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Looking 4 A Mentor - I have a Celestron NexStar 6SE

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#1 MapleRidge20


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Posted 05 June 2020 - 01:24 AM



I am a new to this world and I am eager to learn as much as possible. I now own a Celestron NexStar 6SE and I am fumbling around like an idiot. I am hoping that someone can find it in their heart to show me the way. I promise I will pay your knowledge forward when I get the chance. 


Hoping to hear from a good hearted soul...or even a relatively kind hearted compromised sociopath would suffice.



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#2 Cali


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Posted 05 June 2020 - 01:42 AM

Man, did you come to the right place. 


Let me stand back and get out of the way...


- Cal

#3 pgpalmer


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Posted 05 June 2020 - 02:30 AM

Well - I can't help you with being a mentor, as I have hardly used our telescope so far, but I live about 30 minutes from you :-).  I look forward to following replies here!


I will add a couple of links in case you find them helpful:



#4 sg6



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Posted 05 June 2020 - 02:56 AM

Read the manual all you can. They do at least outline what you need to do and get.

Find the page that has the diagram of the handset menu structure - that is a useful page.


Attach the finder, center the main scope on something distant - 1 or 2 miles, not 100 yds.

Start adjusting the finder to also be centered on the same object.

Recheck main scope and likely repeat. Eventually the pair have the same object in the middle.


You need to set a location - assume no GPS.

Power up the scope and find that menu tree diagram, work out how to get to Custom Location.

Name try MAP, Longitude (one of) -122  40, or 112  15 W, Latitude 49  15 N, Timezone UTC -10 (think it is -10)


In a way after that it is common sense.

Set the scope/mount up level and point it North (Polaris direction). Do this accurately your narrow field of view sort of requires it.

Power the scope on if not already on.

Supply the Date make sure the format is right, unsure what you are used to.

Then the Time and then DST as Yes/No, On/Off.


Then should be Align, Easy Align or however they term it. Use the 2 star option if you get an option.


I have assumed the scope starts from what is termed Level and North, usually a good option. The better the Level and North it is the easier it will point at the first alignment star. But expect it to be out of view, in the finder but not main. Center in finder and then center in main. Check the manual for the number of times you end up pressing Enter here. May be 1 but also think you press after the finder center AND after the main center. In effect you center in finder and in main as 2 actions. Don't argue with the scope just do what it wants. Again read the manual.


Will take 10 minutes, will need some care. Accept it. Most problems are people and either data or trying to cut a corner.

#5 Noah4x4



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Posted 05 June 2020 - 03:28 AM

Read Mike Swanson’s book and visit his Nexstar Resource site. Then ask further questions here. 

#6 PolyWogg


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Posted 05 June 2020 - 10:01 AM

Hi Eric,


Welcome to the group. I have the 4SE and 8SE, so I can relate to some of the challenges, but not all. For the "mentoring" aspect, we almost always say "join an astro club nearby" which of course doesn't work right now that well. So as one of your new "virtual" mentors, I would say you have a number of areas to learn.


A. Setting up your scope - Part 1


This is about the physical setup of the tripod, accessory tray (which is really about stability, but gives you a place to temporarily put EPs when observing), attaching the mount to the tripod, and attaching the tube to the mount. Those are relatively straightforward, and your manual and instructions will tell you how to do that.


B. Setting up your scope - Part 2


This is about using your red dot finder, finder scope or Tel Rad (whatever you're using as a finder tool) on the top of your scope. The three steps are:

- find something in your finder tool,

- centre the same object in your scope view, and,

- adjust the finder tool so it is centred in the finder as well.


The purpose of your finding tool is that you look through it to find an object in a much larger view of space than the scope. Think of it (a bad metaphor) as the scope itself is really zoomed in, so trying to align it and move it around is really hard, you only see a bit of space at a time. The finder tool lets you see a bigger view of space, pick an object (like a bright star or the moon), align "roughly" on it, and then when you look through the actual eyepiece and through the scope, you'll be more or less aligned and just have to fine-tune. However, the caveat of that statement -- look through the finder tool and then look through the scope -- requires them both to be pointing at the same thing. In other words, you have to "align" your finder tool to the scope. If you search for alignment, you'll see tons of stuff on how to align your telescope, which is not the same thing.


I'm talking about aligning your finder tool to the scope so they "see" the same thing. It basically has three steps. If you have the red dot finder that comes with most SE scopes, you're basically going to turn it on (preferably during the day, before twilight) and look through it to see something on your horizon. It can be a block away, it can be across a lake, doesn't matter, just something you can see relatively with your naked eye that you can point the scope at and see it through the RDF. It's harder when it's bright, so twilight works well. If you have a finder scope or a TelRad (larger form of RedDot Finder but with a bullseye target), it's a bit easier, but it's all the same principle. Look through the finder tool until you're centred on something distant but "small". Could be the top of a pine tree, could be a telephone pole, could be a red light on a TV tower. Something stationary (not a wavy tree, for instance). A chimney stack works too. Ideally it's at least a "block" away in distance. You can centre it in the finder tool using your hand controller (note that if you press speed and then 1-9, it changes teh speed of how fast the scope moves when you press the directional buttons -- speed 3, 6, and 9 are all I use, where 3 is slow, 6 is medium, and 9 is for large movements).


Once you have that centred on an object, look through your 25mm default eyepiece, it likely won't be centred in that view. Adjust your scope again until it is centred in the EP view. Now it's not centred in your finder tool anymore, so you're going to recentre it but this time without moving the scope. On your finder tools -- RDF, TelRad or your finder scope -- there are fine tuning knobs or screws. These let you adjust the finder tool a little bit left or right, up and down. Some move it diagonally. Take your time to figure out which screws, buttons move which way, and then "move" the image in your finder so that it is pointing at the exact same spot your scope is. Go back and forth, your adjustments may nudge your scope, but always make sure it stays centred in your scope. You're essentially "aligning" your finder tool so that it is pointing at the exact same spot as your scope.


When the two are pointing centred at the exact same spot, you're done. Why did you do this? So that for your viewing, when you point your finder tool at something (like a star), the scope HAS to be looking at the same thing. They point to the same point, just with different view magnification. If they both point at the same object all the time, then if it is centred in the scope, it is centred in the finder, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, if it is centred in the finder, it is roughly centred in the scope.


If you can confirm you've got the above ones nailed, you're ready for your next steps:

- Understanding power & dew issues with a goto scope

- Alignment of a go-to scope with the 3-star method (levelling, GPS, dates, times, choice of stars)

- Using a planisphere or app to understand where stars are

- Alignment using a 2-star method (which is better, oddly enough, once you realize what the scope actually does during alignment)

- Doing a sky tour to figure out the types of objects you like

- Deciding on some accessories to improve your night's outing

- Letting you loose on the universe



aka PolyWogg

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#7 MapleRidge20


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Posted 06 June 2020 - 06:33 PM

Thanks to everyone who reached out. I will take some time to absorb your feedback. It has been helpful.


I will jump back on when I do my homework.



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