I’ve never been crazy about my Meade Starfinder 8″ equatorial Newtonian telescope. The optics seem fine, but the mount is heavy, hard to move, and hard to use. Even with my digital setting circles it’s difficult to get the thing pointed exactly where you want it, and a modest breeze can make it almost unusable. Even getting it set up was a chore. So I didn’t really use it much, and I felt bad about that. So, a week ago I decided to buy myself a new telescope, and this time I chose something much more compact–a Celestron NexStar 6SE SCT.

My new Celestron NexStar 6SE on my living room floor just after unboxing
My new Celestron NexStar 6SE on my living room floor just after unboxing

I’ve only had it out twice since I got it, but I couldn’t be more pleased with this scope so far! It’s a computerized system that nearly aligns itself–the first night I just had to point it at three bright stars–without even knowing or indicating which they were–and the telescope figured out the rest. My first night out I took advantage of its Sky Tour mode and let it pick the objects to view, and it found every target flawlessly! The optics seem fine (although I haven’t done any real testing), the mount is stable and easy to slew with the included handpad, focusing is pretty smooth and easy–my wife told me I had a big grin on my face the whole evening.

The second night out was brightly moon-lit, so deep space fuzzies were not really an option, but I did have a little fun with my compact digital camera. I took these pictures just buy holding the camera up to the eyepiece and shooting:

Jupiter through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE
Jupiter through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE
The moon through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE
The moon through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE
The moon through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE
The moon through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE
The moon through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE
The moon through the eyepiece of my Celestron NexStar 6SE

I didn’t do any processing of these pictures other than to crop and resize them a bit. They won’t win any awards, but it demonstrates how easy it is to take astrophotographs these days. I’m going to be trying out this method for taking digital astrophotos soon, using this camera mounting bracket from Orion Telescopes. Should be thoroughly amusing.

I’ll post a more detailed review of this telescope sometime in the next few weeks, but suffice it to say I’m having a ball with it right now.

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