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Celestron Nexstar 102 GT

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#1 DaveG



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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:19 PM

I know this scope has been discussed quite a bit, but I just need to express how incredible this thing performs for the price. My wife surprised me with it as a Christmas present and I must say, even though the mount is a tad shaky, optically the 102 GT performs just as well, if not better than my Meade AR-5. It is astonishing that for $200 you can get such a good performing achromat.

#2 Crow Haven

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:52 PM

Congratulations on the new scope! I, too, have found this achro a really good performer and a lot of fun. I'm using the mt. for shorter light wt. scopes also. It's an amazing price Costco offers for it! :grin:

#3 Locoman


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Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:56 AM

I agree, it is a good performer. Got mine off eBay for $120.00 brand new. I've never used the tripod, I use the mount on my HAL-130 tripod which make for a sturdy combination.

#4 AlienRatDog



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Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:14 PM

Does the mount directly attach to the HAL tripod?

#5 Jeff Smith

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:18 PM

I have the same setup and love the OTA. The mount and supplied eyepieces...not so much.

#6 RTLR 12



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Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:47 PM

The OTAs are available at OPT for $120.


#7 Locoman


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Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:34 PM

Does the mount directly attach to the HAL tripod?

Yes but I had to get a different bolt from the hardware store to make it work.

#8 Madratter


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Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:29 PM

I absolutely love mine. Sure the mount is (very) shaky, and the eyepieces are what you would expect on a 200$ telescope. But at least my copy has very good optics, I don't use the eyepieces, and I can put up with the shaky mount given how extremely portable it is. It does feel strange when using it when I have more twice the $$$ in accessories (2" diagonal and 13mm Nagler) on the scope.

I have much bigger telescopes, but I love this one because it is so portable and useable. (And for what it is worth I prefer the focuser on this one to what I have on my Celestron C6-RGT).

#9 Meadeball



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Posted 17 January 2013 - 12:34 PM

The focuser is almost what sold me on buying mine back in October 2011. You just don't see this kind of nicely machined metal on budget telescopes anymore. I think we have the Omni 102 XLT to thank for this scope's existence; I don't think even Celestron could've afforded to put this much quality into a scope in this price range unless they were pulling 'em prebuilt off of an existing line. Whoever winds up with one of these as a first telescope doesn't know what a giant leap they're taking over the comparably priced "department store" fodder.

#10 Jay_Bird


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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:45 PM

I’m impressed with the C-102GT optical tube, well worth the $120 clearance price. Here are impressions after a few days’ inspection and use last Saturday night.

Build quality – overall good:
Sturdy, smooth rack & pinion all-metal focuser , with accessory shoe.

Plastic lens cell and especially too short plastic dew shield - dew shield protects lens, but doesn't extend very far in front (I estimate only 3 inches ahead of objective) for proper dew control.

Dovetail bar bolted to tube is metal, but too short for much back and forth balance adjustment (2”-inch diagonal + 2-inch eyepiece require a little weight added at objective to balance with the stock dovetail).

Tube weight is about the same as my older 80mm f/6 Nighthawk with heavy clamshell and dovetail, but the C-102 gives twice as long of a moment arm. While the smaller scope is solid on a Porta-mount, the C-102 feels closer to upper limit for same mount. It works fine with a little care not to bump, awareness of damping time.

Optics – nice!

Star pattern symmetrical and consistent inside and outside focus. CA was noticeably less than seen in my Nighthawk 80mm f/6. Moon has only slightest fringe at limb, no color on axis. No sign of pinched optics.

Holds power well; could have gone over 160x on moon. Lunar view help up very well at 160x. It helped that the view was stunning, with terminator sunlight just illuminating the higher side of the straight wall, and a small crater poking above the straight wall’s shadow. Under higher sun, details inside Atlas and Hercules were clear.
M-42 had a lot of wispy detail under 1st quarter moonlight, with a field of 1.5 degrees giving crisp star images as the overall impression. Sirius was awash in blue but Jupiter’s narrow blue halo was less noticeable and detail seen a little better than in Nighthawk, Jupiter still a bit of a challenge w/o any filter due to CA, but less so than in the faster short tube.

This is a very nice lunar scope. It will complement the Nighthawk for deep sky reach and higher power detail, trading off the wider views and air portability of the smaller f/6 scope.

I find Jupiter a tough object for false color compared to the moon, or the somewhat monochromatic (at least compared to Jupiter) Saturn and Mars. I'm looking forward to more deep sky use when the sky is darker.


Porta or similar alt-az would be very adequate, but I plan to make some tube rings (padded pipe hangers or hose clamps – in the frugal spirit of $120 OTA) to use this on a Russian TAL-1 GEM. I’ll work on a dew shield extension too. Others could add rings and a longer dovetail for easier balance on Vixen type mounts.


Overall a good buy for someone who has diagonals and eyepieces. The OTA is also offered with 2” diagonal, or 1.25-inch diagonal and 2 eyepieces, for about $40-$50 more than the bare OTA with only 2”-1.25” adapter that I got.

Need a finder? The Celestron StarPointer red-dot has adjustable brightness and is only $14.95 on sale through January. I may get a 2nd one of these. Compared to the ‘giant mars eye’ from old Apogee and Stellarvue, the Celestron has a smaller and slightly darker window that still works well under the stars. The Celestron red dot is a maybe 2 minute of arc disk; this seems easier to pick up instantly compared to the pinpoint dot of the giant mars eye. While the Rigel Quikfinder remains my favorite RDF, this simple red dot works wells and comes with 2 mounting plates.

#11 rtomw77



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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:31 AM

Jay Bird

Thanks for the review. I do have one question. Does the accessory shoe fit the Synta/Orion style finder mount?

If I hadn't just got a Vixen A80Mf I would order a 102 GT OTA.

(Must resist.... Must resist.... Must resist.)


#12 Jay_Bird


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 11:54 AM

Tom, first I don't think there would be nearly as much difference between the 80mm f/11 Vixen and the 102mm f/10 Celestron GT as the differences between the 80mm f/6 and 102 GT as I compared.

I got the GT for 2 reasons. First, to add a little more high magnification grab and go capability for the PortaMount for backyard looks at events like the moon and Jupiter last night. Second, to have a scope largely dedicated to the used TAL mount that I like for its "old school" operation. The TAL is too light for my C-8 and too tall for a small Newt with kids, and while I made an adapter for the Nighthawk and used the slow motion for manual tracking, that combination always seems like overkill unless at a star party. The 102 is a good match, about like the various 80 to 102mm Omni mount combinations.

The 102, like a longer f/ratio (less CA) 80mm, is also a little more satisfying lunar and double star scope than the 80 f/6. I tried a C-90 for several years, it was fun but never really exceeded the Nighthawk enough for my higher power use, did less well on deep sky, but was lighter in weight. Overall the C-90 was less versatile for anything but lunar grab and go, and that was hard to call, the edge only for less CA in the C-90. I think 80 and 102 f/10 or f/11 is a lot more apples and apples subtle difference than 80f/6 and 102 f/10. For years a sketcher on CN regularly posted observations from his 'planet hunter' 80 f/11.

Having said all that, the 102GT seems like a really good deal for $120 with caveats listed before about the plastic lens cell (which seems OK on my example) that holds nice optics, short mount doevetail, no rings or finder, etc., and somewhat skimpy plastic dewshield.

To answer your finder shoe quaetion: the 102 GT focuser is probably a Synta, given Celestron's ownership by Synta. It looks the same as my old Nighthawk focuser too. I once had a Vixen small Newtonian OTA and the dovetail shoe for that finder needed filing to swap in the narrower Nighthawk focuser dovetail, and I think the Nighthawk used a cleaned-up Synta focuser in the old days. So Vixen finder dovetails may be a little wider 'wedge' than Synta (and I think Synta are same as Celestron).

#13 rtomw77



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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:20 PM

Thanks Jay Bird.

The Orion finder mount fits the Vixen OK, and I would think it would fit the Celestron as well.

Like you I don't think there is enough difference between these two scopes for me to warrant purchasing the 102. The CFO already says I have too much stuff taking up space in the house. Its just that I have a hard time resisting a good bargain!


#14 Calypte



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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:15 PM

I bought one of these scopes entirely on a whim, an impulse purchase, if you will. I'm astounded at how good it is. I didn't have to buy a mount or finder, because I put the scope on the Mach1 mount in my observatory. Go-tos put anything I want to see in the eyepiece. I did have to buy a Vixen-Losmandy adapter to put the scope on the mount. The Vixen-style shoe on the scope is half-way along the tube, which is way too far forward. The focuser is a bit sloppy, but it's good enough for a $120 scope. With the bright moon, I've been splitting double stars.

#15 csrlice12



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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

Concerning the finders. I don't have the 102GT, but the 102XLT, which is basically the same OTA. I do know you can swap out the finderscope from the XLT with the Orion 9X50 RACI (it came with my dob) as the finderscope mount has the same "foot". I'm fining I really like the RACI on the XLT.

#16 Widespread


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Posted 12 April 2013 - 01:41 PM

Yes, my Orion finderscope mount from my ST80 fits the shoe on my 102GT perfectly.

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