Make A Crappy Telescope Better Part 1

If anybody has ever been to Wal-Mart then you have probably seen the telescopes and musical instruments they keep next to the vision center. Well, several years ago I received one of those telescopes for Christmas. It was Meade DS114 reflective telescope with AutoStar Computer. I never used the scope much growing up, but now that I am out of college and working full time I have time to enjoy a few hobbies. One of those being astronomy. So now I have my telescope at my apartment and when the weather is good I can see some cool stuff like Saturn, Jupiter, and the Moon.

I knew I didn’t have the best telescope on the market, but after reading online and checking out some real telescopes I discovered I was working with some pretty low quality equipment. Here is a run down:

  1. The tripod is poorly supported with no bracing between the individual legs.
  2. The telescope has an AZ/ALT base meaning it swivels left/right and up/down. Great for easily moving and find stuff, but hard to track nighttime objects.
  3. No manual control. The base of the telescope is designed to be used with the Meade AutoStar computer. It takes care of all the object tracking.
  4. Only 0.965″ eyepieces are accepted. Higher quality telescopes accept the standard 1.25” eyepieces.
  5. The eyepieces supplied are marked with an “H”. The H stands for Huygenian and is considered one of the cheapest eyepieces produced

So what to do? A new telescope would cost at least $400-$500 dollars and that is something I’m not ready to commit to. Instead I think I can improve the current scope I have and get in a position to have better equipment for the future.

How? Replace the one piece that is easiest: the eyepieces. Switching to better eyepieces should, in my theory, improve the image quality of my telescope and allow me to see more detail. The only problem is my eyepiece mount only accepts 0.965″ eyepieces. Meade was nice enough to provide a 2” adapter ring with the telescope so I can use 2” eyepieces. Though the 2” eyepieces are more common, they can be considerably more expensive and therefore are still not ideal.

The plan? Install the 2” adapter ring into my telescope and then use a 2″ to 1.25″ adapter. That should allow me to use eyepieces like the Meade 4000 Super Plössl series. In the coming day’s I’ll see if my gamble to buy adapters and new eyepieces pays off.