Finding it hard to justify spending a few grand on a telescope?
You’re not alone.
So, you look to what real owners say about it and if it’s really worth the buy.
One such scope that costs a good, hefty price is the Celestron CPC 1100 XLT GPS telescope.
It has GoTo, the NexStar+ hand control, a huge 11” aperture, and quality from top to bottom.
The optics are exceptional, the mount/tripod rock-solid, and the GoTo is precise even if it takes some getting used to master all the features.
Suitable for astrophotography?
Can you see faint DSOs? Need you ask?
With 11” and specialized coatings on the optics, you can use this scope in light-polluted locations with even more astounding performance at a dark location.
CPC 1100 XLT GPS Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: 11” aperture
❌ Worst Feature: Price
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Astrophotography, Intermediates, Experts
- Optical Design: Schmidt-Cassegrain
- Aperture: 279.4 (11”)
- Focal Length: 2800 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/10
- Eyepieces Included: 40 mm
My Verdict: In my opinion the Celestron CPC 1100 XLT is an impressive telescope system designed for advanced users, or for those who are still developing their skills but are after a long-term telescope. It has a steep price tag, but as one of the best telescopes that’s proven itself for well over a decade, the CPC still has it.
Who is the Celestron CPC 1100 XLT Best Suited to?
The CPC 1100 XLT is not a telescope for a beginner. This particular model is designed for gung-ho intermediates and expert users. The mount provides reliable AZ movement, but it can also polar align and be used with a wedge for precise tracking needed for astrophotography.
Speaking of astrophotography, this scope is capable of providing you the ability to improve your imaging skills. CPC performance can be enhanced with additional accessories, but that may be an additional investment an expert is likely to fork out as it’s already expensive as it is.
While hauling an 11” telescope out to another location isn’t something you do everyday due to the sheer heft and size, the SCT telescope does have some portability aspects to it.
Astronomers who want aperture on their side when they hit the dark hilltops will find the CPC more portable than some other alternatives.
How Does the Celestron CPC 1100 XLT Perform?
As a slow telescope with a very long focal length, you’ll be able to achieve very high magnification suitable for lunar, planetary, and DSO observation and imaging. However, it will have a very limiting field of view.
Experienced users will know the accessories necessary to widen the field of view to fit in the full moon or larger DSOs like clusters and constellations, but its strength lies in providing greater resolution at max power. It’s an excellent performer for deep sky and even faint DSO viewing.
The mount is rock-solid as it supports the OTA with dual fork arms, very sturdy tripod legs, and you won’t need to extend it all the way since it does come to a full length of 70”. The GoTo hand controller is fully equipped, there is an integrated GPS system, and the mount also allows for manual use.
Features & Benefits
11” of an aperture is huge allowing you to see much fainter objects in the night sky. The spherical mirror is of no consequence as the SCT (Schmidt-Cassegrain) has a corrector lens and the scope naturally has a very long focal length.
The glass elements have StarBright XLT coating technology. It’s a high-transmission and 3-component optical coating system with a fairly flat rate of reflectivity to provide optimum brightness, contrast, and resolution.
The CPC has 34% central obstruction which is pretty reasonable for an astrophotography telescope. Due to the excellent quality optics, good baffling, and the ability to use high-quality 2” accessories, you’ll be able to retain contrast and light-grasp.
NexStar+ Hand Control
The NexStar+ hand control is the chosen controller for the CPC telescope. It has a 40,000+ object database, adjustable backlighting, a USB port, and 9 slew speeds.
It also comes with an RS-232 cable for computerized control, has an internal clock so you won’t have input date and time upon every startup, and its software can be updated online.
The hand control is easy to use, but it will take some time to master the learning curve if it’s you’re first time using Celestron’s NexStar software.
GoTo Alt-Azimuth Mount
The computerized alt-az mount has dual fork arms, dual-axis drive motor, and works with the NexStar hand control. You will need a power supply to run the GoTo unless you are content with the supplied 12V car battery adapter. The mount has multiple alignment methods, and of course, you can purchase an EQ wedge to polar align for astrophotography and long exposures.
The tripod has 2” steel tube legs provides astounding and rock-solid stability and is adjustable from 55” to 70”. Interestingly, the mount lacks a dovetail mounting system. The mount attaches to the tripod via mounting bolts and a positioning pin.
The mount also has an internal 16-channel GPS receiver system that allows for easy alignment and locating of objects without having to guess. It must be setup outside and the clearer the skies and view of the horizon you have, the faster it will acquire alignment.
The Celestron CPC 1100 GPS is capable of providing astrophotography benefits. As is, limited exposures and some tracking ability is provided due to the motorized AZ movement, however, to precisely track and acquire long exposures, you’ll need to polar align the scope (which is possible with the CPC) and an equatorial wedge that you will need to purchase separately.
You can also take advantage of the Anti-backlash, periodic error correction, and Precise GoTo features to improve your imaging quality. A focal reducer or HyperStar may be additional accessories to consider for faster shoots.
With PEC, you can do unguided astrophotography when imaging the sun or the moon and for piggyback photography. There is an autoguider port on the mount, and you may want to consider a guider scope purchased separately – don’t forget the hardware for assembly.
Don’t get me wrong, the Celestron CPC 1100 is not a small and compact telescope that is ideal for travel or portability – it’s one large scope that is bigger than it looks. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t travel with it. The CPC has an SCT optical design, so the physical tube length is much shorter than its focal length at only 24” long.
While the complete assembly is 84 lbs, it’s still lighter than even some 10” scope systems. The OTA and the mount together are the heaviest combination of the kit weighing in at 65 lbs. The tripod weighs 19 lbs.
So, while you’re hauling out almost 100 lbs, the shorter tube and adjustable length tripod are somewhat easy to transport on the road but not so much for air travel. In the end, it’s not a bad setup for those times you want to head out to a dark location, and with an 11”, you’re obligated to find those sites.
It’s not everyday you spend this kind of money on a telescope. Even though the price may very well be worth it for the quality you are buying, it’s still hard to pull the trigger when there are triple zeros in the price tag.
However, you do acquire a full set of expected accessories, GoTo capability, and huge aperture. The downside is, you will have to acquire additional accessories to maximize the CPC’s performance which means more money spent on this system.
Other Telescopes to Consider
The CPC 1100 is an excellent telescope however I recommend taking a look at a few other comparable telescopes to ensure you get the one most suited to your needs. Take a look at the Meade 8 LX200 ACF, the Orion 8 f/8 Astrograph and the Explore Scientific CF ED 102 APO.
The CPC 1100 XLT GoTo can be used manually to slew to objects in the sky. The scope has a dual-axis clutch system that can be loosened to allow for manual movement. It will disengage the GoTo and will invalidate your alignment. To return to GoTo, you must tighten down the clutches again.
As a side note on the clutches, it’s best to keep them slightly loose during transportation to relieve stress on the worm gears and protect them.
With an erect image diagonal, you can achieve correct image orientation suitable for terrestrial viewing. You can also do terrestrial imaging, and it’s best to do this with the tracking motor turned off and with AZ movement.
Unlike 1-year warranties offered by many competitive manufacturers, the Celestron telescope is covered by a 2-year warranty. However, like the other warranties, there are some limitations. The owner must provide original proof of purchase, it’s not owner transferable, and shipping costs must be prepaid if sending in the scope for repair or replacement under the warranty.
In my opinion the Celestron CPC 1100 XLT GoTo is a fine optical system that won’t disappoint. The field of view is restricted, the scope is heavy, and considering the price is not getting you an APO refractor, you are getting an enormous aperture with the OTA compactness of an SCT.
While beginners may be after the wide-fields and instant observation benefits of a smaller or faster telescope, experts will enjoy having the high-power reach and overall quality provided by the CPC telescope.