Steps to Set Up the Celestron 11" Telescope in ALT/AZ Mode

Note that you must be trained by Tammy Smecker-Hane before using the Celestron 11" telescope! It is a complex and expensive piece of equipment that is easily damaged and costly to repair. People who have not been trained should touch NEITHER the drives NOR the keypad. 

General Notes:
  1. Scan through menu items using the Up/Down (6/9) arrows at the bottom of the keypad.
  2. Select a menu item by hitting ENTER.
  3. To slew the telescope, hit RATE (at the bottom of the keypad) and then a number, where 1 is the slowest (normal guiding) speed and 9 is the fastest speed.
  4. The higher the focal length of the eyepiece (e.g. 40 mm), the smaller the magnification and the larger the visible field of view are. Most star clusters and galaxies are best viewed with the 26 mm eyepiece (one of which is generally included in the box with the telescope accessories), while objects like Jupiter and Saturn are best viewed with a 13 or 7 mm eyepiece. Larger objects, like the Orion Nebula and some open clusters, are best viewed with the 40 mm eyepiece.
  5. To choose a target (assuming the telescope is aligned), use the "LIST" key and choose from options with up/down and enter, or use keys like "M" to choose a Messier catalog object, "Planet" for a Solar System object or "Star" to choose a star by SAO number. Once an object is chosen, hit "ENTER" to slew to the target.


  1. Get the tripod reasonably close to level using the level stored in the plastic box. Please note that one of the legs may be loose if you do not have it all the way in.
  2. Place the telescope on the tripod. The metal peg should go into the hole in the center of the telescope base.
  3. Get the 3 metal bolts from inside the case and screw them through the tripod into the base using the large Allen wrench in the large plastic bag. This will require looking up at the bottom of the telescope base and rotating the base of the telescope to align the holes. (Yes, indeed the holes do align; if it looks like they don't, simply keep rotating the base until they do!)
  4. Screw up the knob on the spreader bar so that it is pushing against the tripod legs because it provides added stability.
  5. Put finder scope bracket on the telescope using the two small screws in the small plastic bag that also contains the small Allen wrench.
  6. Slide the finder scope through the bracket. Align the finderscope so it is pointed in the same direction as the telescope: put the 40 mm eyepiece (widest field-of-view), point the telescope at an object on the horizon, focus it (note: if you remember how many turns and in what direction it took to focus it, then you can undo it and be close to focusing on stars at the start of the night), then adjust the screws on the finder scope until the center of finder scope is centered on the same object as the telescope. 
  7. Flip the toggles on the ALT drive (located on top of the left fork of the mount, as you face the panel display) and AZ drive (located on the side of the telescope base) so that you can move the telescope freely. Put the telescope in the starting position: telescope pointing North and level with the ground. The flip the toggles back to lock the drives.
  8. Plug the power adapter into the socket located at the very bottom of the side of the telescope's base (NOT loctaed on the main panel socket, which should be taped over to avoid error) and turn on the telescope by setting the power switch to "1".


  1. If the GPS does not work, you will have to enter the longitude and latitude of your location, and the current time. For the UCI Observatory:
  2. Once the GPS is done linking, choose "Auto Two Star" using the up/down (6/9) keys.
  3. Find a star from the list that you can find in the night sky and hit ENTER.
  4. Center the star in the finder and then hit ENTER.
  5. Center the star in the eyepiece (may require focusing) and hit ENTER and ALIGN.
  6. Repeat this for a second star (the telescope should automatically slew to point fairly close to it).


  1. Reverse all the setup directions above, and be sure to PUT THE BOLTS BACK where you found them in the case and the finder scope bracket screws back in the plastic bag.

Written by Erik Tollerud & Tammy Smecker-Hane