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Tips for 8SE newbie

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#1 Hal 9000

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 01:30 PM

Hello everyone. This is my first post.

After weeks of research, and no small time spent browsing this excellent forum, I’ve recently taken delivery of my first scope – a NexStar 8SE. You know, I’ve been carrying her into the garden with the same nervous trepidation as you would holding a new-born for the first time. What if I should drop her?!

To be honest, my baby has taken some getting used to. First time out of the box, I nearly strangled her with the power cord after a quick tour of the sky. I then invested in the well-reviewed Baader Hyperion 8-24 mm EP to catch a close-up of Jupiter, but the two main bands have been difficult to distinguish, even at the highest power. Although I’m positioned in shadow, behind a wall, the pub at the bottom of the garden has a bright light protecting its car park below my line of sight. Do I need to move house now?

In the Deep Sky, I’ve been using an Omni Plossl 32mm to observe M31, which stubbornly refused to yield any detail. I had more joy with the Wild Duck, which looked impressive. But quite a few Messier objects failed to show up in the EP after GOTO, and I was unable to find them by slewing gently from side to side. Also, I stood no chance of identifying an off-centre Uranus from a number of potential candidates.

So basically, I’m experiencing some teething issues. I suspect I should splash out on a few extras to improve my overall experience of fatherhood. However, I don’t want to spend money needlessly. Should I invest in a Celestron 8x50 Finder, or look for one with a right angle thingy? Or would the F6 focal adjuster adequately improve contrast and my FOV? And is a green laser going to help me identify the objects I see in the EP, and learn where they lie in my semi light-polluted sky?

If so, what should be my priorities? Or should I just persist – and learn how to be a good father the hard way?

Mazy, mazy, give me your answer do…


#2 Bob Griffiths

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 03:42 PM

I'd wait until you have the scope Toilet trained before I started buying accessories to help you improve the views...

I am quite frankly surprised that your Goto's are not in the fOV .. that can be easily improved with some practice ..

I'd suggest you visit www.tonightssky.com and set up a planning session for your location in the afternoon...BUT I would pick EASY to see targets..either Naked eye visible or visible with a small scope...Say pick 10 of them..print the list out then try some Goto's..

However the main reason that I am tying this is that you mentioned the Wild Duck cluster... Many years ago when I was just getting into the hobby I searched and searched for this cluster...never could see anything that looked like a Wild Duck...
really had me going in circles...Then I discovered the darn cluster is shaped like a "V".. and noes not look like a duck... Heck I had seen that many times BUT just did not know what I was looking at.... Tonights sky also has the ability to let you get an idea of what these things look like in a telescope...

OH...and Let me welcome you to these forums here n Cloudy Nights and especially the Nexstar Forum
and you will definitely see quite a few members also live in the UK...

Bob G

#3 Hal 9000

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 05:09 PM

Ah, thanks Bob. Just the kind of advice I was needing. I've invested so much time and everything else in getting to this point, that some cooling off time would be a good idea - preferably looking at stars in the crisp autumn evenings.

I thought I had the alignment issue sorted, but clearly I'm getting some aspect not quite right. But then, reading through other posts, and books and stuff, I'm not alone. Chucking out the red dot finder and fitting some kind of visual finder scope is used by lots of folk to help adjust for those less than perfect GOTOs?

#4 Midnight Dan

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 08:23 PM

Hi Hal and a warm welcome to Cloudy Nights and our little corner of it!

Getting a good view of Jupiter requires many things, not the least of which is good atmospheric conditions. Many nights just don't qualify for most of us who don't live in a high altitude South American desert. :grin: It also requires good collimation of the scope, but I wouldn't worry about that for now.

I think a lot of what you need some practice and maybe some help on, is the initial alignment. There are some tricks you can use to improve the accuracy substantially. You also need to have things set up correctly on the scope, such as backlash adjustment and goto approach.

I'd suggest reading the manual, getting used to the menus and settings during the daytime, reading some of the posts pinned at the top of this forum regarding alignment, and seeing how it goes next time out. Report back to us, letting us know what you've done and what your results were. There's some real experts here (Bob not the least of them) who will be able to help you get that scope humming!


#5 Tel


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Posted 23 August 2009 - 02:43 AM

Hi Hal,

Just a swift line to welcome you wholehearedly to CN and to this, our Nexstar forum in particular. I see from your location that I'm just a little down the road from you -- or is it up ?

Both Bob and Dan are already pointing you in the right direction to have you hitting those GoTo targets everytime ! I echo all they say.

There is no need to splash out on this, that or the other accessory at moment until you have mastered the small number basics associated with attaining good performance from these 'scopes and thus, you currently have enough equipment to hand to be able to do this.

As Dan advises, take a look at both the SE manual and the "Alignment Tips" posted here above. Pay particular attention to optimising your antibacklash settings (which can be achieved in broad daylight), and the relationship between which GoTo Approach settings you adopt and how you centralise your alignment stars.

The one and only ESSENTIAL accessory you need immediately, (or whatever's second in urgency to "immediately") is an external power source: either a Celestron Power Tank, an Auto Jump Start Kit battery (preferred), or a mains 230VAC/12VDC transformer.

Here for your interest, is Mike Swanson's Nexstar site which if you're not familiar with it, is a great guide to all Nexstar owners.


Best regards,

#6 Tel


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Posted 23 August 2009 - 03:05 AM

Whoops, Hal, Just noticed you're already using an external power source, (cord wrapping in your initial post) ! :foreheadslap:

Too early on a Sunday morning: lack of concentrate ! :bigblush: Must do better !

Best regards,

#7 ibase



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Posted 23 August 2009 - 03:33 AM

Hal, welcome to the forums!

When my C8 was new to me, I didn't know any better than accept the views that I was getting from it, then I hung out with an astro buddy one time with my scope set up side-by-side with his C8 and he helped me collimate my C8 to it's optimal setting and boy did it make a big difference! For the 1st time, I was able to see details in Saturn like the inner gap of the rings and the planet looked very sharp like I've never seen it before. You might want to find out if your 8SE is well collimated, here's a simple instructional by the SCT guru, Uncle Rod (Mollise), to quote, "The difference between a
collimated and an uncollimated SCT, especially on the planets, is like night and day!" See here:

Collimating your SCT

Hope this helps.




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Posted 23 August 2009 - 06:24 AM

Welcome Hal. Up here in the county of rains alot, I don't get much viewing time in, but what I tend to do is read a lot of books relating to the night sky OR the Nexstar, this enables me to put into practice much of what I read WHEN I do get a chance to view...... :waytogo:

#9 Arthur Dent

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:58 AM

A very warm welcome, Hal, to Cloudy Nights and to this, our Nexstar forum in particular.

Posted Image

Also, I stood no chance of identifying an off-centre Uranus from a number of potential candidates.

This should appear as a small-ish bluey-green disk (at least it looked like that in my 6SE). Quite unmistakable.

Enjoy your new "baby"!

Clear Skies!


#10 ggarrison


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Posted 25 August 2009 - 09:20 PM


Greetings and welcome to the Nexstar 8SE club. I too joined a few short weeks ago, and have found this community to be an invaluable help in learning how to use this awesome tool, or "toy", if you prefer!

I'll leave the actual instruction to the "pros" here, but I will beat Bob to the punch and recommend a good observing chair, if you have not already acquired one. I have become a believer in the improvement in both comfort and also viewing quality that it affords.

I would also recommend using http://www.astronomyclubs.com to locate local astronomy clubs close to you. This would hopefully present some companions in your viewing as well as hopefully gain you access to a dark site from which to view.

Clear skies.

#11 Peter9


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Posted 26 August 2009 - 06:13 AM

Hi Hal and welcome to the Nexstar forum. I see that the lads, as always, have given you all the advice you need for now. I am sure that as Jupiter rides higher in the sky and conditions improve, you will be very pleased with the views your 8se will give you of it, and many other objects.

Regards. Peter.

#12 RAKing



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Posted 26 August 2009 - 02:03 PM


Welcome to CN - and your post sure brought back a flood of memories. :)

I can remember carrying my first scope outdoors with all the care of a new father carrying a baby. My main advantage was I had my father available to verify anything I stumbled onto in those pre-Goto years.

The only advice I can offer is to hang in there - it does get easier with practice. Read the manual, go visit Mike Swanson's web site. Make lists of potential objects and just keep trying. We have all been there with you. I never had any trouble with the Wild Duck (M11), but M52 sure had me scratching my head for a while. There is no set definition of "Open Cluster" and there are lots of clusters along that stretch of the Milky Way. Which cluster could it be?

To get that answer, I learned how to draw the darn things, then compare my drawing to the pictures in the books. Not only did I have to learn about the stars, I had to learn how to draw. :help: :roflmao:

Relax and have fun.


#13 Hal 9000

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 10:10 AM

Thanks for all your replies. It's fantastic to have such support. I've now leafed through Mike Swanson's book and checked out his website, and last night was outside practising my Two Star Aligns...

It's just like learning to drive a car - I keep crashing the gears! But I'll get there. Thanks again.


#14 coutleef



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Posted 31 August 2009 - 10:26 AM

You know, I’ve been carrying her into the garden with the same nervous trepidation as you would holding a new-born for the first time. What if I should drop her?!


Dear Hal, a warm welcome.

Unfortunately, your fears sometimes happen and the OTA gets dropped. I am so fearful of this happening to me that i never carry the complete scope out of the house. I carry the mount plus tripod outside but the OTA is carried outside in a plastic box with protective foams. In fact, i carry it out in that box 2 hours before each session so it has cooled down. Then i place the OTA on the mount outside.

It takes a couple of minutes to do so, but i prefer to cool down the OTA in its box. Much less visible and much less tempting for robbers than a fully assembled scope on my frontyard.

I may be overconcerned. The optics of my 8SE are outstanding. I can push the magnification for planets even if the seeing is normal and still get a very clear image. But if i drop and destroy my OTA, my future projects of a 12" dob will be postponed for quite a while


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