Celestron NexStar 8i telescope & starter eyepiece/filter kit.

Celestron NexStar 8i telescopeAfter months of research, and a bad case of “paralysis by analysis,” I finally make The Jump. I consulted a lot of resources and made a reasonable decision for my needs. Here’s how.

I really did spend a few hundred hours reading magazine articles and web sites trying to decide what to buy. Here’s a sampling of good sites for first-time scope buyers:

     Advice for New Astronomers
     Ed Ting’s Telescope Reviews
     astronomics.com- How to pick a telescope
     Telescope Basics
     Telescope Equipment Basics
     Todd Gross’ Weather and Astronomy Site
     Astronomy Info for Beginners

I think the most influential thing I read was Ed Ting’s telescope reviews. For the longest time I’d planned on following his advice for beginners and getting an 8″ or 10″ Orion Dobsonian. Trouble was, I wanted to buy one scope to last maybe a lifetime. Silly me. But since I don’t have much income these days, I needed to make this one purchase count. For physical reasons, I needed a scope that was light, not too bulky to carry, and easily transportable. I also wanted to interface it to Starry Night Pro software on my Mac laptop, which meant a motorized goto scope, possibly with an equatorial mount. Ed Ting had mentioned that many folks end up with a Schmidt-Cassegrain scope for many of these qualities, so I thought about skipping the intermediate steps.

I wanted a well-known manufacturer who would be around if I needed help or warrantee service. And I really wanted to stay under $1500, well under it if possible. For me, that left Meade and Celestron. For several completely subjective and non-scientific reasons, I favored the Celestron. I was interested in the Advanced Series, but they weren’t in stock in my local shop. The owner, a friendly, helpful guy, listened to what I needed and suggested the Celestron NexStar 8i. And, since I’m a member of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, I got a 10% discount on the items without razor-thin margins. Celestron accessory kit I had read about the 8i on several Yahoo newsgroups, and the heard plenty of good things. Lifting the 8i in the shop was the final straw—I knew I could handle it without discomfort. My hours of reading had taught me that this was one of the lightest, least bulky scopes I would find with an 8″ diameter. And since this was to be my One Scope, I didn’t want to go any smaller to 6″ or 5″. So, the NexStar 8i was it, along with a few other goodies to get me started. The Scope itself was offered with a $99 promotional accessory kit of 5 Plössl eyepieces from 32mm to 4mm, an array of colored filters, a moon filter, and a Barlow 2x lens, all 1.25″ in diameter.

Assembly was easy. Getting some good seeing in March in New Hampshire took a little longer. When I did get out, it seemed like the scope was very sensitive to tiny bumps, such as lightly touching the focus knob. The Red Dot Finder takes some getting used to, especially when trying to locate a dimmer star like Polaris. I find that the eye looking through the finder can’t see dim stars, or will see a second copy of my target star, so I have to keep moving my head up to find the star, “lock” both eyes on the target, then move back down so one eye is looking directly at the star and the other eye sees the same, single star (hopefully) through the finder. And I had little luck getting the scope to Go To accurately–in the beginning every target was outside my field of view, even with the widest view eyepiece. And the 4mm eyepiece seemed utterly useless–I had to take of my glasses and practically touch the eyepiece to my eye, and even then all I saw were fuzzy blobs.

Thankfully, the problems lay with me and not the scope. I stuck with it, and with the help of the newsgroups, I learned that everyone goes through this Go To learning curve. It took me about three outings to get it right, which is average. I was also lucky to find a few excellent sites, again through the newsgroups, which explained some of the subtle pitfalls and how to avoid them. It was nice not having to re-invent the wheel. In the end I got Go To working pretty well. I’m still unclear whether the tripod must be level before starting the alignment. Reasonable opinions differ on this point. I have tried both techniques, and I don’t see a difference when I use the 2-star “Auto Alignment.” Still, some times Go To doesn’t, and it seems I have to power off and start again. I suspect I still need more practice, and perhaps a better finder for my eyes.

So finally, I have a nice, working scope with very good views. It does interface nicely with Starry Night 4.5.2, and while I still have more to learn, I’m having fun. I go out for a few hours most every clear evening, and come in chilled to the bone. When I come back in, I can take a can from the fridge and hold it to my cheek, and it feels warm! Still, that’s a good problem to have.

Explore posts in the same categories: Astronomy Gear, Astronomy Links, Astronomy Tips

8 Comments on “Celestron NexStar 8i telescope & starter eyepiece/filter kit.”

  1. […] my Oberwerk 11×70 binoculars just didn’t collect enough light. So, tonight I got out my Celestron NexStar 8i telescope and my 2″ Naglers for a better […]

  2. […] Log 2/18/04 2/18/04, 10:00-11:00pm; Celestron NexStar 8i first light! Betelgeuse, Sirius, Capella. Low & Hi power views of Saturn (clear rings, shadow, […]

  3. […] Log 2/23/04 2/23/04, 7-8:30pm- Celestron NexStar 8i telescope. Goto working well. Attempted Moon & Venus, but the trees interfered. Orion Nebula! Molecular […]

  4. […] Collimation Tips. My NexStar 8i Schmidt Cassegrain telescopeNexStar 8i Schmidt Cassegrain doesn’t give really sharp planetary views unless I keep it […]

  5. […] good news is that I spotted several moons for the first time ever. I was using the Celestron NexStar 8i telescope and the Televue 17mm Nagler. I saw Tethys (mag 10.24), Rhea (mag 9.74), Dione (mag 10.44) and of […]

  6. […] Log 9/26/04 Brought out the Celestron NexStar 8i telescope for a few hours of […]

  7. […] found a surprise! Tonight was the clearest, best seeing night in a while. So I got out the Celestron NexStar 8i telescope to try out my new Dew Shield. Not having any specific goals for the night, I played a bit, and […]

  8. […] to see Pluto last night, while it was still officially a planet. I haven’t seen it yet, and 8″ Celestron NexStar 8i telescope is barely up to the task. Unfortunately, there were too many clouds rolling through. Oh, well. […]

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