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Celestron SE8: Best at that price?

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#1 keiths29

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 01:29 PM

I'm finally taking the plunge and buying my first real telescope. My budget is modest, and I'm over analyzing everything at this point so I've come to this forum for some advise. After weeks of researching I've come to the conclusion that the Celestron SE8 is my best option. I'm looking for the perfect balance of lugability, ease of setup, and good optics and I have used these parameters to make my choice. I know that push comes to shove, that if this requires too much time or effort (effort I got, time not so much) to use, it will most likely sit in the corner and collect dust. I've wanted a larger aperture scope since I was a kid but never had the resources (not that a max budget of $1,500 is huge).

So here are my questions, Is this a good beginner scope with good optics that maybe at some point in the future I could some astrophotograph at some point? What accessories are necessary? Celestron sells their 1.25 lens and filter kits, is that a good deal? Should I even consider 2"? Have I totally missed the point and overlooked a better scope at the same price. If you had $1,200-$1,500 what you buy?

Any and all advise is greatly appreciated,

K

#2 ewave

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 02:28 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!...Not a bad choice at all....for that price range..I thought someone on this forum said wait til after a week and buy the December 2010 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine and look for a special on this model....but I could be wrong. Otherwise, the SE mount will get you limited astro-photos and you will be subject to short pics of the moon and planetary. For DSOs, you will need a GEM style mount but in the future, you could always remove the OTA and re-mount it.
I'd say it is an excellent beginners scope! My first real scope was an 8" Meade 2080LX back more than 20yrs ago and I paid about 1700 bucks and came with a cheap Meade EP set.
You will like it, just keep in mind the mount's limitations, before you buy a Focal reducer for AP. But then again, if your budget is only for 1.25" EPs than even for visual use, an FR is good.

Geesh, this hobby is expensive.... ;)

Clear skies

#3 Arizona-Ken

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 02:32 PM

A Celestron 8SE will be an even better choice next week!

The December Sky & Telescope has advertisements for a rebate sale starting in November.

Arizona Ken

#4 waskeyc

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 02:52 PM

Keith,

Welcome to CN!

I know I'm in the wrong forum to say this, but have you considered Dobs? The Orion 8" is a third of the cost of the Nexstar, and you now have the option of getting the goto version, which is still less than the Nexstar. The Dob may weigh a little more, but will likely be as comfortable to use. Neither is well suited to astro-photography, although the Nexstar can be easily mounted to a GEM, the Dob cannot.

What would I get if I had the money to spend? I would probably look for a used 8" or 9.25" SCT on a GEM (likely with no goto). Even though I know I can get more aperature in a Dob.

With the 8" SCT, I don't think there is any advantage to 2" eyepieces, the fully illuminated area is too small. You can probably get better eyepieces than the Celestron kit.

My advice for eyepieces is to get a few relatively inexpensive ones so you have a good range of magnifications. Then wait. If you hang around here much, you won't be able to avoid buying more in the future :lol:, so there's no point in trying to "get everything you're ever going to need" right out of the gate.

Good luck, and let us know what you get.

#5 MikeBOKC

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 03:44 PM

Two cents woorth -- if you want/need go-to capability the 8 inch Celestron or Meade SCT is pretty close to ideal for visual and some limited AP - portable, easy to use, good optics and decent aperture, useful with a wide range of eyepieces/barlows.
If you feel comfortable star hopping with a Dob, use the budget to go up to 10 or even 12 inches for more light gathering power, realizing that you will spend more time finding things and manually tracking them, and you won't have any realistic AP options.

Both are very good astronomical instruments. It pretty much comes down to what your individual needs and desires are.

#6 Bob Griffiths

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 04:10 PM

You definately should consider a dob...and i say this as a guy who does not like and have no intention f ever buying another one...

My reasoning is your concern that the scope may end up gathering dust because you may not have enough time to use it ...

I own a 8i (earlier model of the 8SE) and a CPC1100 ..used to own a 8 inch dob which I sold years ago to fund the 8i) ...To be honest I not only wanted but I needed tracking as I like to sketch and I also like to take coffee breaks away from the eyepiece..the Dob just could not cut it...

I do NOT consider the 8Se as a beginners scope.. Heck I've been in this hobby for over 50 years and I still own and I still use my 8i ... I;m still well satisfied..

Do a little research and see if you can find the GSO (Revelation) eyepiece kits... MUCH MUCH better match up with the included eyepieces for the 8se... the highest power is I believe a 9 mm the Celestron Meade and Zhumell kits usually include a 4 and a 6 mm eyepiece which are just about useless in an 8 inch SCT so why even buy a kit with them...

Bob G

#7 GeneT

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 05:47 PM

I believe you will like the telescope. Also, the Celestron eye pieces are fine. You can always add different accessories in the future.

#8 mjt24073

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 06:57 PM

I think the 8" SCT is a great scope. It is as portable as many of the common 4" refractors on the market these days, but will show you so much more. I bought many scopes (and consdered the SE8 many times) before settling on a C-8 and am finally very happy. I also agree that plossel's are fine for a SCT. I still use them, especially in the lower focal lenghts.

#9 MaestroMyth

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 07:23 PM

for $29 more than your budget maximum, i highly recommend you look at the c8-sgt with xlt coatings. it's a great scope, and for just a couple hundred dollars over the cost of the SE8, you get a scope with a computerized german equatorial mount.

with that mount, you can get started in astrophotography in a more fulfilling manner than you can on the SE. plus, it's a very sturdy mount.

i had the exact same parameters as you when i bought my first 'real' scope, and this is the choice i made. if you buy from a dealer, they'll probably throw in enough stuff to get you started with eyepieces.

at this stage, i wouldn't worry too much about 2 inch eyepieces. you can definitely explore expanding with the c8 in the future if you wish, but to start, you'll be fine at 1.25.

anyway, my 2 cents based on personal experience with the same purchase parameters.

#10 islandsteve11

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 08:08 PM

Keith, welcome to Cloudy Nights and congrats on deciding to pull the trigger on a new scope! CN is a great place and you should get a wide variety of great suggestions on this site.

Here are my recommendations:

1. Go to our CN host's website and read their very informative and helpful section called "How to pick an eyepiece." Go to "Accessories" toward the top of the main page, then "Eyepieces and Barlows." It's at the top of the page above the list of eyepiece makers. www.astronomics.com

There's also a section called "How to pick a barlow."

I'll give a shameless plug for Astronomics. They're great people. They're also one of the few retailers that have really gone out of their way to help educate consumers on how to make better informed eyepiece choices on their website. I haven't seen another retailer provide so much valuable info so conveniently. They put some real thought into this - most others rarely bother.

2. I know dobs are great scopes and a friend's got a 12.5" but I've never owned one. Just thought you might want to know that withan SCT, most any EP will perform well because of the long focal raio (f/10). While Dobs are generally the best value in telescopes, they're also very demanding on EPs to get the best image throughout the field of view. It's one reason why most dob owners own premium wide field EPs. Another is that wide field EPs maximize viewing time before having to nudge the scope to keep the target in the fov. This is less important if you get one of Orion's new GoTo dobs.

I'm not saying you can't get a good view through a dob with a $100 EP, you can. But as your observing skills inprove, you'll want premuim EPs for the dob.

3. Since you're looking for a light weight and portable setup, I'd recomend the 8SE. I'm considering one myself.

4. Somebody suggested I keep an eye out for some sort of sale announcement next week on 8SEs. His source was the current Sky & Telescope mag, which I haven't seen yet. Plan on picking up a copy next time I'm out. Sorry, you know as much as I do about this. Mebbe someone will enlighten us. EDIT: already did. See above.



#11 keiths29

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 08:47 PM

Wow, thanks everyone for the great advice. I was at this stage last year when Celestron had a $200 rebate; I can't only hope that the upcoming 'sale' will be as generous.

On the subject of Dobs, I've looked into them, but I'm a bit weary of the size and ease of use. I understand the mantra of aperture, aperture, aperture, and the thought of a 10" is tempting, but I think I'm going to go with the 8SE. The GEM tripod is a thought; how hard to is it to set compared to the Alt-az of the SE?

Can't thank everyone enough. I've been dreaming of a C8 since I first laid my eyes on the grainy Celestron ads in my old Astronomy mags.

K

#12 mjt24073

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 09:34 PM

My C-8 is on the ASGT mount, and I don't think they are really any more difficult to set up than an alt-az mount. The GEM will be heavier, and can be a bit awkward to carry around due to the counterweight. Setup is as simple as pointing it roughly (the closer the better) north, then aligning it with the hand controller (similar to the 8SE, but without the easy any-3 star align feature). As was previously mentioned, the GEM will be more suitable for some basic astrophotography, but the ASGT is limited if you get serious. For the record, I like GEM's, but alt-az mounts have their place as well.

Mike

#13 Greg Keys

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 10:23 PM

Go to the Celestron NexStar forum and find a thread by FLBoy titled something like 8SE - First Light. John (FLBoy) is very much a beginner, He had a 6SE and after a week or so sent it back and got the 8SE - his posts will give you a very good idea of how a beginner interfaces with the 8SE - nice scope and I will be over at his house tomorrow night to get a first hand experience with it :)

#14 BillStar

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 01:27 AM

Hi, Keith,

Let's all get something straight.
The Celestron 8SE is NOT a "Beginner's" scope. It's an outstanding telescope for virtually anyone who wants great optics, excellent goto, reliability, versatility, light weight, easy-set-up, user friendly, adaptable, price-competitive, accurate, and very portable.

It will (because of a dovetailed OTA) adapt easily to an EQ mount for astrophotography. It will easily accept a 2-inch diagonal and RACI finders of all brands and types. An optional GPS is offered, enabling complete star-alignment (GOTO-ready) within 40 seconds.

It's one of the "best buys" in the market of mid-sized aperture.

Just sayin,

#15 RodgerHouTex

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 07:53 AM

I have to say that I bought my 8se about 4 months ago and it's my most used scope. I can carry it out assembled, let it sit for awhile to aclimate, do the auto two star align and I'm off. The optics are also very sharp.

#16 Greg Keys

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 07:59 AM

Actually, there is no such thing as a "Beginners Scope"
There are beginners, there are good scopes and there are bad scopes.
Some scopes are, in the minds of some, "easier" than others like a alt/az mount over a gem. Personally I learned on an EQ type mount and I do not like manual alt/az mounts - on a goto they are ok, but I do not care for dobs. Thats a personal preference because I learned RA/DEC from the get go.
The key for a beginner is to get a good scope rather than some wobbly cheap thing with plastic eyepieces. Then, learn.
The 8SE is not only a good scope, it is a great scope :)
It has a learning curve, but so does a DOB or an APO on a high end GEM.
As far as astrophotography goes, once again, go take a look at the Nexstar forum and see some of the astrophotography the folks there are doing. Some of it is pretty dang good!
It is not the hours on end multiple night stuff our advanced astrophotographers are doing with $10,000+ rigs, but a lot of it I would hang on the kitchen fridge :)

#17 ahlberto

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 08:47 AM

If you have the money,dont hesitate,-go for the nexstar 8"SE.As someone sayd,its not a beginners scope for shure,but its a question of a litle,litle time for you to master the whole setup and ho boy...what a glorious machine!!
Portability,easy setup,good mechanics and very good optics are atributes of this very,very beautiful scope setup....Its a joy for any astronomer soul to look trough and at this machine...!!
Words are not enough to reveal the joy of having a nexstar 8"SE...As someone sayd...Draw...!!Make my day...

#18 jim_m

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 08:58 AM

Keith
I am a "Bang-For-The-Buck" guy.
I am also on the lazy side of things, must be old age setting in, beats the Devil out of the alternative.
So, with these factors to work from, you can not do better than the 8SE.
Great little "2 tripper" with quick set-up. Trip 1, tripod and all the "misc" items you want/need for comfort and pleasure. Trip 2, mount and scope, already mounted on head,
and off you go.
Also, as BilStar mentioned, this is not what could be called a "Beginner scope". It has a great deal of "Growing Factor" in it, will last you for a nice long time.
Sounds like B.F.T.B. factor is about to go up with the Rebate coming up. Great scope at full price, this will be even better.
======== Go for it,=======
Jim

#19 teskridg

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 09:03 AM

My first scope was a Meade ETX-125 alt-az goto telescope. After following the directions to "train" the motors, I found it to be easy to use. I prefer the 8" SCT, because globular clusters look a lot better with the extra 3" of aperture. I disagree that a Dob is an easier beginning scope. First of all, Newtonians require considerably more frequent collimation to keep the optics in allignment and the collimation so required is somewhat more complicated than what will be demanded by the 8SE. I know, I know: the Dob people will tell you that this is no big deal, but we are talking beginner here. Tim

#20 islandsteve11

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 10:09 AM

The GEM tripod is a thought; how hard to is it to set compared to the Alt-az of the SE?


Kevin, keep in mind that the 8SE with mount costs just $200 more than a new C8 ota only. With a $200 rebate (last year and several before that)...

I think there is a significant difference between the CG5-ASGT and the SE, so you need to carefully consider how you intend to use your scope and your circumstances. Now 4 years into this great hobby, I've found how I actually use my scopes & mounts is much different than how I thought I would before I got my first scope - and I spent 7+ months choosing it!

The CG5-ASGT is bigger, bulkier and weighs 30-31 lbs plus an 11 lb counter weight.

The alt-az SE weighs just 11 lbs - as much as the GEM's counterweight.

It's the difference between a GEM and Grab & Go. Most CNers have a G&G scope and mount for a good reason - wanna observe but dont't feel like lugging out and setting up the big mount. You can carry the 8SE (24 lbs) and battery pack to your observing site in one trip, especially if you're not using an observing chair (highly recommended, btw). My CG5 + 110ED (~ same weight or lighter than C8) takes 2 trips + observing chair. It's too heavy & bulky for me to comfortably and safely carry fully assembled with scope, even if I didn't have a back injury.

If you want to eventually image, you can't with a C8 on a CG5 anyway - too heavy and focal length is too long. You can, however, do good beginner/novice imaging with a small ED refractor (a G&G scope that can later become your guide scope).

Keep in mind that the traditional advice for beginning astronomers is to have 2 years experience with visual only observing before getting into imaging. While there'll always be those rare talented and determined individuals who fabulously prove the "traditional advice" doesn't apply to them, it's good advice. I've lugged 10+ lbs of camera equipment on 6 day bacpacking trips in the Grand Canyon in January (S rim to N rim & back) and I've had some of my aerial lanscape photos used commercially (hired plane & pilot) but, I stll haven't done more than take some shots of luna. It's very common for beginners who try imaging too soon get so frustrated that they leave the hobby altogether.

Astro-photography is a whole different animal than terrestrial photography. It reqiures a much, much bigger commitment than visual in terms of equipment, time, patience, software processing time, technical knowledge, skill and talent. The payoff is the potential to take quality photos on par with what only professional astronomers could just 10-15 years ago.

Here's a quick explanation of some of technical challenges asto-imagers have to deal with:

1. Extrememly low light. Anyone who's taken a lot of bad indoor photos because they were too far away or just didn't have an powerful enough flash has experienced the relationship between available light, shutter speed and aperture. For AP, available light is fixed and aperture is fixed, leaving only exposure time (usually in minutes to hours).

2. Anyone who's take a picture of a moving target or used a long zoom/telephoto lens knows it's important to keep the camera absolutely steady, or pan the camera (moving camera to follow object as the shutter is clicked). The longer the focal length, the steadier the camera has to be, and the faster the shutter speed (not an option with a scope other than using another one with a faster focal ratio), the better.

3. Now combine 1 & 2. AP is sort of like trying to take a terrestrial photo at night from slow moving car with a very long telephoto lens. A good mount addresses most of this, but an entry level GoTo GEM like the CG5 doesn't have the needed precision or weight capacity of bigger mounts for serious AP.

4. I haven't even mentioned the learning curve for image processing, which I know little about.

I'd say stick to the 8SE and see how you like it and the hobby as a whole. You'll likely enjoy and use the C8 more with the SE than the CG5. While the difference in ease and time of setup isn't huge, the SE is quicker and easier to set up (I've got no actual experience, but I've seen it done a few times by someone with only a year into the hobby). The SE is also more beginner-friendly for a GoTo mount.

You can later get a C6 or 80mm refractor as a G&G scope for the SE if you want.

Just my :penny: :penny:

#21 ahlberto

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 10:43 AM

QUOTE------If you want to eventually image, you can't with a C8 on a CG5 anyway - too heavy and focal length is too long. You can, however, do good beginner/novice imaging with a small ED refractor (a G&G scope that can later become your guide scope)-------QUOTE

Are you shure?Is the CG5 so weak? :question:

#22 islandsteve11

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 12:10 PM

QUOTE------If you want to eventually image, you can't with a C8 on a CG5 anyway - too heavy and focal length is too long. You can, however, do good beginner/novice imaging with a small ED refractor (a G&G scope that can later become your guide scope)-------QUOTE

Are you shure?Is the CG5 so weak? :question:


Hi Ahlberto. Am I absolutely sure? NO. Ive never tried imaging with my CG5 and a C8 (don't own one) but the C8 ota weighs 13 lbs and the general advice is to keep the total weight of scope and imaging equipment under 20lbs on the CG5 and less is better. Add to that the looong focal length of a C8 compared to the small, short focal length refractors that usually give the best astro-images when used with the CG5. I don't think the CG5 has the precision needed for good imaging with the C8 other than luna and possibly some quick shots of Jupiter and Saturn. I don't think I've seen any quality images on CN taken with a C8 & CG5-ASGT.

Hopefully someone with first hand experience will chime in.

#23 ewave

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 02:40 PM

QUOTE------If you want to eventually image, you can't with a C8 on a CG5 anyway - too heavy and focal length is too long. You can, however, do good beginner/novice imaging with a small ED refractor (a G&G scope that can later become your guide scope)-------QUOTE

Are you shure?Is the CG5 so weak? :question:


Hi Ahlberto. Am I absolutely sure? NO. Ive never tried imaging with my CG5 and a C8 (don't own one) but the C8 ota weighs 13 lbs and the general advice is to keep the total weight of scope and imaging equipment under 20lbs on the CG5 and less is better. Add to that the looong focal length of a C8 compared to the small, short focal length refractors that usually give the best astro-images when used with the CG5. I don't think the CG5 has the precision needed for good imaging with the C8 other than luna and possibly some quick shots of Jupiter and Saturn. I don't think I've seen any quality images on CN taken with a C8 & CG5-ASGT.

Hopefully someone with first hand experience will chime in.


Yes, but the OP can simply get a focal reducer, whether imaging or just visual (for 1.25" EPs) and bring that down to around 1200mm focal length.

#24 GeneT

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 03:28 PM

Well said. I agree that it is an excellent telescope.

#25 ahlberto

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 04:03 PM

Its a real good scope indeed.Its really a sweet spot in cooling down,portability,optics power.If i would like to have a 9.25 or a C11?Of course and the C11 is my dream but the C8 is power enough to deliver beautiful sigths.Very,very good in planets and good round stars with a 55mm TV plossl or a 35 pan.Its a so successful scope that will be around for at least another 40 years http://www.company7....tron/index.html






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