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Thread: NexStar 4SE - Taking the Next Step (complete newb)

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    Default NexStar 4SE - Taking the Next Step (complete newb)



    Bought wife a brand new NexStar 4SE about a year ago. We/She have used it a few dozen times, but it is time add a few upgrades.

    We need to drive about 5 to 10 miles to get a decent spot for using the telescope. So every time we use it we need to re-position and realign. And, of course this takes forever. So, I want to shorten her setup time.

    So, with the NexStar 4SE, I am looking at adding the StarSense and SkySync GPS to shorten the setup time/accuracy.

    Questions (almost complete newb):
    - How do the StarSense and Skysync work together in relation to the telescope?
    - Do I require a separate AUX splitter for this setup? What plugs into what? What happens with the current hand control?
    - What happens with the Finderscope? Can I still keep the default finderscope (or even a nicer one) for manual exploration without having to swap out the starsense for the finder?
    - A decent wedge... I have read that the build in wedge is not that good, and a pain to use.
    - are there decent wedges for the 4SE? I found the wedge on the Celestron site, but it only lists the 6SE/8SE, will this work on the 4SE?
    - Is there a powered wedge that will automatically set in conjunction with the StarSync and StarSense for the GPS coordinates we setup at?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: NexStar 4SE - Taking the Next Step (complete newb)

    Hi

    firstly you need to understand that it will still take time to do the alignments even with star sense and Skysync.

    Both of these even if they work on gps they require to find your location first and read star maps to find I believe from what I have heard in the past over here it can take up to 10 minutes sometimes for it to sync and in my eyes I'm faster than that to get the scope aligned. Even after it has aligned successful its best to leave them for a couple of minutes longer as its still processing data.

    The finder scope can stay on it if you decide to go with star sense you will notice that on the OTA you have a couple of screws just screw it in any of those slots remember that you might still need to fine tune your object during alignment also remember more weight means you might need to balance.

    Wedges to my knowledge I believe is not truly the way to go on a go to mount as they tend to make mistakes why not rather just upgrade the mount. The wedges will usually fit onto the tripod and then the go to fits on the wedge where the star sense will be mounted to the OTA the skysync will plug into the AUX of the mount.

    The hand control will still be there always for further operation of the scope.

    I'm also not truly clued with all of these but I'm sure this basic knowledge will help you and that some of the more experienced guys will be able to offer a lot more advice than what I can.

    Regards

    Pieter
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    Default Re: NexStar 4SE - Taking the Next Step (complete newb)

    It's up to you to decide whether saving the time is worth $499. I would rather spending that money on good eyepieces.
    After doing it a couple of times, it should take no longer than 5 minutes to align a scope.

    Scott
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    Default Re: NexStar 4SE - Taking the Next Step (complete newb)

    Welcome to the astronomy forum and thanks a bunch for joining us.

    The 4SE is a great telescope and ought to give you years of enjoyment. However, it is not the kind of telescope that you really want to spend a lot of money on accessories, etc. A couple of eyepieces, a 0.5 focal reducer, possibly a different finder, and a viewing chair is about all you need to enjoy the scope.

    Alignment should not be taking you more than about 10 minutes. The any three bright star alignment generally works very well as long as you do not use the moon or any of the planets as alignment objects and you center the alignment stars. The two star automatic alignment only requires that you know the name and location of one bright star. Many of us use Polaris as our first alignment star as it is generally visible unless covered by trees, a tall building, etc. Use the automatic two star alignment. find and center polaris and then the telescope will select and go to the second alignment star. Make sure to center the alignment stars in the center of your eyepiece. To do this, simply defocus the telescope until the alignment star becomes a big white circle with a black dot in the center... this will help you better judge when you have the star centered. As far as the last two movements... I have never paid attention to this and have never experienced any difficulties doing so. Also eyeball leveling the mount is more than good enough.

    Wedge: You did not say why you wanted to use your telescope on a wedge. The wedge puts the telescope in the equatorial mode which is really needed only if you plan to do astrophotography. The 4SE wedge works well enough if you modify its latitude bar.... easy to do. see the sticky: All You Ever Wanted to Know about the 4 SE and More

    There are two major issues with the 4SE on a wedge. First is the actual weight of the optical tube assembly called an OTA (this is the actual telescope without its mount, etc.). While the 4SE mount can handle the 4SE's OTA with no strain in the azimuth mode (no wedge), in the equatorial mode (wedge) the OTA is heavy especially if you add the weight of a camera into the equation. Second, the focal ratio of the 4SE is too high for photographing deep space objects. With a wedge properly polar aligned, you can typically get 45 to 60 second exposures which is not enough to make up for the scope's high focal ratio... you will get an image but it will be light on the details.

    If you are wanting to use a wedge in the hope that it will speed up the alignment process, forget it. It generally takes me 30 minutes to set up and polar align my 4SE in the equatorial mode and I've had some pratice doing it.

    If you look around you can find wedges made for the 6/8SE telescopes; typically on the used market as these wedges just didn't pan out... nothing wrong with the wedge itself but the SE series mounts just did not cut the mustard for astrophotography. The bolt pattern for the 4/5SE and the 6/8SE are the same so the 6/8 SE wedge should fit the 4/5SE but I don't know this for sure. Having said all that, you can use the 4SE mount with a telescope like the Orion ST80A and do some reasonable astrophotography... see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/59237884@N08/

    Before going out at night, spend a few minutes with a program like Stellarium to get the feel of the night sky and the names and locations of some bright stars. Make a crude sketch of these stars and their location ... accuracy is not needed, only the pattern they make in the sky. Also hold up on buying anything and try to improve your setup skills... much cheaper way to go.

    Again, thanks for joing the forum.
    SXINIAS

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    Default Re: NexStar 4SE - Taking the Next Step (complete newb)

    Quote Originally Posted by sxinias View Post
    Welcome to the astronomy forum and thanks a bunch for joining us.

    The 4SE is a great telescope and ought to give you years of enjoyment. However, it is not the kind of telescope that you really want to spend a lot of money on accessories, etc. A couple of eyepieces, a 0.5 focal reducer, possibly a different finder, and a viewing chair is about all you need to enjoy the scope.

    Alignment should not be taking you more than about 10 minutes. The any three bright star alignment generally works very well as long as you do not use the moon or any of the planets as alignment objects and you center the alignment stars. The two star automatic alignment only requires that you know the name and location of one bright star. Many of us use Polaris as our first alignment star as it is generally visible unless covered by trees, a tall building, etc. Use the automatic two star alignment. find and center polaris and then the telescope will select and go to the second alignment star. Make sure to center the alignment stars in the center of your eyepiece. To do this, simply defocus the telescope until the alignment star becomes a big white circle with a black dot in the center... this will help you better judge when you have the star centered. As far as the last two movements... I have never paid attention to this and have never experienced any difficulties doing so. Also eyeball leveling the mount is more than good enough.

    Wedge: You did not say why you wanted to use your telescope on a wedge. The wedge puts the telescope in the equatorial mode which is really needed only if you plan to do astrophotography. The 4SE wedge works well enough if you modify its latitude bar.... easy to do. see the sticky: All You Ever Wanted to Know about the 4 SE and More

    There are two major issues with the 4SE on a wedge. First is the actual weight of the optical tube assembly called an OTA (this is the actual telescope without its mount, etc.). While the 4SE mount can handle the 4SE's OTA with no strain in the azimuth mode (no wedge), in the equatorial mode (wedge) the OTA is heavy especially if you add the weight of a camera into the equation. Second, the focal ratio of the 4SE is too high for photographing deep space objects. With a wedge properly polar aligned, you can typically get 45 to 60 second exposures which is not enough to make up for the scope's high focal ratio... you will get an image but it will be light on the details.

    If you are wanting to use a wedge in the hope that it will speed up the alignment process, forget it. It generally takes me 30 minutes to set up and polar align my 4SE in the equatorial mode and I've had some pratice doing it.

    If you look around you can find wedges made for the 6/8SE telescopes; typically on the used market as these wedges just didn't pan out... nothing wrong with the wedge itself but the SE series mounts just did not cut the mustard for astrophotography. The bolt pattern for the 4/5SE and the 6/8SE are the same so the 6/8 SE wedge should fit the 4/5SE but I don't know this for sure. Having said all that, you can use the 4SE mount with a telescope like the Orion ST80A and do some reasonable astrophotography... see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/59237884@N08/

    Before going out at night, spend a few minutes with a program like Stellarium to get the feel of the night sky and the names and locations of some bright stars. Make a crude sketch of these stars and their location ... accuracy is not needed, only the pattern they make in the sky. Also hold up on buying anything and try to improve your setup skills... much cheaper way to go.

    Again, thanks for joing the forum.
    The best that can be said.
    I second that

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    Default Re: NexStar 4SE - Taking the Next Step (complete newb)

    My 4 SE was put on display by the original owner, the anodizing was sun faded and every external surface was grimy. The reason he said was that while he like astronomy he had trouble finding anything smaller than the moon.

    I confess that it I did not workout the alignment process in one easy lesson, but after a couple of false starts and the occasional relapse, I settled on the 2 star auto alignment, using Polaris as many others do as the first star.

    The first problem I encountered was that the red dot finder did not and could not align correctly. A bit of plastic as a shim fixed that.

    The second problem was that I introduced unnecessary complexity, wasting time trying to get the mount dead level and entering time to within seconds and sometimes repeating those steps if the results weren't good.

    Then I read online that the manual is actually correct, if you set the location to within a few miles and the time to within a minute or so and get the mount level by eye, you can get a working alignment.

    If after you align the scope you want to improve the go to accuracy there are several things to try.

    • Redo or replace the original alignment stars, by slewing to a star, then backing out of the menu and hitting the Align key. it will offer the choice of replacing an alignment star with the current star.
    • Use the Calibrate Go To menu function.
    • Change the Anti-Backlash settings.
    • Use the Sync function.
    • Use the Precise Go To function.

    I was in a large city so the night sky was not filled with stars, and Stellarium (as others suggest) is very helpful for learning the bright alignment stars. After a short time it is easy to target stars like Vega, Arcturus, Castor/Pollix for alignment.

    In short a little more practice and alignments should get to be both easy and fast.

    The red dot finder does the job for a go to scope. An optical finder or starsense does the same job for more money, and while a telescopic finder looks cool, you may not find that it gets used other than for alignment.

    The idea of a powered self aligning wedge has some appeal, maybe there will be one someday.

 

 

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