The five stars represent my opinion about the scope. I'm a novice at astronomy, so I can't really make any comparisons. I can tell you, however, that this scope does everything I've ever read about it. I pulled it out of the box and put it together and it went to work just the way the book said. I've done some solar viewing and a little digital astrophotography. My major purpose for this scope is in the area of deep-sky astrophotography without spending multiple thousands of bucks. It may be a little overkill for a novice like myself, but I wanted a scope that I wouldn't outgrow, and one that is easy to accessorize. The only thing I can nit-pick on this scope is the motor drives on the mount. They work fine, but they make a little too much noise, and the sound indicates to me that the gear train is not high quality components. It does seem to run very smooth, though! And accurate, every time! If YOU take the time to accurately set it up and aim it, then IT will put what ever you ask for right in the middle of your field of view. The battery holder is a little tight on the 2000mah NiMH AA batteries that I bought for it, but since I plan to use the AC adapter I bought for it, that's not really a big problem. I wish Celestron had designed the bubble-level INTO the base of the mount rather than just leave it loose for the user to install with the double stick tape on it's bottom. I bought a larger level from an RV store and epoxied it to the top of the battery cover. It seems to be very accurate and my alignment seems to work every time. I recommend a good variety of eyepiece filters, a solar filter for the main aperture, a 45deg. upright diagonal, and several eyepieces to cover the range from about 4mm to 32mm. Zhumell and Celestron both offer good filter/eyepiece sets at very good prices here on Amazon. For the astrophotographer, there's a whole world of accessories to chose from for this scope, and this is where I learned just how bad Celestron's customer support is! A lot of accessories out there state they are compatible with the Celestron C8 and 8i scopes, but this 8SE is so new that it isn't mentioned very often. I was concerned about the differences in the three 8" scopes, so I submitted an inquiry to Celestron's customer support, asking for a description of the differences in the C8, 8i and the new 8SE scopes. After four days they closed my ticket without answering my questions, so I submitted another request. After 14 days there was no response. I called them and the fellow I talked to had to put me on hold three times for about ten minutes each while he went to ask someone for answers. Shouldn't they man the tech-support phones with people that know the differences in their own products? All I was asking is if the visual back from a C8 will fit the 8i and 8SE, and if the solar filters for a C8 will fit the 8SE. He didn't know! I just hope my scope doesn't break because their tech support is less than helpfull. [...]. Just don't expect Celestron to be there for you without a lot of prodding. By the way, for anyone considering this scope, the best info I've found is that all of the eyepiece accessories that will fit the rear cell of the C8 will also fit the 8i and the newer 8SE. The Celestron tech had to go actually test fit a visual back from the C8 to an 8SE to find out! He did say that any filters for the main aperture (the big end where light enters) of the C8 will not fit the 8i or 8SE! There was a significant dimension change made there. I hope this helps eliminate the frustration I had in selecting and buying any accessories that anyone buying this scope may have. Happy star-gazing!
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