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Tammie_M3ENF

Looking at buying one of these Celestron telescopes...

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Looking to purchase a new telescope, have very little experience with telescopes. I currently have two "cheap" ones I purchased a few years ago but am looking to upgrade to something with a larger aperture and something that is "go to" so it finds the objects, ie computerised. I really like the look of Celestron and I have a shortlist of 6 right now:

NexStar 102 SLT (4.02in)

NexStar 127 SLT (5in)

NexStar 130 SLT (5.12in)

Omni XLT 120 (4.72in)

Omni XLT 127 (5in)

NexStar 4SE (4.02in)

I am open to other brands but so far have only read about Celestron. I have been advised to go for the NexStar SE range (the 5 and even the 8) but anything above the 4 is way out of my price range.

The telescope is for backyard use mostly (light pollution has cut down quite a bit recently with local council putting in darker streetlamps - yay!), and would need to be carried up and down stairs for use because of where it will be stored when not in use. I want to be able to view planets, the Moon and also would love to view deep sky objects, that just fascinates me. No astro-photography at the moment, maybe in the future when I know more about it.

Any help/advice/recommendations would be most gratefully received, thank you :)

Tammie :)

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I have the 130 SLT and I love it! It's only 5" but in a dark sky, you can see loads of DSOs.

I'm sure others will be along to give advice on the other models and I bet you get a lot of suggestions for buying a Dob instead!

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What I suggest is that you find and visit your local astronomical society first.They will be able to help and if they have observing sessions you may be able to have a look at various scopes before getting anything.

Of the ones you suggest I'd go for the SLT130 if you want a computerised scope or the Omni 127 if not. The SLT will need some sort of power supply, they don't run for long on dry batteries. Essentially the most aperture.

Chris

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Have you considered some of the equivalent from the Skywatcher range:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto/skywatcher-explorer-130p-synscan-az-goto.html

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto/skywatcher-startravel-102-synscan-az-goto.html

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto/skywatcher-skymax-102-synscan-az-goto.html

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto/skywatcher-skymax-127-synscan-az-goto.html

They are a bit more keenely priced than the Celestrons, but still a well respected brand with a proven goto system. If I'm right both Celestron and Skywatcher are made in the same Synta factory.

hth

Chris

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If you really want GoTo, I'd advise you to get a scope with Celestron's Sky Align feature. It's by far the easiest GoTo set up to use.

if you decide to go with a non-motorised scope, then Skywatcher ones are just as good optically, and a bit cheaper!

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My Skywatcher Synscan goto is a doddle to to use so it would be interesting to here how skyalign is easier? just for future purchases sake :D

Chris

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You can usually save a bit of money if you don't go for the latest doodads. The Skywatcher Synscan handset alignment routines might not be the latest and greatest but they are real easy to use and are often updated.

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Like mentioned before, if you havent already, visit your local astronomical society and actually look through the different scopes before you decide on which to buy...

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Maybe a used dob may be better for your budget. Visiting an astro club may be conducive towards this goal. Good Luck.

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I think the 4SE has a built in wedge that makes it suitable for long exposure photography, above a 5 inch SE you have to buy the wedge separately for a few hundred squids :grin:

Just something for you to consider before you make your mind up :smiley:

Edited by Pig
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1376942956' post='2020422']

My Skywatcher Synscan goto is a doddle to to use so it would be interesting to here how skyalign is easier? just for future purchases sake

I've read loads of threads on this forum bemoaning the use of GoTo and how is isn't all that easy, especially for beginners. Upon further examinations, they are usually using the Skywatcher GoTo system.

Talk of having to find North (in some cases polar aligning), choosing alignment stars from a list (which means you have to have some basic knowledge of the skies - some beginners do not - or, others have mentioned that the stars in the list weren't visible in their patch of sky, having to use longitude and latitude (instead of place names), adjusting setting scales (where necessary) all make it, IMHO, a tricky and time consuming set up for a complete novice.

I even downloaded a copy of the manual just to check that what I was reading was right. I know that not all steps are necessary for all Synscan scopes, but it still seems to me to be a bit complicated for a newbie.

The Celestron SkyAlign system has none of this. I just think that it is the most user friendly system for those of us who started with a GoTo scope, with absolutely no knowledge of the skies at all, and with absolutely no idea what we are doing! :grin:

You just plonk the scope down anywhere (and I do mean anywhere), enter time, date and location (which you can do by city - I chose Manchester which is about 20 miles away and it's still accurate), choose the 3 brightest stars/objects you can see to align (without needing to choose from a list - just what you can see in the sky) and away you go!

It advises you to choose objects that are very far away from each other, but I've done it using Betelgeuse, Rigel, and Bellatrix (all in the constellation Orion) and its still so accurate when going to to other objects! I've tried the solar system align too (which allows you to just use the Moon, or a planet for alignment), and again, no problems!

If you are completely green, I just think that it's worth spending the extra few quid to ensure that you get a GoTo that doesn't leave you wanting to tear your hair out!

I also have a CPC800 which has GPS, so no need to enter a location now and it's even quicker to get set up!

I do think that a scope choice is very personal and what make work for one person may not necessarily suit another. I agree with the advice about visiting a local group, if you can, to see a range of scopes and work out which type/brand is best for you.

Edited by Rockrae78
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Astrobaby has written a review on her 4SE:

http://www.astro-baby.com/reviews/nexstar%204SE/nexstar4se.htm

I'm not sure the wedge makes the 4se suitable for long exposure photography though. The scope has a very long focal length of 1350mm and is optically very slow at f/13 ! this basically means that the tracking will be very limited especially with the basic 4SE motors, and you would need very long exposure times to collect enough photons for a reasonable image. The focal length and ration are more suited to planetary imaging with a webcam as these are bright and only require lots of stacked very short exposures so tracking is also not an issue here so the wedge is not needed. My verdict is that the wedge on the 4se is misleading.

Might be ok for a grab and go scope for planets and doubles and the Moon, its looks very nice at least!

Chris

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Astrobaby has written a review on her 4SE:

http://www.astro-bab.../nexstar4se.htm

I'm not sure the wedge makes the 4se suitable for long exposure photography though. The scope has a very long focal length of 1350mm and is optically very slow at f/13 ! this basically means that the tracking will be very limited especially with the basic 4SE motors, and you would need very long exposure times to collect enough photons for a reasonable image. The focal length and ration are more suited to planetary imaging with a webcam as these are bright and only require lots of stacked very short exposures so tracking is also not an issue here so the wedge is not needed. My verdict is that the wedge on the 4se is misleading.

Might be ok for a grab and go scope for planets and doubles and the Moon, its looks very nice at least!

Chris

I thought that was the idea of the wedge IE more than 90 second exposure times :laugh: that is very misleading indeed.

I have not owned a 4SE but I did have a 6SE and that was fine for DSO, if that is the situation I am glad I didn't buy the wedge for it now :shocked:

Edited by Pig
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I've read loads of threads on this forum bemoaning the use of GoTo and how is isn't all that easy, especially for beginners. Upon further examinations, they are usually using the Skywatcher GoTo system.

Talk of having to find North (in some cases polar aligning), choosing alignment stars from a list (which means you have to have some basic knowledge of the skies - some beginners do not - or, others have mentioned that the stars in the list weren't visible in their patch of sky, having to use longitude and latitude (instead of place names), adjusting setting scales (where necessary) all make it, IMHO, a tricky and time consuming set up for a complete novice.

I even downloaded a copy of the manual just to check that what I was reading was right. I know that not all steps are necessary for all Synscan scopes, but it still seems to me to be a bit complicated for a newbie.

The Celestron SkyAlign system has none of this. I just think that it is the most user friendly system for those of us who started with a GoTo scope, with absolutely no knowledge of the skies at all, and with absolutely no idea what we are doing! :grin:

You just plonk the scope down anywhere (and I do mean anywhere), enter time, date and location (which you can do by city - I chose Manchester which is about 20 miles away and it's still accurate), choose the 3 brightest stars/objects you can see to align (without needing to choose from a list - just what you can see in the sky) and away you go!

It advises you to choose objects that are very far away from each other, but I've done it using Betelgeuse, Rigel, and Bellatrix (all in the constellation Orion) and its still so accurate when going to to other objects! I've tried the solar system align too (which allows you to just use the Moon, or a planet for alignment), and again, no problems!

If you are completely green, I just think that it's worth spending the extra few quid to ensure that you get a GoTo that doesn't leave you wanting to tear your hair out!

I also have a CPC800 which has GPS, so no need to enter a location now and it's even quicker to get set up!

I do think that a scope choice is very personal and what make work for one person may not necessarily suit another. I agree with the advice about visiting a local group, if you can, to see a range of scopes and work out which type/brand is best for you.

Choosing location by city rather than lat/long sounds like a nice feature. The Celestron is probably better then as you don't need to Google your co-ordinates and enter the numbers into the controller. I guess is must be better as it cost more.

I personally never ever wanted to bother with goto until about a year ago and have always found target for AP and observing the good old fashioned way until then. my 'personal' experience was that it was a doddle and worked extremely well. I feel bad for those that have had bad experiences with Synscan, its a shame because I think SW offer the best value verses quality, others may disagree which is fine.

Personally if I was a beginner I would forget Goto as half the fun is finding the objects for yourself. A dob is the way to go for beginners if you ask me but the OP asked about Goto hence the suggestions.

Chris

Edited by starfox
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ah I see what you mean, so you can point the Celestron at what you can see and it will triangulate from there. Yes that does sound like a nice fetaure! Having said this its still easy to select a star from the list and it will just go to it, this has the added bonus of teaching you what the star is unless the Skyallign tells you what the star is called when it locks onto it?

I don't remember a situation where the Synscan has suggested a star which isn't visible, the suggestions are usually quite sensible.

I tell A slight lie, it did use Meade Autostar about 10 years ago at Uni but there was certainly at least 9 years of pure manual observing before getting a Synscan.

Chris

Edited by starfox
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Its a scenario of each to their own, for people like me who don't have the inclination to spend 5 hours outside in the freezing cold only finding 2 objects a GOTO mount is a must. However, I can just about understand the attraction of finding it yourself :smiley: One does wonder how Galileo and alike managed to find everything without modern accessories like EQ mounts I guess they would have called them a bonus :smiley:

Edited by Pig
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1377087189[/url'>' post='2021789']

Choosing location by city rather than lat/long sounds like a nice feature. The rest reads identical to the Synscan though unless I'm missing something.

Like I said, I read a manual for Synscan that basically outlined how to use the Synscan on a variety of scopes so maybe not all steps I mentioned are needed for all of the scopes that it comes with. I have no idea which steps are necessary for the scopes that are similar to the Celestron ones.

1377087189' post='2021789']

I personally never ever wanted to bother with goto until about a year ago and have always found target for AP and observing the good old fashioned way until then. my 'personal' experience was that it was a doddle and worked extremely well. I feel bad for those that have had bad experiences with Synscan, its a shame because I think SW offer the best value verses quality, others may disagree which is fine.

I completely agree with you regards to the quality of a SW scope. They are excellent. I would say that they are the same as a Celestron, but cost less, which is what you want. But maybe Celestron charge more for their SkyAlign system.

1377087189' post='2021789']

Personally if I was a beginner I would forget Goto as half the fun is finding the objects for yourself. A dob is the way to go for beginners if you ask me but the OP asked about Goto hence the suggestions

I couldn't agree more with this. I would have loved to get a dob first off, but GoTo can also be beneficial for beginners. When finally deciding to get a scope, I had a number of factors that eventually made me decided to go for the GoTo system:

  • I wasn't sure how much time I would get under clear skies (it rains a lot here) so thought that the GoTo would enable to view lots of objects in a shorter space of time (it does)
  • I have a streetlight shining directly into my garden, which means that sometimes, I can't see most of the stars you would need for star hopping!
  • I thought it would help me get to know the sky quicker (it did)

One of the good things about getting a GoTo though is that you can use it without using the GoTo system, so you do get the best of both worlds. Last winter, we had some of the crispest, clearest nights I've even seen in my area, and even with the streetlight, the skies were amazing and I got to have a go a star hopping and it was great! Very satisfying, very rewarding and if I wasn't sure that a certain DSO was the one I was looking for, it was dead easy to have the GoTo ready to slew to it just to check I was right!

I really can't say enough good things about Celestron GoTo scopes. I love both of mine.

But, if you do want a manual one, I think SW Dobs are the best value for money!

Edited by Rockrae78
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Its a scenario of each to their own, for people like me who don't have the inclination to spend 5 hours outside in the freezing cold only finding 2 objects a GOTO mount is a must. However, I can just about understand the attraction of finding it yourself :smiley: One does wonder how Galileo and alike managed to find everything without modern accessories like EQ mounts I guess they would have called them a bonus :smiley:

:D yes, I bet Galileo would have been chuffed with finding two objects! :D

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ah I see what you mean, so you can point the Celestron at what you can see and it will triangulate from there. Yes that does sound like a nice fetaure! Having said this its still easy to select a star from the list and it will just go to it, this has the added bonus of teaching you what the star is unless the Skyallign tells you what the star is called when it locks onto it?

I don't remember a situation where the Synscan has suggested a star which isn't visible, the suggestions are usually quite sensible.

SkyAlign has a feature that allows you to see which stars you've chosen after alignment has been completed. i.e. you choose all 3 stars, press align and then you can choose to see what stars you've used.

When I say visible, I meant visible to the user. From personal experience, I have a restricted view to the North and East (my pesky house gets in the way of having a 360o vista!), but the list you choose from doesn't know this (unless its very clever!), so alignment stars can often be in areas of the sky that aren't accessible to everyone.

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Reading all of this back, I really hope we haven't confused you Tammie.

Choosing a scope is very personal, and there are lots of people who have their own personal preferences (like me! :grin: ). I do think that visiting a group is not only a great way to meet like minded people, but also a way to see lots of different types of scopes (Dobs, Maks, SCTs, reflectors, refractors), but also to see them in action and to get a feel for what you like and dislike.

However, I appreciate that this isn't possible for everyone, so just think of some things that are important to YOU with regards to observing i.e. where will you be doing most of your observing, what type of objects you are interested in seeing, is light pollution a factor (which may make you want a bigger aperture)?, how will you store it?, do you want to travel with your scope to star parties and/or dark skies?, why a GoTo?, etc etc etc...

Once you have the answers to these questions (and many more!), I think it will be easier to narrow down your choice.

AND if you order from the forum's sponsors - First Light Optics - and then you decide that the scope is not for you, you can return it within 30 days (not sure about other retailers).

Good luck with your choice and let us know how you get on!

Clear skies!

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SkyAlign has a feature that allows you to see which stars you've chosen after alignment has been completed. i.e. you choose all 3 stars, press align and then you can choose to see what stars you've used.

When I say visible, I meant visible to the user. From personal experience, I have a restricted view to the North and East (my pesky house gets in the way of having a 360o vista!), but the list you choose from doesn't know this (unless its very clever!), so alignment stars can often be in areas of the sky that aren't accessible to everyone.

Sounds good, I must admit there have been a couple of accassions where the star selected has only been a few degrees above a tree or the house, not sure if the software knows not to offer stars too low, I should imagine this is the case it would certainly make sense for it not to offer you a star on the horizon for example.

Skyalign does sound fool proof, so like you say might be a better choice for poeple with no knowledge of the sky. The Syncan might be better suited to those with knowledge of a few stars.

Chris

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I own the 127 SLT and find it a very good starter scope. And at 5" apeture the lightgrasp is pretty decent. If you went down the route of this you would be well advised to get a powertank to drive it otherwise the mount will eat standard batteries at an alarming rate. The Maplin 3 into 1 Powertank is the one to go for. Cheap but ideal for powering goto scopes. I recently changed mine for a Maplin 12v mains transformer to power my CG5 mount.

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AND if you order from the forum's sponsors - First Light Optics - and then you decide that the scope is not for you, you can return it within 30 days (not sure about other retailers).

I've been using a shop in Dorking called 'Astronomia' that apparently when you want to upgrade your scope/mount (bought from them btw) that they will give full refund on what you purchased as long as its within a year of buying it, & as long as in good nick
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I own the 4SE and think it's a fantastic little starter scope for the money. I fully understand people who say "don't go for all the GoTo stuff - you will learn the sky better without it" ... but I actually fall into the other camp who think that it actually helps you learn your way around the sky ... I found the GoTo function on the 4SE increadibly useful for teaching me where things are and it enabled me to find (and see) things which I would otherwise probably not have been able to locate easily without it.... so I'm a fan. Being able to say "show me M82" and watch it swing around and point in exactly the right place is great fun - and lo and behold I now know exactly where it is and can find it easily myself now... so for me it's been a huge help.

In terms of the wedge .... yes - the 4SE does have a wedge which means you can EQ polar-align and track - and this does give slightly better tracking than the standard Alt-Az tracking... however that said it still doesn't really allow for anything above about 45seconds in my experience as the focal length is so long at 1300mm, and thereby magnifications are pretty high and any tracking errors are similarly magnified.

I've used my 4SE for astro-photography with both a DSLR attached to the back (for moon shots mainly) and a webcam (for Saturn & Jupiter) - and also to mount the DSLR direclty onto the 4SE mount instead of the scope OTA (using a camera mount dovetail) ... and that allows for some longer-than-normal wide-field exposures. Astro photography is certainly do'able with the 4SE and you can get some nice results... but don't expect to be able to track accuratley enough to do long exposures for DSOs even when EQ tracking with the polar-aligned wedge.

The main plus-point for me for the 4SE is the size and the fact that it's very portable and easily transportable.... and in my opinion an excellent starter scope.

The main down-side for me (now that I'm a little bit more experienced compared to where I was 18 months ago as a complete starter) is the accuracy of the tracking mount for long exposure photography.... but for that you're likely to need to spend approx double the money to get a better tracking mount.

Cheers,

Mike

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I've been using a shop in Dorking called 'Astronomia' that apparently when you want to upgrade your scope/mount (bought from them btw) that they will give full refund on what you purchased as long as its within a year of buying it, & as long as in good nick

That's amazing! wish there was a shop like that near me!

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