Meade Instruments

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Meade Acquisition Corp dba Meade Instruments
HeadquartersWatsonville, California, United States
Key people
Peter Moreo, President[1]
Deborah Woodward "VP Ops"
ProductsOptical and electromechanical instruments
OwnerOptronic Holding Corp

The Meade Instruments (also shortened to Meade) is an American multinational company headquartered in Watsonville, California, that manufactures, imports, and distributes telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, CCD cameras, and telescope accessories for the consumer market.[2] It is the world's largest manufacturer of telescopes.[3]

Besides selling under its "Meade" brand name, the company sells solar telescopes under the brand "Coronado".[4]

Origins and history[edit]

Founded in 1972 by John Diebel, Meade started as a mail order seller of small refracting telescopes and telescope accessories manufactured by the Japan-based Towa Optical Manufacturing Company.[3] Meade started manufacturing its own line of products in 1976, introducing 6" and 8" reflecting telescopes models in 1977. In 1980, the company ventured into the Schmidt-Cassegrain market that up to that time had been dominated by Celestron Corporation.[3] Meade has a long history of litigation with other companies over infringement of their patents, particularly with its once bitter rival Celestron. In August 2008, Meade modified their line of Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes with changes to the optical surfaces in design they call "Advanced Coma-Free optics" (ACF Optics).[5]

Past production sites include 16542 Millikan Avenue in Irvine, which was used in the 1990s. Meade production was consequently moved to a new build plant in 6001 Oak Canyon, located as well in Irvine. The Oak Canyon plant was in use for about a decade until 2009, after which production was moved to an expanded plant in Tijuana, Mexico.[6][7]

In October 2013, Meade Instruments merged with Ningbo Sunny Electronic, a Chinese manufacturer, and Joseph Lupica became CEO of Meade.[8] In February 2015, Victor Aniceto succeeded Lupica as president.[1]

On November 26, 2019, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California a federal jury found that Ningbo and Meade suppressed competition and fixed prices for consumer telescopes in the United States in violation of federal antitrust laws (case# 16-06370).[9] Optronic Technologies, Inc. was awarded $16.8 million in damages.[10]

On December 4, 2019, Meade Instruments Corp. filed bankruptcy in the United States District Court for the Central District of California as case number 19-14714.[11]


A 16" (40.64 cm) Meade LX200 in the York University Observatory

Products produced by Meade include:[12][13]

Catadioptric cassegrains[edit]

ACF telescopes[edit]

ACF (Advanced Coma-Free) is an altered version of the Meade's previous schmidt-cassegrain telescopes that replaces the traditional spherical schmidt-cassegrain secondary mirror with a hyperbolic secondary mirror. In the new design the full aperture corrector is slightly altered in shape and combined with a spherical primary mirror.[14] Meade's literature originally describe their ACF as a variation on the Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, although it does not use the two hyperbolic mirror combination in that design (being more of an aplantic design).[15]


Maksutov telescopes[edit]

The Meade "ETX" series Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope (105mm aperture).

Meade produces a line of Maksutov telescopes under their ETX series (Everybody's Telescope). They were first produced in 90 mm (3-1/2") Maksutov Cassegrain telescope in 1996. They range in size from 90 mm to 125 mm.

Newtonian telescopes[edit]

4.5″ LightBridge Mini 114 Dobsonian
  • Schmidt-Newtonian telescopes (6 to 10 inches).
  • LightBridge Dobsonian telescopes (currently 8, 10, 12 and a 16-inch model)
  • Meade Model 4504: 4.5" (114mm) equatorial reflecting telescope

GoTo telescopes[edit]

Many Meade telescope lines are classified by the self aiming computerized alt-azimuth and equatorial mounts they come on, a technology commonly called a "GoTo" mount.

  • LXD75, including Newtonian, Schmidt-Newtonian, Advanced Coma-Free, and achromatic refractor telescopes
  • ETX-LS, 150mm (6 in) and 200mm (8 in) F/10 ACF telescope on a single-fork arm with integral GPS and 'Eclips' camera for self-alignment.
  • DS-2000 Series, 80mm (3.1") refractor, 114mm (4.5") and 130mm (5.1") reflector on altazimuth Goto mounts
  • LX80, LX90
  • ETX-70, ETX-80
  • LX85, including Newtonian, Schmidt-Newtonian, Advanced Coma-Free, and achromatic refractor telescopes

Solar telescopes[edit]

In 2004, Meade acquired Coronado Filters from founder and designer David Lunt,[20][21] who produce an extensive range of specialty telescopes that allow views of the sun in Hydrogen-Alpha, and formerly, at Calcium K line wavelengths. The Meade Coronado telescopes are called "Solarmax 40" or higher depending on the model.

Coronado Personal Solar Telescope

Other products[edit]

  • Achromatic refractors (5 and 6-inch)
  • Meade also sells under the "Meade" name imported low to moderate cost reflectors and refractors intended for the beginner retail market.

Telescope accessories[edit]

Accessories produced by Meade include the series 5000 eyepieces that are comparable in construction to those of Chester, New York-based Tele Vue Optical's "Nagler" (82-degree field of view), "Panoptic" (68-degree field of view), and "Radian" (60-degree field of view) eyepieces. Meade sells Deep Sky and Lunar digital imagers for telescopes. They also market the mySKY & mySKY Plus, multi-media GPS devices guiding users to the sky, similar to the competing Celestron SkyScout.


In November, 2006, plaintiffs including Star Instruments and RC Optical Systems, manufacturers of traditional Ritchey-Chrétien optics and telescopes, filed a civil lawsuit against Meade, several dealerships, and other individuals in federal court (New York Southern District). The complaint was against Meade advertising their RCX400 and LX200R models as "Ritchey-Chrétien." The plaintiffs claimed these models did not use true Ritchey-Chrétien optics and therefore Meade and its retailers were committing false advertising infringing on the plaintiff's market.[22] In January 2008, Meade settled, with a "small" amount paid to the plaintiffs and the requirement to rename the affected products, not using any initials that might suggest Ritchey-Chrétien.[23]

On September 27, 2006, Finkelstein, Thompson & Loughran filed a class action lawsuit against Meade. The complaint alleged that, throughout the Class Period, defendants misrepresented and omitted material facts concerning Meade's backdating of stock option grants to two of its officers.[24] A settlement of $2,950,000 was reached in December, 2007.

Financial problems[edit]

Meade has had financial problems in the past and has survived with the help of its founder, John Diebel, purchasing back the company.[25] However, Meade in the past few years has run into another round of financial woes, since Diebel sold the company again. The previous CEO since May 2006, Steve Muellner[26] had announced various bad news for the company since he had the lead role for Meade. Meade's Irvine, California manufacturing plant was closed, with manufacturing moved to a new plant in Mexico, and a majority of the administrative positions were cut.[27][28] Meade's customer service line has also been affected by the move to Mexico, including shorter operating hours and the elimination of the callback option.[29][30] Meade is also looking at other options for the uncertain future of the company.[31][32] No matter what the future was holding for the company, Muellner and some of the board members signed an agreement to cover themselves financially.[33]

In April 2008, Meade sold two of its three non-telescope product brands (Weaver/Redfield) to two companies for a total of $8 million. However, as compensation for divestiture of these two brands, out-going VP of Sales, Robert Davis, received a $100,000 bonus from the company.[34][35] On June 13, 2008, Meade sold their last non-telescope brand Simmons to Bushnell for $7.25 million.[36][37] Also in 2008, Meade's stock value fell below one dollar, bringing up the possibility of Meade being delisted from the stock exchange.[38] On October 3, 2008, Meade eliminated Donald Finkle's Senior Vice President position with the company providing him with one year of salary as severance and certain other benefits.[39]

Meade announced on January 29, 2009 that it had sold Meade Europe, its European subsidiary, for 12.4 million dollars, thus relieving much of Meade's debt. However, that reduced the company's assets greatly.[40] Further changes and unknown stability of the company was announced on February 5, 2009, with the resignation of Steve Muellner, chairman of the board Harry Casari and fellow board member James Chadwick. Former CEO Steven Murdock was reinstated as Meade CEO.[41] On March 5, 2009, the company announced the resignation of CFO Paul Ross and the assumption of the position by John Elwood. With his resignation, Ross receives a severance in the lump sum of $260,000.[42] During the summer of 2009, Meade announced a 20:1 reverse stock split in hopes of raising the value of their stock.[43]

By July 8, 2013, Meade Instruments was tipping their hand on whether to recommend selling the company to a Chinese co. or a San Jose venture capital firm, plow ahead alone, or possibly seek bankruptcy protection.[44] In September 2013, Sunny Optics Inc, a unit of the Chinese firm Ningbo Sunny Electronic Co Ltd, completed the acquisition of the entire share capital of Meade.

In November 2019, Orion Telescopes & Binoculars won a lawsuit against Ningbo Sunny Electronic Co Ltd for price fixing and anti-competitive practices costing Sunny Ningbo an estimated 20 million dollars in settlement. Meade under Ningbo Sunny ownership was shortly after declared bankruptcy.[45] On June 1, 2021, Orion Telescopes & Binoculars announced the acquisition rescue of Meade Instruments, following the approval of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California.


  1. ^ a b Bloomberg (directory listing) (directory listing). Retrieved September 2, 2016. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Smith, Gordon V.; Parr, Russell L. (March 30, 2009). Intellectual property, by Gordon V. Smith, Russell L. Parr, page 167. ISBN 9780470286548. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c ", Meade Instruments". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  4. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Sale of Meade Europe Operations for Gross Cash Proceeds of US$12.4 Million[permanent dead link] Retrieved Jan 29, 2009
  5. ^ After 27 Years of Continuous Production, Meade Drops Schmidt-Cassegrain Optics – Biotech Week, August 27, 2008 – archive[dead link]
  6. ^ "Meade_factory".
  7. ^ "Tour The New Meade Mexico Manufacturing Facility". Archived from the original on December 5, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  8. ^ Meade Instruments Corp. completes merger agreement with affiliates of Ningbo Sunny Electronic Co., Ltd. Retrieved December 14, 2013
  9. ^ "Optronic Techs., Inc. v. Ningbo Sunny Elec. Co". Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  10. ^ "Watsonville-based Orion Telescopes wins $16.8M in antitrust case against competitor". December 6, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  11. ^ "Irvine telescope maker Meade files for bankruptcy after losing antitrust case". Orange County Register.
  12. ^ "Meade Telescopes, Meade, Mead, Telescopes by Meade, Meade Instruments". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  13. ^; The Optical History of Meade Telescopes Archived December 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Mollise, Rod (February 28, 2009). Rod Mollise, Choosing and Using a New CAT: Getting the Most from Your Schmidt Cassegrain, page 65. ISBN 9780387097725. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  15. ^ Mollise, Rod (February 28, 2009). Rod Mollise, Choosing and Using a New CAT: Getting the Most from Your Schmidt Cassegrain, page 59. ISBN 9780387097725. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  16. ^ "LX90 Series". Archived from the original on October 12, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  17. ^ "LX200 ACF Series". Archived from the original on October 12, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  18. ^ Durango Skies – LX400-ACF 20" (f/8) w/UHTC on MAX Mount w/Tripod Archived April 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "LX800 Series – Meade Instruments – Telescopes, Solar Telescopes, Accessories, Telescopes by Meade". Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  20. ^ Tresch, Richard (January 18, 2005). "Sky & Telescope: David Lunt (1942–2005)". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  21. ^ David Lunt biography, Solar Filter designer Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Tom’s Astronomy Blog » Blog Archive » The Meade Lawsuit Archived November 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Meade Instruments, Star Instruments and RC Optical Systems Agree to Settlement: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance Archived March 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Class Action Lawsuit Against Meade Instruments, Inc". September 27, 2006.
  25. ^ "Company Seven | Meade Instruments company history page". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  26. ^ "Meade Instruments Corp (MEAD.O) Officers & Directors | Stocks |". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  27. ^ "Meade Instruments to cut 120 jobs". Reuters. November 1, 2007. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  28. ^ Meade moves production to Mexico[dead link]
  29. ^ "Meade Instruments Corporation – Contact Information". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  30. ^ Meade customer service phone line
  31. ^ "Meade hires Robert W. Baird to review strategic options". Reuters. October 30, 2007. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  32. ^ "MEAD: Summary for MEADE INSTRUMENTS – Yahoo! Finance". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  33. ^ Executive Retention Agreement Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Material Definitive Agreement, Bonus Agreement[dead link]
  35. ^ Change in Directors or Principal Officers[dead link]
  36. ^ "Meade Instruments Announces Sale of Simmons Brand". Archived from the original on July 3, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  37. ^ Meade Instruments sells Simmons brand, assets[dead link]
  38. ^ "MEADE INSTRUMENTS CORP, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Aug 12, 2008". Retrieved May 15, 2018. Meade Instruments Receives Nasdaq Deficiency Notice Related to Minimum Bid Price Rule
  39. ^ Change in Directors or Principal Officers[permanent dead link] Retrieved October 3, 2008
  40. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Sale of Meade Europe Operations for Gross Cash Proceeds of US$12.4 Million Retrieved Jan 29, 2009
  41. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Resignation of Steven Muellner[permanent dead link] Retrieved Feb 5, 2009
  42. ^ Change in Directors or Principal Officers[permanent dead link] Retrieved March 9, 2009
  43. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Reverse Stock Split Retrieved Aug 8, 2009
  44. ^ Li, Shan; White, Ronald D. (July 5, 2013). "Telescope maker Meade Instruments at a turning point". Los Angeles Times.
  45. ^ "Watsonville-based Orion Telescopes wins $16.8M in antitrust case against competitor". December 6, 2019.

External links[edit]