What is the Celestron CPC-1100 XLT?
The CPC 1100XLT is a Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope ( "SCT"). It features an 11" primary mirror (hence the "11" in "1100") which is the largest mirror featured in the CPC line of scopes. SCTs are considered very good at most astronomy tasks. They're smaller, easier to transport than other scopes with the same aperture sizes, and their unique light folding design makes them very powerful compared to other scopes of the same aperture. Announced in 2005 and introduced in 2006, the CPC 1100XLT is the latest in a long line of computerized SCTs from Celestron. The scope features a hand controller ("HC") that has a built-in database of some 40,000 celestial objects suitable for viewing or astrophotography, an array of ports for expansion capabilities on it's base (see photo below), a port on the HC that allows firmware upgrades for the HC, the ability to run your CPC directly from a laptop using your favorite planetarium software, and motor drives which "slew to" (or move to) and track objects that you choose using the HC or your PC. The CPC uses a built in GPS sensor so that it knows it's location and the time of day whenever it's switched on. After a simple alignment, it can help you find and view any target visible to it at that given time.
A typical SCT scope cross section design... and as realized in the Celestron CPC-1100XLT!
Presenting My CPC-1100XLT...
The first picture at left shows the CPC parked- this is generally it's "I'm waiting for a night of good 'seeing' (astro-speak for clear, dark skies)" position although it's usually turned diagonally to the corner. The middle shot depicts the scope with it's 9x50 finder scope, and the position of my Bluestar Wireless Telescope adapter. The picture at right shows the HC, the base with various ports (detailed below) and the eyepiece visual back as well as the focusing knob which is outlined in Celestron orange. (Note the finder scope isn't mounted- but it's attachment point is visible above the left fork arm on the OTA)
For those wondering just how you lift a 65 lb scope that truly feels like a lot less- the first two pictures above detail Celestron's brilliant solution: the first picture shows the gripping slot that one hand grasps. The second picture shows the comfortably thick silvery handle on the opposite handle which you grip. Unscrew the 3 captive bolts beneath the Tripod base (not visible here) and lift. The scope is forced to the center of your body when held this way which makes lifting and moving it about very easy. A great tip -especially for people with back problems- is to take the scope off it's tripod and place it on a sturdy table at about the same height- then move the tripod to your observation site and level it then move the scope from the table to the tripod. In this way, your back has very little lifting to do. Remember that if you do place the scope on the ground or floor- always lift with your arms or legs- never lift with your back.
The picture at left is a close up showing the many ports offered on the CPC scopes and also the azimuth clutch knob at center. The Off/On switch at right is the only real complaint I have with the CPC design- it's red LED is ridiculously bright when the scope's powered up. I've found that the best cure for this is to simply cover it with the small lens cover from the Finder scope! The picture at right depicts the CPC's power supply; it's an Orion Dynamo Pro 17AH (identical to the one marketed by Celestron) with more bells and whistles than I probably need! And yes, it will jump start a car- you can see the cables. The CPC is powered by the cigarette plug adapter (plugged in in the Dynamo picture) running to the 12v in port on the base (below the power switch).
These next shots depict the CPC's HC, HC mount and Bluestar Wireless Telescope adapter. In the middle picture, the HC is depicted (Hey! It's GPS linked- inside!) fully illuminated. The left shot shows the orientation of the Bluestar- it can be mounted in any number of ways, but where I have it it's out of the way. The cables look jumbled here, but they really aren't a problem in actual use, and it's a lot better than running another set of cables to your scope from the laptop. Bluestar works superbly with this scope and any ASCOM driven planetarium software. I use Cartes du Ciel (Skycharts)- an excellent (and totally FREE) program with the Bluestar. NexRemote (which is included with the CPC) software is also 100% compatible with the Bluestar.
www.skiesunlimited.net Where I bought my CPC 1100XLT! Service second-to-none and a staff that really cares. They sell just about every astronomy product out there and they are local to the Philadelphia, PA region. Say "Hi!" to Bob for me!
www.celestron.com Of course, this is your source for all firmware upgrades and tech support- I've had great contacts so far with the big orange "C"!
www.cloudynights.com An excellent source of astronomy know-how and reviews and forums. I've made many posts in the "Nexstar GPS / CPC Telescopes" section. There are a lot of great people there with great tips on getting the most out of your CPC scope.
www.yahoogroups.com There's a CPC specific group there as well as many other astronomy oriented groups.
www.nexstarsite.com The definitive site for all things Nexstar! Mike Swanson's page also has great info on the CPC line as well. If you have a question, this site probably has the answer!
Paul's CPC FAQ
Paul's CPC Target List
Paul's NexImage Page
"My Time Machine... I call her, The Time Tunnel!"
My best photo of Saturn to date with the CPC-1100 XLT- Taken on January 3rd, 2007 with my Celestron NexImage camera with a 3x barlow. I used Amcap to capture the 45 second AVI file and Registax4 to align and stack the 225 resulting frames into this image then used the built in wavelet enhancements to finalize the image. The exposures were 1/5 second each and the AVI was shot at 5 fps in order to keep noise down and to eliminate compression over the USB line.
Below was my former best shot of Saturn with the CPC 1100 using a Sony consumer digital camera hooked up to a Scopetronix Digi-T adapter and then mounted to a 25mm plossl eyepiece attached to a 2x barlow lens and then further tripled by the camera's zoom lens.
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