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Telescope Reviews

Meade DS2090 AT TC

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Joseph Ashley
Summary: 6 out of 10
October 11th, 2004
My background: Novice Amateur Astronomer.

My equipment:
Meade 2045 LX3 SCT
Meade DS2090AT-TC Refractor
Celestron C6S XLT SCT

Late in the summer of 2008, I purchased my Meade DS2090AT-TC 90 mm refractor for 140 pounds on Ebay. The telescope came with a 90 mm refractor, five eyepieces, a DS2000 GoTo mount, a lightweight aluminum tripod, an eyepiece compass with bubble level, and a CD with videos showing how to use the scope. To be fair, I made the purchase to get the scope’s computerized goto mount, not the telescope itself. Meade also sells a DS90 scope which is a 90mm MAK not a refractor. This review is for the 90 mm refractor scope.

The telescope arrived, shipped in one shipping carton. It was well protected and suffered no damage even though it was lost in shipment and took 4 weeks to make the trip from London to Athens. I opened up the carton and was shocked when I saw the telescope … all plastic … more like a toy than a serious astronomical instrument. The aluminum tripod was very lightweight and fragile looking. The DS2000 goto mount was well constructed with aluminum where strength is needed and plastic for the rest. Well, I thought, what do you expect for 140 pounds, the 200 inch scope at Mount Wilson? Made the decision to be very careful with the tripod as it appeared the weakest link.

Assembly of the scope was straight forward and simple. While waiting on night to come, I viewed the videos supplied by Meade and read the manual several times. Even so, I almost missed two very important things that one must do before using the scope…calibrate and train the drive motors. These two activities are very simple to do but if not done, then forget about accurate gotos from the DS2000 mount.

That night, I set up the scope on a level spot. Meade says to park the scope pointing due north with the telescope level. This was easy to do using the eyepiece level and compass supplied with the scope.

I turned on the scope and Autostar went to work. It went to the first alignment star. I used the spiral search pattern and what rapidly found out that what Meade said is true, the target star is readily apparent when it finally comes in view in the scope. I centered the star in the eyepiece (25mm), went to the next star and repeated the process. After aligning the scope, I chose to take “Tonight’s Best Tour.” The scope went directly to some objects but others required using the spiral search pattern to find. However, I was impressed with the overall accuracy of the DS2000 goto mount. I have since learned to use higher power eyepieces to center the alignment stars and to insure that the mount orthogonal to the surface of the earth. This produces gotos that are generally within view of a 25 mm eyepiece most of the time.

The 90 mm refractor scope is all plastic except for its lenses. Given its 90 mm aperture, it performs very well. It has some chromatic aberration and stars are not dots but are comet shaped. However, for a cheap refractor, it performs adequately and is capable of showing some details on Jupiter. It can show most Messier Objects abet some are nothing more than grey smears. Is it adequate for a starter scope? Yes but I suspect that most people will soon out grow the scope and want something larger. After that first night, I retired the 90 mm telescope and mounted my slightly larger 102 mm Meade 2045 LX3 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope to the DS2000 mount.

The DS2000 mount performed great for about six months then one night things came to a jerky conclusion and goto accuracy went out the window. I read the warrantee that came with the scope and found that it was absolutely worthless for people who do not live in the United States.. essentially it said any issues are between the owner and the dealer, Yea sure…ship across a continent to a eBay store… I opened up my DS2000 mount and the source of the problem was obvious; a 20mm piece of metal shaving was in the mount’s thrust bearing. I cleaned the metal shavings, lubricated the mount, and reassembled it. This last part is tedious and difficult as one must have the proper torque on the mount’s azimuth axis bolt or the mount will not accurately find objects in the sky. This part is a trial and error process and probably far exceeds the capabilities of most people, beginners or accomplished amateurs as well (for the general user, the mount would be garbage at this point.). With the mount repaired, I was back in business. Since then, I have purchased a larger telescope with goto capabilities; however, find that I use my smaller Meade 2045 with the DS2000 mount more often as it is a super Grab and Go scope, highly transportable and easy to setup. Great for times when I only have a few moments to spare.

The lightweight aluminum tripod is surviving very well. It is surprisingly steady for its lightweight construction and rapidly damps out vibrations which most cheap tripods can not do. I treat it with care as its plastic clamps and braces can easily be damaged.

The scope came with five eyepieces (25mm, 20mm, 17mm, 12mm, and 6mm) which fit the scope’s capabilities perfect making a Barlow lens unnecessary. Although the eyepieces are not expensive, they perform very well and I find them a welcomed addition with my larger Celestron C6S 150 mm Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope. The eyepieces alone were almost worth the purchase price of the entire DS2090AT-TC package.

In conclusion, I give the optical performance of the Meade DS2090AT-TC refractor a 5 out of 10. I give the DS2000 goto mount a 10 out or 10 for performance and a 3 out of 10 for reliability. The tripod gets a 6 out of 10. Overall, the combination of the 90 mm refractor and DS2000 mount with tripod gets a 6 out of 10.
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