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Astronomy by Michelle

Astronomy Mall



The Celestron HD150 6" Refractor

The Purchase

I've longed for a large refractor for years. I have a couple of exceptional 4" refractors, but that aperature just doesn't quite pull in the detail on the planets. I believe that to really see good detail on Mars and Jupiter, at least in my observing experience, you need at least 5 inches of aperature. At star parties, I've oogled the Astro Physics and Takahashi refractors yearning to have one. But alas, not only are they terribly expensive, at least for the AP scopes, they are nearly impossible to obtain.

Recently, the Celestron HD150 scope went "on sale" through several dealers, even before I knew of its existence. The scope's original price at $1200, which included the Celestron CG5 mount, seemed like a good deal. The "sales" price of $799 seemed like a steal. The mount all by itself sells new for almost $500.The scope is an achromat, made in China. It is sold under other brands as well. And right now, I see them floating about on the net for incredibly low prices. CR-150-HD Refractor
Hmmm 6" refractor, F8 for cheap! It didn't take long for me to decide that I would purchase one. Even if it turned out to be a bomb, I'd have a nice mount for smaller scopes and a terrific star party refractor.

Wow... Big Scope

I ordered the instrument from Pocono, one of my favorite dealers. It arrived just a few days later in two large boxes. The scope is packaged in double cardboard boxes and styrafoam. Even thought the packaging seemed more than adequate, the focuser "axil" was bent on the left side a bit. This doesn't seem to have affected it's operation and I haven't bothered to straighten it out yet.

The scope is larger than I expected and the mount it comes with is not up to carrying it adequately without some serious modification. Since the scope is also top heavy at the objective end, the balance point puts you miles away from the mounts manual controls. You can not mount the scope as pictured above and balance it, you must move the optical tube back in the ring saddle several inches toward the eyepiece side. To make the scope work with the mount it comes with, you will need to replace the legs with something very substantial. Also you will want to weigh down the eyepiece end with at least 10 pounds of counterweights so that you can move the scope forward enough for you to get to the controls. I set the scope up once on the mount, when I first got it and immediately decided that it would not serve me appropriately. On my next trip to my observatory, I obtained my Losmandy accessories and set the scope up to ride on my Losmandy G11 mount. I attached the Losmandy plate to the scope with no modification. I also use my Losmandy balance on the eyepiece side of the plate with 10 pounds of counterweight.


The scope comes with a 50mm finder which seems very nice. Two end caps came with the scope. One has a 60mm hole in it which is also capped. I'm assuming this is for a sun filter. The unit I received also contained a 20mm eyepiece, a cheap 1.25" diagonal, and a 2X barlow. I've talked to others who have purchased this scope and it seems as though the accessories vary... check to make sure what comes with the scope if you order one.

I ordered a surplus military tow missile case for the beast and it fits really nice. I might have a problem getting it through the airport... but that's for another article.


So how does the scope perform? Quite well actually. Much better than I had expected. The scope has a 2" focuser which suites me fine. I quickly set aside the diagonal that came with the scope and replaced it with my 2" AP starbright diagonal. This makes a great difference in the images. The optics seem to be quite good. Star images are pinpoints of light and are very round when out of focus. I don't care much about airy disks and the like. I know a good view when I see one.. and on this scope it is quite pleasing. Moon detail is crisp with a hint of violet color on the limb. Saturn is beautiful. Jupiter is the only object where the violet color becomes objectionable, but the detail is very good. I've experimented with various color filters on the scope and a light yellow green pretty much eliminates the false color. The best views of Jupiter however have been with my Televue binoviewer and twin 19mm Panoptic eyepieces. With this setup, false color is not much of an issue and the detail on the planet becomes absolutely exquisite. On clean nights, I can easily split the double double binary pair. The split is very clean showing wide open space between the stars with a 3.5 mm eyepiece.

At star parties, the scope is a big hit. On my Losmandy mount, it tracks very steady so it suits the long lines of folks waiting to see the planets very well.?
Mechanically, the scope works well.? You've got to be a bit careful with the focuser and heavy eyepieces. The screw that keeps the focuser from slipping can be kind of finicky.. much more so than on other scopes. It's far to easy to get it too tight or too loose.? In either case, the focuser doesn't do what you want. The dew cap isn't screwed on, so it can fall off. Although I have not had any problems with it, I am very watchful of it.


The scope is an excellent value. Buy the scope and sell the mount. For $400 you'll get a nice 6" achromat. If you do decide to use the mount, make sure you replace the legs with something substantial. You'll want to weigh down the eyepiece end of the scope to get it to balance. You will also want to replace the diagonal that comes with it.

The scope gets a 3.5 on my five star rating.? The mount also gets a 3.5.? Seperately, they are both fine products. But Celestron mad a big marketing foo pah by putting them together in the same package.