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Celestron CPC 8" XLT

Posted by Jerry Zaun   05/28/2005 07:00AM

A review on the Celestron CPC 8” telescope

I received the unit yesterday at 2:00 PM and had it unboxed and assembled in approximately 10 min. I was being pushed for time so that is all I had time to do before going out for a test run. Here are my observations. I will start with the Tripod.

Wow, the tripod design is well thought out and well built. It is very sturdy and easy to set up with its own built-in level. It even has its own strap to hold the legs folded for carrying. The spreader and spreader bolt stays on the tripod for transport. The extensions are easy to use. I cannot find anything negative about the tripod.

The optics are excellent, equal to any I have looked through. I used it with 15 through 339 power and was very pleased with the views even though we had a lot of thin cloud cover and haze.

The main tube assembly, tube forks and base felt solid as a tank! The base self-centers on a guide pin in top of the tripod and attaches with 3 captive bolts. Attachment was very easy and quick. After attachment the entire assembly was solid as a rock. I never noticed any vibrations or shaking the entire night.

The cradle for the hand control is installed and un-installed instantly and it held the controller solidly in an excellent position for use. I never used the controller in my hand all night. The controller was easy to read and well lit. The functions were straight forward and with a little use I found easy to use. One small flaw happened though. The clear plastic cover over the screen fell out in the box. It is attaches with 2 sided tape. I will re-install it later. No real big problem.

The finder scope was the big problem. It was difficult to align as the alignment screws were very loose in the bracket. You could not align it properly as the cross hairs were not in focus and barely visible. I can not find a way to adjust the cross hairs for focus. I think this is the weak point of the entire system. I will replace it with a Right Angle Finder anyway as I feel it would be much easier to use.

I do wish I had installed the Telrad at home before I went out as that made alignment easier by getting the alignment star in the finder easier. I didn’t get mine installed until late in the night. Alignment is a 2 step procedure, 1, center in the finder, 2 then center in the eye piece. The finder is only necessary in order to get the star in the EP. I will probably only use the Telrad in the future for align step 1.

Alignment was as Celestron said it would be….EASY. Early in the night before a lot of stars were out I did a 1 star alignment and tried to go a few goto’s. It tracked the star ok but goto wasn’t good with 1 star alignment. My back was hurting from a injury earlier in the week and this made it difficult for me to lean over and do good alignments but I did a quick Auto 2 star align with the Celestron 40mm Eye Piece, using Vega, Saturn and Pollux as the check star. The rest of the night every GOTO was in the eyepiece and then I was using a 20mm ( 102 power), not the 40mm I used for alignment. I am confident that when I get my illuminated reticle eyepiece and do an alignment that is really centered the goto’s will be much better! (Sky Align works!)

One last negative. In the manual under EQ Auto Align it says to line up the Altitude Index markers. There are not any on the fork or tube. I did call Celestron but haven’t heard back as of yet. I guess the holiday weekend slowed them down. This doesn’t seem to be a real big problem because EQ 2 star alignment is the same but doesn’t use the index marks.

Over all on a scale of 1-10, I would rate this scope a 9.9!!! Would I recommend it? You bet! Am I happy? You bet! Celestron has a winner here. Ok folks, you been waiting for someone to be the guinea pig. I did it and now it’s your turn to get one of these fantastic scopes!!


Click here for more about this subject. -Ed.