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About a week ago, I thought I knew what I wanted.  I had done cursory research on different telescopes and various setups, and when I say cursory, I mean a couple of days, before making a purchase through B&H.  I ended up ordering a Celestron NexStar SE8 Bundle which came with the following:

  • Celestron NexStar SE8 with NexStar+ Hand Controller
  • Celestron Alt-Az Single Fork Mount
  • Celestron Focus Motor
  • Celestron Power Tank 7-Amp
  • Celestron Plossi 25 mm E-Lux Eyepiece
  • Celestron X-Cel LX 9mm Eyepiece (ordered individually - not part of bundle)
  • Moon Filter
  • LPR Filter
  • AC to DC Power Adapter

For all of the above, I think it ended up around $1,200.  When I placed my order I found out that It would be a while before any of it arrived but I thought that would give me time to learn as much as possible about this setup before it arrived. That delay has actually been a curse.  I have now done a tremendous amount of research which has overwhelmed me.  Here is why:

 

What do I want my telescope to do? - Observing or Imaging. 

At first, I know need to learn astronomy but I would like to take some pictures.  If all goes the way I hope, I will want to take more serious photos as my experience grows.  But at first, I know I just need to learn how to use a telescope, I need to learn more about astronomy in general, and I need to have fun.  Since I love land and underwater photography however, I know I will want to end up with a setup that can do serious planetary and DSO imaging.  Based on what I have been reading however, I know that one rig to rule both is like looking for the white whale.  So, I think doing planetary imaging would be a better place to start.  Would that be a fair assumption?

So, based on where I am and where I want to go, I am having a difficult time knowing where to start.  It seems the NexStar 8SE is still a decent beginner rig.  I know there are a lot of limitations related to its focal length as well as the mount it includes.  I know that DSO is a pipe dream even though I have seen some DSO imaging examples from some who are getting better than average results.  I have read about other issues like alignment, setup, and stability.  Still, is it a good place for a beginner to start?  It seems that no matter where you begin, you are more than likely going to upgrade over time.  I am just trying to create a baseline that doesn't involve me having to sell everything once I realize what I really need.  

I have now also looked at refracting telescopes, specifically the Explorer Scientific AR 152 air spaced doublet ($750) and a Sky Watcher H EQ Pro Mount ($1,175) with SyncScan GoTo.  This rig is $600 more than the Celestron and doesn't come with anything else so I would need to add-on so it would be even higher.  I don't even know truly what all I would need to start.  This would also be at the top end of my budget or just north of my top budget so that is a concern.  I am thinking to get it up and running, I might need to go over $2,000 which I really don't want to do.  

I have been using a great online tool to check views for different telescopes/ eyepieces/ cameras to get a general feel for what I should expect.  It is http://astronomy.tools/.  Based on this tool, it seems, the Celestron does better for planetary observing/ imaging compared to the Explorer.  I am not sure this is accurate, but that is how I interpreted it. Basedon this site, I did decide to cancel the X-Cel LX 9 mm eyepiece.  It seems it will not get me the observing results I want for planets.  Some of the more distant planets will hardly be visible.  Based on that site, I was now looking at the Vixen HR 1.6.  This eyepiece won't work for the moon but will work nicely for all other planetary objects?

My order will not arrive until Sept so I have plenty of time to change my mind completely but I am just a little overwhelmed in what direction to go.  Is it better to go with the Celestron knowing that more than likely I will change everything out later and just be happy learning the stars, telescopes, basic planetary photography now.  Or, it is better to go the more serious route now.  I am thinking the former but would love to get some advice from others who I am sure have faced this same dilemma.   

 

thanks all. 

 

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Another way to look at it is - You have ordered yourself a great visual set up there in my humble opinion. Over time, you can build up a second outfit from value second hand purchases for AP and keep using your Nexstar for visual.

I did exactly what you have done. Tons of research then ordered the 8 Edge HD on an Evolution mount. It took a month or so to arrive and in that time I decided I wanted to go down the AP rabbit hole. Don't regret buying it though as I use it while the imaging set up is taking, well, images.

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Been looking at nexstar 8 se so going.be following this topic  see wot people say as like.you.want it for a bit of all  .

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52 minutes ago, Richie092 said:

Another way to look at it is - You have ordered yourself a great visual set up there in my humble opinion. Over time, you can build up a second outfit from value second hand purchases for AP and keep using your Nexstar for visual.

I did exactly what you have done. Tons of research then ordered the 8 Edge HD on an Evolution mount. It took a month or so to arrive and in that time I decided I wanted to go down the AP rabbit hole. Don't regret buying it though as I use it while the imaging set up is taking, well, images.

Yeah, that is what I am now thinking.  Although, I still go back and forth.  I wish it would all just get here so that I couldn't change my mind but I am sure until the day it all ships, I will be going back and forth which is very frustrating. 

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Yeah but then you get it all hooked up and get your first view of the moon through it and you forget all about the cost/stress/choices 🙂

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I was in your place 2 months ago. I have the 8in edge HD.  Same size as yours. Same company.  Ended up putting another telescope on top of it.  I've been bitten lol

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Welcome aboard. I've been observing for 20 odd years and would have bitten my arm off for a scope like yours. I've finally got the 925 version and I love it. You've chosen a great scope that will serve you well, so don't regret it.

Have a look on this forum and elsewhere for images taken with the SE8. Some of them are quite spectacular.

There is a lot to learn in this hobby, but you've got the right approach - enjoying it is the key. Stop reading the ads and get yourself outside and start learning the sky :-). When your scope turns up, you'll have a head start on where to point it.

Another diver, eh?  There's something in us that wants to look at the beauty of the universe. Losing yourself in the stars is just as wonderful as being on a gentle drift dive and watching the wildlife going about their lives.

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The 8SE is a fine telescope - good aperture, plenty of mag, manageable (mount/tripod and tube separately, usually), and GoTo is a great aid.

The XCels are good EPs for planetary, the 9mm giving x226 which is plenty for most purposes, unless the seeing is very good.  I would also recommend something in the 30 - 42mm range to get a bit more field of vision.  

One 'scope can't do it all, of course, and you might later feel the need for more FOV, and that requires a 'scope with focal length say 480 - 1200mm, depending on how far you'd like to go, as well as other factors.

It's all a great adventure and learning experience, that's for sure.

Have fun!

Doug.

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I think you need to sit down and decide what you want to do, and then think about buying gear that does it.

The C8 SE is a fine visual scope outfit that will show you a lot. And it is quick to set up - you can carry the whole assembled  kit outside in one go. But if you try to do imaging with it you wil start to run into trouble.  The C8 OTA is well suited to planetary imaging, and you can accomplish this with the SE mount. But after a while you will start wishing for a more solid and better behaved mount...

I think that cancelling the X-xel LX 9mm eyepiece could be a mistake. I have one and it works well enough for looking at planets. (Ideally you want a range of several eyepieces, or a zoom). This scope is f10 so there is no need to buy exotic expensive eyepieces unless you have to have the best, and money is burning a hole in your pocket. An 8mm eyepiece is the shortest focal length that will see much use.

If you want to do imaging you will need another outfit dedicated to that task. And planetary and DSO imaging have different requirements. Expensive requirements, in both cases.

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1 minute ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

I think you need to sit down and decide what you want to do, and then think about buying gear that does it.

The C8 SE is a fine visual scope outfit that will show you a lot. And it is quick to set up - you can carry the whole assembled  kit outside in one go. But if you try to do imaging with it you wil start to run into trouble.  The C8 OTA is well suited to planetary imaging, and you can accomplish this with the SE mount. But after a while you will start wishing for a more solid and better behaved mount...

I think that cancelling the X-xel LX 9mm eyepiece could be a mistake. I have one and it works well enough for looking at planets. (Ideally you want a range of several eyepieces, or a zoom). This scope is f10 so there is no need to buy exotic expensive eyepieces unless you have to have the best, and money is burning a hole in your pocket. An 8mm eyepiece is the shortest focal length that will see much use.

If you want to do imaging you will need another outfit dedicated to that task. And planetary and DSO imaging have different requirements. Expensive requirements, in both cases.

Thank you for your thoughts.  The reason I was thinking about cancelling the LX 9mm and going with the Vixen 1.6mm was due to what I saw on this site - http://astronomy.tools/.  Based on setting the parameters to CES 8 scope and the LX 9mm, some of the outer planet seem to be barely visible.  But, according to that same tool, using the Vixen 1.6 mm eyepiece with this scope would allow me to have a decent view out to Saturn and Uranus and Neptune were ok as well.  Now, I have no idea if that tool is accurate at all and in fact these magnifications are accurate or not so that is a big question. 

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A 1.6mm eyepiece will be totally impractical with a scope such as an 8 inch schmidt-cassegrain. It will produce far too much magnification to show any sort of decent image of anything, planet or otherwise.

A 7mm eyepiece would be the shortest focal length that would be useful.

The planets do look small with scopes, even at high magnifications.

 

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If you buy the Vixen 1.6mm you will find that it gives you a large, blurred image and a very small field of view.  Ultra-high magnification is not useful magnification. A magnification of x1250 with this scope is, to put it politely, not a serious proposition.

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2 minutes ago, John said:

A 1.6mm eyepiece will be totally impractical with a scope such as an 8 inch schmidt-cassegrain. It will produce far too much magnification to show any sort of decent image of anything, planet or otherwise.

A 7mm eyepiece would be the shortest focal length that would be useful.

The planets do look small with scopes, even at high magnifications.

 

OK, thank you.  OK, I will just let it all stay the way it is and wait for it to get here.  Once I get it all, I will learn as much as I can and go from there.  Thanks everyone. 

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I agree with the above comments - very high magnifications are unusable. You will be lucky to even get one night a year where you could even think of using it for a start. Planets are small - and that's the end of it. You will find that most of the time you use low to medium magnifications and very occasionally in very good conditions you will get to use a higher (e.g. 200x) magnification. 

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I have an 8in celestron. The lowest I would go is my televue 8mm. Jupiter and Saturn are in not good positions so alot of atmospheric turbulence.  I would recommend you get good eyepieces like explore scientific 82 line and televue delos for that scope.  You will hear its f10 and all that dont need to buy the best.  But using that logic fs you when you get your nice new next telescope.  I was gonna get the same scope you got a great scope but I went and spent the rent on the edge 8 HD and an avx mount.  So mine being an f10 I didn't go cheap on eyepieces. I have 3 televue delos an an es 14mm 100 degree plus the 40 plossl it came with.  That 40 isn't much use. But If I got cheaper eypieces ik would have had to buy all new eyepieces since I'm mounting an es 80ed f100 on top of it

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So do you feel that the 9mm is a good first option outside of the 25mm that comes with the kit?

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33 minutes ago, Liquidtravel said:

So do you feel that the 9mm is a good first option outside of the 25mm that comes with the kit?

These are often the focal lengths of eyepieces that are supplied with scopes by manufacturers so they make a decent "get you started" kit. You will almost certainly want to add a couple more to them in due course.

 

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OK, thanks for that.  The 9mm does not come with the kit.  I bought it separately.  If there is a better lens for a beginner let me know.  At first, I thought this might be a good lens to start with but let me know your thoughts on it.  I had also found a Explorer Scientific 82 degree 14mm that I was curious about.  

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The 9mm and 25mm are a good starting point. You will want to add further eyepieces in due course. There are so many eyepiece choices that you may become more overwhelmed if we start to go into all those. The 25mm and 9mm will get you started.

 

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The 8 SE is a great telescope to begin your interest in astronomy. Sure it's better suited to visual astronomy but that's not the same as useless for astrophotography.

Take a look here

 

You can still photograph DSO with good results. Start with your 8SE learn your craft and see where the hobby leads you. In time maybe you will need two setups after all you can never have too may telescopes!

You've made a fine choice to begin with, don't overthink things before your telescope arrives.

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On 28/07/2020 at 12:33, Tenor Viol said:

I agree with the above comments - very high magnifications are unusable. You will be lucky to even get one night a year where you could even think of using it for a start. Planets are small - and that's the end of it. You will find that most of the time you use low to medium magnifications and very occasionally in very good conditions you will get to use a higher (e.g. 200x) magnification. 

During the summer season here in Texas, we get a high pressure dome that settles over us for months leading to dead stable skies and extreme drought conditions.  Every once in a while, a tropical storm or hurricane tries to bully its way into Texas for a few days every month or so, but that's about it.  As a result, 200x and more is quite usable with an 8" scope on most nights.  I've used 350x with just as much ease with my 15" Dob.  It's really mostly aperture limited.  During the fall to spring time frame, conditions are generally less favorable, but still better than in the UK.

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You could also consider adding a wedge to your setup.   Zoom eyepieces could be something else to consider, I have just bought a Baader mk iv and really like it. 

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Posted (edited)

Hi

You should get good views and you may be able to get video for some of the planets.

You may decide upon something else for deep sky objects.

Cheers and enjoy.

  

Edited by alacant

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On 28/07/2020 at 20:02, Liquidtravel said:

So do you feel that the 9mm is a good first option outside of the 25mm that comes with the kit?

I have a similar scope (Meade 8"SCT) and I find I am often  looking for a wider field of view, so you might also want to consider going for a 32mm eyepiece as well. 

However, the 9mm Ex-cel is also a very nice eyepiece, and for planets & the moon, it'll give you great views. 

For open clusters though, the narrow field of view of a SCT can make them fail to stand out as they should. 

There's a general rule of thumb, that under everyday skies, the limit of magnification is with an eyepiece not much shorter (in mm) than your f/ratio. Higher magnifications are too much affected by atmospherics. It's only a rule of thumb, but worth bearing in mind.

 

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That Celestron is a fine scope and will cover a lot of ground. I would stick with it and go from there...

...and do your best to avoid reading the equipment forums for a while, they can be a bad influence on your wallet!

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