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First Scope: Celestron NexStar 127SLT, 4SE or 6SE


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Although I've always been interested in astronomy, it wasn't until the recent Stargazing LIVE programmes that I actively started looking skywards using my (small) binoculars and a copy of Stellarium.

I've finally decided to buy a telescope and, regardless of whether it gets used frequently, I want a "keeper" that will last me a number of years.

Unfortunately, my back garden suffers from the intrusion of street lighting and so I will need to travel to a rural area if I want to avoid light pollution.

Because of the need for portability and the fact that I have limited storage space, I have finally limited my choice to the following Cassegrains:

  • Celestron NexStar 127SLT (@ £365)
  • Celestron NexStar 4SE (@ £360)
  • Celestron NexStar 6SE (@ £745 with additional free Celestron EP)

My original budget was £400 but I'd be willing to increase it for the 6SE if it would offer significant benefits.

Whilst I'm also interested in DSOs, I understand that the above choices will offer better views of the moon and planets. This is one reason why I'd be prepared to spend extra for the larger aperture of the 6SE, assuming the difference is apparent.

I'd really appreciate advice or recommendations as I've spent far too long pondering all the options!

Many thanks


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I would recommend the 6se as its a cracking scope, good visually and solid mounted. Its still very portable too.

If you can stretch for it then go for the 6SE, the 127 slt is similer to the 127 from skywatcher, both of which push the mount to the limit and are quite shaky.

if it was my cash i would get the 4SE or if i couldnt get the cash together the 6SE.

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Speaking as a Celestron 127 slt owner I'd say that it's a great scope but if you think you're only going to use it infrequently you'd be better off with a more low tech manual control scope (you can get a decent sized dob for £360). The goto mount on those three scopes ^ takes a bit of setting up each time you use it and you really need to have the extra battery pack to make the most of it.

I bought the 127 knowing that I would likely upgrade at some point once I'd had time to get to grips with the 'astronomy thing'. In the short time I've had to use it I've been very impressed with the tube but less so with the goto. Not that the goto is bad but it seems to take a lot of faffing about to set up properly each time to get good tracking and that is time I'm not observing.

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Thanks for the amazingly quick replies, CGolder and Steep!

CGolder, would you consider the 4SE a better general purpose telescope than the 127SLT, given its 1" less aperture? I appreciate the mount is better, but I'm worried that the view of DSOs will be even less impressive, unless the StarBright XLT coatings will make up for it.

I've read many recommendations of a Dobsonian as a first telescope, but I don't really have much room to store one. I like the look of the collapsible versions, especially the Skyliner-200P FlexTubeTM but can't find this version (ie, non-auto, non-goto) for sale online (the auto version adds about £120 to the price). Also, despite being collapsible, its footprint will still be large needing a fair amount of space to store it. Plus, given the light coming from street lamps, I suspect I'd also need a shroud for use in my back garden.

The price of the 6SE on FLO is certainly tempting (given it also comes with an extra free EP). Especially if I could also get the member discount...

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Tbh i think both the 127 and 4SE are good supporting scopes, they are not comparable for a Dob,

the footprint of dobs is not that big, and you think you can get a 200 dob for less than a 4SE. the view will not be comparable.

If i could only own a single scope, i would make sure its around 150mm, the the bigger the better otherwise you are restricting what you can see.

the views from a 6SE are not going to be better than a 150p dob. with the dob its in 1 piece and will not take up more space than the 6SE.

i would personally advice the 200p, the flextube model takes up the same floor space (same with the 150p).

the other options are something like a 130 heritage, you would mount it on a skywatcher alt az mount later for goto, its larger primary is bigger than both the 4SE and 127 SLT and for a fraction of the cost.

you would need a table to observe from however,

so if you are going for these the 6SE is worth the extra or you may find yourself wanting

Edited by CGolder
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The extra light grasp on the 6SE will indeed help with DSOs.

How portable do you really need it to be? There are the new collapsible design dobs with goto available as well. The same money will give you more aperture which is what really matters for DSOs (almost as much as dark skies).

Edited by pvaz
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Can't comment on the other scopes, but the 6SE is a very nice piece of kit. You will need a power supply as it eats batteries and spits them back out again! IMO the e/p is just a gimmick, you will probably quickly decide you want better quality e/ps than those provided.

It is very portable, and easy to set up. A small level (mine was £1.49 from Wilkinsons) gets it easily level enough to do a 'one-star align'. If you can get on with it (which I never could) the sky align does not even require that.


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Thanks all for the additional advice. As much as I would like a Dob, the fact I can store a Mak/SCT in a very small place (eg, under the bed) really appeals. I also, like the idea of a goto even though I appreciate it needs a power supply and extra setup time. And goto Dobs seem to be really expensive...

I think my original choice of three stands; but I'm a little more convinced of the 6SE.

I understand the mount of the 4SE is better than that of the 127SLT (even discounting the former's built-in wedge) and I think I've read it can be used without the tripod (ie on a sturdy table). It also has the StarBright XLT coatings but wonder if this makes up for 1" less aperture. Has anyone used both and compared image brightness? Also, does the 4SE have a better build quality over the 127SLT?

Finally, as nice as the 6SE is, as a beginner, will I notice an appreciable difference over what can be achieved with the 127SLT (or even the 4SE)? Or at this point, has the law of diminishing returns really kicked in?

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