20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Good SCT/GoTo for the Price (Updated),
This review is from: Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope (Electronics)
I am a casual backyard observer in an area of heavy light pollution (close in suburb) and I looked at a number of smaller and more primitive Go-To scopes before buying the 8SE. I also have a C-5, but found it is just not up to letting me find fainter objects in our gray sky. The manual contains many suggestions for improving Go-To accuracy and I am still working through them. But with the mount level, the location set to a city 10 miles away and the time set to with in a minute, the Sky align method works very well with a 25mm eyepiece. Even one star and two star alignments are close. Precision Go-To works very well. If your observing takes you back and forth across a wide area of sky, you can improve Go-To by replacing one of the alignment stars with whatever star or planet you are viewing now. Having a level scope is critical. The bubble level was lost in the unpacking so I use a 2' level or a line level and rotate the scope more than 180 degrees to check level in all directions.
Tracking is excellent. Saturn stayed in view with a 10mm eyepiece for about 50 minutes with no adjustments; at that point, I changed to a different target.
Optically the 8SE is very good. It easily splits some of the closer double stars. Collimation while not perfect is very good; so good that I continue to postpone adjusting it. At the 8SE's price point there are compromises; there is play in the drive and the tripod could be just a bit better. The focus mechanism is jumpy. The red dot finder is a pain to use with higher targets. I will replace it with a right angle finder or a laser finder.
Imperfect as the Go-To system is in some ways, it does not require a complex setup, and most important, allows me to quickly find objects eluded me using guess and point with my C-5.
I use an AC adapter with a 5.5mm x 2.1 plug rather than batteries. If the power connection is loose, gently spread the center pin in the power jack on the mount. Also, check to ensure that you are using a x 2.1mm plug rather than the more common x 2.2mm.
After some time using the 8 SE, balancing it fore/aft, setting backlash compensation, using Calibrate Goto, picking good alignment stars, using Precise Goto, attempting various methods to steady and stiffen the tripod and so on, there were two remaining concerns. The amount of image shake when turning the focus knob was just annoying enough to make me consider an electric focuser or a Feathertouch. The other was the disappointment with many DSOs from my red zone yard. The first problem I am convinced is a problem of the SE single fork design.
After using it in Death Valley NP aperture fever struck and struck hard. I sold the 8 SE and bought a CPC925. This is a significant step up in price and performance. The CPC mount is what you would like the Nexstar to be, solid and precise. The tripod weighs about what the entire Nexstar package weighs. I liked it so much that I traded up for a CPC1100 (as heavy a mount/scope as I can comfortably carry).
I was not done with Nexstar. I have a C5 white tube spotter (excellent example of a US made scope). I bought a Nexstar SLT (low price), then a 4 SE package (very low price) to try the mounts with the C5. The 4/5 SE mount shares the gears and motors with the SLT series, although the newest versions may use motors from a different supplier or of a different design from the ones I tried. Both mounts were OK but the tripod on the SLT is lighter. Then I bought a used Nexstar 6 SE mount for the C5 and it works very well.
The C5 is much lighter and shorter than the 8 SE and it is I think a good pairing. I did not make any modifications to the tripod, such as spreaders or suspended weights and the anti-vibration pads are in the closet. If you use an inexpensive video camera (Samsung SCB-2000 or Lyntech L-300) M1 looks better in the C5 than it ever did visually in the 8 SE (about same improvement as taking the 8 to Death Valley NP).
In summary after a year of use, the Nexstar 8 SE is I think a very good product at a reasonable price point. My example was optically and mechanically very nice. I purchased it used but still under warranty. In the end, I would say that it was aperture that led me to sell the 8 SE. My CPC1100 came with a Feathertouch focuser, and while it is nice, touch (so to say) it does not solve image shift and might not fix shaking on the SE scopes, but it is a nice accessory.
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Initial post: Dec 30, 2010 1:47:53 PM PST
I use google earth to pinpoint my exact gps coordinates of my driveway and program it in the nexstar controller - much more accurate than using a city miles away. I always use the one-star align with great results every time.
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