meade Instruments 205004 ETX90 Observer Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope including their own ETX80 model. The main draw to this model is the dual viewing ports for photographic purposes.
Without that, as a key focus, the other features of this telescope do not justify the price. This telescope gets decent reviews but they are not phenomenal. Most of the poor reviews stem from the software having issues.
Software and technology issues are some of the most frustrating to have because they are issues that a user cannot generally fix on their own. If there is a physical problem with the telescope it could be as simple as replacing a part or fiddling with an internal piece. Instead, you are forced to deal with Meade’s customer service to deal with software problems.
I do not know if Meade’s customer service is good or not as I never had to deal with them but the risk of spending all of this money and then having the potential of sitting on the phone to get it fixed before you can even try it out might be too much for some people to swallow.
If you get lucky and don’t have the problems then this could be one of the Best Budget Telescopes on the market today.Check Latest Price