Meade Steps into the Sunshine

H-alpha Sun
This composite of two exposures with a Canon digital camera shows the Sun in the red light of the hydrogen atom. It was shot through a Tele Vue-85 refractor equipped with a Coronado SolarMax 40 H-alpha filter.
S&T photo by Rick Fienberg.
Late last week California-based telescope giant Meade Instruments announced its pending purchase of Coronado Technology Group in Arizona, the world's leading manufacturer of specialized hydrogen-alpha filters and telescopes for viewing the Sun. When the deal is completed later this year, backyard astronomers will be able to enjoy round-the-clock observing with Meade equipment for the first time in the company's three-decade history. Prior to this, Meade did not sanction solar observing with any of its wide-range of telescopes and accessories.

Coronado's name has become increasing familiar to Sky & Telescope readers since the company began marketing its hydrogen-alpha filters to amateur astronomers in the late 1990s. According to Gerry Hogan, who co-founded the company with her husband, optical expert David Lunt, Coronado "began to make solar [observing] ordinary." And no single product emphasizes that point better than the new PST (Personal Solar Telescope), an instrument that offers outstanding hydrogen-alpha views of the Sun for less than $500 — roughly a third the amount required to purchase a similar level of performance before the PST's introduction.

When asked what Meade's acquisition of Coronado means for consumers, Meade's president and CEO, Steven Murdock, told S&T that there will be "no significant changes. I don't think anyone will notice a difference except for perhaps a reduction in delivery times [for Coronado products]." Murdock also noted that the deal would infuse Coronado with money needed to grow the business. This sentiment was echoed by Hogan, who told S&T, "Now we can spread the gospel" and involve even more amateur astronomers in the exciting world of hydrogen-alpha solar observing.