Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Celestron Nexstar 8SE Computerised Telescope in Singapore


Mr. Spock's recommendation. Source

My grandfather bought me a telescope many years ago. I think it was a 2 or 3-inch (diameter) refractor telescope. It was not a big scope, had a tripod stand and you swing the scope manually around and point to anything: trees, living rooms, rear windows, distant lampposts, etc.

The most fascinating things can be seen at night when the sun sets and the sky reverts to its natural darkness. People often ask me what we can see in Singapore; a common misunderstanding is that urban places like Singapore are not suitable for any sort of star-gazing. That turns out to be quite untrue. Even in light-polluted Singapore, I could point the small scope to the moon and see its craters, to Jupiter to see its large moons and stripped gaseous body, and to Saturn to see its magnificent rings. Every time I observed Saturn, even with a humble and 'cheap' small telescope, I would audibly gasp. It's unlike anything I'd seen before, even after looking at it numerous times.

So last year I thought I should rekindle the hobby, and decided to buy a new telescope. The current state of amateur telescopes is this: computerised telescopes with databases of tens of thousands of objects that they can be instantly pointed to. A popular choice is the Schmidt Cassegrain telescope that Celestron pioneered which allows it to have a quite a large aperture without it being physically too long. The price is quite reasonable too.

After researching for quite a while, I bought a Celestron Nexstar 8SE 8" telescope from Amazon. Mr. Spock would have done the same as the optical tube is quite similar to the C8. It cost US$1200, and Borderlinx/DHL shipping was S$499. The same scope can be bought at the Science Centre for a thousand dollars more. (Astro Scientific Centre is the local authorised Celestron dealer.) I decided to take the risk and save some money and go with Amazon.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 


So what's so wonderful about this telescope? The most powerful feature is the way technology allows the observer to be able to see objects very quickly. Just make sure the telescope is level on the floor, punch in your coordinates (bring your GPS along), and point the scope to ANY THREE bright objects. Seconds later, bingo! The scope will know what the heavens look like at your location and you can choose any object in the database, and the scope will just go there. The thing is so accurate every time, it's truly mind blowing.
At the open field near MGS
The moon is setting...




An accessory I bought was the NexImage Solar System Imager, a fancy name for a small webcam that's tweaked to shoot videos of planets and the moon.



So far, I've managed to see quite a few amazing objects such as the Mars, Venus, Orion Nebula, Ring Nebula, Alberio, Pleiades and other less bright objects. Yes, they won't look like the very nice pictures taken by very large telescopes, but it doesn't really matter. They can still be seen quite well. It's going to take awhile to go through the list of gorgeous space objects, but it's definitely fun! To think that these bright sparks in the sky are millions of kilometres away and yet modern equipment allows us to see them is just mind boggling. Clear skies!



19 comments:

Erik Wilgenhof Plante said...

Hi Jeff, nice meeting you this morning at Challenger. Funny to see we have another hobby in common. I had quite a few telescopes back in The Netherlands but here in Singapore the weather is too overcast for astronomy. On the new iPad the details of the various starmap apps should be even better.

jeffyen said...

Hi Erik! Yeah I just bought SkyQ and Star Talk from the US store... quite extraordinary, the functionalities of these things with the ipad's gyros etc!

Anonymous said...

Oh you finally posted about your telescope! (: Funny how I never got a chance to see it. Hope that you'll have more enjoyable stargazing sessions in future! (:

jeffyen said...

Yeah we can look when there's time.. maybe during the holidays! :)

BaronV said...

Hi there I know this is a really old post, but I notice you mentioned you got it cheaper from Amazon.

Im wondering if you ran into any customs/tax issues ordering from Amazon as opposed to ordering from Astro?

jeffyen said...

BaronV, there are no tax issues because the only tax to be paid is the 7% GST on the (product cost + third party forwarder fees like Borderlinx or Comgateway). They will add in the GST when they ask you to pay the shipping fee.

BaronV said...

Hi Jeff, thanks for the reply. Unfortunately it seems Amazon.com wont ship it outside of the US anymore, so I guess there is no choice but to buy from Astro now :(

jeffyen said...

BaronV, you have to send it to a package forwarder like I did. If you read the fourth paragraph, I used Borderlinx and the shipping cost around S$500. You can use comgateway.com too.

So Amazon sends the package free of charge to the forwarder, and you pay the forwarder to ship it to Singapore. They both use DHL which is very good.

Anonymous said...

Hello, i found this post when i was looking for reviews about the telescope. I can't be 100% sure but i think a few months back i saw that you were selling this on amazon or something? I remember the pictures you posted. But somehow cant find the link on amazon itself. are you still selling it or did i see wrongly last time? thank you so much!

jeffyen said...

Anon, I don't have a seller account at Amazon nor do I want to sell it. :)

Anonymous said...

oh no im sorry, must have seen wrongly. thank you!

Anonymous said...

another question, do you have any affiliation with this blog? http://cubanposts.blogspot.sg/2012/03/celestron-nexstar-8se-computerised.html

jeffyen said...

No I don't, but I do know its existence for a while. It's probably created by a bot that copies this blog, and then changes the amazon affiliate codes that I have to another. It's pretty funny actually!

Anonymous said...

I see. Yes, and it's actually kind of freaky as well, in my opinion.

Oh and btw, the Amazon pictures i saw were your user-sent pictures for that scope! Like a review, i think. I'm sorry for the confusion!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for the insight! I was going to buy a telescope from Amazon and realized it can't be shipped to Singapore too! Was wondering if I can use Vpost and glad to know I can! Was worried the US custom will hold the shipping or something. Thanks!

jeffyen said...

Anon please do not use vpost. Borderlinx and comGateway are excellent as they use DHL.

BaronV said...

Jeff thanks so much for your suggestion. I decided to save up a year and upgrade to a Celestron CPC 800 instead. Using borderlinx I think i can save a lot.

Thanks again

Anbarasan Ponnilavan said...

Hi everyone. I am interested to learn more about astronomy and cosmic phenomenon. So i would like to purchase my very first telescope. So any suggestion on which one to go for? Refractor types or reflector types?
and why do many go for reflector despite the fact that refractors have the colour dispersion problem and they are expensive.

jeffyen said...

Hi Anbarasan, there're lots of answers to your questions so it's best that you look at some astronomy forums like cloudynights and get some advice there.

The general advice is to buy the most expensive one you can afford, and aperture wins. Each type of telescope has its pros and cons...