6" Meade LS-6ACF LightSwitch Review

By: Vlad Fedosov
11/09/2017

Intro:

A 6” SCT? That’s an interesting idea. A 6” SCT that you can take outside, flip a switch and minutes later it’s done auto-aligning and is ready to find any object in the night sky for you? Did I mention that it can also tell you basic info about the object in the FOV with the built-in audio? This is something that just a few years ago seemed impossible, but the LightSwitch can easily do this all today!



Testing:

I tested the LS6 over the course of several nights in my suburban mag 4 backyard. I found that the mounting arm of the scope is sturdy enough to support the weight of the LS6. The tripod is on the lighter side, but overall the entire mount was able to dampen vibrations in under 4-5 seconds which I consider acceptable. Using anti-vibration pads would get this down to 2-3 seconds and would really be good. Once assembled I was easily able to carry the 37lb scope out in one piece into my backyard from the downstairs living room where it is set up. Once outside alignment is a breeze as all you need to do is make sure that the scope is fairly level and flip the On/Off switch to get the alignment started. It is worth noting that my backyard has trees that block the east horizon, and the house itself blocks the north horizon. Even with this amount of sky blocked the LS6 was still able to auto align in about 5 minutes without any issues. I was honestly impressed by this as I figured it would get confused that there are no stars in a large portion of the sky. Nice job Meade!

After setup, I found the GOTO accuracy on par with most other Celestron/Meade scopes and mounts that I have used in this price range. In general, it was able to place the object in the FOV of a 32mm Plossl( 32x and 1.05° FOV). As mentioned earlier this scope does have the ability to tell you some basic info about the object you are viewing with audio. I found this a cool feature, but the info given is very basic. If you are new to astronomy I think this is a great feature and is a good way to get to know a bit about what you are looking at and perhaps inspire you to do a bit more research further into an object that may particularly interest you. There is also an optional LCD that you can get that will display images and info about objects that you are viewing. I find that this is a bit counterproductive as the screen will ruin your night vision. I did not test the screen as I did not have one available. I do think that this would be a very cool feature for someone the is doing outreach or maybe introducing a family member that is totally new to astronomy.

Optically the AFC optics with the UHTC coatings are very good. The example of the scope that I had displayed a very sharp image with minimal image shift. The AFC optics do seem to produce a flatter looking image then my standard c8 but from what I can tell you need to be using at least an 82° FOV eyepiece to really tell a difference. I will say that I’m in my 30’s and do not seem to be bothered by a field that is not totally sharp. From what I understand this gets worse with age. Speaking of 82° and 100° eyepieces, they do work well in the LS6 but you need to use some kind of counterweight system with anything that is a 2” eyepiece.



Conclusion:

I found the LightSwitch a general pleasure to you. I think that the LS6 would make a great entry level scope for someone that is serious about armature astronomy but is a bit intimidated about navigating the night sky. I also know from personal use that this makes a wonderful quick look scope for the seasoned observer. The concept of taking this thing out fully assembled, flip a switch and have it be ready to observe by the time you grab your eyepiece case is simply a joy. As a closing remark, the Light Switch is available in an 8” version as well. I think that while more aperture is always a good idea, the LS8, unfortunately, uses the same mount and tripod as the LS6 and this would make it a bit under mounted. I have not personally tested the LS8 mounted, but I have owned a de-forked OTA from one. The optics were one of the best on any SCT I have looked through. I hope that the LightSwitch technology ends up in a lot more scopes down the road!