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C5 SCT as a travel/grab n' go scope?

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#1 Rayje1997

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 06:57 PM

Hello!

 

I was scrolling through classifieds and came across a Celestron C5 OTA for sale for a very attractive price to me and it got me thinking about some things. I never really thought about this scope too much since I never see anybody using them but it occurred to me that if the optics are decent it could do well as a good travel scope given the small size and could be a better scope for viewing planets than my 90mm f/10 refractor or my 130mm f/5 newtonian.

 

I would end up purchasing another mount to use with it since my smallest mount is really only barely suited for use with my Orion ST80 and that will be part of this question. The first part is, how are the optics? Does anybody have any experience they can share with this OTA? Is it as small and easy to pack in a small case as it looks from pictures?

 

Secondly, I don't have a huge preference between EQ mounts and AZ mounts having used both and being pleased with either, so does anyone have mounting suggestions? Keep in mind that this would be intended mostly for vacations or having something easy to pack for a star party.

 

Occasionally I might consider using it to image small DSOs or planets. While that wouldn't be the main purpose, I wouldn't mind seeing a few example images!

 

Thanks in advance to anyone who deems to respond.

Clear skies!



#2 MTibb

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 07:16 PM

I'm not sure if it's basically the same optics - but I just picked up a used Celestron 5se on Friday (for $500, FB Marketplace). Same focal length, Starbright coatings, etc, but Celestron lists its diameter at 125mm (instead of 127mm like the C5).

Only used it on Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon so far... but I gotta say, I was pretty blown away by its sharpness at higher powers. I pushed it a bit beyond its theoretical limit (250x) to 266x, and still had really nice, sharp views of J & S. I'm thrilled with the purchase so far!
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#3 Midnight Dan

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 07:16 PM

I have a C5 exactly for that purpose.  I have an observatory now and do most of my astronomy from there.  But for travel, it seems the perfect thing.  Very small and lightweight, and easy to pack.  

 

I have a Desert Sky DSV1 manual alt/az mount if I want to keep things simple.  But I bought the scope as a Nexstar 5SE, which comes with a tracking goto mount and tripod.  For planetary, it's really nice to be able to let the mount track the target instead of doing constant adjustments.

 

The Nexstar mounts have an underrated feature, IMHO, which is the small feet at the bottom the allow you to use it as a table-top mount without the tripod.  One of the biggest issues with packing a scope for travel is the tripod.  To be of any use it's going to be large and heavy.  The Nexstar 4/5 mount is compact, easy to pack, easy to use, and makes observing a lot more fun.

 

Below is an image of the 5SE next to the Orion StarBlast 4.5 newt.  The 5SE is small, weighs less, and the optics just blow away the little newt.

 

-Dan

 

 

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  • 5SE and SB4.5.jpg

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#4 Bob Campbell

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 07:27 PM

If you are not familiar with Ed Ting, he provides excellent reviews of equipment.

 

Here is his C5 review, he discusses reasonable mounts and the features of the C5

 

https://youtu.be/Iza...?feature=shared

 

The C5 is the classic travel scope....they even had one in space, as you can see in the review by Ed!

 

Since 'size' of an SCT OTA goes like the aperture cubed, c5 is considerably smaller than the c6, it might even be the sweet spot in small scopes.

 

Bob


Edited by Bob Campbell, 01 October 2023 - 07:43 PM.

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#5 maroubra_boy

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 07:52 PM

I have a 127mm Mak for the same purpose. Compact with good aperture grunt & does well with the Moon & planets. My first "real" scope was a C5 for that matter. Either one of these are outstanding.

Mount wise, unless you are looking to do deep sky photography, either a manual or Goto altaz mount is excellent. For a grad'n'go I would think manual is the way to go. Manual, the AZ5 is great as it has slowmo controls which is beneficial, particularly at high magnification. Goto, if you can find a second hand mount of the 5SE or the 6SE/8SE. Goto new, something like the Skywatcher AZ Synscan or similar is great.

Alex.
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#6 Rayje1997

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 09:43 PM

If you are not familiar with Ed Ting, he provides excellent reviews of equipment.

 

Here is his C5 review, he discusses reasonable mounts and the features of the C5

 

https://youtu.be/Iza...?feature=shared

 

The C5 is the classic travel scope....they even had one in space, as you can see in the review by Ed!

 

Since 'size' of an SCT OTA goes like the aperture cubed, c5 is considerably smaller than the c6, it might even be the sweet spot in small scopes.

 

Bob

I'm familiar with Ed though I didn't realize he had a review of the C5 so I'll take a look at that!


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#7 Rayje1997

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 09:45 PM

I have a 127mm Mak for the same purpose. Compact with good aperture grunt & does well with the Moon & planets. My first "real" scope was a C5 for that matter. Either one of these are outstanding.

Mount wise, unless you are looking to do deep sky photography, either a manual or Goto altaz mount is excellent. For a grad'n'go I would think manual is the way to go. Manual, the AZ5 is great as it has slowmo controls which is beneficial, particularly at high magnification. Goto, if you can find a second hand mount of the 5SE or the 6SE/8SE. Goto new, something like the Skywatcher AZ Synscan or similar is great.

Alex.

For travel purposes it would definitely be a manual mount. If I want to do any AP with it it'll be from home and I'll put it on my usual go-to mount that I use with the newt. Thanks for the suggestion of mounts though I'll take a look at that AZ5


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#8 whizbang

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 09:57 PM

I had an old white tube C5...freaky sharp optics on that one.  I also tried a 127mm Mak and a 102mm Mak.  All three got bumped off by the current "grab n go" champ..... A Celestron C6!!

 

All of them are fantastic on the moon and planets.  The 6 pulls in the DSO's a bit better.

 

I liked the C5 with a .63 reducer so it could pull in M45, M44, the double cluster, etc, the big bright winter time clusters.

 

And I generally use a manual Alt-AZ mount, either a ES Twilight 1 or an old Astrotech Voyager.

 

*************

I just checked my records:

I owned the 127mm Mak for 12 months, the C5 for 13 months, and the 102 Mak for 5 months.  I've had the C6 a bit less than 3 years.  And it's not going anywhere any time soon.


Edited by whizbang, 01 October 2023 - 10:01 PM.

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#9 Rayje1997

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Posted 02 October 2023 - 06:23 AM

I had an old white tube C5...freaky sharp optics on that one.  I also tried a 127mm Mak and a 102mm Mak.  All three got bumped off by the current "grab n go" champ..... A Celestron C6!!

 

All of them are fantastic on the moon and planets.  The 6 pulls in the DSO's a bit better.

 

I liked the C5 with a .63 reducer so it could pull in M45, M44, the double cluster, etc, the big bright winter time clusters.

 

And I generally use a manual Alt-AZ mount, either a ES Twilight 1 or an old Astrotech Voyager.

 

*************

I just checked my records:

I owned the 127mm Mak for 12 months, the C5 for 13 months, and the 102 Mak for 5 months.  I've had the C6 a bit less than 3 years.  And it's not going anywhere any time soon.

That's pretty high praise for the C6. I have looked at that one before as well, though I hadn't really considered it for grab n go purposes for some reason. I'm not buying right now, but I think you might have a point. Unless I see a C5 for really cheap when I'm actually in the market to buy, I'll probably get a C6 since I had also thought of getting the hyperstar attachment for it and using it at f/2 for wide field imaging. The potential with the C6 to have 3 or 4 different ways to use it is quite attractive. Thanks for the mount suggestions as well!


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#10 whizbang

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Posted 02 October 2023 - 10:39 AM

Astronomy gear is amazingly hard to figure out.  The specifications don't really give you an idea of the quality of the views or the ease or difficulty of the user interface.  Of course, everybody's eyes and bodies are different.  I have been in this hobby for 7 years and I have done A LOT of buying, selling, and trading.

 

What I have found is that the stuff I like, I hold on to.  The stuff I don't like, I sell off.

 

The gear I have held the longest:  a C8, C6, an Evolution mount, and a TV-60 refractor.  My eyepieces are ES 68 and 82 degree and a few Naglers.

 

I built a 12.5 inch DOB in 2022, and recently built a single arm CPC and acquired a C11 for it.  I  expect to hold these three items as well as my earlier acquisitions for a long, long time.

 

But expectations are funny.  I bought a new C9.25 in June 2020. (I got the last one in stock before the Covid shortages happened!).  I thought the 9.25 was a lifetime scope.  Now that I have the C11, I might sell the 925.  Dunno.

 

My point is, there is a lot of trial and error in this sport.  Emphasis on error.

 

And yeah, I think the C6 blows its smaller competitors out of the water.


Edited by whizbang, 02 October 2023 - 10:49 AM.

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#11 Bill Barlow

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Posted 02 October 2023 - 10:47 AM

I have had a C5 that I bought through Company 7 for a while now and it has very sharp optics once I got the collimation set.  An excellent grab and go scope.  I did compare the views side by side with a C6 and the C6 is slightly brighter on every object but it weighs about 2.5 pounds more so I couldn’t use it on my lightweight altaz mount.  So I sold it and kept the C5.

 

Bill


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#12 Bob Campbell

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Posted 02 October 2023 - 11:44 AM

I have had a C5 that I bought through Company 7 for a while now and it has very sharp optics once I got the collimation set.  An excellent grab and go scope.  I did compare the views side by side with a C6 and the C6 is slightly brighter on every object but it weighs about 2.5 pounds more so I couldn’t use it on my lightweight altaz mount.  So I sold it and kept the C5.

 

Bill

Agreed. Even though I have the c6 (hyperstar compatible) I do believe all things considered the c5 is more in the sweet spot for manageable mid aperture scts. Especially for Moon and planets.

 

Bob


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#13 MikiBee

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Posted 02 October 2023 - 12:41 PM

I also bought a SkyMax 127 (with AZ-GTi) for travel purposes and it is a very compact package. The C5 would definitely be easier on a manual mount and make it even more portable. I started year's ago with C6 and was observing side by side with my buddy who had a C5. Similar performance between the two but the extra weight and size would not make the C6 a good travel scope. 

 

In term mounts I would not consider an EQ mount very good for either travelling or as a grab and go.

 

My grab and go these days is Celestron's Omni 102 on Vixen's Porta II mount. Takes no time to set up but it wouldn't be the best travel package.

 

Could a computerized mount be called grab and go? This might be a personal preference. If I need 10-15 minutes to get going with my setup I probably wouldn't call that grab and go, but some folks might have different opinion on this.


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#14 Rayje1997

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Posted 02 October 2023 - 03:34 PM

I also bought a SkyMax 127 (with AZ-GTi) for travel purposes and it is a very compact package. The C5 would definitely be easier on a manual mount and make it even more portable. I started year's ago with C6 and was observing side by side with my buddy who had a C5. Similar performance between the two but the extra weight and size would not make the C6 a good travel scope. 

 

In term mounts I would not consider an EQ mount very good for either travelling or as a grab and go.

 

My grab and go these days is Celestron's Omni 102 on Vixen's Porta II mount. Takes no time to set up but it wouldn't be the best travel package.

 

Could a computerized mount be called grab and go? This might be a personal preference. If I need 10-15 minutes to get going with my setup I probably wouldn't call that grab and go, but some folks might have different opinion on this.

I generally don't consider goto mounts to be grab n go personally. For me the definition of grab n go is that the only setup time should be how long it takes me to put the scope on the mount. EQ mounts are fine for grab n go for me because if it's a manual mount a rough polar alignment is good enough for me and I'll tweak it a little as I go through the session if I find it to be off a little too much. Though, I do agree they aren't very good for travelling due to the shape and the extra weight introduced by the counterweight. I bet that Omni 102 is just as good or better than a small SCT actually, though I suspect an SCT or Mac probably has the edge on planets due to the lack of CA. 


Edited by Rayje1997, 02 October 2023 - 07:55 PM.

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#15 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 03:12 AM

Hello!

 

I was scrolling through classifieds and came across a Celestron C5 OTA for sale for a very attractive price to me and it got me thinking about some things. I never really thought about this scope too much since I never see anybody using them but it occurred to me that if the optics are decent it could do well as a good travel scope given the small size and could be a better scope for viewing planets than my 90mm f/10 refractor or my 130mm f/5 newtonian.

 

I would end up purchasing another mount to use with it since my smallest mount is really only barely suited for use with my Orion ST80 and that will be part of this question. The first part is, how are the optics? Does anybody have any experience they can share with this OTA? Is it as small and easy to pack in a small case as it looks from pictures?

 

Secondly, I don't have a huge preference between EQ mounts and AZ mounts having used both and being pleased with either, so does anyone have mounting suggestions? Keep in mind that this would be intended mostly for vacations or having something easy to pack for a star party.

 

Occasionally I might consider using it to image small DSOs or planets. While that wouldn't be the main purpose, I wouldn't mind seeing a few example images!

 

Thanks in advance to anyone who deems to respond.

Clear skies!

A C5 has a massive central obstruction and then you still have to deal with coma.  If you already have a 900/90 refractor and a 650/130 Newtonian, you don't need a 1250/127 Schmidt-Cassegrain since 2X 650/130 is nearly identical in focal length and aperture.  You're better off just getting a 2X Barlow lens and you'll have almost the same telescope.  What you want instead is a 1540/127 Maksutov-Cassegrain.  This has a much smaller central obstruction and a longer focal length.  It's also nicely spaced since it'll work in between 2X 650/130 and 3X 650/130.  The Maksutov-Cassegrain also has the advantage of doubling as a Terrestrial spotting scope.  The C5 isn't a good choice for that because it will have much less contrast and much more comatic aberration.

 

I consider a 1540/127 Maksutov-Cassegrain to be superior to a 1500/150 Schmidt-Cassegrain but there are other threads already available on Cloudy Nights to debate this endlessly.  Either way, your best bet is to try to get something around 1500 mm if you want to upgrade to something that offers more than what you can get from your refractor or Newt.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 04 October 2023 - 03:15 AM.

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#16 Rayje1997

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 07:53 AM

A C5 has a massive central obstruction and then you still have to deal with coma.  If you already have a 900/90 refractor and a 650/130 Newtonian, you don't need a 1250/127 Schmidt-Cassegrain since 2X 650/130 is nearly identical in focal length and aperture.  You're better off just getting a 2X Barlow lens and you'll have almost the same telescope.  What you want instead is a 1540/127 Maksutov-Cassegrain.  This has a much smaller central obstruction and a longer focal length.  It's also nicely spaced since it'll work in between 2X 650/130 and 3X 650/130.  The Maksutov-Cassegrain also has the advantage of doubling as a Terrestrial spotting scope.  The C5 isn't a good choice for that because it will have much less contrast and much more comatic aberration.

 

I consider a 1540/127 Maksutov-Cassegrain to be superior to a 1500/150 Schmidt-Cassegrain but there are other threads already available on Cloudy Nights to debate this endlessly.  Either way, your best bet is to try to get something around 1500 mm if you want to upgrade to something that offers more than what you can get from your refractor or Newt.

You have a fair point if I was really looking for an upgrade, but what I'm really looking for is a more portable scope and the C5 was attractive there due to its diminutive size. I 100% agree that if I was looking specifically for a planetary viewer I would go after one of the many 127mm maks


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#17 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 08:33 AM

IMO, this is the best deal going on the Celestron C5. It's the Popular Science model with an alt/az mount with StarSense Explorer for $499 shipped. If you don't want the StarSense Explorer you can strip the cradle off and sell it with the SSE code here on the CN Classifieds and get some of your money back. I am leaning towards buying one just because. https://www.celestro...explorer-dx-5in


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#18 Bob Campbell

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 09:03 AM

IMO, this is the best deal going on the Celestron C5. It's the Popular Science model with an alt/az mount with StarSense Explorer for $499 shipped. If you don't want the StarSense Explorer you can strip the cradle off and sell it with the SSE code here on the CN Classifieds and get some of your money back. I am leaning towards buying one just because. https://www.celestro...explorer-dx-5in

nice find!

 

Bob


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#19 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 09:14 AM

nice find!

 

Bob

Thanks but, to be fair, someone pointed this deal to me in my 5" vs 6" SCT thread. I still haven't bought anything, but this is a great deal. FWIW, I already have a SSE cradle, so I wouldn't need this one. 


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#20 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 09:15 AM

I generally don't consider goto mounts to be grab n go personally. For me the definition of grab n go is that the only setup time should be how long it takes me to put the scope on the mount. EQ mounts are fine for grab n go for me because if it's a manual mount a rough polar alignment is good enough for me and I'll tweak it a little as I go through the session if I find it to be off a little too much. Though, I do agree they aren't very good for travelling due to the shape and the extra weight introduced by the counterweight. I bet that Omni 102 is just as good or better than a small SCT actually, though I suspect an SCT or Mac probably has the edge on planets due to the lack of CA. 

This is what I love about my AZGTi. I don't have to do anything with it, except get it reasonably level. I don't even have to polar align it (though I typically do a quick "eyeball it", rough alignment). I turn it on, manually slew my scope to an object I want to view, and tell my mount to track it, especially if it's like a planet at high power with my 90mm Mak.

 

It would easily handle a C5. It handled my deforked ETX125 with a Wegat back, rings and accessories that weighed in at 12.4 lbs. I'm actually thinking about getting a C5. I've owned a C6 and the C5 looks just about right for me. 

 

Otherwise, if I'm just out with my AT72EDII and a 40mm WA EP star gazing, I don't even turn my mount on. Manual control, Point and Track, or full GoTo. It's a super small, lightweight do-it-all mount.

 

Now if I could just get it to brew a pot of coffee for me...

mount-1.jpg

 

I also put the mount on a very lightweight surveyor's tripod, but I often put it on my deck pier. 

 

ETX90-new-finder2.jpg


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 04 October 2023 - 09:20 AM.

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#21 Midnight Dan

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 09:49 AM

A number of people have mentioned that they don't consider a computerized mount a grab and go.  Keep in mind that a computerized mount takes zero extra setup time if it is used in the same manner as a non computerized mount, and it certainly can be.  In other words, power up the mount and just use the arrow buttons to move it.

 

Or you can take it further and just do a one-star alignment and it will track well enough to keep a target in your eyepiece for a good while.  And a one-star alignment takes only a couple of minutes, so it's worth doing.  And personally, I find that the small amount of initial setup time is more than made up for with quicker finding of targets, and more pleasant viewing without having to constantly move the mount.  This is especially true with a long focal length scope like the C5.

 

And again, the most often overlooked issue with traveling with a scope is the tripod.  All the other suggestions I've seen here require the scope, a mount, AND a tripod.  The tripod is the largest, most awkward, and difficult to pack part of the equation.  The C5 on a 5SE mount can be used by itself without a tripod.  A sturdy table, or even a rock, is an adequate surface for viewing.  Note that the SE mount seen in Ed Ting's video is the larger one used on the 6" and 8" models.  The Nexstar 4 and 5 come with a smaller mount and the whole thing (without the trip) can be carried in a large backpack.  Here's mine in the Orion telescope backpack that they sold years ago.

 

-Dan

 

5SE in Pack.jpg


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#22 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 09:58 AM

A number of people have mentioned that they don't consider a computerized mount a grab and go.  Keep in mind that a computerized mount takes zero extra setup time if it is used in the same manner as a non computerized mount, and it certainly can be.  In other words, power up the mount and just use the arrow buttons to move it.

 

Or you can take it further and just do a one-star alignment and it will track well enough to keep a target in your eyepiece for a good while.  And a one-star alignment takes only a couple of minutes, so it's worth doing.  And personally, I find that the small amount of initial setup time is more than made up for with quicker finding of targets, and more pleasant viewing without having to constantly move the mount.  This is especially true with a long focal length scope like the C5.

 

And again, the most often overlooked issue with traveling with a scope is the tripod.  All the other suggestions I've seen here require the scope, a mount, AND a tripod.  The tripod is the largest, most awkward, and difficult to pack part of the equation.  The C5 on a 5SE mount can be used by itself without a tripod.  A sturdy table, or even a rock, is an adequate surface for viewing.  Note that the SE mount seen in Ed Ting's video is the larger one used on the 6" and 8" models.  The Nexstar 4 and 5 come with a smaller mount and the whole thing (without the trip) can be carried in a large backpack.  Here's mine in the Orion telescope backpack that they sold years ago.

 

-Dan

 

attachicon.gif 5SE in Pack.jpg

waytogo.gif

 

I agree. I've found both, the NexStar and ETX mounts make for a nice, portable "all-in-one" package. It's why Meade often called their ETX line "portable observatories". 


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#23 Rayje1997

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 10:16 AM

IMO, this is the best deal going on the Celestron C5. It's the Popular Science model with an alt/az mount with StarSense Explorer for $499 shipped. If you don't want the StarSense Explorer you can strip the cradle off and sell it with the SSE code here on the CN Classifieds and get some of your money back. I am leaning towards buying one just because. https://www.celestro...explorer-dx-5in

That has gotten cheaper literally since yesterday when I looked at it. I have been looking at that for a few days now. Not exactly the same OTA but I hear good things about it


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#24 RCLARK28

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 10:17 AM

IMO, this is the best deal going on the Celestron C5. It's the Popular Science model with an alt/az mount with StarSense Explorer for $499 shipped. If you don't want the StarSense Explorer you can strip the cradle off and sell it with the SSE code here on the CN Classifieds and get some of your money back. I am leaning towards buying one just because. https://www.celestro...explorer-dx-5in

I have one of these and it performs as advertised. Used by my granddaughter and her friends for class & viewing. It has taken a beating and still works quite well. I have had many sessions myself with this DX5 and have enjoyed every session. Going to keep it in the collection when she upgrades aperture. I love it! Same as our older orange C5.

*The package is worth looking at. It is worth the price. A good grab and go for me and the kids do use it often. The best scopes you have are the ones that get used. The night sky is worth the effort. 

*Use the hardware you have and research before expending your funds. Lots of good offers out there to get more aperture.


  • Bob Campbell, Echolight and Rayje1997 like this

#25 Rayje1997

Rayje1997

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 10:20 AM

A number of people have mentioned that they don't consider a computerized mount a grab and go.  Keep in mind that a computerized mount takes zero extra setup time if it is used in the same manner as a non computerized mount, and it certainly can be.  In other words, power up the mount and just use the arrow buttons to move it.

 

Or you can take it further and just do a one-star alignment and it will track well enough to keep a target in your eyepiece for a good while.  And a one-star alignment takes only a couple of minutes, so it's worth doing.  And personally, I find that the small amount of initial setup time is more than made up for with quicker finding of targets, and more pleasant viewing without having to constantly move the mount.  This is especially true with a long focal length scope like the C5.

 

And again, the most often overlooked issue with traveling with a scope is the tripod.  All the other suggestions I've seen here require the scope, a mount, AND a tripod.  The tripod is the largest, most awkward, and difficult to pack part of the equation.  The C5 on a 5SE mount can be used by itself without a tripod.  A sturdy table, or even a rock, is an adequate surface for viewing.  Note that the SE mount seen in Ed Ting's video is the larger one used on the 6" and 8" models.  The Nexstar 4 and 5 come with a smaller mount and the whole thing (without the trip) can be carried in a large backpack.  Here's mine in the Orion telescope backpack that they sold years ago.

 

-Dan

 

attachicon.gif 5SE in Pack.jpg

I would probably still use a tripod only because I don't want to have to worry that much about what to set the scope on. I don't really see personally how that is any kind of convenient but maybe I'm wrong since I have never tried a tabletop scope of any kind




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