In the spring of 2003 I acquired a Celestron NexStar 11 GPS. This is an 11-inch diameter fork-mounted computerized “go to” scope with a focal length of 2800mm. I considered getting the CGE line of Celestron telescopes instead of the NexStar. The CGE scopes use the same tubes and optics, but are on German equatorial mounts. But they are rather more expensive and an equatorial mount is bulkier and harder to set up by oneself than is a fork mount.
I live in a very light polluted part of the Greater Kansas City area, but it’s amazing to me how much I can see, despite that. On a transparent night (low humidity) I can see the Sombrero galaxy, M81 and M82, and occasionally the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) in addition to most of the Messier globular and open clusters. It’s too early in the year for some of my favorites, but I did get a chance to see the Orion nebula (M42) before it sunk into the low altitude muck this spring. I have a hard time seeing the fainter emission nebulae, though. There’s just not enough contrast with my background, even using a light pollution filter.
I have taken this scope to a darker sky site a few times and it’s amazing what can be seen. It’s a shame what we’re doing to the night sky in our cities. And around our cities.
I use a 2″ diagonal in this telescope and I have several Televue eyepieces, including a Nagler 22mm and a Nagler 17mm. These eyepieces have an 82 degree apparent field of view, which must be seen to be believed.
My highest magnification eyepiece with this scope is an 8mm Teleview Radian, which gives me 60 degrees apparent field of view at 350x. My lowest power is 70x using the 40mm eyepiece that came with the scope.
Below is a picture of my normal field setup. You can see the rechargable battery, and the dew shield, which also acts to reduce light pollution from stray streetlights and such. You can also see my adjustable observing chair.
Below is a closer picture, with a better view of the dew shield. The dew shield is just a piece of black foam lined with black felt, and notched to fit the forks that hold the scope tube. I have both the 9×50 finder that came with the scope and my Telrad finder attached. I really like the Telrad finder and if you have a non-Go To scope, I strongly advise looking into getting one. I have one of my Televue Nagler eyepieces in the diagonal. I normally plug the hand controller into the base rather than the fork because I find that picking it up is less likely to move the scope when attached at the base.