Meade ETX125 Review
Telescopes

Introduction

Among Meade telescopes, the ETX125 takes up a special spot as it offers a lot of features for experienced users, while still retaining a low enough price to appeal to beginners. In this review, we will explain why this Meade model takes up such an important middle-ground spot and whether or not you should consider it as your next telescope.

Key Features:

Large 127mm aperture and 1900mm (f/15) focal length: This slow telescope features powerful, high-quality optics, making it ideal for planetary, lunar and binary star observation.

Maksutov-Cassegrain optical design: fine and precise star images with an ideal contrast allow for solid deep-sky exploration alongside superb planetary observation potential.

Ultra-High Transmission Coatings (UHTC™): As the name implies, the optics are coated with a special, trademarked substance that allows ultra-high transmission of light, offering bright, high-contrast images with less aberration.

GoTo system with AudioStar™: The ETX125 is fully motorized and features a 30k+ objects database, built-in speakers and educational audio material. The computerized Dual-Fork mount with DC Servo Motors is included, which means less hassle and a more economical purchase.

telescope aperture

APERTURE

127mm

telescope focal length

FOCAL LENGTH

1900mm

Motorized telescope

MOTORIZED

Yes

Mount Type

Mount type

Equatorial

OPTICS
90%
BUILD AND CONSTRUCTION
85%
PORTABILITY
90%
VALUE
98%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • High-Quality lenses, great super plossl eyepieces (9.7mm & 26mm)
  • Unique hybrid mount that turns from an Alt-Azimuth into an Equatorial Mount
  • Bubble Level/Compass Device for easy set-up and quick leveling
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Quality control was not the best, so some units are prone to damage
  • The alignment requires you to carefully read the manual, which is not the clearest all the time

Table of Content

Meade ETX125: A Telescope for Beginners and Intermediates

The ETX125 is a telescope with a lot of power considering its fairly compact size. For starters, this telescope has 127mm of aperture, making it powerful enough for users with a few years of experience who started out with weaker models and want to upgrade. 

The design and the included Fork Mount with DC Servo Motors, however, also make it a solid first telescope for newcomers. Very few telescopes in this price range offer aperture this high and a mount, so this is a very convenient package for people who want to start looking at the stars as soon as possible.

The motto of the Meade EXT125 is: “Taking mobile astronomy to the next level”. This is a very fitting way of describing this Meade model.  The EXT125 is fairly lightweight and very portable. The telescope weighs 15 pounds, while the tripod weight just under 10 pounds. This means the mounted telescope weighs a total of 25 pounds (around 11.5 kilograms), meaning that any adult can transport it into and out of their car fairly easily.

Potential for astrophotography

The portability and easy setup of the Meade ETX125 make it a solid telescope for astrophotography. The tripod features an EQ Tilt Plate, which further enhances the astrophotography capabilities. The focal ratio is f/15, making this a very slow telescope. This means you can make some great pictures of bright objects like the Moon, some planets and a few stars if the night sky is perfectly clear.

The tripod is a very unique hybrid design. On the surface, this is your average alt-az mount, but the EQ Tilt Plate essentially turns it into an equatorial mount. This greatly expands your astrophotography possibilities as you can use the equatorial mode for doing long exposure shots.

There certainly are better options for astrophotography on the market, but in most cases, those are very specialized telescopes. The Meade EXT125 is one of the few telescopes that does not have astrophotography as its main appeal, but Meade still went out of their way to offer a very elegant solution for combining an alt-az and an equatorial design, making this scope very unique and versatile.

To make the most out of this scope in terms of astrophotography, you should make use of the lightweight design and take it out to the mountains so you get the perfectly clear night sky. The red dot finder, the internal flip mirror, and the autostar database will all help you find and identify objects in the night sky, so make sure to make use of all of the telescope’s accessories.

Using a computerized telescope:

There is no doubt that computerized telescopes have a big advantage compared to standard scopes, assuming the remaining conditions are the same. Still, some people find them intimidating, either because they are newcomers or because they are not sure how to properly set up a computerized telescope.

To understand all the advantages, you need to ask yourself: what is a computerized telescope exactly?

With the technological evolution, we have become able to store information about hundreds and even thousands of objects within small computers on our mounts.

Telescopes featuring such computers are called computerized telescopes or GoTo telescopes. They can help us align our telescope, find objects in the night sky and automatically track an object that we want to capture in a long exposure photograph, which means that they control the motors in our telescope.

Besides long exposure photography, computerized telescopes are useful for tracking objects that you want to look at for a long time and for easily finding and identifying new objects.

Whether you want or need a GoTo mount is a personal choice. Some people prefer motorized mounts because once you learn how they function, the setup time becomes really short. For long-exposure astrophotography, the are a must-have. But other people, however, prefer to not bother with computers. Many find it difficult to align telescopes with computers and for many, it does not work. This will, obviously, depend on your own telescope.

In the case of the Meade ETX125, as well as other Meade models, the GoTo system functions fairly good once you get the hang of it and understand how it functions. For this, you need to follow the manual very carefully. The problem with the ETX125 is that the manual is not always completely clear. However, once you do understand it, you should have a fairly easy time working with the scope.

By the way, if you want to learn more about computerized telescopes, you can take a look at our GoTo telescopes buying guide.

In-depth analysis: Optics, the Computer, the Mount

By now you should already have a pretty solid understanding of how the scope functions and what it’s key features are. If you are still in doubt or are searching for something very specific, keep on reading for even more useful information about this scope. Here is a detailed review of some of the most important elements of this scope:

 

Optics:

The Meade ETX125 features fairly good optics for a telescope in this price range. They are in no way the best you can get, but they are more than enough for beginners. The optics offer more than enough magnification power for experienced users, even though this model fits more as a secondary telescope.

Two eyepieces are included in the package – 26mm & 9mm Super Plossls. While there is no real definition of what super Plossls are, it is commonly understood that they differ from normal Plossls in two ways. First, they have an additional lens element that is supposed to help with problems like blurriness and chromatic aberration. The second is that they normally use better coatings. In fact, these lenses are multi-coated.

This telescope uses a Maksutov Cassegrain optical design and combines 127mm of the aperture with 1900mm of focal length, giving you a very slow, f/15 telescope. Despite the high focal length, this is a very portable telescope. The combination of the scope being slow and having super Plossls means that it prevents chromatic aberration better than most other telescopes in this price range. The downside, of course, is that the field of view is very limited. These features make this Meade telescope a good choice for terrestrial exploration, as well.

Computer:

The Meade ETX125 is a GoTo telescope with a database of over 30,000 objects. This is, obviously, a massive database. Some people would consider these high numbers to be more of a gimmick than a useful feature. Most of the time, you will spend your time looking at some of the more visible objects, close planets, and bright stars. Be that as it may, having this huge variety is not really a downside.

The alignment functions alright once you get the hang of it. In the beginning, it might be a bit confusing. During the first use, expect that you will need a lot of time for the setup as you will have to carefully follow the manual and setup every parameter correctly. Once this is done, however, your second viewing will go much faster as you will already be familiar with the system.

Meade ETX125 Computer

Mount:

The mount of this scope is very unique. It is a Steel Field Tripod that is fairly stable and does not weigh a lot, so it is very portable. The design is technically an altitude-azimuth tripod, but it has a built-in equatorial tilt plate – allowing for polar alignment. This is very important for tracking a single object with more ease and for astrophotography.

The mount is controlled by the computer via the AudioStar Controller, which allows finding and tracking of objects like planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies. The mount features DC Servo Motors which are of good quality in general. That being said, some users report issues with these motors, which might be a result of poor quality control. By purchasing the EXT125 on Amazon, you will make sure to buy it from a reputable website with a warranty and a possibility to replace your specific unit, should the need arise.

The Meade EXT125 Competitors:

If you are still unsure and want to compare some similar models, here are a few more suggestions: 

Meade ETX90

Meade Instruments Observer ETX90

A somewhat smaller and weaker version of this model with the same high-quality features and a solid magnification power considering a very low price:

 

  • Aperture: 90mm
  • Focal Length: 1250mm
  • Ratio: F/13.8
  • Ultra-High Transmission Coatings
  • Internal Flip Mirror System for dual viewing
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope

Celestron – NexStar 6SE:

A telescope by the reputable Celestron in a similar price range with a higher aperture and lower focal length, making it a less specialized, but a more well-rounded scope.

 

  • Aperture 150 mm
  • Focal Length 1500 mm
  • Ratio: F/10
  • Magnification 60x
Celestron NexStar 127SLT

Celestron – NexStar 127SLT

A more affordable model by Celestron that has the same aperture, but lacks some of the more advanced features.

 

  • Aperture 150 mm
  • Focal Length 1500 mm
  • Ratio: F/12
  • Magnification 60x and 167x

Conclusion

Starting with the red dot finder and the bubble level compass that enables easier setup and all the way to the GoTo features with a huge database and built-in speakers, the Meade etx125 is full of features that will satisfy both beginners and intermediates. You will be able to explore and photograph countless objects like planets and clusters in the night sky, including long exposure astrophotography.

The magnification power is pretty solid and the image is always clear and crispy with little to no aberration. As an observer and photographer, you will very likely enjoy this telescope a lot.

As a final word of warning – the telescope comes without a power supply. Make sure to get an original and compatible one to make sure that you are getting the most out of your scope.

We hope this review helped you with your buying decision.

Happy stargazing!

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