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Celestron 100 mm f 9.8 achro with goto at Costco

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#26 BigC

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:53 AM

Looking over the specs, it looks pretty certain that the mount itself is the Nexstar SLT. Same tripod, vixen style dovetail rail, skyalign, etc. Considering the mount itself typically costs 300 when purchased individually, and the OTA costs around 230 when purchased individually (from Skywatcher Canada, since it's typically not available individually in the US), this is possibly the single most insanely good bargain I've ever seen as long as you intend to use the mount and scope separately.

I'll be picking mine up in about a month. I'll provide a comprehensive test report.

Looks like some people don't want to recognize a good deal This scope has been reviewed elsewhere,including one of the websites in England and rated well.This would be a good starter scope ..

#27 Meadeball

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:56 AM

GM everyone -- I'm new here; I read this thread after doing a Google search and had to join to make a couple of comments. I'm 47 and have been into amateur astronomy since I was 11. I started with a $19 2-1/2-inch reflector from Sears and at one time owned an 8-inch Celestron SCT, and in the interim have owned about 10 other scopes of various design including Maks, SCTs and newts. Right now I'm divorced and just casually into the hobby. The last scope I had was an Orion Starmax 127 that replaced a Meade ETX-90, but I got rid of the Starmax about five years ago.

Last fall I was in Costco and came across the same deal you guys are talking about this fall. I picked up the 102GT and have been enjoying it casually ever since. Yes, the mount and tripod is its Achilles Heel; the tripod needs to be taller and beefier. I've been looking for a way to modify it because it could stand being about a foot taller. Anything near overhead and I'm on my knees in the dewy grass.

Tell you what, though, this "little" scope has one heck of a set of optics for the price. I'm splitting close doubles all the time, and the Orion nebula surprised the heck out of me. I guess a little chromatic aberration can be a good thing when it comes to celestial beauty, lol! Truth be told, the aberration is low considering some other refractors I've used. The focuser is actually metal and well-lubricated -- it shines compared with the plastic one Meade put on the 8-inch Starfinder reflector I once purchased for more than twice the price of this little refractor. The rubber inlays in the focuser knobs are helpful on cold nights too. I've considered buying something like a CG-4 mount and putting the OTA on it, but I'd be doubling the price of the scope and then some, and I'd lose the GOTO capability. I'm still undecided on what I'll do to modify that mount.

One thing I think Celestron took the cheesy approach on is the battery setup. Most of their Nexstars have a battery compartment inside the base. For some reason this one has a cheap little battery holder that you have to plug in to the base and set (or hang) on the tripod. It doesn't bespeak high-quality. If you buy one of these scopes, go ahead and spring the ~$20 for the AC and/or DC power adapters, because (a) they're a much more elegant solution, and, more importantly, (b) the 8 AA batteries will only last a few hours at best. The mount EATS batteries. One other quibble; there's no "on-off" switch on the mount. Plug in the power from whatever source and it's running until you pull the plug.

Bottom line? This scope isn't perfect, but it's worth every bit of $199. It belongs in the $300-$400 category. It's a great scope you can one-hand-carry out at a moment's notice, or if you prefer to pack it up, here's a great accessory I purchased:

http://www.telescope...lescopecase.cfm

The best telescope is the one you're going to use most, right? Well, by that standard, this may be the best telescope I've owned!

Like last year, this scope was a bit of an enigma at Costco. It never appeared on their website, and the store even had a hard time locating it in their inventory list when I called asking how many they had left.

But if you're considering one, keep a close eye on the stock and WAIT. Last year, when they started to run low in early November, they enacted a $50 instant rebate which brought the scope down to $149. I didn't hear about it until January and successfully went back and had the rebate applied retroactively, but it took two visits and some phone calling. Do yourself a favor and watch what happens over the next few weeks. It's a great deal at $199, but a steal at $149!

#28 Zamboni

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:09 AM

I'll definitely keep an eye out for the rebate deal!

What you said about the battery pack indicates that it isn't the SLT mount after all. It looks like they took the older Nexstar GT mount (which is still sold under the Skywatcher brand in Canada) and added the SLT tripod and dovetail rail setup and supplied it with the current Altaz hand controller. Will still make a great mount for my PST.

I'm thinking when ai build the L bracket for the PST I'll make a YouTube instructional video for it. I already have the parts list and blueprint written up. I have an iPhone with a tripod adapter and iMovie app. Might as well spread the joy.

#29 Meadeball

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:02 PM

Thanks for the kind reply. Yep, I'm out there for a deal too -- money's tight these days. How's this for a deal -- you guys should keep your eyes open for stuff like this too -- back in 2008, KMart offered a Meade RB60 -- your basic, 60mm "department store" refractor -- for Christmas for $79.99. I was browsing the store sometime in January and found the store's "clearance" aisle, and there were two of these scopes, still in the box -- they had been picked over because their boxes were a little dinged up -- but they'd been reduced twice since Christmas, and they were currently asking only $28.99 for each of them! I couldn't pass up such a deal, even for a cheap little throwback to my first days in the hobby.

I've played with the scope a few times; as expected, it's not much -- but it came with two Meade MA eyepieces (25 & 9 mm) -- Meade has redesigned the MA's into Plossl lookalikes, complete with fold-down rubber eyecups, and even though they have "China" stamped on them, they don't look (or see) bad. The eye relief is OK on the 25 (I wear glasses), but sucks on the 9. Here's a pic:

Posted Image

They have a 40mm FOV, which, like somebody said over on the eyepiece forum, was state-of-the-art when I was getting into the hobby. I figure, hey, two OK eyepieces and a toy telescope for $28. Whadda bah-gain!!! Motto of story: Watch those closeout and clearance sections! :lol:

#30 Meadeball

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 03:51 PM

BTW, I skimmed the posts in this thread and didn't see anyone provide the link to Celestron's page on this telescope. Believe it or not, it's on Celestron's site ... it's just not easy to find. Here's the page ...

http://www.celestron...opentab=support

Scroll down the page and you'll see an instructional video, a .pdf of the manual you can download, and an accessories sheet. (You can read my review -- the author is "M" -- too!) Hope this helps someone.

Meade

#31 tnakazon

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:39 PM

Thanks for the link! I also saw that this scope was on the Celestron website, but that it can't be purchased online (only through Costco). I'll need to register this scope online.

Still having some problems with the GOTO - I can only get the two-star alignment to work in a light-polluted setting. But the SkyAlign (3-star) worked in a dark-sky site.

Also sometimes the hand controller power goes off (a faulty cord?) and I have to play with the connection to get it back on again and reset the alignment.

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#32 BigC

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:47 AM

Poor power connection is a weakness of Celestron scopes;they use a slightly non-standard power connector but if your cord is Celestron it should be correct.

It is best for reliable operation to have good batteries in the mount as well as the external power tank.The internal batteries will get you through the cord being pulled out,etc. Be careful about leaving batteries internally too long,after some time (months)they may leak and corrode.

#33 Meadeball

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 09:34 AM

It is best for reliable operation to have good batteries in the mount as well as the external power tank. The internal batteries will get you through the cord being pulled out, etc.


Not possible. This telescope doesn't provide internal battery storage -- the batteries are inserted into an external 8-AA pack that plugs into the same connector on the side of the fork that you would also plug external power into. It's either/or, not both.

The arrangement is just visible in the photo below, which I found using Google. Celestron provides a little "leatherette" snap-case with a loop hanger on it for the pack -- the user here has elected to hang it on one of the tripod leg adjustment screws. I place mine on the accessory shelf. I've been thinking about going to Radio Shack and "upping" the battery pack to an 8-D cell pack, or retrofitting the cord to a small 12-volt SLA battery I have for a piece of camping equipment. Either way will provide lots more observing time than the 3-4 hours a set of fresh AAs will provide. (And as a bonus, the heftier weight of a heavier battery pack, placed on the accessory shelf, will help a bit in stabilizing the mount and tripod. ...)

Posted Image

Meade

#34 mclewis1

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 01:00 PM

Poor power connection is a weakness of Celestron scopes;they use a slightly non-standard power connector but if your cord is Celestron it should be correct.

The connector is hardly "non standard" ... it's a 2.1mm x 5.5mm DC power connector which is very popular and used in a whole variety of products including the whole Celestron scope/mount family. The other popular connector is 2.5mm x 5.5mm (used my Meade and others) and this is where the problems sometimes occur ... the two look identical but the 2.5mm connector fits too loosely and causes intermittent power problems.

The first number in the specifications is the diameter of the center pin, the second is the diameter of the barrel of the connector. Seen side by side the two different connectors are obviously different but on their own it's almost impossible to differentiate a 2.5mm opening from a 2.1mm one.

#35 *skyguy*

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 08:27 PM

Also sometimes the hand controller power goes off (a faulty cord?) and I have to play with the connection to get it back on again and reset the alignment.


I used to have the same problem with my SLT mount. The center pin on the SLT connector is split. Take a very small screwdriver or knife and carefully widen the pin. It will now hold the plug tighter and you won't loose the connection anymore.

#36 BigC

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:16 PM

OOOPS!

So many battery powered scopes have internal battery compartments I just assumed the scope under discussion also had that compartment.

I have enough computer and other stuff that all use different size connectors ,it would be nice if all scopes used the same one!

#37 stevew

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:20 PM

I was at my local Costco today, and all they had was this 90mm Meade.
I don't think I have ever seen so much plastic.
Even the silver focuser draw tube was plastic, and when I turned the focuser the draw tube would flex up and down not just in and out.
The mount fork arm was also plastic.
Don't you love it when they set up scopes the wrong way...

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#38 stevew

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:21 PM

I'd love to see this scope pull in 30,000 objects....

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#39 Jim7728

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:01 PM

LOL I also went to Costco and the Celestron was set up the same way.

However, I did put the ota in it's correct position...then security swarmed around me. :grin: Not!

Still tempted to pick one up, but have too much astro clutter.

#40 tnakazon

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:38 PM


Also sometimes the hand controller power goes off (a faulty cord?) and I have to play with the connection to get it back on again and reset the alignment.


I used to have the same problem with my SLT mount. The center pin on the SLT connector is split. Take a very small screwdriver or knife and carefully widen the pin. It will now hold the plug tighter and you won't loose the connection anymore.

Thanks for the tip! I'll try it out.

#41 Crow Haven

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 02:31 PM

This past Thurs. Paul and I had to go to Portland so on our return trip we stopped in Eugene at the Costco there. I found the boxed Nexstar 102 GT scope on a pallet underneath some shelves, easy to miss, and no model on display. I thought this might be fun for parts -- particularly the mt. as a tracking grab & go for my PST and other light otas like a new model C-90 (another incredible bargain @ $148 -- I have already a mt. L-bracket and AC adapter that fits). What a surprise :grin: -- it all works!!! Actually, the 4" scope is fun too, the CA isn't bad, and the ota is sturdy with a usable 2" focuser and metal parts. The Huygens eyepiece set is funny but later I'll check them out...not expecting much.
I plan to use the 4" scope on other mts. mainly. :grin:
Fun! :grin:
---Maya

#42 Zamboni

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:15 PM

Welp, looks like my local Costco doesn't carry it. Unfortunately, that doesn't kill my ambition to have a 4" achromat.

Might be biting the bullet and getting an Omni 102 XLT in a few weeks. Also a motor drive, a piggyback adapter for my PST and a herschel wedge...

I'll be in my bunk.

#43 Starhawk

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 12:41 AM

I'll see what I see at ASAE. The mount is a slam dunk for little scopes like the PST, up through a C5, it looks like. The long 102mm OTA appears to be the only complication.

I'm wondering if my little one could find an OTA she liked for it.

-Rich

#44 Locoman

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:23 PM

The optics are the same as the Omni 102. I plan on getting one so I can remount the OTA down the road and use the mount for my PST.

The optics are the same as the Omni 102 XLT or is there a Omni 102 I've never heard of? If its the same as the XLT is this really true? :question:

#45 Zamboni

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 08:10 PM

They're the same 4" f9.8 synta objective as the Omni XLT. The only dofference is the lens cell on the costco refractor is non-collimatable.

#46 Danieljtb

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:42 PM

Crowhaven Im in Eugene did costco have more of these scopes,or just the one you picked up? if they had more will need to find someone with a costco card

#47 Meadeball

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:43 PM

I was just in my local (Richmond, VA) Costco this evening. They had about 15 of them left on the floor.

As for the non-collimatable objective, I dunno whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. (As Forrest Gump said, "You know ... one less thing." :p )

I guess, should the need ever arise, you could unmount (dismount?) the cell from the GT and replace it with a cell from an Omni and still come out a few hundred bucks ahead in the game.

I've had my 102GT for about 13 months now, and it continues to deliver stellar (ahem) images. No doubt the mount on the Omni is light-years (ahem ahem) ahead of the less substantial mount on the GT, but then again, I didn't have a $500 budget for a new scope, having just gone through a divorce and a job change in the wrong direction. This way I know I have a good OTA, and later I can change mounts or whatever as the need/desire arises. I feel it was a good way to get back into the hobby on a shoestring budget but still have enough aperture, and decent mechanicals, to enjoy a "real" telescope instead of the usual crapola available in this price range. Or, if I decide to move up into another scope, I've seen these GT's going for $50 over retail on ebay. I baby everything I own, so I should be able to get nearly everything out of it that I put into it -- especially if I sell sometime in the summer months since this appears to be a "holiday special" that Celestron ships to Costco only at this time of year. (Even the GT's page on Celestron's website notes, "Available at Costco.") Like last year, we probably won't see any more of these until late October 2013.

If you really want one of these and can't locate one near you, PM me here. I'll be happy to arrange a third-party purchase and ship one to you at whatever the cost comes to. I know, I know. I'm such a good guy. Hey, it's the Christmas season. :gnottagnome:

Meade

#48 Sky Muse

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:45 AM

That's rather bizarre that Costco, of all places, would have a four-inch, relatively long-focus achromat on their premises, much less for sale, though the inclusion of Huygenian oculars make it somewhat less surprising, granted.

#49 Starhawk

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 02:01 AM

Well, the kids fell in love with it. I've had my 7 year old daughter explaining how they could set it up, and I could set up a telescope, also. I'll have to be quiet until they can be surprised with it. I know some may disagree, but I've always thought the little NexStar mounts like this were neat.

-Rich

#50 Crow Haven

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 03:05 PM

Hi -- yes, the Eugene Costco had them on a floor pallet under some shelves in the section near the kids toys and musical instruments/keyboards etc. and holiday decos. At the time there was about a dozen left. I'm really shocked at the value still! The mt. works great and I got the adapters thru Amazon so as not to have to deal with the batteries. The scope itself is sharp and a nice achro for the price. I have smaller lt. wt. scopes (mt. is rated for about 8 lbs. I think) and a PST I'm primarily using the mt. for.
---Maya






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