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Home / Celestron Nexstar 8SE
by Matthew Steele 12/17/09 | Email Author

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My name is Matthew, and as I new person to astronomy, choosing a scope is almost always the hardest choice. It’s the item that you will use the most and have the biggest impact on your hobby, choosing the right one for you is hard, be sure to do a lot of research.

Reasons for Purchasing:

My hobby started in the summer of 2009, in looking for a telescope I wanted something cheap that I wouldn’t need to spend money on to start with. I made the mistake of not doing enough research. I headed over to Kijiji, and did a search. There it was the perfect telescope for me, a Baytronix 4.5 inch reflector on an EQ mount. Wrong, not only was the scope of super low quality, starting with an EQ mount is about the worst things you can do. If you don’t understand one, it gets difficult to use. I sold the scope at a loss, I would have thrown it out but I needed the money.

My next scope, a Skywatcher 8inch dobsonian. This scope was great, excellent optics, easy to use. But I work until late at night, couple that with university, I just didn’t have the time to hunt for what I wanted to see. So I sold it what I bought it for.

Well, here is where my story begins. I saved up a bit more money, and decided I wanted a computerized scope so I could just pull it outside, align it and see what I wanted to see. The Nexstar 8SE was the scope for me.

Unboxing and First Impressions:

Unboxing Video



The scope came packed in a huge box, inside this box? Another big box, but this one contained everything that was valuable. There were a few boxes in here, 1 for the tripod, another for the optical tube assembly, one for the fork arm with the computer attached, and the last contained all the accessories (Eyepiece 25mm, diagonal, red dot finder).This scope was well packed, someone would have to really throw around this box to damage anything. All the pieces were in pristine shape. First impressions of the scope were that it was a quality piece of equipment.


Tripod with accessory tray installed


Assembly and Ease of Use:

Assembly was quick, extend the tripod, put on accessory tray, put on fork arm, and screw in the optical tube assembly, easy as pie. I hooked up my Powertank which I bought before the scope to it just to see how it ran, right away after pressing the button I had it turning in every direction. The motors were smooth and quiet… Enough. The motors are still audible when your standing there holding the controller until about setting 5. But when it is tracking, would be setting 1, they are almost inaudible even with your ear next to the scope. I was ready to take it outside that night... Weather permitting.

First, Second… And Third Lights.

The night I got it, I avoided the new scope curse, it was clear enough, could see stars but there were a few transparent clouds. The first night I never bothered setting up the alignment, I just wanted to point it at the moon and test out the optics, so I point it at the moon, and focus in, I keep turning, turning, and turning some more, finally it comes into focus. With the included 25mm eyepiece, the moon just comes into full view, the whole moon takes up the eyepieces’ field of view. But what a sight, even with the conditions as they were ,(Moon was almost full). I could see so much detail and the picture was so sharp. I popped on the variable polarizer and got it just right. Boy even more detail. The optics are of very good quality for a mass manufactured scope. Just want to add in a detail here, even viewing on a deck that is laying on the ground, the vibrations are great, go to the grass if you can. Clouds came over but I was left breathless.


Just a quick photo of her rear end, with a JMI computer mount


Second night, I decided to try the alignment, put in my exact coordinates, time was right, every thing was perfect. Sky align I decided to try. Pointed the scope at 3 bright stars just as the instructions said… “Alignment failed”. O-well reading the forums, no one gets it right the first time. So I decided to try auto 2 star align, this worked perfectly, well at least with my skill level. The scope was a little bit off, but what came into view needed to be centered. Jupiter, here I come. The scope slewed to Jupiter, I adjusted, and WOW! What a sight. Three moons were out could see a few cloud bands, amazing. As clouds were starting to come in again, I decided to slew over to the moon, scope took me there, and I did a little bit more tweaking, looked at it for a while and packed it up for the night as the clouds became to much to bear.

Picture I took of the moon with a point and shoot on orion steadypix deluxe mount on night 2


And we come to the Third night of this review, by far the most interesting. I walk out side my back yard and it’s a clear sky, there is Orion! I almost burst out yelling. I run back in grab the scope bring it outside set it up, align it using 2 star align, and I say “Show me potato salad!” Well… Really I said. “Show me the Orion Nebula” Scope slewed over, it really couldn’t slew fast enough to my excitement. Finally it stopped, leaned my head over to the eyepiece… Looks like a cloud, wait a sec, those 4 stars… It’s the Orion nebula! The detail was amazing, I could see so much, even in my suburban area, all 4 stars in the trapezium were visible, wow. I just stood there looking at it as the scope tracked it perfectly for me. Must have been almost a half hour of looking before I took a breath. Again confirming that the optics of this scope are great. I see some cloud on the horizon, for the third night in a row. Lets take in one more target I say. I can see the Pleiades up there, lets try that, the scope slews over, as I look in and see a bunch of bright stars. With this scope’s focal length, I could not take in the whole sight, so I had to move it around a bit to view every part of it. A focal reducer would come in handy this time… Or that 35mm Televue Panoptic I have, with no 2 inch diagonal. Third night was a success, viewed my third deep sky object. Summer can wait, Orion stay out longer!

My observing buddy, she's always there... Observing... Or getting into stuff


Again, I can’t say how good this scope is or the price, it is amazing for a goto.

Final Thoughts and Rating:

If you don’t have much time at night to learn the sky and starhop, or have kids who want to see things right there and then. I really recommend the Nextstar series of telescopes. You can get the 4se for a great price, and it will show you lots, or if your like me and want to spend more money the 8SE is excellent. Even if you want to starhop, it is possible with this scope, as the movement of the motors are excellent. It will bring you where you want to go. Having both options is always great.

The packing was great, the quality of the mount is very good, could be a little more steadier, but I will be doing some alterations to help that out. (Which I will document on www.astronomyforums.net ). And the optics and goto are great. I still never got sky align to work, but when I read some more about it I will try again and we will see what happens.

It has a few drawbacks with the mount, but for what you are paying you really get a great piece of equipment that you will get much enjoyment out of. Plus you can always get a new mount, for the scope, then you will have a light goto mount and a more sturdy one for those nights you wish you take pictures or want the best possible setup.

Ratings:
  • Lens/Optical/Mirror Quality 45/50
  • Build/ Construction 23/30
  • Value 20/20
  • 88/100
  • 9.1/10 (Not an average)
I am pleased with this scope and really recommend the Nexstar SE line to anyone looking for a goto or even just a beginning scope it will be great for you.

I hope you all had as much fun reading this as I did writing it.



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