28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Celestron SkyProdigy 6, 11076 (Electronics)
As an avid amateur astronomer I moved beyond popular grade alt azimuth gotos quite a while ago. I primarily use mid grade or higher computer driven equatorial mounts in order to do astro imaging at my small observatory. That said, I like to stay current and see what's out there, compare and contrast brands and how their approaches work out in practice. I've used both Meade and Celestron consumer grade GOTO alt az's, and each has their strong points. The Meade systems are a bit tougher to learn, but far more flexible with firmware upgrades being basically open source, and handsets which mix and match between mounts at will given the correct firmware load, which you can do yourself. Celestron should take a hint on this, by the way.
On the other hand, Celestron GOTO's are in fact simpler to learn in part because of their limited feature set by comparison, but also because the layout is a little better..except for the slow motion buttons, which I hate...with gloved hands they are too close together to feel in the dark. Another Celestron plus is the mounts are much quieter.
So anyway, when I finally saw a sky prodigy on sale I bought one just to see the state of the art. Closing the loop on GOTO operation by incorporating optical feedback from the sky itself is the final leap to a true GOTO scope, after all. It seems to me they've incorporated a plate solver and sky atlas in the unit, though you have no access to images or any of the functionality. (Celestron tends to be very closed about their architectures, something I don't care for much to be honest.)
Now to the gist of the matter. I got it, set it up, uncapped the lenses, turned it on. Entered the couple basic items. Started an alignment. It moved around pausing for a few moments here and there. When I checked back in after finding my gloves, it was done and said ready. Fine. Sky Prodigy, show me Regulus! And by god....there it was, center 1/3 of the field at 75x. Now that IS impressive. I hadn't done a darn thing.
Sky Prodigy...show me M57! Bing bang boom. Done. And there it was...same center 1/3 of the field.
Impressed? Check. Amazed? Check. Keeper? Double Check. I've earned my stripes as star hopper and GOTO guy on all the other systems so I don't really need this toy...but the fact is, it's freakin amazing that it works at all...let alone that it works well. And sometimes, even I feel lazy. So while I planned on seeing how it was then selling it, it's staying. And it even has a standard dovetail for other scopes, a very nice improvement over the single sized clamshell thingo which came on the old sidearm alt/az units. So, I may upside the OTA...but this mount is a keeper. Definitely. I didn't think I'd say that, but I'm sayin' it.
Works every time so far
Very cool looking
Easy Menu Structure
Suboptimal, same old cord wrap problem with respect to battery connector and battery box. There MUST be a better way to do this, guys.
Ditto for the handset. If you must plug cords into something which rotates...put a place for stuff to sit on the something which rotates so the cords don't wrap around the tripod and pull out!
Please go user upgradeable on the firmware
Access to the plate solver and images would be awesome via USB or ethernet. Plotting results on a laptop atlas, even better. Yes, cord wrap issues would return...but for this, i'd live with it.
Final Word....this thing is doubleplusgood in spite of the drawbacks listed above.