Celestron is well-regarded as one of the top telescope manufacturers in the world. Their wide range of scopes cater to everyone from complete beginners to professional astronomers, and their 1100HD Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is one of the best professional telescopes on the market, which is why we rated it one of the best professional telescopes of the year.
The 1100HD is part of Celestron’s CPC Deluxe line of scopes, which features two other Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes (SCTs.) These smaller SCTs provide 8” and 9.25” respectively. While these two telescopes are virtually identical in terms of build quality and performance, the 1100HD is the crown jewel of the line thanks to its larger aperture and effective focal length.
While the 800HD and 925HD are incredible scopes in their own right, their smaller aperture and focal length mean they won’t provide the level of crispness and clarity when viewing DSOs that you can achieve with the 1100HD. For visual observing and astrophotography, the Celestron CPC Deluxe 1100HD is in a league of its own.
Of course, as a top-of-the-line scope, the 1100HD carries a hefty price tag. Discerning astronomers who are ready to step up to a professional SCT like this one should expect to spend just under $4,000 for the scope (today’s price).
Plenty of other great telescopes, like large Dobs and Newtonians are available for a fraction of this price. However, they can’t come close to equalling the versatility of this professional telescope.
Things to Consider Before Buying
While the 1100HD is an incredible telescope that will provide beautifully crisp and detailed views of objects in our solar system as well as those that lie far beyond it, that doesn’t mean it’s ideal for everyone. Before you decide on whether this is the best scope for you, there are many factors you’ll want to consider.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is who this scope is designed for. This is a high-end telescope with a steep price tag to match. If you’re a beginner or intermediate astronomer, you’ll be punching well above your weight class with this telescope, which is intended for serious astronomers with plenty of experience.
If you’re just getting your start in the astronomy hobby, you’ll be much better served by a moderately sized Dobsonian, or the excellent NexStar 8SE, which is a similar Schmidt-Cassegrain model. With either of these, you’ll be able to enjoy incredible views of many of the sky’s showpiece objects, and you’ll save thousands of dollars in the process.
Meanwhile, advanced astronomers who are looking for a top-end telescope that provides incredible optical quality while correcting many of the issues associated with more affordable scopes are sure to love the 1100HD.
This 1100HD is perfectly suited for visual observation as well as astrophotography, and Celestron delivers on their claim that the optics of this scope provide a perfectly flat field of view with zero aberrations. Other expensive telescopes do a great job of reducing aberrations so that they’re nearly negligible, but very few can equal the optical quality or field of view of the 1100HD.
Features and Benefits
Whether you’re deciding on your first telescope or your tenth, there are a variety of factors you’ll want to consider that will help you make a wise choice. Whether the telescopes you’re considering cost $400 or $4,000, you’ll want to consider the criteria below before making a decision.
- Optical Performance
- Mount Performance
- Included Equipment
- Set-up & Use
- What You Can See
- Astrophotography Capability
We consider each of these for the 1100 HD below.
Standard Magnification Table
The table below shows the magnification levels you’ll achieve with this scope using a 25mm, 18mm, and 10mm eyepiece. The bottom row shows what this would be with a 2x Barlow Lens.
|With 2x Barlow:||224x||311x||560x|
Optical quality is a significant concern when you’re evaluating any telescope. You can expect superb visual quality from any scope in this price range, but the Celestron CPC Deluxe 1100HD manages to achieve a level of clarity that’s something else.
With its monster 11” aperture, this telescope is capable of pulling in tons of light. In fact, this model collects almost twice as much light as an 8″ telescope, resulting in images that are exceptionally bright with rich contrast.
The trick of the Schmidt Cassegrain design is to fit a huge 2,800mm (110″) focal length inside a tube which is only 610mm (24″) long. As the table above shows, this means the telescope takes great advantage of its light-gathering capacity by delivering big magnifications from even low-powered eyepieces, like the 122x magnification from the included 23mm Plössl.
In the table above, you’ll see that a 10mm eyepiece and a 2x Barlow lens could, theoretically, produce a 560x magnification. In reality, our planet’s atmosphere is too turbulent to make use of that power but – and this is significant – Celestron’s 1100HD can deliver highly detailed planetary viewing in excess of 300x magnification under good seeing conditions, which is a feat many other scopes can’t achieve.
With all telescopes, there is a compromise, and even at this size and price that holds trues. Its huge focal length and slow f/10 focal ratio mean that, for any given eyepiece, the 1100HD offers narrower fields of view than shorter focal length scopes. However, its light-gathering capability and superior optics deliver significantly higher quality views and show much fainter objects, which will vastly outweigh that compromise for most users.
This scope takes advantage of Celestron’s breakthrough EdgeHD optics system, which provides a truly impressive viewing. The aplanatic-Schmidt design delivers aberration-free optics with a completely flat field of view, even to the furthest edges of your view. It may seem like marketing speak, but one look through this telescope and you’ll see that the optics of this scope are everything that Celestron claims them to be.
Each optical surface makes use of Celestron’s Starbright XLT coatings, which help to minimize light loss from reflections inside the scope while maximizing the amount of light that’s transmitted into the optical tube.
With the clear and completely flat field of view of the 1100HD, you’ll be able to enjoy incredible views of a variety of objects. You’ll see the solar system in detail as you’ve never captured before, while distant galaxies and far off nebulae possess an ethereal glow to them, providing you with an incredibly bright and detailed new perspective.
With its extremely advanced (and, at 65 lbs or 29.5 kg, quite heavy) optical tube, the 1100HD demands a rugged mount that’s able to handle the weight of the optical tube while still providing smooth and reliable tracking and operation. Thankfully, Celestron does not disappoint!
The 19 lbs (8.6 kg) mount consists of a heavy-duty alt azimuth base on 2″ stainless steel legs with dual fork arms. These support the telescope and provide the stability you need as you slew through the sky to discover new objects.
Loading the optical tube onto the base is relatively simple. Connect the OTA to the fork mount, and then use the handles on the tube and fork mount to lift the assembly onto the altazimuth mount, securing the telescope in place.
The mount feels exceptionally sturdy, and there are no issues with vibration. The mount handles additional weight beyond the heavy optical tube, so you’ll have no problem attaching other accessories to the mount without affecting how well it works. However, you may need to add some counter-balancing to make sure the motor drive continues to perform at its best – see below.
What’s more, despite its robustness and rigidity, the mount collapses down really easily for convenient transportation and storage, as you can see in the video above.
Beyond the telescope and mount, Celestron provides all of the accessories and extras you’ll need to get you started with this incredibly powerful telescope.
Inside the box, you’ll also find a 2” 90-degree star diagonal, which makes it far more comfortable to view overhead objects without contorting your neck or excessively maneuvering the OTA.
A 9×50 finderscope is also included, and it’s a particularly capable model that manages to gather plenty of light so you can quickly locate the celestial objects you’d like to see in greater detail through the main scope. However, with the motorized goto system included with this model (see later), the finderscope is unlikely to get much use. The finderscope features a quick-release mount so it can be added or removed from the optical tube in a matter of seconds.
Celestron includes a single 23mm Plössl eyepiece, which provides 122x magnification. Take note though: this is not just any regular Plössl but is one from Celestron’s top-of-the-range, wide-field Luminos set.
The relatively low-powered eyepiece is a perfect match for the 1100HD, and, with its 82-degree apparent field of view, it delivers an incredibly immersive viewing experience. In the scope, this 23mm eyepiece displays an exceptionally crisp 0.67° diameter true field of view.
Rounding out what’s included is a cast aluminum accessory tray, so you can keep eyepieces and other accessories at the ready during your stargazing sessions, and goto software that we’ll discuss in just a moment.
Setup & Use
While this telescope is for advanced astronomy, even a rookie can set this scope up with relative ease. Getting started is as simple as connecting the optical tube and fork mount assembly to the tripod base and aligning the scope with the help of the All-Star Polar Alignment and SkyAlign technologies.
All-Star Polar Alignment allows you to quickly and accurately polar align the scope without any guesswork or time-consuming errors. From there, SkyAlign will correctly orient the telescope to its position on earth when you align it with any three bright objects, such as stars, the moon, or planets.
The CPC Deluxe 1100 HD makes this process even easier than in the NexStar 8SE, for example, because of the integral GPS receiver. The GPS unit automatically identifies the time, date, longitude, and latitude of your observation site, dramatically speeding up the setup process.
Once you’ve gone through those simple steps, your telescope is ready for you to enjoy.
Between its large optical tube and robust tripod mount, this telescope is on the heavier side, and it weighs in at over 80 pounds (36 kg) fully assembled. As you’d imagine, traveling with this telescope is no picnic. Thankfully, the compact length of the optical tube makes it easy to transport by hand, provided you’re able to lift about 60 pounds (27 kg).
Transporting the telescope in your backseat is quite simple, but you’ll want to avoid transporting the scope by foot wherever possible since it’s quite heavy compared to most other telescopes. You should also make sure to fully protect the telescope itself from bumps and jolts.
Reducing the amount you transport the scope will also mean you’ll have to collimate it less often. While collimating an SCT can be a challenge, it should only need to be done rarely and most experienced astronomers can handle it. Our helpful guide to collimation will set you on the right track if you need a refresher.
Goto Motorized Tracking
The software included with this telescope is the cherry on the cake of the entire package. The included GoTo controller provides access to a comprehensive database of 40,000 celestial objects. With more affordable (i.e. smaller) scopes equipped with GoTo, the quality of the telescope limits what you’re able to see. With the 1100HD, you’ll be able to enjoy all 40,000 items in a dark sky, which is why this is an amazing telescope for deep space objects.
The mount features an all-new drive base, and the drive mechanics feature a spring-loaded RA worm block with brass teeth that envelope the entire assembly for incredible durability and smoothness. The digital hand controller works perfectly with the motor drive system in the base to deliver smooth, seamless tracking of every object in the catalog.
You’ll also receive a copy of the NexRemote software, which allows you to connect your laptop to the telescope using the included RS-232 cable so you can use your computer as a controller.
The big watch-out is powering the motor. You’ll need an external power source for reliable performance, and that’s not included in the package. Something like this Celestron Powertank is ideal (link opens a new tab).
When you are set up, the sky is truly your oyster with this fantastic scope at your command.
What You Can See
Of course, these bells and whistles are all for naught if you can’t enjoy what you see when you look through your telescope eyepiece. Thankfully, all the features of the 1100HD we’ve reviewed make it easy for you to enjoy practically anything you set your sight on in the sky.
Viewers will be treated to immensely detailed images of our moon, planets, stars, and double stars, with a level of sharpness and clarity that are impressive. But, where this scope truly shines is for deep sky and faint deep-sky viewing. Smaller telescopes have trouble just seeing the DSOs that the 1100HD can display with detail.
Your only limitation, as we saw earlier, is in the field of view. The exceptional focal length of this telescope results in narrower fields of view that a shorter model. So, for example, you will struggle to get large star fields fully in view. However, and this is an important point, you will struggle to find a model that delivers the image brightness and quality of this scope.
(Also, Celestron has a clever way to increase the field of view and reduce the focal ratio to f/2 for stunning astrophotography, see below.)
From double, triple, and quadruple stars to far off galaxies and nebulae, you’ll be able to enjoy it all through the eyepiece of your 1100HD.
If you’re interested in documenting some of the incredible sights you’ll see through this telescope; the 1100HD is a wise choice for you. This scope is every bit as capable as an imaging instrument as it is for visual observation, provided you make one addition.
The 1100HD requires you to invest in the Celestron HD Pro Wedge. As the alt-az mount of the 1100HD follows objects, it introduces field rotation, which will cause stars and other objects to produce arc-like trails in images, and this effect becomes more severe during long exposures.
The HD Pro Wedge combats this by effectively converting the AltAz mount into an equatorial one. Thus tracking the stars over an extended time without trails is possible.
We mentioned above that the only limitation for this scope is its narrower field of view resulting from its huge focal length. This would be a barrier to astrophotography were it not for the clever FASTAR mechanism in this scope.
If you own this telescope, you can remove the secondary mirror which shortens the focal length and creates a super-fast f/2 focal ratio, ideal for wide-angle exposures.
Not only are exposure times 25x faster, but fields of view are five times wider! You can see, then, why this is also a phenomenal purchase for CCD astrophotography.
To utilize this feature, place your imaging device, e.g. CCD camera, to a Fastar or Hyperstar lens assembly mounted in place of the secondary mirror. Be warned though, this is not a cheap piece of equipment.