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CG5-GT with ED100 mini-review


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Well I received my CG5-GT mount yesterday after much debate with myself and others. When choosing a new mount I suffered paralysis by analysis for a little while then got a hold of myself and went with the CG5-GT mount. I initially didn't want something as heavy as this but after some persuasion my missus has given in and allowed me to buy a shed to keep all my astro stuff in. This means I no longer have to lug my equipment down stairs into the back garden any more which was becoming a real pain in the back.

The CG5-GT is a Vixen GP clone equivalent to the EQ5 with two servo motors (more on those later) and a Celestron hand controller for full GOTO and tracking. It has a load capacity of 10kg and with it's new beefed up 2" steel tripod legs and upgradeable hand controller is actually a decent piece of kit.

The mount arrived in 2 boxes delivered by courier (thanks Bern!) on next day delivery.

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Opening the larger box revealed the tripod and nothing else apart from the 5kg counterweight. This confused me as there were many other boxes and even packing for other items. I can only assume that the other boxes are for the none GOTO version of the CG5.

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The tripod looked great, a huge 2" steel affair with a big flat head for the mount to sit on. Looked impressive and weighed a ton. The legs, being tubular steel, slid into each other rather than the weaker sliding fork arrangement.

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Fully extended the tripod is nearly as tall as i am! I didn't have room in my living room to try it though!

The next box was the mount head and other gubbins. This was nicely wrapped and had foam cut-outs which will prove useful if I ever get around to buying a aluminium case for the mount head. The box also contained the hand controller and cables along with the manual and other paperwork.

cg5-head-small.jpg

Everything looked pretty good and it didn't take long to assemble all the bits. I've lost the image of it all set up in my living room but you all know what a mount looks like!

Now this mount (I assume like many others) doesn’t come with a power supply. It takes a 12 volt DC input with a standard car "cigarette lighter" connector which was supplied. I already owned a car jump start battery power pack otherwise I might have been disappointed. I understand that the HEQ5 now comes with a power pack. The only negative so far.

Once I’d plugged everything in I pretended to align the mount (without OTA) and the first thing that struck me was the noise!! Maybe it was because the CG5 uses servo motors not stepper motors but the whine of the motors amazed me. I was having serious thoughts about the neighbours coming out to complain in the middle of the night. On reflection (and my missus pointing out that people have double glazing for a reason) and with some testing it wasn't that bad. I couldn't hear it if i closed the door and went into another room and my missus held down an arrow key. But even so it still seemed VERY loud. In the middle of a quiet night it can only seem louder, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.... as will the neighbours!

Now I don’t quite understand this bit but last night was clear as a bell. There was a near full moon, and a little haze but it was one of the clearest nights for some time. I took all my kit outside and set it up to cool fully expecting the clouds to turn up and a downpour to begin as soon as I turned my back. Nothing of the sort, it was clear all night apart from the slight haze high up.

ed100-cg5-gt-small.jpg

With the tripod fully extended the whole setup was taller than I was! This at first seemed like a good idea as i was able to stand and look through the eyepiece all night without crouching and twisting myself up into awkward positions. However on reflection i think i need to reduce the height a little and get myself a chair as my back hurt after 3 hours and i called it a night. Go figure.

All set up I roughly aligned my mount to north-ish and set it to 52 degrees. I couldn't see Polaris and doubted I would at all that night as the moon was bright and I live under mag 4 skies at the best of times. I impatiently waited for a few stars to turn up so I had something to align the scope against and remembered that the CG5 has a "Solar system align" function. Turning the mount on and entering my time/date/latitude/longitude I choose solar system align and the moon. The mount slewed (noisily) to where it thought the moon was (pretty close actually) and I corrected with the arrow keys. Once centred on the moon (even i can't miss that one) I hit align again and it asked me if I wanted to add any calibration stars. Well looking up I thought "I would if I could see any!" so hit undo instead. The mount said "Alignment successful". Was it I thought? Testing it I told it to slew to Saturn which was over in the south west. Well [removed word] me if it wasn't in my 20mm eyepiece. I was stunned. How the hell had it done that?! The mount wasn't polar aligned and I’d only entered one object and that was a big target anyway and yet there was the ringed giant unmistakable. I swapped to a 5mm eyepiece to get a better look and centred Saturn with the arrow keys. I also synced the hand controller so it knew exactly where Saturn was now I had higher magnification.

I went inside to get the rest of my kit and purposefully took my time. Came back outside about 10 minutes later to find Saturn still in my FOV. Admittedly it had moved, but not much. In my books that’s pretty good at 180x with rough polar alignment. To say I was pleased was an understatement.

ed100-moon-small.jpg

I slewed back to the moon (being the only object along with Saturn that I would probably view tonight) and the GOTO was bang on again. By this time a few other stars had started to show themselves and I decided to add Arcturus as a calibration star as it was nice and bright. Made the choice on the controller and off it went. Hit it dead on. Hmmm no need to calibrate then. Went back to Saturn and decided to take some webcam images. Managed 5000 frames at 5 frames a second before I got bored. It seems the tracking works then.

I wont show you the image of Saturn I took as it’s parp. It seems the high mist and my lack of CCD skills just made it a white blob with no detail at all. Better luck next time.

I slewed to Jupiter but the scope just managed to point at the roof of my house and it would be many hours before the Jovian showed itself to my limited viewing area. I’ve not seen Jupiter this year and am looking forward to him coming around to my part of the sky.

I also tried a few messiers but the moon was very bright and I couldn’t see anything at all in my little 4” scope.

I packed up around midnight and all in all had a good night. I’m very pleased with my new CG5-GT mount and I am looking forward to keeping it longer than most of my equipment. (I suffer from equipment churn as do many).

Pros’

Solid tripod 2” steel legs

Good tracking / GOTO

10kg load capacity (enough for me)

Portable (at my limit of luggability all set up)

Ease of use

Cons

Noisy motors

No power supply supplied

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