Celestron C9 and C11SGT

If an 8-inch Advanced Series SGT is good, the 9^- and 11-inch versions must be better, right? Perhaps. Going to the 11, especially, results in a significant performance boost for the visual observer. The trade-offs involved in moving up to the 9^ or 11 SGT are a little more problematical than just weight or price. Price is not a huge obstacle as the 9^ and 11 are "only" $485 and $765 more than the C8-SGT, respectively (the C11-SGT is currently $2,400, and the C9^-SGT is $2,000). Setup is not overly difficult. At 20 and 27.5 pounds, respectively, these optical tubes, identical to those used with the CGE series, are fairly easy to place on their mounts. If the legs of the CG5 tripod are not extended; the mount head and saddle are low enough to make mounting the OTAs laughably easy. No, the problem is not set up; it is what happens when the tube is on the mount. When a larger-than-8 OTA is perched on this GEM, it gets the shakes in a hurry.

Certainly, the SGT's CG5 GEM performs well enough with the 9^-inch, if not as well as with the 8-inch. At the 11-inch point, however, the blush is off the rose. That is not to say the C11-SGT is inadequate for the visual observer. It does a remarkably good job in that role, especially when the tripod is placed on Celestron's vibration suppression pads. Imaging is another story. If there is even a little wind or the telescope is the least bit unbalanced, picture taking is likely to be frustrating at best.

Let us not be too hard on the C11-SGT, however. It is, if nothing else, a tremendous bargain, an astonishing bargain, in fact. At this time, the C11-SGT package is only $100 more than just a C11 tube alone; the OTA currently retails for $2,300 without a mount. A hundred bucks is not a bad price for the computerized CG5, even if you have to bite your tongue on windy nights to keep from cussing the thing.

Leery of placing the C11 on the CG5 but still want more than 8-inches? Consider the 9^; it has excellent optics and considerably more light-gathering power than an 8-inch for not much more money.

Accessories included with the larger SGT packages are identical to those that come with the 8-inch: 1.25-inch diagonal, TheSky software on CD-ROM, a 50-mm finder, and a DC power cable. The 11-inch is equipped with a somewhat "yucky" 40-mm NexStar Plossl rather than the better 25 mm that is shipped with the 8-inch. StarBright XLT coatings are an extra cost but recommended option for both larger SGT scopes.

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