Equipment

I primarily use a Celestron CPC-800 XLT.  I’ve learned quite a bit about it by now, both pro and con. Check out my collection of tips on this page: CPC-800 Tips.

I purchased this in September 2015. It’s a fork-mounted Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a computer controlled altazimuth mount. It has a built-in GPS receiver to complement it’s on-board computer, so it knows its time and location to aid in initial alignment. Once aligned, a pair of motors slowly drive the mount to follow objects across the sky.

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Celestron CPC-800 XLT

I also have a Canon 40D camera that I purchased on eBay for general use as well as dabbling in astrophotography. This is a ten-year old DSLR camera but I got it cheap and have been using it to good effect.

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Canon 40 (photo by Charles Lanteigne)

I have a number of eyepieces and a T-Adapter/ring (for the Canon camera), a Televue 2.5X Powermate focal expander, and a Celestron f6.3 focal reducer.

I constructed a number of my own accessories including a 22 AH battery pack, red LED lighting for gentle illumination of accessories, dew shields for the primary and spotting scopes, and an artificial star for fine collimation adjustments. I also made a dew heater (6 watts) that encompasses the corrector plate and a smaller heater for the spotting scope.

I’ve made a few repairs to my scope due to one unfortunate accident which I’ll describe elsewhere, and two failures of the GPS module. But generally this has been a wonderful telescope for my purposes and budget.

There are lots of resources on the web about these scopes. Two of my favorites are CloudyNights.com and the Nexstarsite. But as an electronics engineer I’ve already discovered a few tidbits on my own about the CPC series scopes that others might find useful. These are described in the CPC-800 Tips page.

Kevin has a CPC-925 as well as an older Mead Schmidt Newtonian astrograph. The Mead astrograph is a nice instrument having an equatorial mount, but is inconvenient to setup in the field. It should theoretically be a better overall instrument than the Celestron scopes for astrophotography but is too inconvenient to use. The CPC-925 is a larger version of the CPC-800.