Celestron Omni XLT 150

Posted by James MacWilliam   04/06/2008 06:05AM

Celestron Omni XLT 150
I've always been a refractor fan. First a Vixen SP 102, then an Orion 100mm Astroview, moving up to a Meade LXD75 127mm. All of these were achromats but I still preferred them to the occasional views I had through large Dobsonians.

I soon tired of hauling around the LXD75 and powerpack etc, and so began to rely on the smaller Orion Astroview 100mm Achromat. I began to image with this scopw too because of its wide field (600mm FL) and F/6 optics. But I soon realised I needed a second scope for my wife to use while I'm imaging and so I began to look around for another highly portable scope capable of imaging.

I spotted the Celestron Omni XLT line of scopes and was impressed by how much scope and mount you get for the money, especially since the Canadian Dollar went to par with the U.S. Dollar. I ordered the Celestron Omni XLT from Island Eyepiece nearby on Vancouver Island. The scope soon arrived and I assembled it in about 45 minutes. The Celestron CG-4 Mount is identical to the Orion Astroview Mount I already own, so the finders, slow-mos, motors, polar scope are interchangable.

First light with the Omni XLT 150 was a cloudy night with 'sucker holes'. I lined up both scopes on the Moon and compared the views. The Omni was giving me 30x and The Orion 100mm Refractor was at 24x. I was focused on some rugged terrain near the limb. My first impression was that it looked a tad sharper in the refractor. However my view was inverted in the Celestron and that is a factor in your perception.

Finally some clear skies came along and I lined up the Celestron on Saturn. I used an Orion ED 7.5mm E.P. for 100x then added a Barlow for 200x. The view stayed crisp and bright and I had the best view of Saturn I've had for a long time. I attached my Canon DSLR at prime focus and took a couple of images just to see how that compared with the Orion. Then I tried an Orion SteadyPix Camera Mount and used a Pentax Option E30 Pocket Digital Camera in movie mode. This worked amazingly well with the $150 pocket digital outperforming the $1,000 DSLR hands down on the planet.

I imaged Saturn again over the next couple of nights and viewed M81/M82, The Orion Nebula, and The Whirlpool. There's no doubt the extra light gathering of this XLT coated 6" Mirror is very noticeable over the 4" Refractor. I was surprised to find only a 1.25" focuser, but then realised that with 750mm focal length there's no need for 2" Eyepieces when you can get down to 30x with a 25mm.

I've had a half dozen viewing sessions so far and am very pleased with the scope's performance. I'v easly improved my best image of Saturn. I moved the Red-Dot EZ-Finder II from my Orion to the Celestron (same finder bracket) and can easily point to M51 and the like because the field is so wide. The scope's blue and white paint scheme is also very handsome and photographs well!

I'm chomping at the bit to point to scope to Jupiter and compare the views there with the 100mm Refractor.