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A Night of Wow with the Big Cat!

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#1 loo27

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:19 PM

The C14 continues to wow me. After a Monday night (9-12am) and Tuesday morning (5:30-6:30am) of poor seeing, so bad it made me question my optics, the C14 was up again Tuesday night (for alignment, cooling and a little star hopping), I woke up at 4:20 am and observed about 1.5 hrs. The air was a touch humid, I've found this to be a sign of good seeing and it happened to be true. Mars was great, It is the first time details appeared 'crunchy' and not soft. The color saturation I'd seen earlier wasn't there, but the detail was so stark, especially with colored filters, it was amazing. Up to 313x, the detail was crisp, and up to 652x, the detail was still there, but not as crisp.

I had to go to work, and decided to check the other sights. In 15 minutes, I found out how good my CAT was. I put the c14 on the slightly waning full moon. It was sharp with an #21 or #58a filter, but what really blew me away is I put a 4mm Celestron Plossl (from the kit), giving me 978x. Instead of seeing a dim blob, I made out distinct detail. I actually felt I was inside the crater! It was also crystal clear at 652x, in moments of steady seeing. That really impressed me, because seeing was avg to above average, but not great. Next I checked the trapezium. The previous morning, I could make out the 5th and 6th star for the first time, but it required effort. With a steadier sky, I looked at the trapezium at only 130x and the 5th and 6th star stuck out like a sore thumb! Wow. My last stop was Saturn. Saturn was probably 30-45 degrees up. Up til now, my best view of Saturn was the 2003 opposition (dec 30 or 31) at zenith with a 6" refractor at 300x. Man, this view of through the c14 blew it away! It was crystal clear at 434x, and only slightly less clear at 652x!!

You know, I've owned lots of scopes and had lots of great views, but the c14 won the prize on Mars, Saturn, and the Moon this morning. It also won the prize on Jupiter this past spring. All I can say is 'wow'!

#2 Festus

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:30 PM

Thanks for your report Cliff. Since dropping out of the RCX beta testing club I have been looking at alternatives this being one of them. How does the CGE mount hold up with the 14"?

#3 loo27

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 03:19 PM

When my head hits the tube, the vibration dampens in about 1 second or less. In general, my ota is well balanced, with the RA slightly imbalanced per instruction in the manual for good tracking.


I can't say enough about the CGE14 XLT package. With my package, the optics are great, the tracking is great, and if you align stars at 652x, the goto is great. I used to try to align on stars far apart in the sky, but interestingly enough, I've been aligning on Vega and Altair and the goto has been killing it.

The caveats are:

1. The set up is heavy, but no piece is over 50 lbs. Preparation is needed.

2. Cool down is an issue. This weekend, I think I'm going to build a CAT cooler, since now the temps are dropping. Before, cooldown was reasonable, but Monday night, I had the scope out for 4 hrs and still saw 'bubbles' in the defocused star images.

3. Collimation is key. I've gotten reasonable good at it, however.

You may know all this, however. I do feel these GEM CAT set ups are far more portable than fork mounted CATs.

Unlike a small refractor, this is not a turnkey operation. CATs require some skills in operation. I've had CATs for about 1.5 yrs, and only in the last few months I feel I've mastered all aspects of the CGE operation. But, given patience and diligence, the CGE 14 is a very rewarding observing experience.

Also, check out my article on the astromart, where I focus mainly on set up issues, and dealing with the challenges of of set up and operation.


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