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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Meade Telescope Sleepwalks through the Night Sky


LAS VEGAS -- Need a reason to go camping? Here's a great one. Meade Instruments showed off its new telescope at CES 2009, a 30-pound mean machine makes the night sky come alive. It's astronomy for dummies.

The ETX-LS telescope automatically aligns itself to major celestial objects. The device's built-in magnetic compass, GPS, level sensor and CCD camera means users just have to turn it on and let the telescope do its work to zero in on the starry night. The device offers a tour of the night sky based off the pre-loaded information in its database.

Want to see Saturn's rings? Just type the planet's name into the telescope's remote control, press the 'Go To' button and it will automatically locate the planet and align itself to the right position in the sky.

Users can also plug-in a pair of headphones and listen to some commentary, turn on the speakers or connect it to an external video monitor.

Despite its newbie-friendly features, the telescope is no lightweight. Unlike the Skyscout, a personal handheld planetarium, Meade's upcoming telescope can offer magnification ranging from 20x to 400x thanks to its 6-inch mirror aperture.

There's also plenty of sweet astro-imaging possibilities for Flickr addicts. The telescope lets users capture images of the objects and save it to a SD card.

What's not super-impressive is the battery life--it takes 8 'C' cell batteries in return for three to five hours of battery life.

The telescope will be available starting next month and is priced at $1300.