Useful Accessories

As we receive our telescopes from Celestron, they are pretty bare! Adding accessories to a telescope can open up ever widening fields of observations by expanding the capabilities of our instruments. Besides, we all know a hobby is just a place we can spend money without feeling guilt!

Here are some of the "goodies" I have picked up over time that have served me well in the field.

  • Those of us with the older AC powered C-8 had the problem of powering the telescope in the field. Several solutions to this problem exist. If astrophotography is a goal, a single or dual axis drive corrector will usually have the ability to power the AC motors from a 12 volt battery. Here are a couple alternatives to a drive corrector. On the left is a 300 watt AC inverter that takes 12v DC in and puts out AC. This is an incredibly handy device to carry around with you since you can power any small AC accessory off it. If you are planning on pushing more than 100 watts or so, you will need to use the supplied battery clips to hook it directly to your car battery. This decreases the current loss through the thin wiring of your car. I have successfully run a 75 watt trouble light (drop cord) off it while working on a vehicle. And no, it will not power a hair dryer! Most hair dryers pull over 1300 watts! Orion sells a 300 watt inverter for $100. I found the identical unit at K-mart on sale for $50 and it usually sells for $60.

    On the right is a 12 amp-hour rechargeable battery. Orion sells a 8 amp-hour unit for $70 and I found this one at - with 50% more capacity - at Target for about the same price. Running both the drive motors and an Orion DC powered dew heater on the corrector plate, I can get 6 or more hours out of this battery. I use a drive corrector with this small battery pack rather than the inverter because the drive corrector is a bit more efficient as it works directly with 12v. This battery pack can be charged though a supplied AC charger or from another 12v source. Charging from AC is VERY slow and can take more than 15 hours to fully recharge the pack. As with the Orion unit, there are jumper cables under the covers on the left and right side of the battery. Don't count on this battery jumping your car at the end of a long night observing! However it is reassuring to know that the car battery is not being drained flat while observing!

    Here's the battery pack with a driver converter plugged in. I usually run a Y connector out of the battery pack to allow plugging in the dew heater as well. This is a wonderfully portable solution if you are only going to be observing for a few hours. If you have all night plans, going with a full-sized marine deep discharge battery is probably a better bet.


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