NexStar 6SE Computerized Telescope
- Product Review (submitted on June 20, 2012):
This is my first telescope, which I bought when I was forty-three, having wanted one at least since my late teens. I had recently been hit by a car and since I couldn't do cycling I finally sprang for this because I didn't need to be able to walk to use it from behind my home in Queens, New York City. I think I would have gone insane without it, and even after I regained my ability to walk and ride a bicycle I didn't use it any less.
It's a bit of a commitment money wise, because you don't want to spend this much just to have it take up space in your closet, but if you're that interested in it then you really shouldn't doubt that you will actually use it. And no worries that it's too difficult to use, because it isn't.
My one big piece of advice is, buy the Power Tank even before you buy the telescope. You would actually spend more on rechargeable batteries than it would cost you to get a Power Tank which can keep it running for days, weeks, even months of stargazing on a single charge. The Power Tank also comes in handy for power outages where you need light and a means of recharging your cell phone. I even recharged my car battery with it when it went dead--so now I take it with me on all road trips.
Shopping for a telescope isn't really all that different from shopping for a bicycle or a television. There are cheap ones and expensive ones, models that do it all and others that just give you the basics. After carefully looking at various types and sizes, I determined that this really gave me the best bang for my buck and matched what I wanted to do with it (actually excelling on both counts). If it wasn't capable enough for my level of interest and activity I would have easily spent more. But this one is really just right in terms of size, power, and portability.
This telescope is way better than Galileo's or Newton's (so Sir Isaac can suck it!)
I can fit the telescope, Power Tank, dew shield, and all my other accessories--except the tripod--using the padding it came with--inside a Sterilite container I bought at Target for less than $20, so don't be intimidated by the price of all those cases out there thinking you wont be able to take it anywhere without one. The Sterilite box or similar is not only fine, but better. Add a folding hand truck and some bungie cords and you're good to go anywhere with it, even carrying a folding camp chair and maybe even your friend's equipment as well--because even though he works at the Museum of Natural History and is a professional Astronomer, he's too dumb to engineer a means of transportation for the five foot long, six inch Dobsonian he built himself. If you're not driving, then you can include at least six beers in there as well--or a bottle of rum for maximum 'efficiency.' If you are driving, a large thermos full of coffee will fit in there just fine.
OK, so you've got your telescope, neatly packed, a means of carrying it--your dumb friend's stuff as well--and you're ready to rock and roll. Setting up is easy: Extend the legs of the tripod, put the round bubble level that it comes with on top, adjust so the bubble is somewhere within the circle, put the telescope on top and screw it down, level the tube using the guideline stickers on the top, and turn it on--it's almost that easy. The procedures of setting and alignment after that can be slightly frustrating the first several times out, but once you get the hang of it you will even be able to do it after drinking all those beers you brought with you.
In terms of what I can see, from behind my home in Western Queens, sandwiched between the extremely brightly lit LaGuardia Airport and ConEdison power plant, you would be amazed. Seeing the planets is easy. Couldn't miss them except for Pluto. It's all the other things you can see which will amaze you. The other night I was staring at the Ring Nebula for example--in horribly light polluted conditions--I've seen globular clusters, and other galaxies as well. If I can see all that, in the crappy conditions I have, then just about anywhere else you should see a whole lot more.
The goto function is ideal for conditions like mine because typically you can only make out the Big Dipper in my sky, so finding objects by star charts and star hopping is impossible here, but with the computer in the telescope it's easy.
Bottom Line: I love it. It's perfect. It will probably last the rest of my life and then some. Definitely one of the best things I've ever bought, and most interesting activities I've ever done.
Better than golf.