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SE Series NexStars

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#1 Douglas Matulis

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:29 PM

Hello All,

 

I have been contemplating getting one of these scopes for a portable GnG scope off and on for a while now and just haven't pulled the trigger.

 

So here is my question:  Do these scopes just end up being a source of frustration and then not used?  I hear a lot here on this forum about failed alignments, gear slop, electronics issues, power cord problems, etc...  Are these problems prevalent with everyone who owns one and how happy are you with the Nexstar SE you have?  Does it work good enough for casual use or do you just want to call it expletives and drop kick it?

 

I really like the concept of these scopes and the form factor, but don't want to waste hard earned cash or get my blood pressure up either.

 

I am looking at the 6" or 8", I feel the 4 and 5" would be just a bit undersized in aperture for me.

 

Thanks to anyone in advance who would be willing to share their wisdom and insight!

 

Doug



#2 spongebob@55

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:44 PM

Mine was great.  It was always accurate and lighter than the Evolution I have now.  I had the 6".  I felt the 8" was a little under mounted if you're sensitive to shake or have a lot of wind.  Also it gets a little tight with the clearance with a 2" diagonal.

You just have to get a little 12v battery and mount it on the arm then no problems with cord wrap.   The only way you can move it is with power/HC.  It doesn't have clutches like the Evolution.  If you want wifi control from a device you can get the wifi module which plugs into the base of the mount.  I would use 1 star or planet alignment for super fast alignment and if I used care to level the tripod and do a very good centering of the object (always use up and to the right as final movement on the HC) it was excellent at finding objects up to a certain point.  Normally I used 3 stars.

Never had electronic or power cord problems.  Go-to's were always right on.  If not, I did use good stars with proper separation and different heights.

I'm looking to buy another, either very lightly used or new.  I miss it that much.  Simple, easy to set up, carry, etc.

Hope that helps.

SB


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#3 PolyWogg

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 01:10 PM

Imo, about 70% work the way they are intended out of the box. Looking for a large cluster and using low power EP? Sure. Anyone can find moon or planets of course. Looking for something very faint and expect that a rough alignment done without care will get you there? No.

 

For the remaining 30%, I suspect there is 10% user error in there. Doesn't matter which scope they have, it will never work properly for them. Because the problem isn't the scope.

 

Another 10% are just not good with electronics. A Dobsonian manual would work well for them, but they push buttons having no idea what they're doing, and couldn't work a smartphone let alone a microwave. If so, this scope type isn't for them.

 

Then there are 10% that have gremlins. Inconsistencies in the scope production or the electronics or something where it just isn't working right. Took me five years of solo frustration to find out my biggest problem with goto alignment was a wrong setting in the submenus that LOOKED like it was set right, even on default, but wasn't. Fixed it, everything worked like a charm.

 

But going back to the 70%, you do have to learn stuff, it isn't all automatic. You'll need to know your coordinates to have good alignment. You'll need to take the time to level your scope when you use it. Choose the best stars and know where they are. Learn to centre properly and which order for the last movements before saying "align". Using a low power EP when doing your first GOTO rather than putting in high power and wondering why you can't find anything. The scope will get you close enough that your target should be in the FoV with a low power EP. If you have it on max, no, it won't be dead centre everytime. Every step allows for a small margin of error.

 

You will also find lots of advice by people who have never used a GoTo about how you don't learn the sky, it's cheating, blah blah blah. Like they are still using Galileo's scope and haven't upgraded any of their optics, setup, or use an app to plan their viewing. I have zero patience for such snobbery. You do learn the sky, you do see the stuff you want to see. More people have given up the hobby by not being able to navigate the sky with a manual scope than ever even attempted by those using GOTO. And has a higher failure rate. Rant over.

 

Last point for your GnG though...note that the 8" is, again imo, portable, not really GnG. It is still bulky and heavy. Hard to find a good cheap case for it given its size. Also overweight for the deafult mount and tripod, in case you want to add any equipment. If you are going from house to car, car to spot to setup, and not a lot of lugging in there, the 8" is great. But the 6" is truly GnG. You give up aperture, and not insignifcant in a SCT design, but if you are goign to multiple places or have to carry it from parking lot to viewing site, blah blah blah, a 6" is sweet spot. I have the 8" and would buy a 6" in a heart beat as just an extra scope to have if I could get just the OTA. For my son, we went with the 4" which is uber portable. And has the maksutov design for killing planets well.

 

P.


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#4 barbarosa

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 01:33 PM

MY 8SE is long gone, but I have an 8 SE mount on hand that I purchased from the second owner. They are gear driven alt az mounts and cannot be made better than they are. That said if you keep close to the recommended payload they work for visual and EAA. About the only things you can do to maintain one is to check the alt clutch tension and at some long interval clean and grease the gears.

 

The one of most annoying problems that I encountered was with the hand control or the RJ connectors. Dew is a regular problem here and looking back I think I should have used a contact cleaner/protector such as DeoxiT. I also recommend a longer cable, not only convenient but it helps take the strain off the RJ plugs.

 

The other annoyance is the HC itself, at least the older versions. Not rugged, and display prone to fade and failure and certainly. They wanted to be both dry and warm. I became familiar with cheap replacements from ebay. This may not be so much a problem with the current model.

 

I know that this makes it sound like the SE is problem prone. But I suspect it is not more problematic than other mounts.

 

Alignments are easy and reliable. When there is a problem it is almost always an operator problem or sometimes a power problem which is why the general advice is not to use the built in battery compartment. Go to and tracking the same.  Operator errors include large errors in time, date and location. Large meaning many minutes or many miles, not a mile or ten or a minute or ten and certainly not fractions of a minute or 10s of meters or yards. 

 

2 star auto was my preferred method. An approximately level tripod helps but isn't essential. All that leveling does is make the slew to the second star more accurate. Once you get it centered, level is no longer important.

 

Often overlooked is that you can improve your alignment by replacing an alignment star at any point during the session. You can start with a so-so alignment and make it better without having to start from scratch. Sync also works and it can help if you get into the setup menu and set the backlash compensation and Calibrate go to.

 

Celestron's advice is good advice.

 

The optics are good. I agree that the 8" is pushing the capacity of the mount, but you learn a light touch.  The 6" is a better fit in terms of payload (the mounts are identical except for the bezel around the dovetail clamp).



#5 Ssayer

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 02:00 PM

I went with the 6". It's been plenty precise and very stable. I've made up (3D Printed, and I need to get motivated and put more of them up on Thingiverse!) a bunch of extras for it. I'd have 0 problem recommending one to a friend. It's a great GNG.



#6 JohnBear

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 02:13 PM

Any GoTo telescope is a fairly complicated piece of technology, with dozens of settings and control functions that have to be set "right" for what you intend to do. That said, if you get one straight from the factory - AND read, understand, and follow the manual precisely - it will likely work flawlessly for good visual observing.  

 

Specifically for the 6/8SE this means learning to do the initial leveling and star alignment properly using the factory default settings - with special attention to following the instructions in the manual for slewing to the alignment stars (which negates the built-in gear slop issue). Practice doing this a few times and the procedure will become automatic for you, and you will love and enjoy using this wonderful telescope.  However, do the alignments wrong and the scope will not quite function as you expect and you will "want to call it expletives and drop kick it". 

 

99+% of the time these telescope will perform exactly as they are supposed to, BUT if the operator gives them improper instructions (due to a lack of understanding and experience/training) the results will not be what the operator "wants".  This applies to any just about all high tech GoTo telescopes, not just the SEs.

 

Where does the problem lie?  The telescopes are just doing what we tell it to do. Does our lack of knowledge and ability to follow rather complicated and detailed instructions warrant "drop kicking" the complicated piece of equipment we purchase. I put some blame on the manufactures for marketing their complicated equipment as though it is "easy and intuitive" for anyone to use. Of  course they make their money by selling the equipment, not by properly teaching people how to use it - they leave that up to forums like CN and YouTube videos. This is why I would rather see people start amateur astronomy with good simple, easy to use, and quite capable equipment like a good table top Dobsonian (the AWS OneSky is wonderful for this). 

 

FYI - I consider the 6/8SEs to be really great telescopes, but they are not really for absolutely new, inexperienced, wide-eyed beginners that "just want to see ALL the planets and DSOs" without doing some homework first (by the way, homework is Not just shopping for equipment).  However, IF you really study the manual and take the time (give it a couple of weeks) to experiment and learn how to do all of the setup and alignment steps properly, you will get a lot of knowledge and satisfaction from your GoTo telescopes, along with the results that you were originally looking for. 

 

Whatever the equipment you get, just be patient and enjoy the learning process. It may take a while, but it will well worth it. 


Edited by JohnBear, 14 January 2020 - 02:22 PM.

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#7 3snows

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 02:25 PM

Here's a link to a report I made about my 8SE a few years ago.  Although this is an extreme example, it still continues to perform similarly.  

 

https://www.cloudyni...-mount/?hl=+8se


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#8 JohnBear

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 02:41 PM

Another good point about starting out in a new hobby is to not do it alone. Find some new friends with a bit of expertise and experience.  It can make a world of difference; so be sure to get out to those spring star parties and make some new friends.

 

If you haven't done it already, I highly recommend that you read member Pollywog's blog on his 5 year journey of learning a few tidbits that he needed to know about his 8SE:  http://polywogg.ca/s...on-nexstar-8se/



#9 Don W

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:04 PM

I have several and use them for outreach, and grab and go for solar. Never had a problem. 



#10 descott12

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:41 PM

I would consider upgrading to the Evolution series. The same or similar optics but alot of nice extras like wifi, internal battery, USB power for your phone and better quality mechanics inside. Definitely worth the extra cash.  

 

I will say that these scopes are not without issues. I, in particular, have had tons of trouble with my Evolution 8 but I still think it is a great scope. When they work, you love them, but when they don't, there will be alot of four-letter words uttered. So be prepared for some issues, both real failures but also user errors while you are learning. Astronomy is a long journey and there is alot to learn with many technical problems to work through and these scopes are no different.

 

I think the 8" is still grab and go but it is starting to push it. Although I was able to move my scope completely assembled down stairs without too much trouble.


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#11 spongebob@55

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:50 PM

Also, once you start observing, and you're slewing around looking at different objects and/or centering objects, always end with up and to the right then also.  And some people like the OTA to be a little front heavy to keep a good contact on the gears.

I bought the CPC tripod for my 8" Evolution for greater stability.  Helps a bit.  You could use one for the SE too, since it has the same mounting holes, but it quite heavier and really pushes the GnG boundary.    I just ordered a tripod weight sling for the OE tripod which is just about the same as the SE tripod, except the Evol tripod has a smaller foot print.   I'm hoping that adding the sling and some weight will help the tripod's stability.   

Others have mentioned a light touch when focusing.  That's true.  I've used an idea from these boards and now use a clothes pin that I attach to the focuser knob which gives me a 'finer' focus and isolates my hand heaviness from the scope.  An amazingly simple and very surprising tip.

I have a Evolution 8 now.  I bought it to use different smaller scopes on it.  It has about 1" more room than the SE.  But it had to go back 3 times for the wifi and gears.  Now it perfect, but what a pain it was.   But its also heavier.  But it also has clutches, easy grip handles, an internal battery and wifi.   But just like the SE, you have to put the HC somewhere on the mount.  Why they designed a tripod leg HC holder is beyond me.   Of course, a lot of people only use the wifi.  Me, I"m 90% wifi and 10% HC.   A lot of people have put those stick on hooks onto the mount arms b/c the HC's can go flying and dropping and thats bad for the connections.

SB

SB


Edited by spongebob@55, 14 January 2020 - 03:56 PM.


#12 PXR-5

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 05:47 PM

My SE is a great package, no issues, alignments are spot on. 

I have other GoTo scopes that didn’t cut it.

I can recommend it.

 

Oh, Agena sells a little case with a clear window to keep dew off the HC ;)



#13 roelb

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:42 PM

Have no problems with my 6 SE (I can do even EAA with it).

I recommend to go at a Evolution which is heavier build and more precise (worm gears).



#14 Wire

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:38 PM

I've had since 2016 and haven't had any problems with it at all. I think when some people start fooling around with all the menu settings and upgrading firmware a lot, it starts to degrade the software. Just my opinion. I haven't upgraded any software or changed any main settings other than slowing speed. Always tracks great. I've since bought an 11" Celestron oon the cgem ii mount and just use the 8se when I camping in the summer now. I have soooooo many telescopes. 



#15 AhBok

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 03:25 AM

The 6SE is hard to beat in terms of overall performance, features and price. I am mainly an imager, but got a 6SE for G&G visual use. I also enjoy EAA for outreach and hunting down extremely faint objects when traveling to dark skies.
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#16 goodricke1

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:13 AM

Well I've used mine 400 times in the last 7 years so there's your answer. Things don't always go to plan but I feel that's more of a problem with the workman than with his tools.


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#17 mclewis1

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:58 AM

Remember when reading about problems that there have been many thousands of SEs sold over the years and probably 100s in use on any particular night ... without problems. The vast majority of folks who just use and enjoy their scopes don't post about it.

 

They are fine scopes, not perfect but very enjoyable. I tend to agree with the comments above that the 6SE is a bit of a sweet spot for aperture, portability, and price.


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#18 Tfer

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 01:09 PM

6SE is my GnG.  Never had a problem with it.

 

Keep batteries in the compartment - not for operating the scope, but if it comes unplugged, it retains your settings so you don't have to realign.

 

For true simplicity, add the wifi connector and a StarSense camera.  I plug mine in, use the app on my phone or tablet, then go inside as the scope aligns itself.  I've never had an issue with alignment, and after the scope slews across the sky, my target is always within the view of a 21mm eyepiece.


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#19 mrki233

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 06:42 PM

I've had my 6SE since 2007 and never had a problem with it.  Great size for portability, visibility and overall ease-of-use.  Lose the RDF and add a 9x50 finder and you're in business.

 

I replaced the HC with the newer USB-based version, making firmware updates easier.  If you want a more vibration-free tripod, get one of the CPC or Evolution tripods.

 

It is a great little powerhouse of a scope -- there's just something about that orange tube....



#20 tgrlx200

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:19 PM

I have a Nexstar 4se and I am amazed at how easy it is to align. Much easier than my Meade LX200GPS. Whether I do a 2 star alignment or just align it on 3 objects, it always places the object in the view of a low power eyepiece. It is also fairly easy to use for platesolving. A very accurate mount.

#21 Douglas Matulis

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 05:29 PM

Wow!  Thanks to all for the great insight sharing your experiences.  I am definitely now more comfortable with pulling the 'trigger' and getting one.  I think because I find myself getting a little lazy these days (not sure why) but I think I am going to stick with the SE 6.  I just think I will be happier with the size for GnG and perhaps quicker dampening from vibrations.  I am going to grab one while they are on sale before the end of the month.  I'd love to get the Evolution series, but its out of my price range at this point.

 

Two last questions, I see some use an illuminated cross-hair eyepiece, does this make that much of a difference?

Oh, and living in Illinois, we deal with humidity, on the 6" is a dew shield sufficient or will I need a heat strip and controller?

 

Thanks All!

Doug



#22 Ssayer

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 05:33 PM

For me, in SE Michigan, a both a dew shield and a heat strip are a must. Otherwise sessions are pretty short...



#23 JMP

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 06:08 PM

My kit includes and extension cord and a hair dryer; The dew shield gets 1/2 an hour to an hour before I need the hair dryer.

 

JMP


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#24 Tfer

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 06:15 PM

My kit includes and extension cord and a hair dryer; The dew shield gets 1/2 an hour to an hour before I need the hair dryer.

 

JMP

Here in Northern Alberta, the blow dryer is for frost, not dew!



#25 spongebob@55

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 11:50 PM

I had a single illuminated cross hair EP for a while, then switched to a dual (actually 4) illuminated cross hair EP and found it much easier to get dead on go to's.  You can slightly defocus the star/whatever to fit perfectly into the 'box' made by the crosshairs versus the single center crash hairs.

As to dew, I get it a lot.   But what I've done is bought 2 black 'foamies' 4mm? thick sheets at JoAnn for about $4 and put them together to form a very light, rollable dew shield.  Attach velcro for easy closure.  Start with that and see if you need a heated one or not.  Keep it as simple as possible.  The foamies weigh next to nothing.  BTW, I found that if I don't point to zenith too long I won't get dewed or at least hold it off as long as possible.  I also have a 12v dc hair dryer but it seems that once that happens, its a losing proposition. 

Good luck.  You'll love the 6SE.

ps.  you can also buy a tripod sling for less than $5 on ebay.  It works great, for making the tripod and mount even stiffer, especially in the wind.  It also acts as a great place to put all that extra 'stuff' when observing.   https://www.ebay.com/itm/382757841563

Have fun

SB




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