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New C9 - will things get better?


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I have just purchased a Celestron C9.25 SGT XLT.

After using my Tasco 60mm refractor for several years and only ever being able to see planets through it (but surprisingly well at times) I decided that I wanted to go up in the world.

Of course I started off thinking small and spent months studying what was available and week on week the scope that I thought I needed got bigger and bigger and more expensive. One of my main points was that I did'nt want to buy something middle of the range and then find that I really should have gone for something better. I almost bought the C8 but I read so many good reviews of the C9 that I thought I might as well go for that as it didn't seem that much bigger.

It was delivered a couple of weeks ago and my intial feelings were of mild shock at the size of it (it looked a lot smaller in the shop) and most of all the weight. I was lucky enough to be able to get it out on the first night but I had no power supply so I had to manually slew it around.

My first dissapoinment was the FOV. I've got a pair of Bresser 10*50 UWA bins and they deliver a fantastic view of something like the seven sisters so when I pointed the C9 that way I was slightly underwhelmed. The C9 showed me sharp little diamond like points of greens and blues but I wasn't prepared for the limited FOV. To me it felt like I was looking down a real narrow little tube and it all felt rather flat. Perhaps I've been spoilt by the binoculars? I've defocused some nice bright stars at high power and the image is pretty even and concentric so I'm assuming the collimation is good (I'm not an expert here as you may gather).

The next problem I had was the weight of the thing. The first time I took it out I didn't take the two huge counterweights off and I strained my back. I've now learned that I've got to take them off to move it any distance. It's quite an operation to get the thing in and out with wires, power supplies Etc. You don't really take this into consideration when your looking at all the nice pictures in the magazines. I've nearly dropped the OTA twice as it's bloomin fiddly trying to get it onto the dovetail in the dark.

Anyway I managed to get a power supply and tried my first alignment. Oh dear, that's not quite as easy as it seems. I had no trouble (well a bit) finding the first star which was Vega but when it moved onto the second I had never heard of any of them! So now it a case of picking from the stars that I know and thats not many I will admit. Well I managed to get it roughly aligned and it almost found the Andromeda galaxy and again I wasn't overwhelmed by what I saw - it looked very similar to what I can see through my bins apart from a smaller galaxy being visible near by. But perhaps thats a bad example? After a couple of minutes looking at it a fog suddenly descended and I realise it had dewed up pretty quickly. Oh no! More money now needed for an anti dewing device and a powertank.

I went out last night and I think I managed to spot Uranus but the atmospherics where so bad that it really wasn't that impressive. (see post under planets section)

Maybe I'm going to have to wait for Saturn to come round to really test this thing out. It has made me realise the light pollution in my area is worse than I thought. I'm right on the edge of London. If I look north towards London it's very orange but looking south is far better. I can just see the faint band of the milky way with the naked eye and I can see 7/8 stars in the seven sisters if I look carefully. I have got a baader LPR filter and it's good but it seems deaden the feel of the view somehow

At the moment I'm not really sure if I will keep this scope. Its only when you really start using it that reality dawns. Maybe I'm just an ungrateful foolish newbie who really shouldn't have been allowed to buy such a decent scope.

Will thing get better?

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First let me say congratulations on an excellent purchase. The C9.25 is the jewel in Celestrons crown and it's much better than the C8 IMO. On to your problems.

The small FOV is a problem with the design on your scope (SCT) not the specific scope you have brought. All SCT's suffer from very long focal lengths (yours is 2350mm), but this is also a boon as it makes them excellent planetary scopes. In a bid to combat this you can purchase a focal reducer which will reduce your f/10 scope down to f/6.3 or even f/3.3 should you wish. This gives you back your FOV. An alternative is to purchase longer focal length eyepieces, eg a 20mm eyepieces will give you x117 magnification, a 32mm eyepiece will give you x73 magnification (in contrast to your 10x magnification with your bins). You can go even higher with 2" eyepieces and a 50mm plossl will give you x47 magnification.

For colimation I would advise you invest in a set of bobs knobs for your scope, this makes collimation a 5 minute job. Moonfish can supply a set for £15.95.

As for the weight I would certainly carry the mount in one trip, the counterweights and powerpack in a second trip and the OTA in a 3rd trip. One of the problems with this sort of setup is the weight and one of the best investments you can make in this hobby is a garden shed to store your kit (and a big padlock of course!)

As for alignment, unfortunately you do need to learn a few stars. Again another investment (i know i know, more money!) is a decent planisphere and red light torch. Not much can be done to get around this, although fork mounted SCT's use SkyAlign technology which means you dont have to know the names of the stars you choose to align.

M31(Andromeda) isn't an idea target for a long focal length scope, but you should still get good results with 235mm of aperture. The quality of your sky does make a big difference though, especially if you are in a light polluted area.

The fact you managed to spot uranus means you have a good scope, as I doubt you would have even seen a dot in your 60mm!

Saturn is already available to you if you are willing to wait up late or get up early. Look in the east at around 4am/5am and it should blow your socks off.

All in all keep at it and it will get better! Honest!

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I think you have got a brilliant scope that many could only dream of owning - you could take a lifetime and not see all that it can deliver. Astronomy is a slow business though and it takes time to learn what your equipment will and won't do and more time to learn (often by trial and error) how to operate it. Many of the objects we rave about here are faint and indistinct - even through a scope with the capabilites that yours has - in many ways that's the whole challenge and it's a subtle business.

My advice would be to read as much as you can on the web about what your scope can do and how it works - I don't mean the official stuff but information from people who actually own and use the thing. And also make the effort (which it is with a larger scope :-) ) to use it as often as possible.

Keep at it - the rewards will come but in their own time.

John.

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My first dissapoinment was the FOV. I've got a pair of Bresser 10*50 UWA bins and they deliver a fantastic view of something like the seven sisters so when I pointed the C9 that way I was slightly underwhelmed. The C9 showed me sharp little diamond like points of greens and blues but I wasn't prepared for the limited FOV. To me it felt like I was looking down a real narrow little tube and it all felt rather flat.

What eyepiece are you using ? - if it's a 40mm Plossl in the 1.25 inch fitting the FOV will be tube-like. If you could get a nice wide angle eyepiece (ie: one that gives a 60+ degree field rather than the 43 degrees that the 40mm gives) the views you have will look wider. The area of sky that you can see will always be limited in a long focal length scope as Gordon points out although the focal reducer (also mentioned by Gordon) will help see more of the sky - I used to use on on a C5 and it was really effective.

John.

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Well MB, you picked some awkward targets for your 'scope. You have a super zoom-in type 'scope and you chose the Andromeda galaxy as a test. That's going to end in tears. You have, in automotive terms, bought a Ferarri and tried to get the flatpack IKEA wardrobe in it.

With most top notch 'scopes you will have difficulty in getting a view of the Andromeda galaxy as it's too big. You should be pointing at planetary nebula size objects and other things that don't show up in the lesser 'scopes. You will have outstanding views of planets (the showcase ones at least) and a chance of viewing distant galaxies that are reserved for people who own such an instrument as yours.

Each type of 'scope has a group of targets that it excels with and yours does small things very well indeed. You need to check out small faint stuff and report back how it did. As Gordon pointed out, you can buy focal reducers to widen the field of view as you have tone down the magnification that comes as standard with your 'scope.

Try to find target swhich are more suited to your equipment and you'll be much less disappointed with it.

Things will get loads better as you learn what it, and you, can do.

Bottom line answer is that you have a very good 'scope that many here would seel their grannies for, you just need to learn how to drive it.

I hope you won't get fed up with it before you have learned how it works and what it can do, but if you do, before you throw it in a skip, PM me. ME, NOT ANYBODY ELSE, I WANT IT!

HTH

Captain Chaos

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Thanks for the comprehensive and detailed reply Gordon. Maybe when I see Saturn I will realise that I have bought the right scope afterall. But I definately won't be getting up at 4am as I am no good at mornings. Have you heard the noise the CG5 mount makes? It makes me feel rather self conscious as it's swinging round on it's merry way. The scope cane with a 25mm Plossl. I'm now keen to get a lower powered eyepeice and also a focal reducer probably a 3.3 one. If someone can recommend one from experience that will be good. One other question I have is will any of these eyepeices expand the apparent size of the view as well as the FOV if you see what I mean. In other words will the circle appear larger?

Jah - I am read, read, reading all the time on the internet. I have learnt loads of stuff off this board. I agree that you really need to hear it from people who have gone through the learning process themselves. Perhaps you can expand a bit more on the question above? I think you meant what I was hoping for as in expanded circle of view.

CC - I was just about to post and I noticed your reply - I will put you first in line if it all gets too much for me and I go back to my Tasco! I'm quite a dab hand with that you know! From what you are saying I will try something like the ring Nebula near Vega I believe. If you can recommend anything else, nothing west of Vega or in the North as that looks towards London, I could try it? I think after seeing Uranus I will drop my ambitions for Pluto! No chance of that or Neptune either.

Thanks Guys ( and Girls)

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I think you missed the best of the ring neb. but you should be able to catch it in the evening just after it gets dark enough. Its in the west now so you'll need a good view in that direction. The crab nebula is on its way in the next few weeks but you'll need to check with the eyeballing crowd as to if its a seeable object or not. I rarely look down the 'scope except to see if its blocked.

Captain Chaos

PS I'll be away from civilisation for a day or three as of tomorrow AM

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Maroon,

The f3.3 reducer is for imaging only. Your best bet for visual is a Meade/ Celestron f6.3 reducer that will work visually as well as imaging.

CC,

The crab nebula is easily visible in a even a 8" scope, unfortuneatly it's very dissapointing visually. Nothing like the images, it's just a large blob in all but the largest scopes.

Gaz

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If my beauty is anything to go by your scope must be outrageously good!

I found as a beginner that the open clusters were a great target for my first views. The double cluster blew me away. I do have a wide angle EP and could just get both in.

Also, I enjoyed the ring nebula and then when I was a bit more experienced some of the globulas. With patience and more magnification you can 'bust them' into individual stars - I'd love to try your scope for this!

I really enjoy Andromeda in mine and its companion galaxies, but it is just a smudge of light with a bright core. When you consider the effort people go through to get an image I guess what we see is pretty good - just very unlike a glossy book!

But don't forget double stars - I couldn't see the appeal but as soon as I got this scope on them I was hooked. Resolving them is great fun and some of the colours are incredible.

Also, if you have an SLR shove it on the back and take pic of a globula or something and the power of this scope becomes obvious. Especially it's power to drain your wallet - as soon as you start imaging, oh dear!

Oh, and don't forget the moon. You will be overwhlemed! I showed astronomy hating friends and they stayed for two hours in the freezing cold to see what else was out there. (Ending on the moon is a much better option though!)

PS: I have a Celestron f6.3 focal reducer and it works well with my scope although I use it for imaging at the moment.

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Don't worry MB - once you get the hang of things you'll love it. By all accounts you've got an excellent scope. Don't push the mag - Gaz told you that already. You've got loads of great things to see up there. Just mind yer back, setting up is a knack you'll get soon enough. And PLEASE don't drop it!!! Gordon posted some excellent tips for you and Saturn WILL knock your socks off. I can't wait to hear from you next year when you get to see Mars with it. Just remember how it looked in your old scope, eh? Things are going to get better, and better, and better, and - well, you get the picture? :thumbright:

Oh, and CC... have a good one matey :D

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Look on the bright side. You managed to point at something in the sky. I am at week 2 with my scope and it has been shooting blanks. I almost feel like all the stars are on vacation.

Doesn't help that am new to the game either. I will be giving it until the end of the month and my telescope will probably appear on ebay or trade in for new kitesurfing gear.

Don't give up. I loose interest too easily.

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This will sound suspect coming from a dealer but the unspoken truth is.............. You need three scopes!

A light bucket for deep-sky-objects

A SCT/Mak/long-tube refractor for planets

A Grab & Go for travelling and those times when you can't be bothered to set-up the big ones.

I'll get my coat :D

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No doubt you are correct Steve but I am very broke at the moment, especially after booking a week skiing in Aspen in December. Let me tell you about the skies up in the mountains there!! There were so many stars and fuzzy patches visible it was obscene! I even had trouble recognising constellations that I knew - it's a different world.

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light bucket - nope

sct or equivalent - nope.

grab and go to the nearest dustbin - yep!

Hoping for an upgrade to a good all-rounder reflector sometime soon

Andrew

P.S. By the way, what's the max an EQ5 will carry comfortably enough for astrophotography?

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Horses for courses of course, I picked the C8 for it's relative portability as i do the "dodge the LP dance" around MoJo manner! :D YES going from Bins to a scope like a sct is a big step I STILL haven't managed to do a "proper align due to either work pressures OR weather. I was out tonight but no goto again, like yourself am on a steep LC but it's FUN and will get better!! As for the BK's moonfish have them but you Can get them online from the states (BK website) and they really should be your first purchase. There are LOTS of hints on collimation on the web esp places like the sct yahoo forum etc etc.

Don't get too disheartened, just catch that Moon.

MoJo

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