The Meade Instruments S102mm Refractor Telescope is one of the largest refractors on the market today. Most basic refractor telescopes are between 70mm and 90mm in size for their objective lens. This one comes in at 102mm which gives it a big leg up in terms of power.
This is a great telescope kit for beginner astronomers, people who like refractors but are looking for more light gathering capability or those who like to use accessories with their telescopes. This is a very solid base from which to build the ultimate refractor telescope and it’s portable to boot.
- Refractor telescope
- 102mm (4”) objective lens
- f/5.9 focal ratio
- 9lbs assembled weight
Meade Instruments have had their ups and downs but when it comes to refractor telescopes, they are usually on their game. This is another example of a solid package, well designed that can offer a lot.Check Latest Price
Large Refractor Offering Large Views
Refractors regularly lag behind their reflective cousins in terms of light gathering ability and raw magnification power. That is due to design differences but many people tend to simply gravitate away from refractors because of their lower magnification without giving them a fair shot. If you have been down on refractors in the past and are curious about the benefits of a powerful version then this is a great model for you to jump back in with and try out.
The 102mm objective lens translates to a full four inches of light gathering diameter which is on part with many of the basic reflector telescopes on the market. Unlike many refractors, the large objective lens, and the relatively short focal length (600mm) creates a low focal ratio which makes this refractor a little more versatile than its competition.
This allows you to get some truly great views of distant nebulas, galaxies, star clusters, and more. The low focal ratio plays into the Meade Instruments S102mm Refractor Telescope strengths by downplaying its weaknesses.
Generally, refractors have higher focal ratios and are more geared towards viewing single brighter objects which highlights the chromatic aberration that is present in refractors due to the physics of their design. By widening the field of view with this telescope, you are going to get less bright single spots of light to focus on which will cut down on the aberration seen.
That means you can get views more similar to those found in reflectors while still getting all of the great benefits of a refractor.
What Can You See?
This telescope is going to be able to show you a lot for a fairly affordable price. You are going to be able to get excellent views of bright, deep sky objects such as Andromeda, and the Crab Nebula. It will also be able to give decent views of nearby planets such as Mars and Saturn, depending on the conditions at the time.
Not only that, but this telescope can also be used as a terrestrial telescope as well. That means you can take it on hikes, to hilltops and get sweeping views of beautiful vistas right here on Earth.
That makes this telescope extremely versatile in terms of usage and will be able to show you a ton of objects at vastly varying distances. You can see things from lightyears away, things within an astronomical unit, and things miles away. This really benefits from this telescope’s inherent portability.
One of the biggest strengths of this telescope is its ability to be taken along almost anywhere. Despite its relatively large size, at only 9 pounds including tripod, this telescope can easily be packed up and put in the car or into a dedicated bag or backpack. This opens up the whole night sky to you, and not just the slice that is visible from your backyard.
Meade has made this telescope with a sturdy body and fork-mounted base that attaches to the tripod. This makes it super easy to be broken down for storage or transportation. The optics are made from strong coated glass that is hard to scratch and can’t be knocked out of alignment.
All of that to say, that this telescope can go with you to a dark beach, camping, hiking and is able to give excellent terrestrial and interstellar views.
I never felt worried about this telescope’s durability or its ability to withstand some minor punishment during travel. I cannot say that about most telescopes and especially reflectors, give me some anxiety whenever I had to take them for a ride.
This really opens up the world and the sky to further exploration and this would make an excellent grab and go telescope. Many avid astronomers have some beefy light bucket telescopes that stay firmly planted in their homes and buy separate travel scopes for their outdoor adventures. This would be an excellent travel telescope.
What’s In The Box?
Like all good refractors, this model comes with a plethora of accessories to help start you off on your collection. The Meade Instruments S102mm Refractor Telescope ships with the following addons and accessories.
A red dot viewfinder, two eyepieces, a 2x Barlow lens, a 90-degree erect image prism, an aluminum tripod, and a rack and pinion focuser.
This is a very complete starting accessory kit that really adds a lot of value to this telescope. The best parts of this kit are the erect image prism, which allows you to use this telescope as a space viewing telescope as well as a terrestrial telescope.
The other great addition is the rack and pinion focuser. Getting a telescope that does not have a focuser can be a frustrating experience and the inclusion of a focuser here, while standard for many telescopes, is a welcome addition.
The Barlow lens can be attached to the two eyepieces to effectively double their magnification level. This, in effect, makes it so you get four eyepieces out of the two. Using the Barlow lens is easy and can be fun to use and toy around with.
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One of the coolest additional features is the inclusion of a smartphone adapter. This handy piece of equipment attaches to the eyepiece and allows you to place your smartphone over the viewer so it can see what you see. This means you can record videos of your viewing sessions or take amazing photos of what you are looking at in the night sky.
This feature is a great hit with younger astronomers and can generate some excellent content for social media or to simply document your astronomy journey as you learn and work your way through the night sky.
With the red dot finder, focuser, and Barlow lens you have everything you need to start searching the night sky and honing in on some excellent views. This covers all of the bases but does not go overboard. This is a solid group of accessories that all come included in the box, which makes the already reasonable price seem that much better.
Whose This Telescope For?
This would be a great telescope for a few different groups of astronomers. First, are the astronomers who are looking for a durable telescope that can easily go along on outdoor adventures and travel trips. Second, would be beginner astronomers who are looking for a robust and versatile telescope to learn on without spending a ton of money. Lastly, anyone who is looking to get a telescope for a good price that will give you years of enjoyment and functionality.
So whose it not for? This is a pretty basic refractor telescope. While it does have a large objective lens at four inches, not everyone likes refractors. Anyone who is looking for a crisper, more powerful reflector will be able to find one in a similar price range.
There are very few downsides to this model. The fork-mount on the tripod can be a little awkward, especially if on uneven ground. The telescope itself is not too heavy but the large objective lens and the weight can make it a little wobbly in some situations which can be frustrating if you are trying to zero in on a sight.
Otherwise, there are very few gripes or downsides to this model. It is a solid addition to a solid catalog of telescopes put out by Meade Instruments.
Overall, this is a great telescope. For the price, the features, and the accessories that all come standard there is no reason to buy a smaller refractor telescope unless your budget is extremely pinched. This model is worth the modest upgrade in price from standard 70mm refractors and adds so much.
Novice astronomers, adventure astronomers, and refractor enthusiasts alike will find a lot to love with the Meade Instruments S102mm Refractor Telescope and this is an easy purchase to make.