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About JohnP292

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    North Phoenix
  1. I have a used Nexstar 8 SE that I purchased a couple of months ago, and I'm having some challenges. Not sure if there's an actual problem, or if its me (entirely possible) so I'd like to get some advice. I haven't been able to use it for a few weeks now as it is the height of summer and monsoon season here in Arizona, so its either been too blazing hot at night (some nights over 100 even after sunset!) or its been cloudy or humid at night. But once the summer winds down, I'm looking forward to getting back outside again and trying to get some successes with the goto. So far, I've gotten some really nice views of the planets and the moon, but usually only by manually slewing to them. Here are my issues: 1. Alignment I can do a planetary align with the handset and the telescope will usually align and work OK (well, close enough) with that, but I also got a wifi adapter for Father's Day and when I try to use that with the SkyPortal app on an iPad Mini, every time I go through the alignment process it fails. This is where I think (actually hope) its me and not the equipment. I may just need to practice more (although I've probably spent three or more solid, frustrating hours over several nights trying again and again). The telescope is level and powered with an AC adapter. I've only tried in my backyard so far, where my view of the sky is somewhat hampered by the house, trees and light pollution from Phoenix, so I've been limited to using the moon, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter as my alignment objects. One thing I thought of, and also saw suggested here, is that I might need a reticle eyepiece for aligning. Advice and suggestions welcome. 2. Slewing Concern While using the hand controller, I've noticed at the lower slewing speeds there is a noticeable delay when I push a button to when the motor starts and the OTA actually moves. In at least one direction, the OTA will "jump" at first and then continue to move more smoothly. I don't recall at the moment which axis this occurs on. I'm concerned I may have a motor or gear problem, but would appreciate any thoughts on that, and any suggestions on fixing it if there is one. The two issues combined together are making me worry that I may have a problem with the mount, either mechanically, logically, or both. It almost seems to me like the mount is not communicating its coordinates correctly back to the software when I use the wifi app. Is that even possible? 3. Focuser My final issue, which is not a big deal at all, is the focuser knob. When turning it, it seems to have a range of motion that is smooth, and one point were it feels like its rubbing on something. It's very subtle and really only noticeable when fine-tuning the focus. I can almost imagine that if feels like I'm running into a small spot of dust or dirt. Should I be concerned about that? It really doesn't impact observing, other than making focusing a little less smooth than I'd like. Thanks in advance for advice and suggestions!
  2. Yeah, that's what I did. Every time, after the third alignment, it would wait a few seconds then give me a failure message (I don't recall the exact wording). I never touched the handheld. I'm wondering if the telescope might not be reporting its position accurately to the app somehow, but that's just a guess. Before I got the wifi adapter, alignment with the handheld works and it slews to objects with the handheld, so that seems fine.
  3. I got the wifi module and tried it out with my iPad. Turned out to be very frustrating, I tried at least 5 times to get the Skyportal app to align and it failed every time. I'm going to try again once this heat wave we're having breaks, it's been over 100 at night even after dark! Anyone have any tips on using that app? I tried both planetary alignment and star alignment and they both failed over and over. Should I unplug the handheld controller? I saw some online info that hinted at that but didn't come right out and say so.
  4. The power cord arrived and I used it two nights ago, that was certainly the problem as the telescope worked great. I am absolutely thrilled with the views I got of Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. Especially Saturn, the rings were so much more well defined than they are through the AstroMaster. Such a great difference going from the 6-inch Newtonian to the 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain! I'm still getting used to the alignment and tracking functions, but I'm learning more every day (for example, now I know where Vega and Spica are). I was also pleasantly surprised with how well the Starfinder spotter works on this scope. After the frustration I had with the old one, which lead me to buying a Telrad, I'm impressed with how accurate this one is now that I have it aligned. I had ordered an extra Telrad base for the new OTA, but now I'm not sure I want to put the Telrad on the NexStar. Not sure on that yet, because I really like my Telrad too. Next step is going to be trying computer control. I got a USB to Rs-232 adapter today for that purpose. I'm also thinking I may get a WiFi adapter for Fathers Day.... iPad control would be really cool........
  5. Well, it cleared up. Got some really great views of the moon and Jupiter and played around with the Neximage and the software a bit and got some images of the moon. I had some problems with the slewing, seems like the handheld wouldn't keep time. I'd get the alignment set up (I just used planetary align since it was early and I didn't have a good line of sight to any stars I can recognize yet). The first object I had the telescope find was Jupiter, which it got spot on, but after viewing Jupiter for a while I tried for Saturn and Mars and it seemed like it missed both of them. Checking the alignment again, the time was still at what I had set it at originally. I tried this a couple of times with the same result. I suspect I was killing the batteries and that may have been the cause, as after a couple of attempts it seemed like the handheld pretty much would "reboot" and want me to align it again. I checked the batteries on a tester this morning and they are down to about 1.4v, which can be too low for some equipment. Definitely going to get a power cord and probably a power tank eventually. But the views of Jupiter were definitely a great improvement over the AstroMaster. Missed out on Saturn last night, that's my next target.
  6. Thanks all! Im hoping to try it out tonight, but the weather forecast has changed from clear to partly cloudy, so we will see. I still have a few hours until dark. Keeping my fingers crossed.
  7. If you happened to have read my other thread from a couple of months ago, or were one of the several very helpful people who posted in it, you may recall I got re-started with amateur astronomy a couple of months ago with a small Celestron 114, which I quickly returned for an Astromaster 130. While I think the AstroMaster is a decent telescope for the money, I quickly got frustrated with some of its limitations (especially the shaky mount and tripod) so I started looking for ways to upgrade. I was close to buying a homemade 10-inch Dobsonian a couple of weeks ago, but someone beat me to it. Then a few days ago a Celestron NexStar 8SE showed up on Craigslist. It was described as several years old but hardly ever used and in like-new condition. For $650. After chatting with the seller, I was able to get him to go to $600 (he really just wanted to get rid of it). That alone wasn't too bad of a deal, I thought, but.....he was also including a Celestron hard case, and an accessory kit with some eyepieces (which I probably don't need, I have several now) and planetary filters (which I was considering anyway). Sold! The case alone sells for around $300 new. The only catch was I needed to drive 2 hours each way to pick it up, which I did last night. Checked it out, and it seemed to be as-advertised, so I happily packed it up and headed home. Since I got home really late last night I left everything in the garage until this morning. When I started putting the telescope together I opened the accessory case and not only was there the accessories previously mentioned....but there was also a Neximage camera in the case! The telescope is in excellent condition, the motor drive works, optics look good so far (its still daytime) and the camera works. I can hardly wait for it to get dark tonight! Anyone who has any tips on this telescope, please feel free to share. I'm already planning on getting a power adapter (if I don't already have one, I have a whole box of different ones collected over the years - yes I will be sure the output and polarity are correct!). Certainly seems like it was worth the drive!
  8. Here's a photo I thought I'd share. I took this with my iPhone, so forgive the quality. This was taken at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix on Sunday evening, we were there to see the Sonoran Desert Lights exhibit. The star seen silhouetted by the saguaro cactus, I believe, is Procyon (but I might be wrong about that).
  9. I was able to see Mars and Saturn Sunday night! Mars was a bit fuzzy, but using a Meade 9.7mm Plossl in the AstroMaster, I clearly was able to view Saturn and its rings. What a thrill! They are still rising a little too late to share the sight with my daughter, but hopefully by next week I'll be able to give her a view. I also have to agree with some of the comments that I've seen here about the Celestron "StarPointer" finder that comes with the AstroMaster scopes. Pretty much useless. Fortunately it comes off easily. Following what I've read in this forum, I got myself a Telrad to replace it. Awesome finder, to any other newbies like myself reading this thread, its well worth the price (which isn't outrageous, $42 US on Amazon). Our local community center is hosting a beginner's lecture on astrophotography next week, I'm going to make a point of attending. I'm also kicking myself a little bit, I had an opportunity to pick up a custom made 10" Newtonian off of Craigslist last week. Asking price was only $200. While I was talking to the seller to get info about it, he sold it to someone else. Bummer Its definitely easy to see how quickly one can want better equipment!
  10. Well, now some frustration. We got the 130 yesterday afternoon and I spent a nice hour with my daughter putting it together. She had not been home the day I got the first telescope, so this time as I assembled it I spent some time sharing all my newly acquired knowledge about what the various components are, how the telescope works, etc.. Then we took it outside and spotted the flag on the mountain I mentioned previously and she learned about the different eyepieces. During assembly I had a problem with one of the counterweights. There's a metal slug, inside the threaded hole, that presses up against the bar when you screw in the locking screws. On one of the weights, that slug had been pushed completely into the channel where the bar slides in and was lodged in there. No big deal, once I figured out what the problem was I was able to knock the slug out of the center channel with a screwdriver and hammer and inserted it back where it belonged. Problem solved, but it was only the beginning. Darkness falls and of course I'm eager to try the new telescope out, so out I go looking for Jupiter again. Jupiter is darned near almost directly overhead in the early evening here now,. Got the telescope lined up and found it, but the views were not great. We had the remnants of a Pacific storm moving through last night, though, so the seeing probably wasn't the best with some surface winds and I'm guessing more turbulence above. But here's where the problem began. I couldn't get the tube to come down any lower than about 45 degrees, and once there the equatorial seems to have jammed internally somehow as now it won't go back up either. The locking screw is jammed somehow and the whole altitude adjustment is stuck. All is not lost. Amazon comes through again, and a replacement is on its way, even before I send this one back. Now I have the fun task of fitting two telescopes back into their boxes. I have seen some reviews that expressed concerns about Celestron's mounts. Is my experience typical with these EQs? I know lots of folks prefer Dobsonians, but they seem a bit out of my price range. If I have problems with the next Celestron should I try something else?
  11. An RV park that caters to astronomers sounds interesting. You don't happen to know the name, do you?
  12. Here's another I took two or three days before the first one. The moon was not full, and the sky wasn't completely darkened yet. I rather like the blueness that produced.
  13. Here's a photo of the moon I took through the 114 on my iPhone...
  14. Time for another update! I've managed to get out a few more nights and play around some more. One night I discovered what lives in the hole in the back of my yard I had been wondering about (desert rats). I'm still enjoying mostly success. Add another Plossl and a moon filter to the mix. I'm finding that I don't use the eyepieces that came with the telescope at all. I also started noticing some difficulty with the RA axis on the mount. The gears seem to be stripping and it is very hard to turn in one direction. After this got worse for two nights in a row I decided to send the unit back (Amazon rocks!) and use this as an opportunity to go up a step and replace the 114 with a Celestron AstroMaster 130. It arrives tomorrow.
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