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NexStar 8SE first light

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#1 John Brooks

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 06:46 PM

After waiting through several weeks of clouds, rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain I finally got to take my brand new 8se out for its first test drive.

All in all, I was quite impressed. This is a new direction for me. Every scope I owned for the last 40+ years has been equatorially mounted on either a wedge or a GEM. I've never before owned a scope with an alt/az mount, no clamps and no setting circles.

Seeing conditions were very poor. As the nearly full moon rose it illuminated a vast amount haze, water vapor and high thin clouds that weren't so obvious in the late afternoon.

I opted to go with the solar system align on the moon and wasn't expecting miracles. After observing the moon for awhile I told it to go to Uranus and it was nearly centered in eyepiece after slewing across nearly 90 degrees of sky.

After awhile I directed it to M45 and it was right on. After looking at M45 for a time Jupiter was about 15 degrees above the east horizon so I sent it there. It was well within the eyepiece FOV. I spent the remainder of my time on Jupiter until it started getting very cold and everything started dewing over. I have not yet received my backordered dew shield but it's on the way now.

Everything tracked well except the moon because I didn't bother to put it into lunar rate.

The red dot thingy never got first light. While I was waiting for the weather to clear I got an Antares 7.5 X 50 right angle, correct image, illuminated reticle finder. It adds a couple of hundred bucks to the price of the scope but is well worth it.

The ONLY bad thing I found was difficulty reading buttons and display on the NexStar. Yes, my eyes are getting old but I have no trouble reading my Autostar 497 without my glasses. I have the buttons and display turned up all the way and the contrast adjusted I it is still very difficult to read even with my glasses. I stumbled onto the "Toggle Bold" setting and that helped a lot with the display but there is nothing more I can do about the buttons except memorize them.

I am very happy with this system and am looking forward to clear nights with no moon to see how well it performs optically.

John

#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 08:06 PM

Nice report John! Sounds like you had a good night!

I've found that my gotos vary from night to night. Some times they are spot on and other times they are a bit outside the view, but still pretty close. They seem to be more consistently good if I use a cross-hair eyepiece during alignment. It sounds like you had a very good night for gotos - especially for a solar system alignment!

The display on any LCD handset will be difficult to read when it's cold out. The characters refresh slowly and if they're changing, they can't keep up. Heating the handset is the only thing that will really solve it. Some people rubber-band a chemical hand warmer on the back of it. I use the Smart Astronomy heated handset case in the winter. It has a short eyepiece-sized dew heater strap in it.

http://store.smartas...miiforceco.html

-Dan

#3 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 08:27 PM

John, congrats on first light and on a nice scope! Hope the weather improves for you :grin: ... Tony

#4 rockriver

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 09:44 PM

I hear you about having difficulty reading the display. For me, cold temps are not the problem - my aging eyes are. I selected bold font, also, and it helped. Now I just have to slow down, put on my glasses, and ensure that I don't inadvertently press Enter when I want to press Align and vice versa.

#5 John Brooks

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 11:42 PM

Thanks for the input guys.
I didn't think it was THAT cold outside but it did get cold after a few hours. Perhaps it gradually degraded as the temp went down. What I need to do is power it up inside in a dark room and see if it's my eyes or the display. Display aside, the buttons are difficult to read. As I said, I don't have this problem with the buttons or display on my Meade Autostar.

One way or another I'll adapt. I'm just not accustomed to taking my glasses out with me. Kind of troublesome to have to have them at the ready in the dark.

Dan, I do use an illuminated reticle for alignments but didn't use it this time since it was a solar system align on the moon. The moon was just a bit smaller than the FOV so centering it was easy. When I do a star alignment or align on a planet it will certainly come in handy.

John

#6 Tel

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 04:45 AM

Hi John,

Just a line to welcome you to this particular forum. With 40+ "astro-years" behind you, I'm sure we may look forward to hearing from you often and benefitting from your long experience. :bow::bow:

Best regards,
Tel

#7 Peter9

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 12:44 PM

Hi John and welcome to the forum.

Many thanks for a great report. Sounds like the scope worked well and you had a good nights observing.

Regards. Peter.

#8 ke4kso

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 12:49 PM

I think the new Nexstar + hc is much harder to read than the older hc. To me anyhow.

#9 John Brooks

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 10:09 PM

Thanks for the kind replies everyone!

I think I went in the right direction with this system as I was very pleased with the first night out other than the dim HC.

I have been driving my ETX 125 with my laptop and Starry Night Pro. I intend to continue using the NexStar HC until I am comfortably familiar with it. The next phase will be to start driving the 8SE with my laptop. Then the dim HC will be only a minor issue.

#10 ResQU

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 12:34 AM

Congrats on the new scope John. I too have a friend with a new 8SE. He has been very happy with it. However, the other night he tried to push the magnification with a 5mm Stratus eyepiece with dismal results. I tried to explain that it may have been too much for the scope. My question to those of you here with 8SE's, what is your experience with high power lenses. What's been your best performance in power and lens type? Plossl,Naglers,Kellner, etc. Thanks

#11 Midnight Dan

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 09:37 AM

Hi ResQU:

I have a 5mm eyepiece and yes, it will work on the scope. BUT ... everything else must be just right or you'll get lousy results. So, what is "everything else"?

First and foremost, the seeing conditions - atmospheric stability. While the scope will support 400x magnification it is very rare, only a few nights a year, that the sky will allow you to go that high. I find that on most nights I observe, I can get to around 150x without a problem. Only about half the nights allow me to use my 8mm and get to 250x with a sharp image. I very rarely use the 5mm, but there have been nights where it has been useful. Poor seeing is your most likely problem.

Second, cooling. The scope must be acclimated to its surrounding temperature to get the sharpest high mag views. You need to let it sit outside for a good hour in the winter to achieve equalibrium.

And third, collimation. To use the highest mags, collimation must be spot on. Scopes get a lot of bumping during shipping which can knock the collimation off from factory settings. They usually arrive pretty close, and certainly good enough for average viewing. But to push the scope to it's limits it will likely have to be tweaked a bit from the as-shipped collimation. Once that is done, these scopes hold collimation pretty well and should not have to be re-collimated unless they are transported or banged around.

-Dan

#12 hawk

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 10:46 AM

I'm with Dan on this one -- 400x (the 5mm) is rather dependent on the seeing conditions.

Though I'll re-emphasize his comment about sufficient cooling as well. You can't control the seeing conditions, but you can ensure it's cooled well enough, and that should help quite a bit.

I have to say, I do love my 8SE. I've not taken it out for a while (life, you know), but last night I happened to see Jupiter, the Moon, and Orion sitting there all happily visible from my patio and couldn't help it. I literally took the thing out in one piece, turned it on, skipped alignment entirely, used the AA's in the mount instead of pulling out the power thank, and was observing within one minute. Yeah, it wasn't cooled at all, but I was amazed how much detail I could see in Jupiter with my 14mm. Slewing and tracking manually is hardly difficult if you already know where you're going. I had only twenty minutes of free time, yet spent almost the entire time observing.

(Edit: spelling.)

#13 BigC

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 05:04 PM

I find a 6mm most often the best high power in my Nexstar.

#14 hopskipson

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 05:40 PM

I have to agree with what Dan has said, it depends on other factors. I have been able to use a 5mm ocular but on most nights the seeing will only support 10 or 15mm.

#15 BigC

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 06:54 PM

Back down from 5mm to 6mm is also from 400X down to 333X.All approx.And It happens the view is much nicer n the 6 than a barlowed 10.
A 15 is another of my favorites.A 26 is the most often used starting eyepiece.
If te object is o size then I work through the choices and 6 is MY most common stopping point for max powr without mushiness.Some nights stop at 15.Some can use 3.2-but not 3.0!And the 2mm gets very little use.

#16 ResQU

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 08:00 PM

Thanks for the info everyone. John I apologize for the temporary thread hijack. But maybe some of this info was good for you too. Anyway, thanks for the help and once again congrats on the new scope. Clear Skies and Merry Christmas!

#17 John Brooks

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 08:24 PM

That's quite alright ResQU, and for my 2 cents, I have a 4.7 Ultra Wide I use on occasion but only if conditions are near perfect. I am more likely to use my 6.4 or 9.7 if I want high magnification. I'm more of a 15mm to 32mm kind of guy.

And Tel, don't let the 40+ years experience fool you. There is a big difference between 40 years experience and 1 year's experience 40 times. :grin:
I'm just a casual backyard observer that has owned a variety of telescopes and don't get near as much time under the starts as I would like. It's tough working nights.
On the bright side, the forecast is looking good for Sunday and Monday nights, my days(nights) off.

John






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