Meade ETX 125 Review: Expensive Solar System Viewer

Meade ETX 125 is a major improvement over ETX 80 and ETX 90, but the improvement is costly.

7.4

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Review

There are two major problems with the cheaper ETX models. The first one is the plastic motors that are prone to breaking down and noisy. The second one is the flimsy, cheap, aluminium tripod.

Meade solved these problems with the ETX 125 by using more expensive materials. The motors in the mount are metal, and the tripod is steel. But, as you might expect, this increases the price significantly. Meade ETX 125 is 700$, and ETX 80 is 300$. 

Meade used more expensive and robust materials with ETX 125.

Is the price jump worth it? Barely. If Meade has a customer service near where you live, and you find this telescope for a lower price, I say get one. 

But at the price of 700$, it is hard to recommend ETX 125. There are 10″ Dobsonians available at this price range, or you can get a StarBlast 6 and upgrade it with premium eyepieces for the same price. 

Optics

ETX 125 is equipped with high-quality UHTC lenses with a 125mm aperture. The focal length is 1900mm, which is pretty insane. These optics combined create an excellent planetary performer.

The lack of diffraction spikes and chromatic aberration is cherry on top. These are significant problems that you get with any other telescope other than catadioptrics such as ETX 125.

ETX 125 is a strong planetary performer.

Planetary Performance

125mm gathers enough light for major Solar System details. These include Galilean Moon’s of Jupiter, its clouds, The Great Red Spot, Rings of Saturn, Titan, surface detail on Mars and phases of Venus.

Any planet other than these will appear as tiny colourful dots. 

The Lunar Surface shows a mesmerizing amount of craters and mountain ranges. Thousands of tiny details appear due to the long optical tube.

It is effortless to focus ETX 125 at high magnifications and gather detail. It is almost like the optics want to be focused at these powers. The optics are made for this task.

Deep Space Performance

Deep space performance is another story. The images are too narrow. It is impossible to fit large nebulas and galaxies inside the view, and the brightness levels are not impressive with the 125mm aperture. 

Deep Space performance will probably disappoint you. The optics aren’t built for that.

Is Meade ETX 125 suitable for astrophotography? 

ETX 125 can be used with a DSLR camera for imaging. You attach the camera using the internal flip-mirror, or the main focuser. Both will work well.(You need an additional adapter, but they are cheap.)

Long exposure imaging is impossible. The mount is not an astrophotography mount; it is built for casual observations. You can image planets with 30-40 seconds of exposure times, but that is it. It won’t take long before the image moves out of focus. 

EQ Plate is not precise enough.

Meade sends an EQ Plate to turn the mount into something suitable for astrophotography. The problem is, it is extremely hard to use it in a precise manner. Impossible, almost.

For the same reasons, deep-sky imaging is possible at the amateur level. Hours-long exposure times are out of the question with Meade ETX 125.

Mount

The mount is much less problematic than its siblings’. The clutches are sturdy; the connections are strong, the motors are metal. There is no problem with the base in terms of stability. The tripod is sturdy as well; it is made of steel

The motors are metal. Thankfully.

The main problem with the mount is the lack of a high-quality battery. Meade doesn’t send a built-in battery with the mount, and you have to use your own AA batteries. That would be “acceptable” if they didn’t run out in a single night. Eventually, you will have to use an external power source; complete nonsense, in my opinion.

Meade doesn’t send a battery for the mount.

GoTo Controller

GoTo and AudioStar

GoTo and Auto-Tracking features work pretty well. As I’ve mentioned before, the telescope will point to any object you want and follow it for 15-20 minutes. After that, you will have to make slight adjustments, and if you do, it will follow the object for as long as you want. It is really an incredible feature

GoTo works surprisingly well.

Aligning the telescope takes a few minutes and is effortless. Just point the optical tube to the North, enter some info about your location and you are done. Meade did an excellent job with this.

The “audio thing” is a gimmick. It gives some info about the object you are looking at, which you can gather with an iPhone or Android in seconds. 

The “Audio” feature is useless.

The “audio thing” is a gimmick. It gives some info about the object you are looking at, which you can gather with an iPhone or Android in seconds. 

Accessories

The accessories are not surprising; they are the usual, average choices. 

Eyepieces are of average quality.

The eyepieces are Plössl models. They are much better than cheap Kellner’s but need changing. They will be OK for the beginning. The 26mm is for “wide-field” viewing, and the 9.7mm is for high-power, but you will probably use both for planetary viewing.

The finder is a cheap red dot model. But that is OK since you will only use it when first aligning the telescope.

The internal flip-mirror slightly lowers the image quality, but it works well in terms of build quality. It might be convenient to attach a camera to it for Terrestrial imaging. You can also use it for astrophotography as I’ve mentioned, but you attach a camera to the main focuser as well. 

Drawbacks

The main problem with ETX 125 is its price. Meade used expensive materials with this model, but they have to pay for that. They are not “smart” solutions to the problems ETX 80 and 90 has.

The mount doesn’t come with a built-in battery, and it will run out of 8 AA batteries in a single night.

Deep space performance of ETX 125 is below-average, and field-view is too narrow for that.

Conclusion

If you can manage the battery problem, ETX 125 doesn’t have any problems in terms of astronomy. This is a significant achievement considering this is a computerized telescope. These devices are not easy to build.

If Meade ETX 125 were priced slightly lower, around 400-500$, it would be a great choice. But at 700$, there are more reliable and more powerful choices such as 10″ Dobsonians, and high-quality refractors

7.4

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