The Photographic 10" Schmidt-Newtonian Project
My current project is taking a Meade LXD55 10" Schmidt-Newtonian, and turning it into an astrophotographic scope. I hope to keep track of the project on this page. If nothing else, I'll put a sampling of images this rig produces here.

First Light for the 10" LXD 55 and ST-8
M33, Click for full image

Second Light for the 10" LXD 55 and ST-8
Horsehead, Click for full image

M35 - Mosaic of two images, taken Feb 2, 2003

M81 Taken Feb 22, 2003

Blackeye galaxy, taken March 28, 2003, 10" LXD55, ST-8

NGC2903, Taken March 28 2003, 10" LXD55

Meade's new LXD 55 series of scope are quite incredible value. For a small sum of money, you get a very good optical system packaged in entry level goto telescope form.

Meade's intent with these scopes was certainly not to create astrographs. The mount they are on is sadly lacking in stability. It might be OK visually with the 8", is certainly quite good with the 6", but it fails miserably with the 10". I wouldn't even consider it up to visual standards.

On the other hand, the optics are getting almost universal praise. The 10" is a big, fast (F4) scope. The field is very flat. The cost of this design is some size though. The 10" probably weighs somewhere around the same as my 11" SCT, and is far more bulky.

I'm mounting the whole beast on my Losmandy G11 mount. A rig that is definitely up to the task.

Work I've decided you need to do on this system to make it reasonable for photography:

  • Fix the mirror cell. My mirror was pinched and showing diffraction marks. Take a look at Paul Lefevre's web site for info on this.
  • Replace the focusser. The standard focusser has too much shift in it.
  • Throw out the mount. Really. It's not up to photography. Resell it, or use it for something smaller (my plan).
  • Replace the finder. An 8x30 on this big a scope is silly. I've replaced it with the Orion 90 degree erect image finder (9x50, about $60). Note that you DO have to take the corrector off to mount this. The right way to remove the corrector seems to be to carefully take off the entire corrector holder, not the glass from the corrector. That way, there are only 4 orientations you can put it back in (mark which one is right!).
  • Buy a collimator. This scope does go out of collimation.

The LXD55 Mount

As I mentioned above, I really consider the LXD55 mount to be a bit of a joke when it comes to the 10". It really isn't up to the task of serious observing, and it's pretty obvious when using it that the stress it is under with that big OTA will be its demise. I would expect a lot of 10" owners to be looking for new mounts in a year or two when this thing wears out.

That said, it is a useful piece of gear for other scopes and cameras. I have an Orion ST120 mounted on it, and it does fine. The photo below was a piggyback image taken with my ST8 and a friends Nikon 35-70mm (?) zoom lens. Click the image for the full size version.