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TRNunes

Beginner mistakes to avoid with your new Celestron Nexstar 6/8SE

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As an owner of a Celestron Nexstar 6Se i have some items i'd like added to your list for other newbies!!

-The Auto Two star works so much better than the other methods i don't even bother with the rest anymore. I get it to work every time, i enter the time but round to the nearest minute and it still works well. I don't even bother making it perfectly level most of the time and it can still get me in the ball park of everything i ask it to. This is def the method to use. Just learn how to spot "Polaris" and "Arcturus" and you'll be fine. These are two easiest stars to find in the sky.

- i made the mistake of 'not reading my manual' and went on to make the mistake of wiping the dew off my Corrector Plate!!! Big no no! If you get dew build up (and you will) on the corrector plate, just point the scope down and wait for it to evaporate! I used a lens cleaning cloth meant for eye glasses which probably saved me from having my mistake make permanent scratches, but it still could have! These optics are sensitive and you don't want to mess them up!!!! You will not need to actually clean the corrector plate for a long time and you should do the research on how to do this properly!!

-also don't wipe down your eye pieces! get a lens pen!

- Keep your original box for the scope! It fits nicely, the form is already designed for it! You're half way to making your own carrying case by keeping the box. Just pick up a user suitcase from a thrift store that's about the same size and transfer the form from the box over and walla! Cheap case that's made for your scope!

- You can save money on the power tank and get a Car adapter. I don't know if i can speak to cars in other nations, but where i am the output on a car battery is 12v, and the input for the Nexstar is also 12v. The cigarette lighter adapter is a simple 15 feet cord. How often will you be driving to a remote site for viewing? Whats the chance you won't be setup semi-close to your vehicle? Every time i have used my scope in the woods, i was near my car and the 12v car adapter was roughly 1/4 the cost of the power tank. Use that saved money on some nebula filters! They work!

- It took me a while to figure out that slewing when you have aligned the system doesn't have to be slow! The motor slows itself down and seems to move at a snails pace after alignment, but if you press the button for the direction you want to go and hold it, then press the button for the opposite direction it speeds up! No one told me! So much time waiting and now i know! Manual control is a breezing with this method!

- Cover the port on the rear cell immediately after you remove the diagonal, and when you first setup, get your diagonal and eye piece in there asap after removing the cover! Don't leave it uncovered!!! This port leads directly into the chamber and you'll just get dust on your mirrors faster! You'll someday need to get those cleaned, why not prolong the time you can avoid that headache?

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As an owner of a Celestron Nexstar 6Se i have some items i'd like added to your list for other newbies!!

-The Auto Two star works so much better than the other methods i don't even bother with the rest anymore. I get it to work every time, i enter the time but round to the nearest minute and it still works well. I don't even bother making it perfectly level most of the time and it can still get me in the ball park of everything i ask it to. This is def the method to use. Just learn how to spot "Polaris" and "Arcturus" and you'll be fine. These are two easiest stars to find in the sky.

- i made the mistake of 'not reading my manual' and went on to make the mistake of wiping the dew off my Corrector Plate!!! Big no no! If you get dew build up (and you will) on the corrector plate, just point the scope down and wait for it to evaporate! I used a lens cleaning cloth meant for eye glasses which probably saved me from having my mistake make permanent scratches, but it still could have! These optics are sensitive and you don't want to mess them up!!!! You will not need to actually clean the corrector plate for a long time and you should do the research on how to do this properly!!

-also don't wipe down your eye pieces! get a lens pen!

- Keep your original box for the scope! It fits nicely, the form is already designed for it! You're half way to making your own carrying case by keeping the box. Just pick up a user suitcase from a thrift store that's about the same size and transfer the form from the box over and walla! Cheap case that's made for your scope!

- You can save money on the power tank and get a Car adapter. I don't know if i can speak to cars in other nations, but where i am the output on a car battery is 12v, and the input for the Nexstar is also 12v. The cigarette lighter adapter is a simple 15 feet cord. How often will you be driving to a remote site for viewing? Whats the chance you won't be setup semi-close to your vehicle? Every time i have used my scope in the woods, i was near my car and the 12v car adapter was roughly 1/4 the cost of the power tank. Use that saved money on some nebula filters! They work!

- It took me a while to figure out that slewing when you have aligned the system doesn't have to be slow! The motor slows itself down and seems to move at a snails pace after alignment, but if you press the button for the direction you want to go and hold it, then press the button for the opposite direction it speeds up! No one told me! So much time waiting and now i know! Manual control is a breezing with this method!

- Cover the port on the rear cell immediately after you remove the diagonal, and when you first setup, get your diagonal and eye piece in there asap after removing the cover! Don't leave it uncovered!!! This port leads directly into the chamber and you'll just get dust on your mirrors faster! You'll someday need to get those cleaned, why not prolong the time you can avoid that headache?

Goolosh,

As you might imagine, I also have quite a few things I also could add to this nearly a year later (smile). I also agree with your excellent suggestions, with a few minor caveats...

  • Re: alignment methods, I've tried them all since last November and, like many things I've learned since then, feel there may be no "right answer". For example, though I've since had the best luck with "Two Star Alignment" (not "Auto Two Star", but simply "Two Star", using known stars), I often use "Solar System Alignment". Not only is it pretty much the only alignment you can use for our nearest star, but it also works well for star parties/astronomy outreach events I now assist my local club with, allowing me to align on (and start tracking) the moon for attendees even before the sun's all the way set
  • Re: dew, I've actually used the method you suggested (i.e. "point the scope down and wait for it to evaporate") and agree that it works great. I'd also recommend a dew shield though, as they're relatively inexpensive, help limit light pollution, and kept dew off my corrector plate every time except once so far (and, in the dew shield's defense, that time I was at a dark sky site where I'd had my 'scope in use constantly for +6 hrs in +90% humidity w/zero wind)
  • Re: DC power, while you're probably right about your car's battery doing the trick, I like my [relatively]inexpensive 7A Celestron Power Tank. It powers my SE8 all night with ease, is [relatively]light (I keep it in an old gym bag w/my EP case and other accy's and just need to remember to recharge it after every use and at least once a month (else they can go bad)) and, during star parties/public outreach events, I'm sometimes set up in the middle of a park, up to a block or more away from my car. Also, as the dark site I frequent is literally in the middle of nowhere, I'm not sure I'd want to worry about drawing my car battery down too much (though I also realize that's a risk that's probably mitigated by starting and running your engine for awhile, every so often)

Thanks again for sharing the additional suggestions! I can't wait to try the 'turbo boost' you discovered to speed up slewing! ;-)

Clear (and dark) skies!

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Goolosh,

As you might imagine, I also have quite a few things I also could add to this nearly a year later (smile). I also agree with your excellent suggestions, with a few minor caveats...

  • Re: alignment methods, I've tried them all since last November and, like many things I've learned since then, feel there may be no "right answer". For example, though I've since had the best luck with "Two Star Alignment" (not "Auto Two Star", but simply "Two Star", using known stars), I often use "Solar System Alignment". Not only is it pretty much the only alignment you can use for our nearest star, but it also works well for star parties/astronomy outreach events I now assist my local club with, allowing me to align on (and start tracking) the moon for attendees even before the sun's all the way set
  • Re: dew, I've actually used the method you suggested (i.e. "point the scope down and wait for it to evaporate") and agree that it works great. I'd also recommend a dew shield though, as they're relatively inexpensive, help limit light pollution, and kept dew off my corrector plate every time except once so far (and, in the dew shield's defense, that time I was at a dark sky site where I'd had my 'scope in use constantly for +6 hrs in +90% humidity w/zero wind)
  • Re: DC power, while you're probably right about your car's battery doing the trick, I like my [relatively]inexpensive 7A Celestron Power Tank. It powers my SE8 all night with ease, is [relatively]light (I keep it in an old gym bag w/my EP case and other accy's and just need to remember to recharge it after every use and at least once a month (else they can go bad)) and, during star parties/public outreach events, I'm sometimes set up in the middle of a park, up to a block or more away from my car. Also, as the dark site I frequent is literally in the middle of nowhere, I'm not sure I'd want to worry about drawing my car battery down too much (though I also realize that's a risk that's probably mitigated by starting and running your engine for awhile, every so often)

Thanks again for sharing the additional suggestions! I can't wait to try the 'turbo boost' you discovered to speed up slewing! ;-)

Clear (and dark) skies!

Great point on the remote sites and the risk of draining the car battery! Normally i take my truck which has two batteries, i guess that's why i hadn't ever considered that! But for those in cars/trucks with one battery this is very much an important consideration!! The last thing anyone wants is to get stuck in the middle of nowhere!!! Also since mt truck is old the cab lights don't come on when i open the passenger door, but in a lot of new cars you can't always control the dome lights. Wouldn't want to get blinded just getting into your car ha ha!

I have not tried the Solar System alignment yet, and i missed a chance to see Mercury because i couldn't see the North Star (it was behind a big oak tree) as the sun was setting when it was at its best point to view. Now i have to get up early if i want to see it (which im not going to do) LOL

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For best information and tips on Celestron NexStar and others in their range you can do no better than going to Michael Swanson's NexStar Resource site - and his book, 'The NexStar User's Guide' is also extremely useful. On his web site there is a little program which enables you to choose the best stars for 2 star alignment for any time, date and place. These also work for 3 star alignment - simply choose another from the list which isn't in a straight line - or even a planet. If you aren't likely to move you scope around the sky much the 1 star alignment will also work well. He also dispels the myths - precise latitutude and longitude not needed though I do that as a matter of course, level tripod not needed, optical tube not needed to be perpendicular to the azimuth axis.

A dew shield is important and a decent power tank is a must. I made a dew shield out of 2 A4 felt sheets from a craft shop plus 2 bits of wire to form circles at both ends, some staples and sellotape.

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Make sure that the diagonal does not foul the mount if slewing through the zenith. :smiley:

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A trivial one: when you pack up at the end of an observing session where the tripod's been standing on soft ground, make sure you've still got all three of the little black plastic feet attached to the tripod legs. I once spent ages probing our lawn to find a missing foot - got it in the end but it was an irritation.

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Alternatively, change Google Earth to give you degrees minutes seconds by going to Tools > Options and changing the setting in the "Show Lat/Long" box. It can be found in the 3DView tab and is the 1st box on the left of the second row down.

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A trivial one: when you pack up at the end of an observing session where the tripod's been standing on soft ground, make sure you've still got all three of the little black plastic feet attached to the tripod legs. I once spent ages probing our lawn to find a missing foot - got it in the end but it was an irritation.

Agreed!

if you do lose them, walking stick feet are a good replacement :D

You will need to find 3 fairly placid pensioners though...

Edited by knobby
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Agreed!

if you do lose them, walking stick feet are a good replacement :D

You will need to find 3 fairly placid pensioners though...

Better get hiding in the bushes then.

I lost all three of mine after hurriedly bringing my eq3-2 the night before my old lawn (lawn is being kind to the weed infested patchy mess) was removed and new turf laid.

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One tip to add (I have a Vixen GP mount so mounting is very different and goto absent), which goes for all SCTs:

Cool your scope before use. My OTA is stored in a very cool garage/shed, so needs less cooling than when stored indoors in a heated room. Even so, I like to let the OTA sit for 30min or so outside before viewing. To reduce the time I put the OTA outside in a chair before bringing anything else out.

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I have to b honest in that I haven't even had time to read the manual that came wih the box yet. Then there is all this other info to go through. Quite daunting really but i shall hit into it tomorrow. I take the Mrs out on Tuesday, keep in the good books an all that :grin:

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I hace altimeter installed on my iphone and one of the readings it gives as standard is your longi/latitude, some of thse gadgets have more use than you think :cool:

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  • Orientation: All the videos show inserting the OTA (optical tube assembly) into the fork arm/mount with the Celestron logo upright. What the videos don't emphasize (at least overtly) is that the part of the fork arm the OTA slides into needs to be turned upright (i.e. with the two arrows aligned) before OTA attachment.

I don't understand why in some of the videos the OTA is connected to the fork arm but in others it's not! My isn't and it's frigging difficult to connect it, the arm just doesn't rotate to allow the arrows to align. And can the whole scope really be depending on just one clamp knob, sounds real risky :mad:

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are you trying to push the arm manually to make it rotate? It does have a clutch on the ALT axis (up/down), but you could still be risking damaging the gears. It's best to power it up and move it using the arrow buttons. The single clamp knob works fine, I've never had any issues using several different scopes and cameras on this mount (and a similar SLT) over 4 years. I also haven't found any difficulty attaching anything to the mount, perhaps you can show a picture if you are still having problems.

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Yes, once I had powered it up everything started working fine, althought the batteries conked out the same night, now I'm just waiting for my power tank :cool:

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I have the 6SE and level it each time using a bulls eye type spirit level.

I do a 3 star align with no problem and I have found that when I want to centre the star I try and approach it so my 'scope is moving to the right and up. It seems to take out backlash in the gears if there is any. It also seem to be the way the scope moves when it is set to slew and align in the final bit.

The RDF is pretty good when poropely set. On mine I also found there was not enough adjustment in the setting screws, so a made a thin shim from a business card to go under the mounting plate, it worked for me.

I have a field flattener/focal reducer which I tend to leave on as it also provides a dust seal for the otherwise open OTA if the diagonal is not connected.

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I just received my new 8SE and mount, I guess I'm one of the lucky ones as everything out of the box worked just like it should. The power tank came out of the box fully charged. The star pointer only needed a few adjustment turns to align with the OTA. The hand controller seems to be a newer upgraded controller and does not match the one in the instruction manual. I did a two star alignment and I was off to Saturn,M4,M13,M57,M81,M82, the Leo Trio and to finish off the night stopped be Mizar and Alcor a double star. The vibration suppression pads worked just great and the dew shield performed just like it should. I am very satisfied with the new 8SE and mount and all the accessories I ordered with it. Cheers and clear skies.

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Setting my Anti-Backlash settings to 10-15 for each movement direction seemed to eliminate the need for the "right-up approach" method. The Nexstar 6SE/8SE instructional manual even says to use anti-backlash settings of 20-50 "is usually best for most visual observing." I also use a 24-8mm zoom EP when doing an alignment. I find that the Auto-Two Star and the default Sky Align methods both work well. I've never even used the others. 

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Thanks for the tips! Just got a 8se and I'm a noob so it's been a good post indeed! :D

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Thanks for the tips! Just got a 8se and I'm a noob so it's been a good post indeed! :D

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Good advice TRNunes. The tip from Stargazer51N on using a defocused image looks like a very good idea. The other thing is that although it is recommended to align the finder in the daytime, you have to be sure the object you use is as far away as possible, otherwise the error in parallax is sure to affect the quality of the alignment. Celestron manual says at least a mile away.

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