I should mention here, apart from the CPC925, I have an Orion EON 72mm refractor, that I piggyback in rings on the CPC for guiding and imaging. For starters, until I decide on an additional scope to throw into the mix, I wanted to get a grab-and-go mount to use with the EON. I thought I was heading in the Vixen Porta-Mount route, but it was suggested at one of the local telescope shops (we're lucky here in southern California) that I check out the Explore Scientific Twilight II mount. I could see right away online it was a nice beefy looking mount, capable of holding some heavy scopes (like my CPC925 if it wasn't fork mounted). And when I say some heavy scopes, I mean, more than one scope at a time, with a duel dovetail t-bar. I was curious that the scope had no slow motion controls, but was told "use your pinkie finger, it's as smooth as butter." So I ordered one, and picked it up at the shop a few days later.
So yesterday afternoon I open the two boxes. It arrived in perfect, shape, well packaged, with NO instructions, not even a brochure so I can drool at their big APO. Fortunately, it wasn't too complicated, and I had already read another Twilight owners thread here (thank you!) about greasing up the plastic washer as you assemble the mount head. Even after greasing, the Azimuth felt way stiff, but I packed up my gear, and headed...for work...in lovely light polluted Burbank, CA with a lovely view of the neighboring, well illuminated, airport.
My friend and coworker has been itching to get a scope, and I was itching to try my new mount, so about 1AM we got to set up outside in the courtyard. Setup took, well, maybe two minutes. And Jupiter was centered up in a Meade UWA 18mm shortly after. It was very crisp, and we didn't have to chase it much at all with the mount with this magnification (25x). I put in a Meade UWA 6.7mm eyepiece (65x), and then had a bit of a struggle re-centering as the Azimuth was still quite stiff, but this gets much, much better later. The alt was already very smooth, but by the end of the evening, we were using our pinkie fingers to track AltAz. The Azimuth became smooth as butter, as promised, after about two hours of slewing and tracking.
We then put a 2x barlow on the 6.7mm, at 130x giving the most pleasing view of the planet for the evening. Multiple bands were clearly visible, and I believe we watched Io's shadow work it's way across the planet. Even at 130x power, we had to track rather minimally to keep up with Jupiter. Then I got cocky and threw the 5x Teleview on, and couldn't find Jupiter again. ;-)
We then did some Lunar observing, finding Mare Crisium with some pleasing relief around it's borders. The only time we had to truly "real-time" track, was on the moon with a ridiculous 5x Teleview on the 6.7mm UWA, giving 325x power. You know, Mare Crisium held up quite well, filling a good portion of the field, but it was visibly moving, and required a bit of track ahead and view, track ahead and view. Still, very cool, and satisfying.
We also viewed M45 Pleiades Cluster, and M42 Orion Nebula , which we got a nice pop with when I threw on a Lumicon UHC filter. At this point in the evening, the Azimuth was so smooth, we didn't even realize it. All of a sudden we we tracking targets without much thought to it. At this time another coworker came by and we retraced our path from Jupiter to the Moon to the Orion Nebula. I don't believe he'd seen any of this through a telescope before, and was truly in awe. "There's lines running through Jupiter! Are those it's moons?" It's always exciting to show these wonders to someone new.
I have to say so far I am thrilled with the Twilight II mount. I've yet to put a real load on it, with my setup weighing maybe 10-12 pounds. But I've been thinking of a 120mm APO or possibly a 150 MAK. In any case, I'm looking forward to getting a side-by-side scope set-up going. And Once I pick up a simple guide scope for the CPC925, I'm looking forward to many nights viewing the skies, while my imaging setup records them.
I'm not a big review writer, so I'm sure there are many unanswered questions. Please feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to answer. And if I get a chance this weekend, I'll try and add some pictures of the setup.
Also, any suggestions on an observing chair?