The following steps describe how to setup a portable, 8 inch, Meade telescope on one of the permanent telescope piers located on the observatory’s outdoor observing pad. Clicking on the “more detail” link at the end of each step listed here will take you to a more detailed description of that step.

Although the steps are listed in a “typical” order, they do not need to be followed exactly. You should, however, familiarize yourself with the general precautions to be taken when using the Meades. You should also realize that future students will be using these scopes and the condition that you leave them in, is the condition that they will receive them. In order that they will be able to use a reliable, precision instrument, please use common sense and be careful when using the telescopes.


Powering On and Polar Aligning

1. Choose a telescope and carry it out to the observing pad

The portable, 8 inch telescopes consist of Meade LX200s (f/6.3 or f/10) and Meade 2080s (f/10). Currently there are five LX200s and two 2080s in the telescope room. Four of the LX200s are in large white cardboard boxes and are labeled with a number and a focal length (among other things). One LX200, number 7, and the older 2080s, numbers 5 and 2, are in telescope cases.

It is best if two people carry the telescope. However, if you are alone, it should be possible for you to carry the telescope by yourself. Just remember to be extra careful. You will find that the LX200s are a bit heavier than the 2080s.

Once on the pad, decide which telescope pier you will use. You will find that it is best to choose a pier with your height in mind.

2. Gather the necessary telescope accessories

Parts boxes are on the top shelf of the cabinet in the telescope room. Make sure that you get the box that goes with your telescope (the boxes and telescopes have corresponding numbers).

Some optional items which you might find useful are a flashlight, a telrad, and a dewcap. Flashlights and telrads are on the shelf directly below the cabinet’s top shelf. The telrads are in white boxes that say “Telrad.” Choose the telrad which goes with the telescope you are using. Dew caps should be located somewhere near the telescopes. We currently have one plastic dewcap (with velcro) and a number of older dewcaps made out of cardboard. Some of the cardboard dewcaps have numbers on them, but these numbers do not necessarily correspond to the numbers on the telescopes so don’t worry about getting the “right one.”

3. Attach the telescope to the pier

Locate the three large screws in the parts box (these screws hold the telescope to the pier). You will find that the base of the telescope is both rounded and rectangular. On the bottom of the rectangular part of the base there are two screw holes which we will call holes 1 and 2. Directly opposite holes 1 and 2, on the rounded part of the base’s bottom, there is another screw hole which we will call hole 3.

Remove the canvas cover from the pier’s polar wedge. A good place to store this cover while you are observing is in the telescope case. You will see that the holes of the telescope’s base match up with holes on the face of the wedge. Hole 3 corresponds to the slotted hole at the top, center of the wedge face. Holes 1 and 2 correspond to the two holes lower on the wedge’s face.

When putting the telescope on the pier it helps to have two people work together, one person to handle the telescope and the other person to handle the screws. If you are by yourself you will have to do both tasks. While this is possible just remember to be extremely careful. Also remember to keep a hold on the telescope with at least one hand at all times until all three screws are tight and the telescope is securely fastened to the pier (the handles on the LX200’s fork make this condition reasonable).

When you open the telescope case you should find that the right ascension (R.A.) and declination (Dec.) locks are unlocked. Standing at the base end of the case and looking down on the scope, the R.A. and Dec. locks are located in the following places:

  • LX200: The R.A. lock is right above the base (where the fork arms connect to the base). The Dec. lock is the the black knob on the side of the right/left fork arm.
  • 2080: The R.A. lock is right above the base (where the fork arms connect to the base). The Dec. lock is on the top of the right/left fork arm.

You might find it convenient to lock the declination lock before lifting the scope and placing it on the wedge.

To attach the telescope, one person lifts the telescope out of the case. At this point the person handling the screws should screw one of the screws about a quarter of the way into hole 3. The person lifting the telescope can then put the bottom of the base flat on the face of the wedge and allow the half screwed in screw to slide into the wedge’s slotted hole. While the telescope lifter continues to support/hold the telescope, the screw person should then tighten the screw in hole 3. Do not screw it in as tight as possible (make it snug), rather only enough so that if the lifter had to let go of the telescope for some reason before the other two screws had been secured, the telescope would not fall to the ground.

Once the screw in hole 3 is snug, the other two screws can be screwed into holes 1 and 2. These screws go into their holes from the back side of the wedge. You may have to move the telescope base back and forth a bit on the face of the wedge to allow the screws to be easily inserted. Start each screw into its hole first before screwing any of the other screws all of the way in. When the screws are tight, the telescope lifter can let go of the telescope. It never hurts to have the lifter double check the screws.

4. Plug the telescope in and turn it on


The LX200 has a power adaptor (a small black box) and a long power cord, both of which can be found in the parts box. Plug the adaptor’s standard plug into the power outlet on the side of the pier. The short cord coming from the other end of the adaptor plugs into one end of the long power cord (only one end of the long power cord is compatible with the adaptor’s cord). The other end of the long power cord plugs into the socket marked “Power” on the LX200’s power panel.

Make sure that the North/South toggle switch labeled with “N” and “S” on the power panel is switched to the North position. Before you turn on the scope, by toggling the power panel’s on/off switch, it is convenient to decide in which mode you will be using the LX200….

  • Without the keypad (no access to the telescope’s computer): If you do not want to use the LX200’s built in computer and all you desire is to have the LX200 track the sky then there is nothing that you have to do before switching the LX200 on.
  • With the keypad (access to the telescope’s computer): Make sure that both the R.A. and Dec. locks are unlocked before moving the scope. Point the telescope so that it points roughly south, at the meridian, and also at the celestial equator (the tube parallel to the face of the wedge). Lock the scope in this position.

Before you switch the power on, locate the two cords with phone jack type connectors in the telescope case. You will notice that one cord has connectors which are not as wide as the other cord. This “small connector” cord is the keypad cord. Plug one end of this cord into the keypad and the other end into the jack labeled “Keypad” on the the power panel. The other cord (with the wider connectors) is the Dec. motor cord. Plug one end of the Dec. motor cord into the jack labeled “Dec. Motor” on the power panel and the other end into the jack, also labeled “Dec. Motor,” on the fork arm. If you are facing the power panel and the scope is locked in the above mentioned position, the fork arm, Dec. motor jack will be facing you on the right fork arm.

Now the scope can be turned on.


The 2080s have a single power cord which is stored in the telescope’s case. The standard plug end of the power cord plugs into the power outlet located on the pier. The other end of the power cord plugs into the bottom of the telescope’s base from the back of the wedge. Once plugged in, the telescope is “on.”

5. Attach the telescope accessories

LX200: You will find the finder in the telescope case. The finder slides into the “finder holder” (located on the telescope’s tube on the eyepiece end) from the objective end of the telescope. Tighten the two set screws on the finder holder to hold the finder in place. The finder will likely have small, black, plastic lens caps covering its lenses. A good place to store these caps while using the finder is in the telescope case.

2080: The finder should already be attached when you take the telescope from its case. Store the finder lens caps in the telescope case while you are using the finder.

To look through the telescope you will have to remove the main lens cap from the objective end of the telescope (simply pull it off). It is convenient to store this lens cap in the telescope’s case while you are using the telescope. On the eyepiece end of the telescope, remove the black, plastic cover from the optical tube’s rear cell (it should just pull off, but if it is tight try screwing it off). Again, it is convenient to store this cap in the telescope’s case while you are using the telescope. Once this cap is removed the eyepiece holder (located in the parts box) can be screwed on to the rear cell. An eyepiece (also in the parts box) can now be inserted into the eyepiece holder and held fast by the small thumb screw on the eyepiece holder.

The telrad is attached to the telescope by placing the telrad in the telrad holder which is located on the telescope’s tube near the finder holder. On each end of the telrad holder there is an open slot. The telrad sits in these slots and is held in place by the thumb screws, one on each end of the slots.

The dewcap fits around the objective end of the telescope and acts as an extension of the tube. It might be a little difficult to get the cardboard dewcaps on. If you are standing facing the objective, start by putting the dewcap on the top edge of the tube. Then work your fingers around the end of the dewcap (your fingers will be in between the dewcap and the end of the tube) opening up the dewcap enough so that it will fit around the tube. Even when the cardboard dewcaps are completely on they will seem unstable (sometimes they will even fall off), this is normal.

One reason for this unstableness is the different attachments which might be on the telescope. These attachments, such as weight bars and camera mounts, may or may not have been on the telescope when the dewcap was made. If these attachments were not attached when the dewcap was made, but presently are attached, then they will block the dewcap from being put far enough on the tube to be stable. Conversely, if the attachments were on when the dewcap was made but are no longer on the scope then the dewcap will have slots cut out of it which will also make it unstable. If possible, try to find a dewcap that has the appropriate slots cut in it for the attachments that are on the scope.

If you are using the the plastic dewcap with velcro, simply wrap the dewcap around the end of the tube and velcro it together.

6. Align the finder with the main scope

It is convenient to align the finder with the main scope such that when you center an object in the crosshairs of the finder, that object will also be in the field of view of the main scope.

To align the finder, you will need to move the telescope. Before you move the telescope, make sure that both the R.A. and Dec. locks are unlocked. Moving the scope with the locks engaged can greatly damage the drive gears. The R.A. and Dec. locks were covered in step three.

If you are using an LX200 with the keypad, you can control the telescope with the keypad. See the link at the bottom of this page for instructions on keypad use.

Start by placing a bright star (the brighter the better) in the field of view of the main scope. This might be a little bit of a challenge at first, but practice will make this step easier. A telrad might also help.

Once you can see the star, center it in the telescope’s field of view and then lock the telescope in place. Look through the finder, you should be able to see the star but it will not necessarily be at the center of the crosshairs.

You will notice that the finder is held in place by screws that are attached to the two metal rings of the finder bracket. There are three screws on each ring. To move the finder so that the star moves to the center of the crosshairs, choose one ring of screws that you will work with. (Always work with only one ring of screws at a time. If you are going to switch rings make sure that the screws of the ring that you are currently working with are tight against the finder before you loosen the screws of the other ring. This will ensure that the finder is never free to slide from the finder bracket to the ground.)

Working with two hands (two screws, each hand working with one screw) and looking through the finder, loosen one of the screws while tightening the other one. This will move the finder and thus the star in the field of view. You will have to work different combinations of two screws at once in order to get the movement that you want but with a little practice this will become easy. Once the star is at the center of the crosshairs make sure that each of the three screws on the ring that you are working with are snug up against the finder.

A quick alternative way to align the finder

Center a bright star in the main scope. Look through the finder and instead of adjusting the finder so that the star moves to the center of the crosshairs, just note and remember where the star is in the finder field of view (in relation to the crosshairs for example). Then when you move to some other object, place the object at the location you noted and it will be centered in the main scope. While this is quick and relieves you from adjusting the finder, you will find that it is not quite as accurate as the above method.