LightBridge 12" Deluxe truss-tube Dobsonian

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Like all Dobsonian reflectors, this 12” Meade deluxe LightBridge truss-tube Dob gives you more light-gathering for your dollar than any other telescope type. Its large 12” aperture, which gathers two and a quarter times as much light as an 8” scope, is ideal for observing the faint fuzzies outside the solar system from a dark sky site.

Despite its large mirror, the 12” Meade LightBridge is easy to get to your favorite dark sky site. Unlike bulky competitive Sonotube or metal tube Dobs, you don’t need a van or small truck to transport this big 12” scope to the dark sky sites it needs to perform at its best. The 12” LightBridge weighs only 80 pounds fully assembled and breaks down into a few compact components that will fit into virtually any car trunk or into the back seat of just about any compact car. The heaviest single component weighs only 36 pounds. Assembly and disassembly take just a few minutes, with no tools needed. After you set up, take a few moments to collimate the optics (no tools are required here either) and you're ready for an evening of fascinating viewing at your favorite dark sky location.

First is the seven pound aluminum upper cage containing the diagonal mirror, focuser, and multiple reticle illuminated finder. Second is the aluminum tub holding the primary mirror. It weighs only 36 pounds, including the mirror. Six light-weight but rigid aluminum truss tubes connect the upper cage to the mirror tub. They weigh only four pounds and attach quickly to anodized brackets on the cage and tub by means of large hand-tighten knobs, making assembly easy. Finally, there’s the 33 pound laminated particle board base in which the mirror tub sits.

The performance of the BK7 optical glass parabolic primary mirror of the 12” Meade LightBridge is guaranteed to be diffraction limited – for sharp high contrast images of nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters. Planetary images are also sharp and crisp. The mirror is overcoated with magnesium fluoride for high reflectivity.

The Meade LightBridge uses a fully adjustable metal cell to hold the primary mirror. The open frame of the mirror cell allows the mirror to cool down to ambient temperatures quickly, so you can start high magnification observing sooner. In addition, there’s a standard equipment battery-operated cooling fan on the mirror cell. This lightweight low-vibration fan draws cooling air over the back surface of the mirror for faster cool down times.

The scope’s BK7 diagonal mirror is mounted in a fully adjustable diagonal holder on a low-diffraction four-vane thin spring steel spider. The diagonal is polished to diffraction-limited accuracy, aluminized, and overcoated with magnesium fluoride.

The altazimuth base that the mirror tub rides in is crafted of strong, lightweight, and water-resistant laminated particle board. The base is shipped disassembled, but can be put together in about a half an hour using only a screwdriver and the supplied hardware. The polished aluminum trunnion bearings of the mirror tub are good-sized, for smooth scope motion. Teflon altitude bearing surfaces assure smooth, effortless, and backlash-free movement. This deluxe model scope moves in azimuth on steel roller bearings riding on a metal track. Push the scope lightly in any direction and it starts moving at the touch of a finger – smoothly and with no fuss. Stop pushing and it settles down immediately, with no shudder or vibration to mar your viewing experience.

The deluxe 12” Meade comes with a machined aluminum 2” Crayford focuser (with a 1.25” eyepiece adapter). A quality 26mm 2” QX-Series Wide Angle eyepiece is standard equipment. It provides a magnification of 59x. With an apparent field of 70°, it has an actual field of view that’s a very wide 1.18° across, over two and a third times as wide as the full Moon. Deep space views of star clouds and nebulas are rich and expansive. The scope’s non-magnifying illuminated finder has four different reticle patterns available by simply rotating a dial in the finder. The various reticle patterns are shown in the feature illustration below. Also supplied is a CD-ROM of the Autostar Software Suite Astronomer Edition. This planetarium program will let you plan your observing sessions on your computer and print out star maps to use at the eyepiece to guide you to the many deep space objects the scope is capable of revealing. Its database contains enough stars and objects to keep you busy observing for years.

Because of its compact component size and light individual component weight, the 12” Meade can easily be transported and set up by one individual, although two people will make assembly of the truss tubes somewhat easier. Set-up time is only about 10-15 minutes. The 12” Meade LightBridge Dobsonian is designed for visual observing only – to show you as much of the night skies as possible. Photography is not possible with a Dob.

Under dark skies, the Orion Nebula becomes a glowing and subtle complex of filaments, and color starts to become visible. The spiral structure of the Whirlpool Galaxy becomes apparent, as do dark dust lanes across the nucleus of the Andromeda Galaxy (although the full 3° width of the galaxy itself is far too large to fit into the field of view of any eyepiece generally usable with the scope). Globular clusters are frequently resolved to the very core. Messier, NGC, and IC objects show detail and structure never visible in smaller telescopes. As with any large aperture telescope, the performance of the 12” LightBridge on faint objects will be markedly improved by a dark sky observing site. Light-polluted city and suburban sites are not recommended as the primary observing site with a 12” scope. Such sites require a nebula (light pollution) filter to take even limited advantage of its immense light-gathering (1900 times greater than the sharpest dark-adapted eye).

While it is in deep space observing of galaxies and nebulas from a dark sky observing site that the 12” Meade LightBridge excels, significant planetary and lunar observing is also within its capability. All you need is a neutral density eyepiece filter to cut down the immense brightness of solar system objects seen through this “light bucket.”

Taking advantage of the weight-saving sophistication of a truss design, the 80 pound Meade 12” LightBridge Dobsonian makes it practical for one individual on his or her own to explore the heavens with a truly big scope. Simply-made, but with precision optics, this Meade 12” LightBridge Dobsonian reflector will reward you with thousands of bright deep space images and years of trouble-free observing enjoyment.

The Meade 12” LightBridge is drop-shipped directly to the customer from the Meade distribution center in California. Consequently, California sales tax applies to any 12” LightBridge shipped to any customer living in California.

Supplied Eyepiece:
The eyepiece that is supplied with this telescope.
Highest Useful Magnification:
This is the highest visual power a telescope can achieve before the image becomes too dim for useful observing (generally at about 50x to 60x per inch of telescope aperture). However, this power is very often unreachable due to turbulence in our atmosphere that makes the image too blurry and unstable to see any detail.

On nights of less-than-perfect seeing, medium to low power planetary, binary star, and globular cluster observing (at 25x to 30x per inch of aperture or less) is usually more enjoyable than fruitlessly attempting to push a telescope's magnification to its theoretical limits. Very high powers are generally best reserved for planetary observations and binary star splitting.

Small aperture telescopes can usually use more power per inch of aperture on any given night than larger telescopes, as they look through a smaller column of air and see less of the turbulence in our atmosphere. While some observers use up to 100x per inch of refractor aperture on Mars and Jupiter, the actual number of minutes they spend observing at such powers is small in relation to the number of hours they spend waiting for the atmosphere to stabilize enough for them to use such very high powers.
Visual Limiting Magnitude:
This is the magnitude (or brightness) of the faintest star that can be seen with a telescope. The larger the number, the fainter the star that can be seen. An approximate formula for determining the visual limiting magnitude of a telescope is 7.5 + 5 log aperture (in cm).

This is the formula that we use with all of the telescopes we carry, so that our published specs will be consistent from aperture to aperture, from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some telescope makers may use other unspecified methods to determine the limiting magnitude, so their published figures may differ from ours.

Keep in mind that this formula does not take into account light loss within the scope, seeing conditions, the observer’s age (visual performance decreases as we get older), the telescope’s age (the reflectivity of telescope mirrors decreases as they get older), etc. The limiting magnitudes specified by manufacturers for their telescopes assume very dark skies, trained observers, and excellent atmospheric transparency – and are therefore rarely obtainable under average observing conditions. The photographic limiting magnitude is always greater than the visual (typically by two magnitudes).

Focal Length:
This is the length of the effective optical path of a telescopeor eyepiece (the distance from the main mirror or lens where the lightis gathered to the point where the prime focus image is formed). Focallength is typically expressed in millimeters.

The longer the focallength, the higher the magnification and the narrower the field of viewwith any given eyepiece. The shorter the focal length, the lower themagnification and the wider the field of view with the same eyepiece.

Focal Ratio:
This is the ‘speed’ of a telescope’s optics, found by dividing the focal length by the aperture. The smaller the f/number, the lower the magnification, the wider the field, and the brighter the image with any given eyepiece or camera.

Fast f/4 to f/5 focal ratios are generally best for lower power wide field observing and deep space photography. Slow f/11 to f/15 focal ratios are usually better suited to higher power lunar, planetary, and binary star observing and high power photography. Medium f/6 to f/10 focal ratios work well with either.

An f/5 system can photograph a nebula or other faint extended deep space object in one-fourth the time of an f/10 system, but the image will be only one-half as large. Point sources, such as stars, are recorded based on the aperture, however, rather than the focal ratio – so that the larger the aperture, the fainter the star you can see or photograph, no matter what the focal ratio.

This is the ability of a telescope to separate closely-spaced binary stars into two distinct objects, measured in seconds of arc. One arc second equals 1/3600th of a degree and is about the width of a 25-cent coin at a distance of three miles! In essence, resolution is a measure of how much detail a telescope can reveal. The resolution values on our website are derived using the Dawes’ limit formula.

Dawes’ limit only applies to point sources of light (stars). Smaller separations can be resolved in extended objects, such as the planets. For example, Cassini’s Division in the rings of Saturn (0.5 arc seconds across), was discovered using a 2.5” telescope – which has a Dawes’ limit of 1.8 arc seconds!

The ability of a telescope to resolve to Dawes’ limit is usually much more affected by seeing conditions, by the difference in brightness between the binary star components, and by the observer’s visual acuity, than it is by the optical quality of the telescope.

0.38 arc seconds
This is the diameter of the light-gathering main mirror or objective lens of a telescope. In general, the larger the aperture, the better the resolution and the fainter the objects you can see.
Based on Astronomy magazine’s telescope "report cards", scopes of this size and type generally perform as follows . . .
Terrestrial Observation:
Observing terrestrial objects (nature studies, birding, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial observing. Scopes with apertures under 5" to 6" are generally most useful for terrestrial observing due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes. 
Lunar Observation:
Visual observation of the Moon is possible with any telescope. Larger aperture scopes will provide more detail than smaller scopes, thereby getting a higher score in this category, but may require an eyepiece filter to cut down the greater glare from the Moon's sunlit surface so small details can be seen more easily. Lunar observing is more rewarding when the Moon is waxing or waning as the changing sun angle casts constantly varying shadows to reveal craters and surface features by the hundreds.  
Planetary Observation:
Very Good
Binary and Star Cluster Observation:
Very Good
Galaxy and Nebula Observation:
Very Good
Terrestrial Photography:
Photographing terrestrial objects (wildlife, scenery, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial photography. Scopes with focal ratios of f/10 and faster and apertures under 5" to 6" are generally the most useful for terrestrial photography due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes.
Lunar Photography:
Photography of the Moon is possible with virtually any telescope, using a 35mm camera, DSLR, or CCD-based webcam (planetary imager). While an equatorial mount with a motor drive is not strictly essential, as the exposure times will be very short, such a mount would be helpful to improve image sharpness, particularly with webcam-type cameras that take a series of exposures over time and stack them together. Reflectors may require a Barlow lens to let the camera reach focus. 
Planetary Photography:
Star Cluster / Nebula / Galaxy Photography:
1 year
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These reviews have been written by astronomers just like you and posted on the Cloudy Nights astronomy forums . . .
Meade Lightbridge 12 inch Truss Tube Dobsonian

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General Accessories
Collimating Tools (2)
6 Collimating and locking knobs for Meade 12" Lightbridge Dobsonian primary mirror
by Bob's Knobs
9 Collimating and locking knobs for Meade 12" Lightbridge Dobsonian primary & secondary
by Bob's Knobs
Dust Covers (1)
Light shroud for 12" Meade LightBridge truss-tube Dobsonian
by Meade
Extended Service Program (2)
Three-Year Sky Assurance™ For Meade telescopes priced between $750 and $1199.99
by Meade
Five-Year Sky Assurance™ For Meade telescopes priced between $750 and $1199.99
by Meade
  • 2” 26mm Series 4000 QX eyepiece (59x)
  • 4-vane spring steel diagonal mirror support with adjustable mirror holder
  • Adjustable primary mirror flotation system
  • Diffraction-limited BK7 optical glass mirrors
  • 2” Crayford-style machined aluminum focuser with 1.25” eyepiece adapter
  • Advanced four-reticle pattern red dot finder
  • Primary mirror cooling fan
  • Aluminum tube open truss design with fast no-tool assembly using large hand-tighten knobs
  • Aluminum upper cage and mirror tub
  • Laminated altazimuth mount with steel azimuth roller bearings
  • Oversized aluminum trunnion bearings
  • Autostar Suite Astronomer Edition software.
Meade Lightbridge - 8", 10", 12" Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescopes 791 KB
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Meade - LightBridge 12" Deluxe truss-tube Dobsonian

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Meade - LightBridge 12" Deluxe truss-tube DobsonianImage showing the four patterns of the illuminated reticle finder.
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Our Product #: MLB12D
Manufacturer Product #: 1205-05-03
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Clear skies,

This 12” Meade LightBridge deluxe Dobsonian is a true “light bucket” for bright views of the faint objects outside our solar system. You get big-scope performance in an easily-disassembled package that fits into any car for a quick trip to your favorite dark sky site . . .

. . . our 39th year