on 15 April 2007
My first telescope. Bought it (for £595 from David Hind's deal of the day at [...]) so that I could easily view objects without having the knowledge of a seasoned astronomer. Had the telescope for 2 nights now. First night was bright and foggy, so wasn't able to align to any star. Second night better. Was able to use the 3 star alignment. Pressed a button and the telescope then took me to Saturn. Was clearly able to see the rings but the image was small. Will need increased magnification which is apparently easily achieved with the addition of shorter eyepieces and a 2x Barlow (Meade does a variable 2x-3x Barlow which looks interesting). Any extras you may need (GPS for instance) seem to be twice the price in the UK than in the US (even between Amazon sites) so will probably get them when I fly over.
- Works. Great for the novice. Schmidt-Cassegrain so from what I read it should be maintenance free and should be great for both planetary and deep sky objects.
- Looks great
- When it's tracking an object that passes vertically overhead, aside from not being able to physically get your head in to look into the eyepiece, the tracking gets completely confused. When you pick the next object to view it inverts its direction of movement and points somewhere to the ground! This means you have to realign from scratch. Hope they sort this out with a software upgrade
- The remote takes some fiddling to get back into its attachment. Will probably get easier with practice.
- It would have been better to have an integrated bubble level. It comes with a small level with a sticky back but there is no real place to conveniently stick it permanently.
A few notes:
- Don't try to take the battery cover off with your nails - painful.
- I was charged £20 for a power adapter which ends up being just a generic power adapter with different ends that you can probably get for a few quid from Argos.
- PC Cable should have been USB rather than an older type RS-232 cable as I'll now have to buy an adapter.
on 24 March 2009
I've owned this scope since christmas and it has surpassed my expectations completely. After reading advice about buying telescopes fro several different magazines and books I was sceptical about how much quality I could get for under a thousand pounds.
The scope came with a single 25mm eyepiece, and although it gave me my first views of the sky through a telescope, I had to buy some new eyepieces and filters to get the most of the night sky, so expect to make another investment shortly after purhcasing.
Other accessories that I think are essential are a power adapter, batteries can be used but these are meant to be used in tandem with a mains supply incase the power cord temporarily comes free, meaning you would lose your alignment if there were no batteries providing backup. Some sort of dew shield is also crucial as most SCTs provide no protection, and dew collects on the main lense literally all the time meaning you won't see anything. A battery pack is also a necessary piece of kit if you're planning on taking your telescope to rural locations for dark sky viewing, a power tank is available for purchase from Celestron, however any battery pack for jump starting cars is more than sufficient.
In terms of what you can see through it, spectacular views of the lunar surface, Saturn's rings and moons, Jupiter and its moons, and also Mars are available. I would say don't expect to be seeing colourful gas clouds and nebulae through it as many people often do.
It's computerised mount enables you to align it to the stars, so that you can punch in which object you want to look at, the Andromeda Galaxy for example, and the telescope will automatically point itself at the object. Alignment is relatively easy and can be done in a few moments. Astrophotography is probably a main aspect influencing most of the telescope's design, and stunning images can be produced with a little bit of practice. There is also a Nexstar book that is written specifically for use with these telescopes that is most useful.
The tripod, often not mentioned in descriptions, is extremely sturdy and ensures that few wobbles disrupt observation.
On the whole an excellent telescope for the price, and well worth the investment. If you're stuck for choice with telescopes and quite like the look of this one then it's probably the one for you.
on 10 January 2014
I bought this telescope because it had good reviews and it did not disappoint, its very big and quite heavy, uses a lot of batteries, I purchased a celestron tank to enable me to use the scope anywhere without worrying about batteries running out. I am still learning how to use it but so far I am impressed with the detail of the near planets. I would recommend this telescope
on 8 September 2010
This is my first telescope and I knew very few constellations or stars in the sky. I have been using this scope for about 6 months and love it.
THE GOOD BITS
1. The set up was very easy and straightforward.
2. The instruction manual is excellent with lots of pics to show you how to set it up.
3. The GOTO computer is very good. I always use the 2 star method now, but you do need to know the names of a few of the brigthest stars.
4. Once you have the scope up and working, just decide what you want to look at and the GOTO will go to. However, a word of warning, for the goto to work very well, you must align your guide stars accuratly and your tripod must be level. Use a low magnification eyepiece first, centre the object and then use higher power eyepieces.
5. The tarcking is very good and can be improved by using the sync setting, which precisly locks on to your target and will hold it in teh centre of the eyepiece for at least 20 mins (plenty of time to make a hot cup of tea)
6. Portability - This was the clincher for me. You can carry the whole caboodle (scope and tripod) preassembled very easily. This means that your set up time is a matter of minutes and you will use the scope all the time.
7. Image quality - I am still blown away by the clarity of the objects. I live in a heavily light polluted area but it doeas not seem to affect the DSO or planets.
8. Eyepiece tray - might appear to be minor and trivial, but saves you groping around in the dark and squidging your eyepieces into the mud.
9. NO maintenence - lots of people talk about collumation - so long as teh scope is set up correctly at the manufacturers and you treat it very gently, then it will not need adjustment
THE BAD BITS
1. Vibration when focusing - because the scope is only mounted on one fork, the object can wobble about a bit when you are fine focusing at high magnification. Not a major prob, just be aware of it
2. Wind - No not that sort! the object does wobble a bit at high mags in te wind (single fork issue again). Not a big prob you either put the scope in a less windy part of the garden or use lower power eyepieces
3. Dew - BIG PROB with SCT's, but easily overcome by use of a heated dew shield. There is one available on teh internet specifically for the 8 and it works very well. It will give you about an extra 1 - 1.5 hrs of viewing time per night.
EXTRA BITS TO BUY
1. Heated dew shield - a must have
2. Set of good quality eyepieces (I have Meade 4000 series and they are good) - a must have
3. Variable moon filter (Because the scope is so good, the moon is too bright to look at without hurting your eyes) Oh Jupiter can be seen at teh moment and again the Variable filter is a great help - a must have
4. Nebula filter - Excellent if DSOs are your thing - Useful but not essencial
5. DO NOT BUY a light pollution filter they are rubbish!!!
A great scope with a few minor limitations. Buy it, you will not be sorry. This was my first scope and I found it very easy to use. Do not listen to all the gibberish about starting with a small scope and working up to an 8. Get it and use it, its easy peesy
on 4 February 2010
Being a total newby in amateur astronomy I read extensively through various web sites and product reviews before deciding on the NexStar 4 SE.
The three deciding factors at the end were: quality of the instrument, portability and price.
So far the telescope has not disappointed me.
It is a beautiful instrument, excellent build quality and the computerized star finder is a great tool.
If anything I would have liked Celestron to have included an additional eyepiece in the kit as standard.
The included 25 mm eyepiece gives a 52 times magnification, which is excellent for viewing the moon, but too low to clearly resolve the planets.
Being a 4" device, the magnification can realisticly go up to 240 times, so inlcuding a 12 mm eyepiece or a 2X Barlow lens would have made it a totally perfect experience out of the box.
on 4 October 2011
I live just outside of London, which is an orange zone. I can only barely make out the Milky Way on a good night and there is an almost palpable orange glow in the sky at all times.
I took the NexStar 8SE out a couple of nights ago. It went like this:
- M57 - The Ring Nebula. Only just visible in my finder, but it instantly jumped at my face when I switched to the main scope. Even with direct vision I could clearly see the oval shape of the ring reaching out to the 13mag star next to it. No hint of color of course, but the structure was clear. A wonderful sight.
- The Double-Double (Epsilon Lyrae). At first I only saw two stars at 24mm, but when I zoomed in to 8mm and carefully refocused, I was able to split each star into two with enough space between them to drive a truck through. Wow! That was a first for me.
- Albeiro. The nearby double star was glorious as usual. I found that viewing it at low magnification and slightly out of focus brought out the profound, highly saturated color contrast between the amber and blue stars best.
- M13 - The Great Cluster in Hercules. This one has long been a favourite and the 8SE instantly resolved it into an explosion of tiny pinpoint stars on top of milky cotton wool. What a stunning sight.
- M27 the Dumbbell. I hadn't ever tried this one yet, but had read about Messier and Herschel barely making out the hourglass shape back in 1764 with large scopes. In the 8SE it quite clearly took a bowtie look, with the southern wing almost extending out to the nearby 11mag star. Breathtaking.
- M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy, another first. The GOTO slewed across the Big Dipper, grunted to a stop, but nothing appeared in the eye piece! I slewed around the area a bit to try to find it, but nothing! Eventually I got out my iPhone Starmap Pro atlas and star hopped to it. I was convinced I had the exact spot in the sky, but still nothing. At mag 7.7, it should be an easy find. Frustrated and tired at 3am, I started packing up and immediately noticed that my objective lens had fogged up completely. No wonder!
I carried the scope back inside and went to bed with a large grin on my face.
So, why do I love the 8SE so much?
1) It's large enough so that all objects in "Turn Left at Orion" look much more glorious than described in the book
2) The GOTO is very precise and reliable. Alignment is quick and painless.
3) Light and small enough to carry in and out of the house without any assembly or disassembly.
4) A damn handsome piece of equipment too!
Admittedly, I don't have a lot of experience with either astronomy or telescopes. My previous scope was my dad's old 4 inch from 1970. I'm sure there are many great scopes out there. But if my objective is to give me a thrill of delight, then the 8SE succeeds with flying colours!
on 30 May 2015
My wife has just started her astronomy adventure and we took quite a while choosing which telescope to buy. This one came out very high in many reviews and on many websites, and although I was a little reluctant to start off with a £600+ telescope, I wanted to make sure we could have a good experience so opted for this one.
Firstly there's no doubt this is a quality telescope. The tripod itself would set you back a couple of hundred Im sure if you just wanted a good one for professional level photography or a replacement. Perhaps a pro photographer would disagree but without doubt it's a strong and sturdy set up. The tripod also comes with an equatorial alignment wedge. Now at this stage I don't know very much about what that is, but on reading many other reviews related to the other Nexstar SE series telescopes, it's clear that the others don't appear to have that option oddly. (Im sure someone will correct me if Im wrong). But at least it is there as and when you need it.
The telescope itself is fairly impressive, particularly if you are not accustomed to telescopes as a rule. It comes with the basics you need to get going (also bought a lens & filter kit to compliment further). There are a number of tutorial videos for this telescope available online to assist you in setting it up and to be honest we found it quite a doddle to get the whole thing erected.
Using the GoTo computer attachment for the alignment process was another experience however. I quickly realised that the software needed to be updated as the alignment process did ask me for global co-ordinates. I know these are easily obtained from most smartphones, but I had noticed on a couple of aforementioned tutorial videos that this wasn't requested by the handset, instead simply asking you to select your country and city.
So the first issue in updating the software was of course connecting it to your PC. Trouble is it comes with an RS-232 (serial adapter) and not a USB. Who uses those anymore? This prompted me to think: how long as this product been around? I haven't used a serial adapter since I last owned a dial-up modem over 10 years ago. So I purchased a separate adapter and after a bit of fiddling about with serial port issues, finally managed to update the software.
It took us a couple of frustrating evenings getting the telescope aligned properly, but this was of course due to our inexperience and the required learning curve, but was eventually rewarded with amazing views of the Moon, Jupiter & Saturn on the same evening. (if you do buy this I advise you to get a 2x Barlow lens as well. It really makes a huge difference when coupled with the 25mm Plossl lens that comes with the telescope as standard. More experienced stargazers will no doubt offer better advice but I at least discovered that was the case very quickly).
Once you get the hang of the alignment process you're off. The GoTo computer and auto alignment motor does all the hard work from there.
Overall I think this is a great telescope, and especially for beginners. The price might make some people think twice for a first scope, however there are a number of other viable options if you take your time and some advice from experienced stargazers.
So far I'm very happy. I would have given this the full five stars had it come with a USB connection option.
on 25 April 2008
I would recommend this telescope for its reliability and ease of use. Ergonomically easier than the Meade I used and with a little practice you can set it up so that it knows its way round the heavens and can transport you to any star that's above the horizon. You'll soon want to experiment with different lenses as you get drawn in to the amazingly diverse bodies up there. Quite a powerful kit, all in all.
I got a 12V rechargeable "Power Tank" as it was tending to get through the AA batteries.
On its tripod it's just about portable for one person to cart in and out of the house.
on 21 January 2012
Great scope. But started wishing I had the 8SE from about day 2. The 8 inch just has that much more light gathering power. However, quality for money, the 6SE is excellent and I have had no problems with it. I opted for an AC adapter and a long line extension cord, as I did not find the 8 AA battery compartment offered sufficient amperage to drive the scope smoothly. You definitely need a constant 3-5 amps to drive it well. If you are going to add any more accessories, then maybe more. I also bought one of those PowerPak battery units, but failed to follow the instructions and left it off charge for months without a recharge and since it is the old NI-H type battery, if you don't charge it, it loses its ability to take a charge. Expensive mistake. The optics are crystal clear and the go to finder is great, once you get the settings right. I did not switch on the Daylight Savings Time setting correctly and so my scope was always pointing about 15 degrees wrong. Took me a while to figure out what I had done wrong. When I got it right, it pointed very close to what I was expecting to see. Some recentering was required, maybe 2-3 degrees, but this was also perhaps because I didnt bother to level it 100% at the start of a session. Love this scope, but if you can afford it, go for the 8 inch. One thing though, the scope is sizable to carry, even out to the yard, and the 8 inch will be even harder to lug around. Get a good case if you are transporting it. Worth the money.
on 29 December 2010
I've been an amateur astronomer for about 18 months and owned this scope for the last year, and I'm absolutely delighted with it. The major factors in this scope's favor are:
- Excellent light gathering for deep sky observations (less than 8 inch aperture is generally considered too small)
- Superb resolution on the moon and planets (0.58 arc seconds, which will get you to 400x magnification but needs outstandingly clear, still skies)
- Easy to use, respectably accurate computer control (you do need to know some stars, and should read the instructions though)
- Exceptional portability (I can carry the entire scope downstairs and into the garden fully assembled)
Things to be aware of when buying are:
- It only comes with one eyepiece, which gives 80x magnification and seems good quality. I strongly recommend using this for at least a month and reading up before buying any more (they are at least as difficult to choose between as telescopes), and advise against the frequently advertised eyepiece sets.
- A power tank is an absolute necessity, unless you intend to buy 8xAA batteries every other week. Search for "7Ah 12V Power tank" on your favorite search engine (Amazon really should sell these as well!)
I'd also recommend you get a copy of "Turn Left at Orion", to give you an idea of what you point it at, and that you join an astronomy society. Other than that, you're ready to go.