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CELESTRON SkyProdigy 70. Like Some Kind of Sorcery

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#1 Rainguy


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Posted 03 September 2013 - 05:25 PM

While I was debating whether to spring for a Celestron Starsense mount, Fry's ran a 1-day sale with an absurdly low price for the SkyProdigy 70, so I drove down and snagged one (they had sold the only 2 on the floor in like 10 minutes, but a sales guy scanned their inventory and found one more in the back; took him a half hour to run it down).

I took it out Sunday night, a rare clear one here in Western Oregon. But as the alignment requires a fairly wide open vista (not my patio!), I drove 2 minutes to a flat, local park in Lake Oswego with 270 degrees of unobstructed views and set up there.

All I did was, as per the manual, point it up (at about a 45-degree angle) to an open area of sky (this to the west), and hit Align. Let the whirring begin! The little OTA moved about, pausing here and there to snap photos and after a few "Assembling Data" and "Solved" readouts on the hand control screen, "Alignment Complete" popped up on the screen. It took 2-3 minutes.

I clicked on Open Clusters, scrolled down to the Double Cluster and hit Enter. Movement to the north and east. Scope stopped. I looked into the eyepiece (a 19mm Agena flat field) and . . . there the double beauty was, perfectly centered. For the next 20 minutes, I punched in a pair of Messiers (39 and 52, as I recall) and a bunch of NGCs. The SP nailed them all: Bam. Bam. Bam.

***Aside: I've not yet tried the manual "3 areas of the sky" alignment procedure, but I'd like to try it so as to be able to use this scope from my patio. Please let me know how your attempts here went, and how you went about doing it.

I've previously owned other GoTos: a Meade DS-2090 and ETX-80. The alignment procedure seemed to me laborious and inconsistent. You put the scope in the Home position, point the tube directly north, etc. then, once it finds the 2 or 3 alignment stars, you need to center each, hit Enter and so on. This in addition to regularly going through the Train Drives and Test Motors routines. I did all this, and the same way each time, and sometimes the alignment would be okay, other times off, sometime way off.

This SkyProdigy system is a whole different thing. You hit the On switch. And that's it. All you do. Starsense does the rest. Does this make me lazy? Perhaps. But it sure was fun. And efficient. And I spent the huge majority of my time observing and sketching rather than hunting. I've only been at this maybe 18 months and know the sky . . . reasonably well. But in my white zone skies, it's hard to run down any but the brightest stars. But the SP, on the default Urban setting, found what it needed fine.

Also, I note that I can use other OTAs on the Starsense base and want to try this soon. If anyone out there has done this, please let me know how it played out. I think you have to go into Advanced settings and make some adjustments as the Starsense default settings on mine are geared to the stock 70mm OTA. I also want to try out my Celestron Sky Scout 90mm refractor, Vixen A70lf, and Stellarvue SV-ED80 on this mount. But not for a while, probably.

Now this could turn ugly some time next week or next month (if my First Light was some kind of fortuitous aberration), but at this point I am delighted with my SkyProdigy.

Love to hear from other SPers out there.

Orion StarBlast 6, Celestron 15 x 70 SkyMaster binocular, Explore Scientific AR102,
Celestron 102GT, Stellarvue SV-ED80, Vixen A70lf, ES Twilight I mount,,Orion AZ-4 mount, Celestron C90 Mak, Orion SkyScanner 100
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#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 05:28 PM

Sooooo .... what was the absurdly low price?


#3 oo_void


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Posted 03 September 2013 - 05:38 PM

Amazon currently has it for $359.

#4 Rainguy


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Posted 03 September 2013 - 05:47 PM

Oooops. Thought I'd added that. $199. And this was a brand new scope. All boxes and bags sealed, tissue paper on the OTA, etc. As the StarSense mount alone is, last I checked, $299, this seemed a good deal.

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