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Celestron Fastar 8 (203mm Aperture) f10 or f1.95 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

This particular model was discontinued 12/97 - it is described here for information purposes only*

*Beginning in May 1998 all worm driven Celestron 8 telescopes will be equipped with an interchangeable secondary mirror holder to permit the installation of an optional "Fastar 8" CCD camera holder. This permits users of several of our popular CCD cameras to run the cameras at the secondary mirror holder position at f1.95 with the 8". This results in incredibly wide fields of view, and very short exposure times. This is an option available only for the new 8" and 14" Celestron optical tube assemblies; the "Fastar" logo is affixed to those optical tubes that can accommodate the option.

Celestron Fastar 8
The Celestron Fastar 8 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope introduced in March of 1997 is the first multiple focal length telescope design, and the first focal ratio change offered by Celestron since the original C-8 (f10) telescope was introduced in 1970. The Fastar concept has evolved to meet the new challenges and needs of those interested in performing CCD imaging, while also retaining very good observing and astrophotography characteristics.

This telescope incorporates an 8" (203mm) aperture Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) optical system with a nominal focal length of 2032mm resulting in an f10 system. Externally the telescope appears similar to the conventional f10 Celestron C-8. And as with most other Celestron SCT's the Fastar 8 telescope can be employed for visual or photographic applications with an optional f6.3 focal reducer/corrector lens at 1290mm. However, when an auxiliary lens set (included) is used in place of the standard secondary mirror and housing, the system is changed and corrected to result in an ultra-fast f1.95 focal ratio! This means the telescope operates as about a 396mm focal length lens at f1.95 for CCD imaging; this is incredibly fast, resulting in breath taking wide sky performance when mated to the proven CCD imaging cameras such as our Celestron Pixcel 255, or our some of our Santa Barbara Instruments Group (SBIG) CCD cameras. Another first, made in the U.S.A.!

The need to carefully and painstakingly guide your telescope to track an object across the sky for exposure times of maybe 20 or 30 minutes, or maybe longer, was always one of the biggest challenges of astrophotography. The Fastar 8 deftly solves those problem by reducing exposure times down to minutes or even seconds. So the tedium of tracking is no longer a concern. And note, these are not merely marketing claims, these prototype instruments have been proven in the field for over a year prior to introduction by experienced and credible astronomers and technicians including those at SBIG.
Celestron Fastar 8
As illustrated at the left to operate the Fastar 8 one will simply install the auxiliary lens set in place, and then attach the compact Pixcel 255 CCD camera head in place of the standard secondary mirror. Just imagine taking images 10 times faster than those needed even when imaging at f6.3! This f ratio permits you to take unguided, deep-sky prime focus CCD images! And at f1.95 targets are easily found due to the wide 1/2 degree to 1/3 degree field of view offered. Conversion from f1.95 to f10 is just as simple, and the optical alignment remains precise.

The Fastar 8 system is optimized for use with the CCD imaging Celestron Pixcel 255, and our Santa Barbara Instruments Group CCD cameras. These combinations deliver images of stunning brilliance and clarity with such ease, that they put the option of CCD imaging in the hands of all amateurs.

By adding a few optional accessories, then the Fastar 8 becomes the most versatile Catadioptric telescope on the consumer market today, able to capture CCD images at f1.95, f6.3 (with the focal reducer/corrector, at f10, or at f20 or higher (with a telenegative lens or eyepiece for projection).

At f10 the effective focal length of 2032mm still permits a good close-up photo of the entire full moon onto a standard 35mm film format with no need for optional telecompressor lenses. And at prime focus magnifications as low as 37X covering 1.34 degree field of view are possible, with an optional telecompressor lens this can be reduced further.

A rugged, highly damped fork mount with sand cast drive base makes viewing and astrophotography a delight. It has extra large fork tines and an extra large polar shaft integrally cast into the base. it includes precision preloaded polar axis ball bearings.

Some of the Fastar 8 features (similar to the older Ultima 8 PEC telescope): a totally cordless DC Servo quartz drive system with hand controller. The system electronics incorporate PEC (Periodic Error Correction) with an easy 4 minute recording cycle, highly accurate worm gear drive, four tracking rates including King, sidereal, lunar and solar and a slewing speed of 400% sidereal rate. In a Sky & Telescope review of 8" Schmidt-Cassegrains, it was noted, "the Ultima 8's drive error was the least I have ever seen in a mass-market telescope." Astronomy Magazine said of the drive, "a textbook straight line" and "the PEC is impressive. It worked better than advertised." The Declination control is also motorized and this too is controlled from the hand control, or as with the R.A. drive can be controlled by an optional autoguiding CCD camera or guider.

The power-efficient Fastar 8 runs off a 9V alkaline battery. AC or 12V operation of the Fastar 8 is possible since the 115 volt AC power adapter and 12 volt DC car battery adapters are furnished too. In addition, the telescope drive can be used to track in either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere as the motor is reversible.

A Sky & Telescope review of the similar Celestron Ultima 8 telescope summarized it nicely saying, "Which telescope would I buy? ... A drive that requires no external cords or power supply makes a perfect instrument to take along for casual observing. Coupled with these features are optics rated as the most consistent."

Ergonomic user-friendly operation is the trademark of the Celestron 8's. They are designed with functional use foremost. Convenient carrying handles are provided on the fork tines and the rear cell for ease of handling and transport. The focus knob and all controls are scaled for use even when wearing gloves. And the Fastar 8 focuser incorporates a micrometer with a digital display to aid those who wish to employ the system for astrophotography and CCD imaging.

Included is a heavy duty wedge with a deluxe latitude adjuster, latitude scale and accessory tray. The adjustable height, metal adjustable height field tripod is also furnished as standard equipment.

Standard accessories include: 9 x 50mm Finderscope, Prism Star Diagonal 1-1/4", Visual Accessory Back 1-1/4", and a 26mm Plossl Eyepiece 1-1/4" (78x). Weight is 74 lbs.

Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes
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