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If you can, try to get an 8" (or larger) aperture Schmidt-Cassegrain from Celestron. Joel Send a noteboard - 24/01/2010 11:18:05 PM
DON'T get one with a built in computerized starchart unless you're very short on time and/or lazy; you can knock a lot off the price by skipping that and just spending $10-15 on a good book of star charts (but make sure you get one that can be read by redlight) and you're smart enough to know how to use it (it's really not hard, but many find it intimidating. ) Main thing is to make sure you get one with a motor and an equatorial mount, or it's just a waste of cash for any serious astronomy, because the real show is in the deep sky (if you just want planets and stars, go with this: ) The ancients were mostly unaware of galaxies and nebulae, not because they were so primitive (at least not directly) but because most of them can only be seen with time lapse photography that requires a motor and camera. You can't do tracking with an altazimuth mount, not even with upgrades, so it's a great cheap way to go for a kid, but not for the serious amateur. The good news is that a decent SLR camera isn't terribly expensive, and last I checked you can get a camera mount on EBay for $5-10. For that matter, you can usually find an 8" SC there for about $500 (instead of $1200) if you're patient, but I don't feel comfortable ordering something like that from EBay.

Celestron makes the best scopes; that's all there is to it. Meades are second best and less expensive because they're the volume guys, but that's because they're doing mass production with a technique Celestron invented, and the extra money for a Celestron is worth it. Ironically, my experience has been that Meade makes better eyepieces, but since virtually every eyepiece comes in one of two sizes you can use a Meade eyepiece on a Celestron scope (or vice versa but... ye gods, why would I do that???!)

IF you can find one, I STRONGLY recommend one of these, which was produced in 8" 9.5" and 11" aperture sizes:

When I sold them the Nexstar was brand new (as in, it only existed in the nearly worthless 5" variety that was still $1200 new) and the only differences are:

The Nexstar 8 has a built in computer and chart that's so snazzy it will calibrate itself in <5 minutes when you turn it on, and can find AND TRACK Spacestation Freedom, and

It cost nearly twice as much as the old C-8 that allowed you to add a computer, but didn't come that way.

I always figured if I had another grand to drop I'd rather spend it on aperture than on machines to think for me, but others might disagree.

Thanks for the review; naturally it does sound very interesting to me, and I'll add it to the list.
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If you can, try to get an 8" (or larger) aperture Schmidt-Cassegrain from Celestron. - 24/01/2010 11:18:05 PM 1362 Views

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