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We were able to get the new 8" model of the Celestron Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph (RASA) in time for the European Astrofest event at the weekend. However as we were so busy over the 2 full days, we didn't have a chance to do a "closer look at it" post. Now, as AstroFest is over, and before the next show in March that we will be attending (Practical Astronomy Show in Kettering) we thought we'd take the opportunity to have a closer look at it "in the flesh".
The first of these posts is a quick "unboxing" of the RASA 8" to introduce it to you.
The photo below shows the RASA 8" box with some David Hinds Ltd polo shirts (not included with the RASA we must point out!). The shipping box was measured to be 39cm (w) x 37cm (d) x 78cm (l). Putting the box on the weighing scales it was found to be 11kg exactly for shipping. Now - just got to open the box!
Celestron RASA 8" shipping box
On opening the box (and the inner box) the RASA 8" was clearly visible in its protective bag (with large silica gel sachet bag) surrounded by sturdy packing material to keep the whole OTA (its "ends" and the main tube section) safe during transport.
The OTA inside its box surrounded by its packing
On removing the top half of each of the three packing sections fully revealed the RASA 8's tube, laid sideways, showing the Celestron badge and the "Rowe-Ackermann F2.0 Schmidt Astrograph" name plate. The telescope tube is the same colour as the other larger RASA telescopes. On the "bottom" (side) is the long orange CGE/Losmandy dovetail bar. A small brown box that contained some accessories (see later) was placed in one corner. Below the RASA was its instruction manual.
Packing material removed showing the RASA 8"
The telescope was removed from its protective bag and the contents of the small brown box (cooling fan battery pack with protective case [left], C-thread adaptor [middle]) were emptied and all laid on the table to see the RASA in full along with the user manual. The C-thread camera adaptor allows smaller cameras such as the Celestron Skyris, that use a smaller diameter thread, to be used with the RASA. The telescope OTA was put on the weighing scales and it was 7.9kg.
Celestron RASA 8" and the accessories that are supplied with it.
Once the front dust cover was removed, the primary mirror, Schmidt corrector plate, central corrector lens group and lens group holder could be seen. Already attached was the larger M42 camera adaptor held in place by the large knurled retaining ring. The camera adaptors are made with long curved holes so that it is possible to adjust the collimation of the lens group should that be required with a camera still in position. The photo below shows the camera adaptor attached and the 3 pairs of collimation screws visible through the curved holes in the camera adaptor.
Front of the 8" Celestron RASA. The collimation screws can be seen through the holes in the camera adaptor.
Moving to the rear of the telescope (below) there is a large carry handle for ease of transport, a large focus knob and the central vent with the power connector to power the internal MagLev fan for cooling the optics. The battery pack takes 8xAA (user supplied) batteries to power the fan, which can also be run from an external 12V supply (e.g. Celestron PowerTank etc).
The rear of the Celestron RASA 8" showing focus knob, carry handle and battery pack.
There are a couple of nice features with the RASA 8". The first is that there is a large carry handle on the rear cell to help carry the OTA, and to help position it and balance it when on your mount.
Carry handle for the RASA 8"
The other feature is the inclusion of a removable bolt that screws into the corrector-plate end of the telescope's orange dovetail bar. This simple "part" stops the telescope OTA sliding, and potentially falling off your mount, if the dovetail clamp on your mount has not been tightened sufficiently.
Photo of the bolt to stop the telescope falling off the mount if the dovetail clamp has not been tightened.
In our next blog we'll look at some more of the RASA 8" and its accessories.