When you’re tired of amateur scopes that provide mediocre astrophotography benefits, look to an astrograph as an upgrade.
They’re expensive, but with customized technology like what the Celestron Advanced VX800 has, you’ll see why it’s not an everyday kind of buy.
However, the major sacrifice for having superb imaging quality is the inability to use this as a visual scope.
Never heard of not being able to observe through a telescope before?
Seems contradictory to its inherent design, right?
This isn’t an ordinary kind of telescope.
✔️ Best Feature: Ultra-fast f/2 astrograph
❌ Worst Feature: No visual use
👌 Ideal For: Astrophotography
- Optical Design: Rowe Ackermann Schmidt
- Aperture: 203 mm (8”)
- Focal Length: 400 mm (15.74”)
- Focal Ratio: F/2
- Eyepieces Included: None
Our Verdict: Hardcore imagers will do the VX800 RASA telescope justice. Taking your astro-imaging skills to out-this-universe type of quality requires a one-of-a-kind astrograph with custom features and unique technologies not seen on amateur scopes. The RASA is such a scope.
Who is the Celestron Advanced VX800 RASA Best Suited to?
This isn’t a telescope for the beginner hobbyist, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t stay on their wish list. It’s better suited to advanced telescope hobbyists that are willing to dig deep into their pockets for an astrophotography telescope.
Since the RASA doesn’t support DSLR cameras, it would best serve imagers that are familiar with and own small CCD, CMOS, and mirrorless cameras.
Because it’s an extremely portable telescope setup that is ready to go out-of-the-box, those who travel and demand a setup under 50 lbs will find the Advanced VX800 fits their needs.
How Does the Celestron Advanced VX800 RASA Perform?
The RASA 8 astrograph is something very different. As a magnum opus product of renown optical engineers Dave Rowe and Mark Ackermann, you can see why it’s called the RASA – the Rowe Ackermann telescope.
This Schmidt-variant telescope is designed for astrophotography and does it superbly. There may be some limitations with the AVX mount, but it will more than suffice for unguided imaging with its computerized GEM technology with the bells and whistles a GoTo scope can offer.
As an incredibly fast astrograph, it will have no issue capturing nebulae, galaxies, clusters, supernova remnants, you name it. Point sources sparkle and fill the frame, wispy and delicate details come alive, and structures, color, and target separation are resolved in all its glory. Got good processing software? It may be the time to spend some money on one.
Features & Benefits
Ultra-fast F/2 Astrograph
What does RASA stand for? Rowe Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph. It’s like an SCT with a primary mirror and Schmidt corrector lens but it goes without the traditional secondary mirror and replaces it with something else.
You could be wondering if the new component is a Fastar or Hyperstar lens since it does have an f/2 ratio, but it’s not. Instead, a 4-element lens group made with rare earth glass replaces the secondary mirror. This provides multiple optical benefits including significant reduction of chromatic aberration and coma and providing a larger image scale in an incredibly fast optical system.
With the RASA 8, you can take images faster than ever and capture more detail designed for APS-C sensors, small pixel CCD cameras where you’ll still get full resolution, and some compatibility with full-frame sensors.
As you can imagine, there is nothing standard about this telescope. Since it has an incredibly short back-focus, it’s not compatible with DSLR cameras. In the same sense, it’s also not compatible with conventional filters and accessories.
But thanks to the foresight of the astrograph developers, a custom 72mm filter for imaging in light polluted areas was designed just for the RASA. The special filter provides over 90% of light transmission of the wavelengths needed to ensure true color fidelity.
The RASA also has primary mirror locking clutches to prevent movement and misalignment. Celestron goes a step further to ensure ultimate image stability with no mirror shift during focusing and tracking. They’ve done this with what they have coined as the Ultra-Stable Focus System. This incorporates a solid steel shaft and a brass six-ball linear bearing system. An incredibly smooth 10:1 Feather Touch micro focuser dons the rear cell.
Advanced VX Mount
The RASA 8 is mounted atop Celestron’s Advanced VX mount. It’s a computerized EQ mount that comes standard with a NexStar+ hand control. The mount has a dual width saddle that fits both Vixen-style dovetail bars and wider widths up to 74.5”. The RASA OTA has the wider CGE dovetail bar.
With the hand control, you can access automatic locating and slewing of 40,000+ objects within its database, multiple alignments, and various slew speeds with the fast speed of 4-degrees per second.
Even though the mount has an autoguiding port, you can essentially do away with guiding because the telescope is so forgiving of tracking errors and exposures will be less than a minute anyway.
One concern is the mount’s 30 lb weight capacity. Since the OTA weighs 17 lbs, you’re already over 50% of the oft-recommended payload capacity for astrophotography. This shouldn’t be too much of a concern as you may be doing unguided imaging and there are no heavy eyepieces included in the equation, but you will need a lightweight camera.
However, it is possible and common to mount the RASA to a completely different mount if you feel so inclined to accommodate the works.
So, a 50 lb (approx.) weight is heavy or light depending on who you talk to. It’s heavy in the sense that you’ll need to lug around this massive weight, but it’s lightweight with the fact that no one piece weighs over 20 lbs.
The OTA weighs 17 lbs, the mount head weighs 17 lbs, and the tripod weighs 18 lbs. Completely doable for travel to dark skies.
However, because this is an astrograph not for visual use but for astrophotography, it should find a stationary and permanent home. Why? Since it will be connected to camera gear, probably a laptop, and any other imaging gear you wish to incorporate, it would require more accessories like a table, chair, power supply, and other necessities to acquire an imaging setup. Don’t feel like hauling it all? Build a dome at home!
Guess, what else? Imaging is not going to take as long too, remember? It has an f/2 scope!
No Visual Use
This isn’t a regular telescope that is designed for both visual and astrophotography. One dead-giveaway is the inability to use eyepieces with the RASA. This is because the focal plane falls at the front of the scope versus the rear where the focuser and eyepiece assembly would normally sit on an SCT.
The removal of the secondary mirror with a lens group allows for installing a camera at the front of the cell to engage the focal plane.
So, if you’re not up for a night of imaging, you can’t use the RASA as a dual-purpose visual scope as well. Hope you have a back-up for this very purpose.
Does the Advanced VX800 RASA come with any Imaging Accessories?
No finderscope or polar axis finder is included with the RASA 8, but it does come with an M42 camera adapter, C-thread camera adapter, and fan battery pack.
All other usuals like the GoTo mount, tripod, accessory tray, NexStar+ hand control, 1x 12lb counterweight, and a DC power cable are included.
What Cameras are Compatible with the RASA 8 Astrograph?
The VX800 RASA 8 is not compatible with DSLR cameras. However, you can use any astronomical CCD and CMOS camera with a C-mount or M42 mount. If it has a different type of mount, you’ll need the appropriate camera adapter.
You can also use mirrorless cameras with APS-C and full-frame sensors, although full-frames will cause a dimmer view and poor performance at the edge of the sensor. Just be sure that the camera you choose is not larger than 4” in diameter because it will block maximum light transmission.
Does the Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph Telescope Need a Cooling Fan?
The VX800 Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph features a 12V Maglev cooling fan that helps to bring the scope down to ambient temperature quickly to compensate for thermal effects with its aluminum tube.
Whether or not you need to use it will depend on where you keep it during non-use, how quickly you want to get imaging once you’ve got it setup outside, or what’s going on with the climate during the time of year you’re imaging.
What is the Warranty on the Celestron Advanced VX800?
The VX800 RASA is covered with a 2-year Celestron warranty. It’s somewhat disappointing as it’s not any thing special for what is a very special telescope.
The RASA VX800 could be too expensive to justify buying as it is an imaging-only telescope and can’t be used for visual-use. But if you’re demanding customized technology to optimize your astrophotography efforts, you got it, and this is the sacrifice.
No one telescope does it all, and this is a good example of why. If you want the very best images you can take in a shorter amount of time, you must ask yourself if it’s worth the cost financially and performance-wise. If you have an excellent Dobsonian telescope, you have visual-use covered. Get an astrograph to take pictures the professional way which is the astrograph way.