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Meade MA 12mm Astrometric Illuminated Reticle Eyepiece

Posted by Paul Bock   04/25/2014 00:00:AM

Meade MA 12mm Astrometric Illuminated Reticle Eyepiece

First, some details. The Meade MA 12mm Astrometric eyepiece follows in the footsteps of the Celestron 12.5mm Microguide and Baader 12.5mm Microguide eyepieces. Having previously owned and used the Celestron - which had a list price of around $180.00 USD but is no longer available - I looked into the Baader but was somewhat turned off by the current price, which equates to just over $227.00 USD (the Baader is priced at 165 Euros). I spotted the Meade - priced at no more than about $80.00 USD (and sometimes as low as the low $60s depending on the dealer) - and decided that it was inexpensive enough to take a chance.

The Celestron Microguide is an orthoscopic eyepiece design, as is the Baader, while the less-costly Meade is a modified achromatic design. This probably accounts for the rather large price differential and also means that the Meade is not going to measure up to the same viewing standards as the other two eyepieces. However, since the primary purpose of the eyepiece is for measurement rather than for critical viewing, I felt that short-comings such as small color aberrations on bright objects were not "show-stoppers" for my purposes. All three eyepieces use red LED illumination with a variable brightness control to illuminate the etched reticle, all three are adjustable to bring the reticle into focus, and all are 1.25" diameter.

Here is a table of general specifications:


Reticle Comparison

Both the Celestron and Baader reticles appear to be identical, with finely etched lines, very small number markings, and a 0 to 60 linear scale. There are no numbers on the semi-circular arc used for measuring the position of closely-spaced objects. The Meade etchings are not as fine, but the degree markings around the 360-degree perimeter are larger and easier to read and the semi-circular arc is marked at the 0, 30, 60 and 90 degree points on each side. The linear scale is 0 to 50, so the individual markings are farther apart than on the other two eyepieces and thus the accuracy is not as "fine-grained"Â?.

Using the Meade Astrometric

I found the Meade Astrometric to be easy to use and functional for my purposes. The well-marked reticle is easily focused by turning the eyepiece adjustment, and I found it easy to read; however, since the markings are not as finely etched as on the other eyepieces the accuracy of detailed measurements might be somewhat adversely affected. The reticle illumination works well except that it is so bright that I found it necessary to leave the intensity control at its minimum setting. The eyepiece focusses sharply in my Questar 3.5 for normal viewing *BUT* using the finder is problematic because the 1.25" barrel is a bit too long for the finder focuser to compensate. I did not notice any loss of sharpness at the edge of the field. Eye relief is adequate although not as comfortable as I would prefer, but that's a problem I have with most shorter focal length eyepieces (I'm 72 but thankfully do not have to use glasses for observing).

The Bottom Line

In this case, the "bottom line" truly is the bottom line; i.e., in my opinion the significantly lower cost of the Meade Astrometric compared to the Baader Microguide makes the former an excellent choice for observers wishing to "get their feet wet" making measurements of double stars, planetary features, etc. Those with a desire to "push" optical-micrometer measurement to the highest degree of accuracy can always upgrade later to the Baader.