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  1. A month or so ago I was fortunate enough to acquire a Celestron 5SE from the FLO clearance thread. Have delayed posting the first / second light because I'd hoped to have had more "eyepiece time" - sadly the skies have had other ideas, so here's my thoughts from 1st and second light. Been stargazing for just over a year. I chose this scope to replace a 10” dobsonian that was physically too large to take in the car on holiday with family. I also own a Skywatcher 102 short tube on the AZ GoTo mount Wanted something with similar magnification to the Dob, but more portable, am not (yet) proficient at star hopping, so GoTo was a must. I also assist on Public Open evenings with my local Astro Society, so the tracking facility is highly useful as you can talk to the visitors without constantly having to nudge the scope back into position. My garden at home has a fair amount of light pollution from neighbouring houses and two sodium-discharge streetlights that make it difficult to spot DSO. It’s very easy to assemble the tripod and mount, attaching the mount to the top of the tripod takes a little practice to find the “sweet spot” in the dusk, but easily done. Attaching the eyepiece tray which also braces the tripod legs is a bit of a faff; some Celestron images show the spring above the tray, but the instructions suggest fitting the spring (with steel washer) underneath the tray – which is how I assembled it. Once set up, Venus was very bright in the sky and the only object visible, so powered up the scope and used solar align to put Venus in the centre of the supplied 25mm Plossi. Have never really seen Venus at a decent magnification, but was able to clearly view the crescent phase – unlike my refractor, there was no false colour. Swapped eyepieces with the 8mm Celestron so at 156 times magnification, the image was perhaps a little “mushy” but great to view. Once it had darkened enough to see Mars, I used the GoTo function, selected Mars and found the scope out by quite a bit once it had slewed. Think here that the Solar Align will be great for tracking one object on those evening when we start earlier and have just the one object visible until skies darken, but would not use it for anything else. Once the skies had darkened sufficiently I used the Sky Align and chose Regulus, Procyon and Capella – this time the GoTo worked perfectly and I spent a few minutes going to various objects and getting acquainted with the handset menu options. Once I could see Saturn above the roofline, I spent most of the rest of the evening with the 8mm eyepiece admiring the view, even at 156 x magnification, the system kept Saturn centred even whilst I went indoors to make a cup of tea and feed the cat! I've had one truly epic evening at Seething where the skies played ball and saw The Wild Duck Cluster and the Swan Nebula. From a dark sky site, the 5SE is great, it's portable enough to carry in one go and yet has the magnification needed, with a reasonable amount of light gathering power. I'd recommend buying the Lowepro type backpack to store and carry the scope, mine came from WEX and was £90 but am very happy knowing that it is well protected whilst stored and being carried from any bumps and scrapes. The scope dews up very quickly, so you'll need a dew shied almost immediately. Likes Ease of set up, accuracy of GoTo and the magnification provided and portability. Like less The lens cap – it falls off too easily and leaves the front glass exposed – should bayonet or screw on perhaps. The brace bolt / spring / washer - I can just see at the end of a long cold evening me undoing the bolt and hearing the spring ping off never to be seen again – tempted to paint it a bright yellow – what have other Nexstar users done? Very pleased, great views, no colour fringing, decent sized objects in the eyepiece, am going to enjoy looking at the Globular Clusters when the nights are darker.
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