Text by West Coast Editor Steve Casimiro; Photograph by Joshua Scott
One strikingly clear night, I looked through the eyepiece of the Meade ETX-LS telescope, watched as the four stars of the Orion Trapezium cluster came into resolution, and then listened as the soothing and familiar voice of Sandy Wood, famous for the StarDate segments on NPR, described this celestial treat. To do this, I didn’t need one iota of skill or brains, just the ability to flip a switch. Holy cow: With the ETX-LS, Meade has hit upon a brilliant and delightfully easy new design that makes enjoying the night sky absolutely foolproof. Frankly, if you’ve ever had a scope that promised the moon and didn’t deliver, it’s kind of mindblowing: Turn it on and, with its built-in GPS, computer, and motor, the six-incher levels, aligns, and calibrates itself.
Almost everyone I know loves star-gazing—but almost everyone I know loves star-gazing more in theory than practice. Is that Cassiopeia or Uranus? Mars or Venus? Telescopes can be complicated, star charts hard to decipher, the dark unforgiving when you drop your flashlight. With the Meade, all that’s in the past—now you can focus on the gazing, not the finding. And you can enjoy the Meade’s extras, like the CCD camera that records images to your memory card or watch the encyclopedic videos on an added monitor. Or simply take control with the scope’s remote and guide yourself around the heavens. For the first time since Galileo built his first telescope 400 years ago, you have the choice ($1,299; meade.com).
- Nat Geo Expeditions