Sunday, September 25, 2011

2011 September 25

I performed surgery on my CPC1100 today, removing the optical tube assembly from the fork mount because the motors have ceased operating after a nearby lightning strike a few weeks ago. I removed the cover plate from one arm, sprung the arm, and removed the tube. I've asked Blake Nancarrow to take a look at the CPC1100 mount to see if he can troubleshoot it.

I recently bought a Celestron CGEM mount to carry the 28-cm optical tube, and am awaiting a Celestron dovetail plate so that I can attach the 28-cm tube to the CGEM. The plate is on its way from Astronomics in Oklahoma, who had one in stock. I've also ordered a "wide-to-narrow" adapter plate from Orion so that I can use my Vixen dovetail scopes on the CGEM. This one mount should be able to carry all my various telescopes.

The CGEM has an interesting feature I was unaware of: you can polar align the mount accurately on _any_ star in the sky. This will be handy since I can't see Polaris from my POD's location. The CGEM also has the same basic interface as the NexStar and CPC, which I find more versatile than the hand controller on the Orion Sirius mount. It has more user-definable objects and a wider variety of named objects. I also really like the Celestron's "identify" feature which lets me explore the area I'm pointing at. The Sirius will identify a single object, but doesn't generate a list of the five nearest objects.

My main reservation about using the CGEM in the POD is that it will take up significantly more room, which is limited to start with. I've been finding with the Explore 13-cm on the Sirius that the POD is cramped. The 28-cm SCT tube will be a lot shorter, but a lot fatter and somewhat heavier, requiring more counterweights. We shall see how well it works.

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