Celestron Merges Astronomy and Electronics

NexStar 6 SE Conclusions

This is a very portable, well-designed scope, with impressive collimation. I would have preferred the addition of a standard finder. You will need the accessories mentioned above: power supply, some higher quality eyepieces, and probably some filters, especially for moon viewing. Solar viewing requires a special filter that blocks all UV and most visible light (99.999 %). Note that projecting a solar image through the telescope would harm it, as the warning tag states.

The SkyAlign and other GoTo features worked as designed, making casual astronomy so much easier. The price points of the 6” and 8” scopes are at a sweet spot; I consider them both eminently affordable. Of those advanced amateurs I met at the Los Angeles Astronomical Society (LAAS) and on the Web site cloudyskies.com, most have a smaller, portable scope. Why? Because it’s fun. You can set this very light weight scope (about 21 lbs) on the tripod (9 lbs) in less than five minutes. The NexStar 6SE accepts standard attachments, and the resolution is good. It’s not something you would really outgrow. It is good for astrophotography, but you will need to add a camera adapter-T-mount preferred-instead of the generic contraption I tried to use. Even better is a CCD camera.

olympus c7070 nexstar An Olympus C-7070 coupled to the NexStar 6 SE via the digital camera adapter

I’m sure you have a spare webcam; try converting your own! See here and here to get you started.

The 6” would be a very good choice for a serious student, a casual adult, someone not too sure of their interest, or those not wanting to examine fainter DSOs. I would have preferred a slightly bigger scope; the most popular scope in the Celestron line is the 8” SCT, and that is the scope for which I lust.

NexStar 6 SE with XLT coatings

List, $1087. There is a $150. rebate until the end of December. www.celestron.com

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  • Anonymous
    GoTo mounts are for lazy people who don't really understand the essence of observing the sky. It's certainly a fun thing to create if you are an engineer, but if you're considering using one, take my advice and buy a book with pictures of the Messier catalog, it's a lot cheaper. A true amateur astronomer never uses those revolting, despicable, hideous GoTo mounts. Get a real standard equatorial mount. Get a good sky atlas. Get a pair of quality binoculars. Know your sky! That's astronomy...
  • originalgadgetguy
    A sensitive topic to be sure. But the point of the article was to encourage those who have an interest in astronomy but never bit the bullet. That is, they don't own a scope because they aren't willing to learn all that needs to be done to find stuff. OK, even lazy. And our readers totally grok computers.

    Many amateurs started by using a GoTo. IMHO, the more astronomers the better. Talking to denizens of LAAS and reading cloudyskies.com, there is little sense of elitism. All amateurs are welcome, even and esp. those with GoTos.

    I didn't have room to talk about the wedges that covert yoke mounts to equatorial mounts, but they exist for many yoke types. That way you can have the best of both worlds.

    Finally, one of the books I recommended does just what you suggest: tries to teach the night sky so you can find stuff without using (or even using) a GoTo. Hope this addresses your comments.

  • Anonymous
    I think the guys who say to get a star chart and spend 6 months learning how to find and track things are missing the point and living in the 19th century.

    The fact is that these new generations of scopes make astronomy so much more accessible to people who find astronomy interesting but don't have the time or ability to invest. They also make it simple to introduce new people to astronomy by quickly showing them lots of interesting things.

    Plus, as a computer geek, there is nothing more fun than plugging your telescope into your laptop, hooking up a camera and driving it around from your computer. Do an easy DIY project like adapting a webcam to use with the scope and you have yourself tons of fun *and* you learn the night sky, you just don't waste months of time trying to figure out how to see anything.
  • Anonymous
    I totally agree with smurfdog - you spend more time observing and imaging objects than trying to find them - and most of them are very dim anyways. THe manual method of finding objects is definitely 19th century stuff.
  • coreym72
    Science is ever changing and self-correcting. To memorize the sky from Earth is one thing and to explore the universe is another. Technology makes Astronomy possible for all who are willing to learn and grow. Why not use both to your advantage.
  • Anonymous

    I really praise the point of your article. I also love to teach everything I know about the topic to anyone who's interested in the subject, like most amateurs.
    Like you said, there's no to little sense of elitism in those groups. But I also know this: Like all the really rewarding things in life, Astronomy requires persistence and solid interest.
    I decided to comment your article since I disagree on some things you wrote and that contrast may help people who read it, look at the picture from another angle.

    Trying to find Deep Sky Objects or the planets (very easy with little experience and knowledge) in the sky, is where most of the fun is! Having a computer doing it for you is like you own a Porsche and let a chauffeur drive you. The only difference here is that, unlike the chauffeur, the computer has no fun at all!

    I didn't find anything interesting on cloudyskies.com, apparently is just a domain for sale. Did you mean www.cloudynights.com?

    If your interest is solid, you've got nothing to fear, understanding the sky is a lot easier than most people think.

  • originalgadgetguy
    Diogo et al,
    My bad! Yes of course I meant www.cloudynights.com. It's a great site for advice, and mostly cogent tips on purchasing and use.

    I think we can agree that for some, starting with GoTos is a great way of getting into astronomy. Then you can progress to star charts and maps, relying less on the GoTo. I want to encourage people to begin this exciting hobby.

    Amateur astronomers are one of the few science disciplines where amatuers can and do make professional level contributions!

    And even though I understand how the SkyScout works, it is unbelievable to actually use it and watch it ID an object, or have it guide you to some random star in its database...Awesome product. For me, this really helped me better learn the night sky. It's like using a crutch (or a chaffeur) then weaning yourself away from it and driving yourself. Much less pain, and kick butt fun.

    Hope this answers your concerns.
    Clear skies!

  • Anonymous

    I am a beginner in the field of astronomy and astrophotography and I would like to purchase some equiptment. Im not exactly sure what types of telescopes and astrophotography equiptment would be best for a beginner and it would be great if you could offer me some advice. I have done a lot of research on telescopes preferably under $500 and CCD cameras along with laptops. If you have any advice that would be great! Thanks.
  • enewmen
    It's about 2 years later and I'm really getting into this now.
    To bad I didn't notice article earlier.