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Celestron Ultima help and info wanted

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#1 Turf

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 07:35 AM

hi there,

 

i picked up a Celestron Ultima last week from craigslist.  its a C8, on a beefy fork,  on a wedge, on a clock drive.  now i need to learn how to use it and im looking for some help.

 

the telescope came with a few accessories, i have 3 eyepieces, a 26, 11.5, and a 9mm.  the rig had been used for astrophotography in the past and has the adapters to hook on a nikon base camera.  there is an off axis guider and a counter weight.

 

its a later version of the ultima clock drive with PEC.

 

so my first of many questions are what do i do with the off axis guider and counter weight?  is there a thread somewhere about cleaning up old scopes, making sure they are colaminated?

 

i had my first light with the scope a couple of nights ago, and found jupiter, saturn and the moon.  seeing was poor for saturn.  do i want a barlow?  i just don't know where im headed with the scope right now.

 

on other threads about the ultima, they say its a great scope for planetary observing.  that use is great for me.

 

i'd like to pick up a camera and start planetary imaging.  

 

where can i find out more about the mechanics of using the scope?  how to balance it, how to use the off axis guider?  how do the setting circles work?  what are the limitations for dso?

 

i've been following the hobby online, now finally, i have a scope to use and i don't know what im doing.

 

thanks for any help

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Edited by Turf, 04 November 2019 - 07:49 AM.

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#2 bbqediguana

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 07:44 AM

That's a nice looking scope! Here's a link to the user manual for it:

 

https://www.ou.edu/l...anual_black.pdf

 

Collimation instructions start on page 98. For the off axis guider and counterweight, you should be able to just remove them if they aren't desired/required.

 

The 9mm eyepiece you have will give you about 220x which is plenty for now if this is your first medium sized scope (which an Ultima 8 is!). All the information regarding balancing and using the scope is in the manual linked above.

 

She's a beauty - I hope she brings you some awesome views! smile.gif

 

Rick


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#3 M11Mike

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 07:49 AM

Did you get the owners manual with it???  If not - I would try to track down a copy.  You might be able to find a copy on the internet.  Or someone here on C/N's that has a O/M and would make you a copy.  A C/N's WANT AD for that would be in order.  

 

I recently bought a Celestron scope from the late 80's / early 90's - ran a C/N's want ad for the O/M and other info - a couple of very nice C/N's members got me everything I wanted and more.  Worth a shot if you don't have the O/M.

 

M11Mike     


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#4 M11Mike

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 07:50 AM

There you go - C/N's Rick already to the rescue.

 

Thanks Rick.

 

Mike P Ballston Lake, NY


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#5 bbqediguana

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 08:02 AM

i've been following the hobby online, now finally, i have a scope to use and i don't know what im doing.

 

thanks for any help

I just re-read your original post in case I missed something... and I did!!! I didn't realize this was your first scope...

 

What a great scope to start with! An 8" SCT is enough scope to last a lifetime, really. I've been in the hobby for over 40 years (and into it seriously for 25) and I'm still using a 8" SCT. Honestly, I'm amazed at how much good information is in those old manuals (M11Mike was right on about getting the manual). It is well worth a read (note: your Ultima 8 is one of several models covered in that manual).

 

The best advice I could give you? See if there's an astronomy club within your area. Taking your scope out to a club's observing session is by far the best way to up to speed with using your new scope. Experienced amateurs love to help newcomers to the hobby and they'll show you how to get your scope set up properly, aligned with Polaris for easy tracking of objects, understand which eyepieces to use on what targets and even help you check your collimation.

 

Ah, you're in for good times. smile.gif My first scope this size was a Celestron Celestar 8 and I remember how much fun it was discovering the cosmos with it.

 

Cheers!

 

Rick


Edited by bbqediguana, 04 November 2019 - 08:02 AM.

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#6 mfoose

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 11:01 AM

Lots of questions that I am sure you will get a lot of different answers for. An 8" SCT is a jack of all trades and many of us here have had at least one over our time in this hobby. You may find some general consensus in the answers, but some will be varied because of our experiences, budgets, and uses for it. There are dozens of threads already started about the questions you asked and I would suggest searching for them in the "cats and casses" forum, though you may find some here in the "classic telescopes" forum as well. 

 

The best advice I could give you is to find your local astronomy club. I will guarantee at least one member there has one is willing to answer all your questions in person and show you how your scope works, how to clean it, how to collimate it, etc. Here is a link to find your nearest one: https://www.skyandte...-organizations/

 

I would not focus on imaging the planets right now. It has a learning curve and the planets are setting now. You should focus on learning how to use your scope before that. You also don't need a barlow with this scope. Collimation matters much more on this scope for viewing details on the planets than a barlow ever will. Your 8" also focal ratio of f/10 which means that you won't need a barlow because your eyepieces already take you to a useful magnification. However, it looks like you have a f/6.3 focal reducer on it currently. It effectively takes the scope from an 8" 2032mm focal length f/10 to an 8" 1280mm f/6.3. It screws onto the back of the telescope before the visual back and diagonal. Removing the f/6.3 reducer would essentially act like a barlow, giving you around a 1.6x more magnification. An f/6.3 reducer isn't a negative accessory though, it just lowers the magnification of your eyepieces and widens the FoV. In fact, for viewing DSOs (deep sky objects) the f/6.3 focal reducer is a great accessory to have and some 8" SCT owners keep it on most of the time. 

 

The ONLY purchase I recommend to you at this time is a 1x magnification reticle finder. I recommend a Telrad. You find them on almost any telescope from a simple 6" Newtonian up to research grade observatory telescopes. Here is a link for a new one from this sites sponsor Astronomics: https://www.astronom...s-and-base.html as a member of Cloudy Nights you get a discount. You may be able to find a used one here in the classifieds for a little less. Simply attach the base on the tube of the scope with double sided tape and you are good to go. I use mine to get myself "in the neighborhood" of the object I am trying to find and then dial it in with the magnified finder. It will help you a lot just learning the sky. In that same vane of learning the night sky, bring out a pair of binoculars.

 

For eyepieces, I can tell you that your 26mm should just about live in your scope right now. Like you experienced, bad seeing will affect your view of the planets and your 11.5mm and 9mm will be too high powered unless your collimation and seeing conditions are. You may want a high magnification on some objects, but your 26mm combined with your f/6.3 reducer will give you a wide FoV (field of view) and help you find objects. For more on eyepieces for an 8" SCT here is a link to a very reputable company's recommendations: http://www.televue.c..._page.asp?id=97 Their eyepieces are premium and the price reflects it. I wouldn't purchase any eyepieces now, but after you get the feel for your scope and current eyepieces you may want to make some purchases. You can find cheaper from other companies, but their article describes what kind of eyepieces best fit the scope and you can go from there.

 

It can be very easy to get sucked into the gear and accessories, especially with a site like this, but get out there and keep observing. Experience is often the best teacher.

 

Congrats on the purchase!


Edited by mfoose, 04 November 2019 - 11:16 AM.

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#7 Turf

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 08:35 AM

thanks for all the help so far.  the manuals and words of encouragement are huge!

 

i had a small refractor many years ago, but youth and inexperience took its toll on that scope.  the c8 is my first big (medium) scope.  

 

in between spotting the planets of jupiter and saturn the other night, i realized i had the 6.3 reducer on the scope.  i saw jupiter with the reducer, then removed it while i slewed over to saturn.

 

the telrad may be very helpful, i was using the side of the scope to align the planets with the dec and ra locks.

 

i checked and no local astro club.  im out in rural colorado.  closest club is 100 miles.  however my remote location means i live under bortle 2 skies.

 

I have lots to learn about astronomy and this equipment.


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#8 bob midiri

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 10:57 AM

Congrats on this very fine SCT, In my opinion the best SCT Celestron ever made!! You received a lot of great info from the group here. It will be a learning curve, but you will enjoy the ride!!


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#9 Turf

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 09:09 PM

thanks all!

 

i've had the scope out a couple of times now and i have some questions.

 

my first question is about resolution and focus.  i have been spotting jupiter and saturn now for most of this month.

when i started i could see the rings of saturn clearly, some of the time.  like heat waves interfering, but you could see the gap in between the rings and the planet and it would come and go.  last night, saturn was a fuzzball.  no resolution, just a blur, no rings, just an oblong shape.  so my question is  - is that normal?  is this a result of my poor seeing condition?   i felt like the eye piece should have its own focus ring.  the background was crisp spots but the planet was just fuzzy blur.

 

my second question has to do with autoguiders.  the celstron ultima that i have has a clock drive with a very basic hand control function.  the hand control remote supports RA and DEC movement but since i only have one of the motors(RA?), the hand controller only works on the one axis.  the plug in for the hand controller is a phone jack.  would a camera capable of autoguiding be able to plug into the same jack and control the motor?  it looks similar to the ST4 jacks of autoguiding.  the clock drive runs off a 9 volt battery and that feeds power to the hand controller.

 

the clock drive seems to track well.  how would i go about checking the accuracy of the mount?  the former owner had the scope set up for film astrophotography.  so there are some cool gadgets like an off axis guider that i can configure on the scope if needed.   when i center jupiter in the scope it will keep the planet in the FOV as long as i've been out observing - 2ish hours.  the clock drive also has a programable PEC.

 

if my scope and mount are up to it, i think the next step i want to take is to get a camera and a long cable.  i'd like to view the camera image on my 4k tv, inside, 30' or so away from the scope.

 

before i start spending money on cameras and such, is the blurry focus of planets normal and expected, or are my optics bad?  how would i know?

 

my first ap  smile.gif

jupiter, C8, iphone se

IMG_4857.JPG


Edited by Turf, 24 November 2019 - 09:31 PM.


#10 Hugh Peck

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 10:45 PM

 

 

the telrad may be very helpful, i was using the side of the scope to align the planets with the dec and ra locks.

 

 

Why were you using the side of the scope with a 7x50mm finder mounted on it? (Presuming it's an original finder.)


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#11 Terra Nova

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 01:49 PM

thanks all!
 
i've had the scope out a couple of times now and i have some questions.
 
my first question is about resolution and focus.  i have been spotting jupiter and saturn now for most of this month.
when i started i could see the rings of saturn clearly, some of the time.  like heat waves interfering, but you could see the gap in between the rings and the planet and it would come and go.  last night, saturn was a fuzzball.  no resolution, just a blur, no rings, just an oblong shape.  so my question is  - is that normal?  is this a result of my poor seeing condition?   i felt like the eye piece should have its own focus ring.  the background was crisp spots but the planet was just fuzzy blur.


What eyepieces/magnification were you using? Were you using the same eyepieces each night?

Did you let the telescope cool down? If so, for how long? What was the temperature differential between inside where scope was stored and outside where it was used? Did these conditions vary from night to night?
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#12 Turf

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Posted 26 November 2019 - 10:50 PM

thanks.

the eyepieces that came with the scope are a Celestron 26mm plossel, televue 10.5mm plossel, and a televue 9mm nagler.

the nagler has been consistently blurry and it has a focus style grip on it that made me think it needed a focuser.  because of the size of the nagler, my expectations were high.

 

as far as cool down times go, i have varied.  sometimes a few hours, sometimes 1 hour, sometimes no cool down time.

 

my most recent viewing was 1 hour of cool down time.  i am a novice, what are good habits for setting up?  days that i work have the least amount of cool down time, weekend days when i can setup early have the most.



#13 Hugh Peck

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Posted 26 November 2019 - 11:30 PM

If it's just the Nagler that's consistently blurry it may be the ep. One of the worst eps I ever owned was a Nagler Type 1 9mm. Seeing, air cells, turbulence in the atmosphere, will also make things blurry. If it keeps a planet nearly centered for around 2 hours there's nothing wrong with it's tracking. The Ultimas were very accurate even without PEC. You should allow a minimum of 30 mins for cool down. If the temp drops fairly quickly it will have a hard time keeping up. I've had nights were even a C-5 never reached equilibrium. That's probably not the case here, though.

 

Btw, The Ultima PEC is often considered to be the best standard C-8s Celestron ever made, particularly the 9-volt version. 


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#14 Stevegeo

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 04:47 AM

thanks all!

 

i've had the scope out a couple of times now and i have some questions.

 

my first question is about resolution and focus.  i have been spotting jupiter and saturn now for most of this month.

when i started i could see the rings of saturn clearly, some of the time.  like heat waves interfering, but you could see the gap in between the rings and the planet and it would come and go.  last night, saturn was a fuzzball.  no resolution, just a blur, no rings, just an oblong shape.  so my question is  - is that normal?  is this a result of my poor seeing condition?   i felt like the eye piece should have its own focus ring.  the background was crisp spots but the planet was just fuzzy blur.

 

my second question has to do with autoguiders.  the celstron ultima that i have has a clock drive with a very basic hand control function.  the hand control remote supports RA and DEC movement but since i only have one of the motors(RA?), the hand controller only works on the one axis.  the plug in for the hand controller is a phone jack.  would a camera capable of autoguiding be able to plug into the same jack and control the motor?  it looks similar to the ST4 jacks of autoguiding.  the clock drive runs off a 9 volt battery and that feeds power to the hand controller.

 

the clock drive seems to track well.  how would i go about checking the accuracy of the mount?  the former owner had the scope set up for film astrophotography.  so there are some cool gadgets like an off axis guider that i can configure on the scope if needed.   when i center jupiter in the scope it will keep the planet in the FOV as long as i've been out observing - 2ish hours.  the clock drive also has a programable PEC.

 

if my scope and mount are up to it, i think the next step i want to take is to get a camera and a long cable.  i'd like to view the camera image on my 4k tv, inside, 30' or so away from the scope.

 

before i start spending money on cameras and such, is the blurry focus of planets normal and expected, or are my optics bad?  how would i know?

 

my first ap  smile.gif

jupiter, C8, iphone se

attachicon.gif IMG_4857.JPG

I recently landed the 11in version or the optimo..   same setup, with reducer camera attachment,  and 3 eyepieces  all plossels. 26 , 12, 30.  Great line of scopes... maybe the best of the era. 

I'm looking into doing a bit of Astrophotography,  if I can land a camera cheap enough for xmas.  I thought about using the scope remotely as well , as I have a house 200 ft from my observatory.  Mine tracks very well  , better then most. The mount is set to high accuracy. My planetary views are way beyond expectations,  but I would like to share what I see in a warm place ( house) , so my next goal is a good camera, cables and such.

You're really going to enjoy this scope , as I have with my C8... 

  I'm like 90% here, waiting for better skies.

 

 

Stevegeo  area 3751 observatory, otisco lake ny



#15 CCD-Freak

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 10:46 PM

The Ultima is the best fork mount Celestron ever offered.  I have tricked mine out with a Lumicon super finder and a DSC system with 10K encoders as well as a 2" diagonal.  It sits on a Milburn wedge and a C14 HD tripod.  This scope is a pleasure to use.  I have even done some imaging through it.

 

U8-C14-MW-01.JPG

 

You may need to check the collimation of the optics.  The manual explains the process which is not too hard but remember to only make small adjustments each time since it is easy to "over do it". 

 

John

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Edited by CCD-Freak, 30 November 2019 - 10:53 PM.

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#16 CCD-Freak

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 10:58 PM

Imaging is possible with an Ultima.  It takes some careful polar alignment and a DEC motor and a guiding system. 

 

M66 with a ZWO ASI-1600MC-Cool

 

M66-Sigma-Str-DN-Sat-Hist-3x3-mts.jpg

 

You should be able to have many great years observing with the Ultima.

 

John

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#17 JOEinCO

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Posted 01 December 2019 - 02:36 AM

.......i have been spotting jupiter and saturn now for most of this month.......when i started i could see the rings of saturn clearly, some of the time.  like heat waves interfering, but you could see the gap in between the rings and the planet and it would come and go.  last night, saturn was a fuzzball.  no resolution, just a blur, no rings, just an oblong shape.  so my question is  - is that normal?  is this a result of my poor seeing condition?   i felt like the eye piece should have its own focus ring.  the background was crisp spots but the planet was just fuzzy blur.

Hello Turf....

 

I doubt it's any scope or eyepiece issues. It sounds more like it's simply a matter of Jupiter and Saturn being far too low in the sky - too much atmosphere to look through.

 

Where are you located?

 

Try looking up higher. Give the Open Clusters in Auriga or Cassiopeia a try these days, and report back on the star images you get (describe what the stars look like SLIGHTLY inside and outside of focus). 


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#18 CHASLX200

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Posted 01 December 2019 - 07:17 AM

thanks all!

 

i've had the scope out a couple of times now and i have some questions.

 

my first question is about resolution and focus.  i have been spotting jupiter and saturn now for most of this month.

when i started i could see the rings of saturn clearly, some of the time.  like heat waves interfering, but you could see the gap in between the rings and the planet and it would come and go.  last night, saturn was a fuzzball.  no resolution, just a blur, no rings, just an oblong shape.  so my question is  - is that normal?  is this a result of my poor seeing condition?   i felt like the eye piece should have its own focus ring.  the background was crisp spots but the planet was just fuzzy blur.

 

my second question has to do with autoguiders.  the celstron ultima that i have has a clock drive with a very basic hand control function.  the hand control remote supports RA and DEC movement but since i only have one of the motors(RA?), the hand controller only works on the one axis.  the plug in for the hand controller is a phone jack.  would a camera capable of autoguiding be able to plug into the same jack and control the motor?  it looks similar to the ST4 jacks of autoguiding.  the clock drive runs off a 9 volt battery and that feeds power to the hand controller.

 

the clock drive seems to track well.  how would i go about checking the accuracy of the mount?  the former owner had the scope set up for film astrophotography.  so there are some cool gadgets like an off axis guider that i can configure on the scope if needed.   when i center jupiter in the scope it will keep the planet in the FOV as long as i've been out observing - 2ish hours.  the clock drive also has a programable PEC.

 

if my scope and mount are up to it, i think the next step i want to take is to get a camera and a long cable.  i'd like to view the camera image on my 4k tv, inside, 30' or so away from the scope.

 

before i start spending money on cameras and such, is the blurry focus of planets normal and expected, or are my optics bad?  how would i know?

 

my first ap  smile.gif

jupiter, C8, iphone se

attachicon.gif IMG_4857.JPG

Looks collimated in the pic looking at the moons. Optics were all over the board from very bad to very good with sct's.  Sat is too low for even me in FL and so anyone well north will never get a sharp view for years until it gets much higher.

 

Try to focus on a star high up and see how it looks.


Edited by CHASLX200, 01 December 2019 - 07:18 AM.

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