I finally had a chance to get my new scope out a few times, and get registered here on CN. I've been reading a lot of the forums and there is all kinds of great information. I bought the 8SE about a year ago and for various reasons it stayed in the box until the beginning of last month. I wanted to get it working for Saturn/Jupiter but the weather here was mostly bad around the time so I missed that except for one night after they passed I was able to view it with the 10x70 binoculars.
After that I had the mount set up here next to my desk with the HC connected via USB to Stellarium. I had it do a one star align on Polaris at the place I decided it probably was then used the HC and Stellarium to find different things. This worked great and Stellarium is fantastic.
There was finally a break in the weather on 12/28 and got everything ready. I did not take it outside first to align the finder, because how hard could it be? Answer: harder than I thought. The full moon also did not help. The focus was so far out it took forever to even get a star visible, then was able to get a successful alignment with Rigel and Pollux. This scope definitely needs something better than the red dot, so I decided on the 9x50 RACI for the next outing.
I took it outside about a week later with the new RACI and centered it on a hawk sitting on top of a power pole about 3000' away. Alignment was much easier using the RACI. I've been able to get out two more times and find some easy objects, M31 M42 Mars. I tried M33 each night and no trace of it. The alignment I think was good but just too dim for the environment here.
Anyway, I don't want to make this a wall of text any more than it is so I will just add a frame I captured of M42 two nights ago. This is straight out of camera with +1.5 exposure comp applied in Nikon Capture NX-D. I really love the colors that came through.
Looking forward to more clear nights and warmer weather!