Jump to content

sgl_imaging_challenge_6_banner_jupiter_2021.jpg.eacb9f0c2f90fdaafda890646b3fc199.jpg

 

 

Is the Celestron NexStar 4 SE a good first scope?


Recommended Posts

Hi, I want to get into star gazing.  

I borrowed a cheap refractor from a friend with no instructions and missing pieces and got discouraged.  Now I'm thinking of doing the goto route.  

500$ for the 4SE is more than I want to spend, but am still thinking about it.  That wouldn't leave any room for add on's.

Advise needed,  and appreciated. 

Thanks!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a good scope; compact, easy to move, the Alt-az goto works well for visual observing, so overall not a bad choice. You will probably also want to budget for an external rechargeable power supply and one or two eyepieces in addition to the 25mm EP which is supplied.

BUT, whether it is the best choice for you or the best value for money is another matter. It's aperture is 100mm which will work fine for planets and quite a lot of double stars but will be limiting for many fainter objects. It also has quite a long focal length (1325mm) which will give relatively narrow views, not ideal for many DSOs for example.

A considerable part of the total price goes on the go-to system. So if you were to go manual, you could get a bigger and better telescope for the same price or less. Go-to is certainly a very nice feature, but many people also feel it is too "automatic" and it is very useful to learn your way around the sky manually to begin with.

One of the best telescopes for a serious beginner is an 8" reflector on a Dobsonian mount. Simple to use, large but not too big to move etc. A t $355, it really does represent an excellent balance of aperture and price: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1141702-REG/sky_watcher_s11610_8_traditional_dobsonian.html  And depending where you want to go in this hobby, this may last you a lifetime of good visual observing.

Unfortunately there is no one ideal telescope set-up, so don't rush it! If there's a local astronomy club near you, try to go to a viewing night. You will probably see a wide range of telescopes and have the opportunity to look through them and discuss their merits.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, an 8" Dobsonian gives a good aperture (light-gathering), and the lowish focal length means wider fields of view to make star-hopping a bit easier.  

On the other hand, the small GoTo is extremely portable (apart from needing a power supply), and for the many targets you will be able to see, GoTo puts you right on them!

It's all about choice and preference!

Doug.

PS: I don't mean a power supply is heavy - it's just an extra!

Edited by cloudsweeper
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Patrick above. It is a good telescope, but limiting on what it works well on. If you don't really know what you are interested in out there, you might be best advised to read some books to give your imagination a kick-start. A good book is one I've linked below. If your location - ma - means 'Massachusetts', here's Amazon-USA:

https://www.amazon.com/Turn-Left-Orion-Hundreds-Telescope/dp/0521153972

If you're in the UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Turn-Left-Orion-Hundred-Telescope/dp/0521781906

In either case, Turn Left at Orion is a fun and very informative read. I've seldom heard any complaints!

And you might also be advised to download Stellarium. This is a massive and as detailed as you wish 'Planetarium-Program' which will give you a very realistic map of the nighttime sky as seen from your own location (You provide it). Such programs can easily cost you £100. But Stellarium - which it is agreed is one of the truly best - is totally FREE. No kidding. And here you go:

On this link is the main page for downloading Stellarium. Choose which version is correct for your computer. Here you go:

http://www.stellarium.org/
 
As for instructions, a full copy of them is bundled with the program that you download. But if you need another copy for some reason, these can be downloaded here:
 
https://sourceforge.net/projects/stellarium/files/Stellarium-user-guide/0.15.0-1/stellarium_user_guide-0.15.0-1.pdf/download

This will serve to help you learn the night-sky and all it's amazing denizens. I'll leave you with 2 screenshots. The first is very basic, which is how your copy will be before you start adding more and more objects to load. The 2nd. is my personal copy - which is quite more advanced, so don't be intimidated.

Have fun - we'll be here when you have more questions,

Dave

 

Stellarium - like new.png

 

And.....

stellarium-193.png

click on image for Full-Size

Edited by Dave In Vermont
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Nextar 4SE looks like an excellent choice for a beginner, as it ticks most of the boxes for a beginner's scope - easy to use, good quality, capable of easily finding large numbers of faint objects, and portable. I have a Nexstar 127 Mak which is a similar concept, and (unlike Newtonians) has never required any sort of adjustment. Just be sure to at least replace the higher powered stock eyepiece with a premium quality one, otherwise you will not get the best out of the instrument. There are cheaper scopes, but quality counts with astro scopes, and quality costs money. You might like the 4SE enough to keep it as an alternative or travel scope even after you graduate to something else. 

I would respectfully disagree with those who suggest a 200mm Dobsonian mounted reflector as a beginner's scope. Even though these instruments are temptingly cheap. I have an OTA that is essentially the same, and at 9KG it is the biggest scope I'd care to handle without assistance. I had to fit a grab handle onto it, otherwise I would probably have dropped it on the concrete by now while trying to mount it on the equatorial mounting. It also being a f5 Newtonian needed collimating, which is not a job I'd wish on the unwary beginner either. As for the Dobsonian mounting, it's basic and, I understand, was designed as a portable low-cost mount for large Newtonians.

The best scope is the one you actually take outside and use, so you need to decide whether to have a good small scope or to prioritise aperture over other considerations.  Whether you have a Goto mount, or a basic one which obliges you to do all the work of finding objects is, i suspect, a matter of personal philosophy. Personally I prefer to press ENTER for Uranus rather than poring over ephemeris and star charts.

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can also consider buying a portable telescope without the expensive GOTO system. It costs some time time learn how to find objects, but with a good star atlas and a good finder, you should be able to find your first DSOs pretty quickly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I began with a NexStar 4 SE, and used it for a year. It was easy to carry, easy to set up, and I learned a lot from it. I would add that with this scope and a copy of SkySafari on my iPhone I learned a great deal about the night sky. Being able to 'goto' an object, locate it on the app and pull up the information on it enabled me to learn about the night sky very quickly. Actually it was the other way round - I would use the app to locate interesting objects and then goto them.

Although the scope is limited, it still gave me many hours of enjoyment. I took photos of the moon on my DSLR, and observed double stars and the planets. Many star clusters are within its grasp, and from a dark site a surprising number of other objects. As has been mentioned in other posts, get a power supply as well.

Earlier this year I upgraded to an Evolution 8, but only after I had used the 4SE to prove to myself that astronomy was my 'thing' and I would like to carry on with it. Lugging a scope of any description to a dark site or even into the back garden on a cold winter's night soon informs you how dedicated you are to this hobby.

I agree with the previous post about not having to pour over star charts to find stuff. The limited amount of clear skies we get means I want to make the most use of the time available, but each to his (or her) own. Hope this helps.

Eric.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suggest you read this thread before buying a big dob.... or any other scope.....

A big dob is a good choice if you want to become the ultimate home astronomer with time to learn plus the space  to store it. Yes, a dob does offer more optical bang for your initial buck, but is that the sole consideration? My advice is look at the many "unboxing" videos on U-Tube before making ANY purchase. Also consider weight and transport, as well as set up and alignment challenges.

If you want a quick to set up, easy to use; easy to master; highly portable solution then a GoTo Mak-Cass or SCT may be the better option. I own an SE4 and think it a perfect starter or "grab & go" scope in an affordable price bracket. You can always sell it or possibly part exchange it for a bigger scope later. I originally paid £300 for a huge manually aligned Newtonian with a complicated GEM mount and I nearly gave up astronomy as it was so frustrating to assemble, set up and transport. I couldn't wait to dump it and get a goto scope and wished I had spent  £100 more. Compare set up times in the aforesaid thread. Look at the U-Tube videos; visit a proper telescope showroom and not depend on the Internet alone.

Now I have the ultimate easy to use Evolution (obviously beyond your price range) but it's little brother, the Nexstar SE4, does tick most of the same boxes. Lastly,  under urban skies, most DSO's look like grey smudges in any scope. So don't be misled by images in magazines or the airbrushed highly processed colour photographs that are published. Extra light gathering capacity and optics are desirable,  but you eyes won't ever see what a camera can capture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks guys!  All of your comments were great.  I am used to the automotive forums, which can be quite hostile at times.

LITTLE GREEN MAN, I will pick up that book that you suggested, and check out the program.  Thanks for the links!

Does anyone know any local places to look at and or buy telescopes in Massachusetts?

I am still leaning towards the 4SE.  Without any additional filters or eye pieces, what would I be able to see "out of the box?  I was thinks of getting the other stuff down the road. 

Thanks!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, __luke_ said:

Does anyone know any local places to look at and or buy telescopes in Massachusetts?

No personal experience I'm afraid, but https://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com  with five branches in Mass. appears to be a Celestron dealer. And just across the border into New Hampshire, http://astronomy-shoppe.com/  at Plaistow looks like a more specialised astronomy store with a variety of different brands.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, noah4x4 said:

I suggest you read this thread before buying a big dob.... or any other scope.....

A big dob is a good choice if you want to become the ultimate home astronomer with time to learn plus the space  to store it. Yes, a dob does offer more optical bang for your initial buck, but is that the sole consideration? My advice is look at the many "unboxing" videos on U-Tube before making ANY purchase. Also consider weight and transport, as well as set up and alignment challenges.

If you want a quick to set up, easy to use; easy to master; highly portable solution then a GoTo Mak-Cass or SCT may be the better option. I own an SE4 and think it a perfect starter or "grab & go" scope in an affordable price bracket. You can always sell it or possibly part exchange it for a bigger scope later. I originally paid £300 for a huge manually aligned Newtonian with a complicated GEM mount and I nearly gave up astronomy as it was so frustrating to assemble, set up and transport. I couldn't wait to dump it and get a goto scope and wished I had spent  £100 more. Compare set up times in the aforesaid thread. Look at the U-Tube videos; visit a proper telescope showroom and not depend on the Internet alone.

Now I have the ultimate easy to use Evolution (obviously beyond your price range) but it's little brother, the Nexstar SE4, does tick most of the same boxes. Lastly,  under urban skies, most DSO's look like grey smudges in any scope. So don't be misled by images in magazines or the airbrushed highly processed colour photographs that are published. Extra light gathering capacity and optics are desirable,  but you eyes won't ever see what a camera can capture.

 

What makes you say "big dob" then link to a thread about an EQ mounted newt :icon_scratch: 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started out with a 4" aperture scope and managed with that for a while. When I saw the views with an 8" I realised what I'd been missing though so wasted no time in acquiring an 8" dobsonian.

The dobsonian mount is amazing - it's not just low cost but also able to hold a relatively large scope steadily when high powers are being used. Tracking with it very soon becomes 2nd nature and finding objects becomes part of the fun.

So based on my personal experience I'd say that a $500 GOTO mounted 4" aperture scope is not the best choice of scope for a beginner.  It might make a good choice for a 2nd scope or a travel scope though.

An 8" dobsonian has the potential to deliver a lifetimes observing interest. A 4" does not I feel.

This is based on my experience in the hobby over 35 years and having owned 25+ scopes during that time !.

I'm sure you will get a host of alternative view points though, to help you make a decision.

 

 

Edited by John
Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, swamp thing said:

 

What makes you say "big dob" then link to a thread about an EQ mounted newt :icon_scratch: 

 

Simple. Why not read both threads in full rather than pick up on a single comment....

The original question was about the suitability of a Nexstar SE4. Then the 'big dob mob' quickly piled in arguing the case for superiority of that design (fair enough, they are entitled to their opinion).  But nobody stated the positive case for the Nexstar SE4 or discussed it's merits until Cosmic Golf. So as is often the case in SL, we now have two fairly entrenched positions. I don't see how that assists the OP.

My response was therefore  an attempt to be more balanced e.g that a large dob has distinct merit as regards price/optics, but there are many other considerations such as assembly,  portability, storage, ease of use, automation; goto (or not). The thread to which I referred hence discusses the question "How to make set up faster". It might have started with an EQ mounted Newtonian,  but it explores  others in a constructive manner. The OP can then make an informed choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, noah4x4 said:

Simple. Why not read both threads in full rather than pick up on a single comment....

The original question was about the suitability of a Nexstar SE4. Then the 'big dob mob' quickly piled in arguing the case for superiority of that design (fair enough, they are entitled to their opinion).  But nobody stated the positive case for the Nexstar SE4 or discussed it's merits until Cosmic Golf. So as is often the case in SL, we now have two fairly entrenched positions. I don't see how that assists the OP.

My response was therefore  an attempt to be more balanced e.g that a large dob has distinct merit as regards price/optics, but there are many other considerations such as assembly,  portability, storage, ease of use, automation; goto (or not). The thread to which I referred hence discusses the question "How to make set up faster". It might have started with an EQ mounted Newtonian,  but it explores  others in a constructive manner. The OP can then make an informed choice.

I did read both threads.

The Dob recommended on THIS thread was a 200p skyliner. That other thread made absolutely no reference to a 200p at all.
Are you just referring to your set up procedure when using your 4SE that you spoke of on there, if so why not just say that? 
To say "I suggest you read this thread before buying a big dob" implies that the information contained in that thread applies to a 200p dobsonian.......It clearly does not. It fails to even mention a 200p dob.
There is of course your reference to a "behemoth" scope that requires assembly that your friend owned in that anecdote. What that has to do with a 200p is a mystery to me.:icon_scratch:



 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pulled the trigger, purchased the 4SE off amazon warehouse for $411.  Picked up the book "Turn left at Orion", and a moon filter.  Now I'm just hoping for clear sky's Saturday night.

 

Thanks for all the advice! 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good luck with your scope.

Maybe, in time, you will buy a bigger scope as well. But this one will be nice to use until then. And you can always keep using it for travel. 

 

Edited by Linda
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

38 minutes ago, Ruud said:

Hi Luke,

Here's a link to an astronomy weather forecast for your region: https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/forecast/seeing/franklin_united-states-of-america_4937276

telescope-p0307.gif

Wishing you  many clear nights with good seeing!

 

Or do what I do for the weather forecast. Look up in the sky's before an observation session. Far easier, quicker and far more accurate IMO than any other means of forecast  . My mark one eyeballs are always my preferred forecast method?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good choice Luke.  Two tips not in the manual;

1.  Do make sure you start with 8 x new reputable brand AA batteries; or better still an external power supply.

AA batteries will fast lose power and then the scope will inevitably perform less welI. I initially installed some that I had purchased cheaply from a discount store (probably fire damaged) and my SE4 immediately struggled. You don't want to be thinking that you have a fault on your first night. External power is wise.

2. Be very careful setting location/time zone/date/time/daylight saving time.

If you get ANY error, it is 99% likely to be one of these. As a US resident where time zones are part of everyday life, you probably won't have any difficulty, but in Europe it is very easy to make an error (example Spain is in same UTC zone as UK, yet its time differs - also we use dd/mm/yyyy when in the US it is mm/dd). It took  me two sessions to figure out why all my GoTo's were 15° out (e.g.  one hour).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Ruud said:

Hi Luke,

Here's a link to an astronomy weather forecast for your region: https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/forecast/seeing/franklin_united-states-of-america_4937276

telescope-p0307.gif

Wishing you  many clear nights with good seeing!

Ruud, 

Thanks for the link!  I bookmarked it, and will definitely use it in the future. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, noah4x4 said:

Good choice Luke.  Two tips not in the manual;

1.  Do make sure you start with 8 x new reputable brand AA batteries; or better still an external power supply.

AA batteries will fast lose power and then the scope will inevitably perform less welI. I initially installed some that I had purchased cheaply from a discount store (probably fire damaged) and my SE4 immediately struggled. You don't want to be thinking that you have a fault on your first night. External power is wise.

2. Be very careful setting location/time zone/date/time/daylight saving time.

If you get ANY error, it is 99% likely to be one of these. As a US resident where time zones are part of everyday life, you probably won't have any difficulty, but in Europe it is very easy to make an error (example Spain is in same UTC zone as UK, yet its time differs - also we use dd/mm/yyyy when in the US it is mm/dd). It took  me two sessions to figure out why all my GoTo's were 15° out (e.g.  one hour).

Great!  Thanks for the advice!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.