Celestron Starsense Accessory

Celestron Starsense Accessory for Celestron Nexstar 6SE telescope

Celestron StarSense Accessory for Celestron Computerized Telescopes

Celestron StarSense Accessory for Celestron Computerized Telescopes

We are expecting the first delivery of the Starsense Accessory into the UK very shortly, although unfortunately it’ll be enough only to fulfill the first wave of orders… Never-the-less it marks the start of a new era in astronomy for many Celestron computerised mount users and also gives hope that very soon the Starsense Accessory will become a stock item.

We’ve received a question from a customer about the Starsense, whether it’ll make tracking more accurate and make it possible to shoot longer exposure astro photos with his Nexstar 6 SE.

Here is our answer:

In the Celestron Nexstar 6 SE and Nexstar 8SE mainly it is the AltAz mode that will always restrict long exposure photography. There is also a heavy-duty wedge available, but that’s quite expensive and large for that tripod, although not impossible to use.
Theoretically it’s compatible with the telescope mount of both the Celestron Nexstar 6 SE and Nexstar 8SE , but it’s quite  a large and heavy piece, so you’ll have to be careful with it if you decide to buy one at some point.
There used to be a smaller wedge, specially designed for the 6SE and 8SE, but Celestron discontinued it couple of years ago…
If anyone knows about any other wedge that is compatible with it (I haven’t researched it recently…), please let me know…

The Starsense Accessory will make it much faster to setup your telescope and it’ll also improve pointing accuracy, especially if you do a full sky alignment that will make it more precise to find objects anywhere on the sky, however  I don’t thing that it’ll change anything in regard to tracking, or maybe just a very little.

Celestron NexStar 6 SE Schmidt-Cassegrain Reflector Telescope

Celestron NexStar 6 SE Schmidt-Cassegrain Reflector Telescope

Never-the-less, it’ll be very helpful if you want to take a photo of faint objects, as with a more precise pointing accuracy it’ll be much faster to find the object and start imaging it, so it’s helpful in astro photography, but only in this way…
So, autoguiding will always be a good addition for long exposure, but as I mentioned above, there is no point of setting up autoguiding unless you can turn it into equatorial as your Alt-Az mount will always be limited to about 30-40 sec max. exposure time due to rotation of the frame.

Now, if you decide to add a wedge to your Celestron Nexstar 6 SE or Nexstar 8SE, think twice.
The problem is, and probably that’s the reason why Celestron don’t heavily advertise their wedge for Celestron Nexstar 6 SE and Nexstar 8SE, that even if you add the wedge and so you convert it into an equatorial mount, you’d need to add guiding for long exposure and that might make it either too expensive in compare to other solutions or too heavy. I don’t mean the wedge, I mean the extra weight of guiding.

You could use a Celestron’s NexGuide Autoguider, but that’s not sensitive enough to be used with a 50-60mm guide scope, so you’d need to add a 80mm guide scope that would be a too heavy addition to the Nexstar 6 SE or 8 SE tube on that mount.
Or alternatively you could add a 50 or 60mm guide scope, but then you’d need an autoguider that comes with a very sensitive guide camera, i.e. Baader LVI 2 or Lacerta MGEN stand-alone autoguider. These are both much more expensive than Celestron’s NexGuide Autoguider.
O.K., so what’s the solution? Well, if you are just thinking of buying a Celestron Nexstar 6 SE or Nexstar 8SE telescope and you are seriously considering deep sky astro photography, then you’ll be better off with a Celestron Advanced VX 6 SC or Advanced VX 8 SC. These are more expensive, but you won’t need a wedge, and the price difference is just about that cost of a wedge…

Then you can still decide whether you’ll add an 80mm guide scope with a Celestron’s NexGuide Autoguider or a smaller 50mm or 60mm guide scope with a Baader LVI 2 or Lacerta MGEN.

If you already have got the Nexstar 6 SE or 8 SE and want to do long exposure deep sky astro photography, well, that’s not easy, but of course you could add a wedge and a small guide scope with an Baader LVI Smartguider 2 Stand Alone Autoguider, or possibly a better solution would be to buy an Advanced GT (now discontinued) or Advanced VX mount in addition to your existing one. Although the Advanced GT has been discontinued, at the time of writing this article we still have good stock of these and the price is very good, too.

It is only £130 more expensive than the heavy-duty wedge and you could even sell your Nexstar SE 6/8 mount if you don’t want to have two…

Article by Zoltan Trenovszki

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Posted on October 31st, 2013.