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When the C8 entered the market in 1970, what was the reaction?

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#1 starcruiser

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 08:59 PM

From a sales point of view, it was a big success (from what I read). What I want to know is what were the reactions of amateurs who bought them and undoubtedly compared them to the reflectors that they were already using. Did it impress them? Or not? Just curious if anyone here bought one in 1970 or knew others who did. What was it like to observe with this new type of scope back then?


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#2 J A VOLK

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 09:20 PM

They were a huge hit - pretty much doomed Unitron.  I knew Tom Johnson - he said they sold as many as they could make for decades.  They optics are still the same (non-Edge), just much better coatings now. Probably better coatings have been nullified by light pollution. Coatings on the corrector were a pricey option.  The early fork mounts with the spur gears really were not suitable for deep sky photography, especially at f/10.  Some of the best optics were from the early 70's - I have a '71 which is easily 1/8 wave.


Edited by J A VOLK, 29 April 2021 - 09:20 PM.

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#3 Bomber Bob

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 10:38 PM

I didn't get to look through a C8 until 1976 at the B'ham Club.  I was impressed -- more by the form factor than anything else.  The Old Guys were not impressed.  Their consensus:  DSO "camera" & not a quality visual telescope.  Most of these guys had Cave Newts and/or Casses.

 

Jump forward to 1988:  Jim Vick had the 1978 C8 he got as a graduation gift.  He's an engineer, and kept his C8 clean, collimated, & well-maintained.  We used to have competitions on Alert -- my brand new D&G 5" F10 Refractor vs. his big orange stubby SCT.  On Saturn, my D&G was sharper at 300x & 400x, but his C8 presented those faint belts in all their subtle colors.  Gorgeous!  [I didn't see those colors with my own scope until I got the Tinsley 6 Cass.]


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#4 Piggyback

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 01:48 AM

IMG_0824.JPG

 

 

I love the memories of my orange C8. The year was 1984 and we were 3 friends hauling a bunch of astro stuff up the steep slopes of the spanish Sierra Nevada. I then worked as a free lance journalist and did a piece on nighttime astrophotography for Leitz magazine. We spent a total of three days, roughing it in the thin air of Pico Veleta at 10.000 feet.  Night skies were pitch black and we got great shots of starfields and nebulae. I remember the C8 performed flawlessly in the cold air. Held on to it for 10 years. Fantastic contrast and sharpness!

 


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#5 luxo II

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 02:15 AM

From a sales point of view, it was a big success (from what I read). What I want to know is what were the reactions of amateurs who bought them and undoubtedly compared them to the reflectors that they were already using. Did it impress them? Or not? Just curious if anyone here bought one in 1970 or knew others who did. What was it like to observe with this new type of scope back then?

As one who was a keen ATM in the 70's I was aware that the primary attractions to buy a C8 were

 

a) the compact size, compared to an 8" newtonian;

b) it tracked - and had a dec drive, in an era when most equatorial mounts lacked motor drives (a lucky few had a manually-driven worm) or in many cases, no worm drive at all and virtually all had NO dec drive at all;

c)  it meant some astrophotography was reasonably within reach of many - a wide-field piggyback camera riding on top, to planetary through the scope with a Barlow.

 

Around that time I had built an 8"f/7 Newtonian for much less than what a C8 cost, but it was big, bulky and heavy, and occupied most of a wagon when going out to a dark site. What's more I even had a pretty serious 10" worm drive courtesy of a friend with a machine shop...

 

Some years later, moving to "the big smoke" for university and living in student digs, it was abundantly clear the big newt was impossible and it had to go; I swapped it for an orange C8 simply for the compact size and lighter weight (I had to lug it up stairs).

 

It was a compromise I regretted for years as frankly

- those early C8's were not as good as the hype, optically quite inferior to the big newtonian I had built,

- they were distinctly "bouncy" on the tripod, whereas the 8" newtonian was rock solid;

- mechanically the drive was adequate for piggy-back photos, but not much more than that because they had no way of guiding the scope while imaging - it was running unguided, with whopping periodic errors courtesy of the el-cheapo spur gears in the drive train (even the main RA drive was a spur gear, not a worm).

 

So ultimately you could do photography with a piggy-back camera, but effectively the C8 was the guide scope. 

 

Here's the alternative to a C8, vintage 1975 (though shown here with a 6" f/6 and a 6" f/18 folded scope, not the 8")

Attached Thumbnails

  • trolley.jpeg

Edited by luxo II, 30 April 2021 - 02:21 AM.

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#6 Alex65

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 03:07 AM

Sadly, I never had this telescope but I vividly remember the ads in the Scientific America magazine that my dad occasionally bought in the mid 1970s. There was this neat fat orange telescope and in many ads there were photos of, for example, the moon or planets and, I think, the Orion Nebula taken thru it. I seem to recall a photo of Saturn in some ads. I was just getting into astronomy at the time and used to read the night sky guides in the magazine, so the ads really caught my eye. Must have been around 1973 - 75 period.


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#7 CHASLX200

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 05:55 AM

I was only 7 then and not into scope. It put a hurting on the big Newts and long refractors.  Unitrons and the longer old school Newts pretty much dried up in the later 70's.


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#8 jgraham

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 11:09 AM

When the C8 was first introduced I was ramping up my career as an amateur telescope maker. The C8 sure was pretty, but at a price that was unobtainium. I also figured that I could make better optics myself (true) and for a _lot_ less (very true), but without the bells and whistles and other purdy stuff (also very true). At the time I could build a 6" f/8 Newtonian on a rather nice equatorial pipe mount for about $75. I always thought that I could build one heck of a scope for the cost of a C8. Actually, I couldn't, I wouldn't have the foggiest idea how to spend that much money on a homebuilt scope let along have that much money.

 

One of my babies from that era...

 

Solar Filter-2a.jpg

 

... a classic 6" f/8 fitted with a solar filter.

 

Of course, times have changed...

 

Sandcast C8 Setup (3-23-2018)-2.jpg

 

:)

 


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#9 starcruiser

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 11:29 AM

They were a huge hit - pretty much doomed Unitron.

I did not know that. I often forget that is a business. And in business new players can push older players out...


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#10 Terra Nova

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 11:31 AM

When the C8 entered the market in 1970, what was the reaction?

 

OMG! It’s orange! (No, not really, it was blue and white back then.) :lol:


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#11 clamchip

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 11:59 AM

I was 13 in Jr High at the time.

I only saw one, and it was at school. I don't remember looking thru it.

For some reason the ads in Sky & Telescope, I must have been blind to this C8 because I

don't remember it.

I bought one myself around the nineties, a orange C8, we weren't very good friends.

I then bought a orange C5.

The C5 paved the way to understanding the SCT. The C5 was like training wheels for me.

It was a bumpy ride, I don't know why I did it but I'm so glad I did. I love you C8.

 

Robert 


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#12 blackhaz

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 12:02 PM

Stefan, I am sorry for the off-topic, where did you sleep up there in the mountains? Fantastic photo.


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#13 JuergenB

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 12:21 PM

Initially, the Celestron scopes were kind of unobtainium over here in Germany because shortly after introduction the prices were very high. This changed when Dr. Hans Vehrenberg became the general importer for Celestron. C8 and C5 became affordable for quite many people, and the C8 might have been the most popular telescope over here in the seventies.

 

I got mine around that time, and it traveled a lot with me. Not to the Spanish Sierra Nevada as Stefan did, but to Switzerland and the Baltic Sea area in northern Germany. I still remember having seen Stephan's Quartet for the first time with 8", as well as Pluto (still a planet at that time).

 

I had sent an observing report about Stephan's Quintet to Scotty Houston, who replied very nicely in a letter to me.

 

Good old times...

 

Juergen


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#14 Terra Nova

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 01:25 PM

I was 13 in Jr High at the time.

I only saw one, and it was at school. I don't remember looking thru it.

For some reason the ads in Sky & Telescope, I must have been blind to this C8 because I

don't remember it.

I bought one myself around the nineties, a orange C8, we weren't very good friends.

I then bought a orange C5.

The C5 paved the way to understanding the SCT. The C5 was like training wheels for me.

It was a bumpy ride, I don't know why I did it but I'm so glad I did. I love you C8.

 

Robert 

I had the training wheels (orange C5), the tricycle (orange C90), and two bicycles (orange C8s), but I never learned to love the ride! I kept falling off and skinning my knees so I traded them in for a cherry chopped Harley! :lol:


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#15 Kasmos

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 03:03 PM

I had the training wheels (orange C5), the tricycle (orange C90), and two bicycles (orange C8s), but I never learned to love the ride! I kept falling off and skinning my knees so I traded them in for a cherry chopped Harley! lol.gif

I own several old Harleys and always thought they were kind of like them.

 

American made (originally), a bit crude, take some tinkering, and their corporate colors are ORANGE


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#16 Terra Nova

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 03:12 PM

I own several old Harleys and always thought they were kind of like them.

 

American made (originally), a bit crude, take some tinkering, and their corporate colors are ORANGE

I went to Sturgis, 2005 with a friend and rode on a cherry 🍒 candy-apple red chopped Harley but it wasn’t mine! ;) :lol:


Edited by Terra Nova, 01 May 2021 - 08:19 AM.

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#17 Bonco2

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 03:17 PM

I was thrilled with the Celestron ads and just had to have one. So  sometime in the early 70's I bought one even tho I had a nice 10 inch Cave and a optically excellent RV6.. Never was satisfied how it compared to the other two scopes. Both out performed it in sharpness and contrast. Sent it back to Celestron, who said it just needed collimation. When I got it back I saw no improvement. I'm sure there are some good ones out there but mine never met my expectations. At star parties, some were curious but were not impressed, they preferred their Newtonians.

Bill


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#18 CHASLX200

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 06:11 PM

I was thrilled with the Celestron ads and just had to have one. So  sometime in the early 70's I bought one even tho I had a nice 10 inch Cave and a optically excellent RV6.. Never was satisfied how it compared to the other two scopes. Both out performed it in sharpness and contrast. Sent it back to Celestron, who said it just needed collimation. When I got it back I saw no improvement. I'm sure there are some good ones out there but mine never met my expectations. At star parties, some were curious but were not impressed, they preferred their Newtonians.

Bill

It is just so hard to find a super sharp SCT. But i know they are out there as someone has my insane sharp 1984 black C8.


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#19 Bonco2

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 07:08 PM

Chas,

If it was so good why did you sell it? You could have kept it and still searched for something better. After all the C-8 wasn't all that expensive.

Bill


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#20 CHASLX200

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 07:20 PM

Chas,

If it was so good why did you sell it? You could have kept it and still searched for something better. After all the C-8 wasn't all that expensive.

Bill

I don't know why.  I just like trying new things.



#21 Kasmos

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 08:55 PM

Back in the late 70s in the east side exibit hall Griffith Observatory had a orange sand cast C8 on display in a glass case. It left a strong impression and I would check it out with every visit and dream. Thinking maybe one day I could save up enough for at least a C5. They were also showing up in a lot of stories within the pages of S&T. In those days I didn't know or question much and just assumed a 8" scope was a 8" scope, so based on their looks and their size, they sure seemed like the one to have.


Edited by Kasmos, 30 April 2021 - 08:57 PM.

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#22 dnrmilspec

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 09:18 PM

When the orange tube came out in 1970ish it was $795.00.  That is $5500.00 in today's money according to some nifty site I just consulted.  .  I do remember that very few folks could afford one at all.

 

In 1979 I took my 8" Meade Reflector to a star party at a local school.  They actually ran extension cords out to the football field so those of us with a "motor drive" could plug in our scopes.  There were quite a few SCTs and only a few Newts.  I was on Jupiter with a 20mm EP and a Barlow.  A little boy looked through my scope and said, "is your telescope brighter because it is longer?"  So I took some time and looked through some of the SCTs and sure enough.....

 

It was not until quite a few years later that I came to really appreciate SCT's.  I own two of them now.  But at the time they were a luxury item.  You could buy a top drawer refractor and a smoking good Newtonian for far less. 


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#23 ccwemyss

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 09:56 PM

What people saw in the C8 was a cassegrain for the common amateur. Refractors at the time were mostly doublets, 4" or smaller, unless very expensive. Newtonians were bigger, but were on heavy GEMS, and had coma unless they were uncomfortably long. If they lacked rotating tube rings, the eyepiece position could be challenging. The jump from a 6" to an 8" was nearly double the cost, and a much more cumbersome configuration. So for many people, an 8" scope was a dream, when they settled for a 6". 

 

In contrast, professionals all used cassegrains, typically on some kind of fork or horseshoe mount. The eyepiece was at the back (where the long tradition of refractors in the public's idea of a telescope, made it seem that they should be). And you could just mount a camera there, like it was a big telephoto lens, rather than having arms sticking out from the side of the tube to attach to a tripod bracket. The pro scopes also had the drive built into the base, instead of hanging a motor off the back or stuck on the side. The only widely seen cassegrain for amateurs at the time was the Questar, which was a work of art and relatively even more expensive then than it is now.

 

To anyone who knew what a professional observatory scope looked like, the C8 was a miniature version of that (and like an enlarged Questar), which you could actually own. And it broke down into conveniently sized pieces for taking to club meetings or remote sites. 

 

Then there was the mystique of the Schmidt design. The Palomar Schmidt camera was famous. The figure of the Schmidt corrector was exotic. The fact that Celestron had developed a way to make that exotic figure in a production telescope seemed like an example of American Space Age Genius. It promised to correct all of the aberrations of short newtonians, providing the equivalent of a nearly 7' long scope, with an 8" dream aperture, in a compact package, without the price of a scaled-up Questar.  

 

How could a market that had just watched the moon landings, not fall in love with something that seemed to leap ahead of all of the stodgy old designs from the 50's that were still being sold, bringing space age telescope technology down to reasonably affordable levels?

 

That's how people reacted to the C-8 when it was introduced. Even by the time I started selling them in the shop in 1980, when people came in to see them, they were still talking about them this way. Now they seem commonplace, and we know their shortcomings. But at the time, they were at the cutting edge.  

 

Chip W. 


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#24 starcruiser

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 10:03 PM

What people saw in the C8 was a cassegrain for the common amateur. Refractors at the time were mostly doublets, 4" or smaller, unless very expensive. Newtonians were bigger, but were on heavy GEMS, and had coma unless they were uncomfortably long. If they lacked rotating tube rings, the eyepiece position could be challenging. The jump from a 6" to an 8" was nearly double the cost, and a much more cumbersome configuration. So for many people, an 8" scope was a dream, when they settled for a 6". 

 

In contrast, professionals all used cassegrains, typically on some kind of fork or horseshoe mount. The eyepiece was at the back (where the long tradition of refractors in the public's idea of a telescope, made it seem that they should be). And you could just mount a camera there, like it was a big telephoto lens, rather than having arms sticking out from the side of the tube to attach to a tripod bracket. The pro scopes also had the drive built into the base, instead of hanging a motor off the back or stuck on the side. The only widely seen cassegrain for amateurs at the time was the Questar, which was a work of art and relatively even more expensive then than it is now.

 

To anyone who knew what a professional observatory scope looked like, the C8 was a miniature version of that (and like an enlarged Questar), which you could actually own. And it broke down into conveniently sized pieces for taking to club meetings or remote sites. 

 

Then there was the mystique of the Schmidt design. The Palomar Schmidt camera was famous. The figure of the Schmidt corrector was exotic. The fact that Celestron had developed a way to make that exotic figure in a production telescope seemed like an example of American Space Age Genius. It promised to correct all of the aberrations of short newtonians, providing the equivalent of a nearly 7' long scope, with an 8" dream aperture, in a compact package, without the price of a scaled-up Questar.  

 

How could a market that had just watched the moon landings, not fall in love with something that seemed to leap ahead of all of the stodgy old designs from the 50's that were still being sold, bringing space age telescope technology down to reasonably affordable levels?

 

That's how people reacted to the C-8 when it was introduced. Even by the time I started selling them in the shop in 1980, when people came in to see them, they were still talking about them this way. Now they seem commonplace, and we know their shortcomings. But at the time, they were at the cutting edge.  

 

Chip W. 

What a great story, thanks for sharing!



#25 RichA

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 02:47 AM

From a sales point of view, it was a big success (from what I read). What I want to know is what were the reactions of amateurs who bought them and undoubtedly compared them to the reflectors that they were already using. Did it impress them? Or not? Just curious if anyone here bought one in 1970 or knew others who did. What was it like to observe with this new type of scope back then?

I got one in 1978.  The optics were diffraction-limited and even before that, the Newtonian sellers were attempting to discredit the scopes that were sapping their sales.




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