Skateboard is good!!!! You can certainly start with an 8", but be prepared for smaller planets, galaxies etc. However, if you start with the 8, get a cgem mount or a C-5, not the 8se with the altazimuth mount. That really is a waste. You can get a focal reducer that will make the image smaller for nebulae and will speed up your f/10 to f/6.6 or f/3.3. I'd also try starting with a Canon dslr like a T3 unmodidied and see how that goes for you. Then you can decide on what you think of the galaxy size, nebulae, and camera. Dave
Hello Eric, As an owner of an 8SE I say the scope has it's strengths and weaknesses. Strengths: Quick and easy setup. Lightweight - great for "grab and go'. Pretty darn good optics. Great for Star Parties. Doesn't take up too much room when not in use.
Weaknesses: A poor choice for imaging. The single side arm system of the mount make for a shaky setup even on a high quality wedge. It can be "beefed up" but at what cost? One guy did it and had great results. But one out of thousands sold is a bad bet. The tube however is worthy of great photos - just has to be on a better mount. I ended up buying a CG5 EQ mount for almost $600 (not the cheap knock offs - that mount is "bottom dollar" enough without going for the copies).
My advice - save a few more bucks and buy something that won't lead to unnecessary frustration. This hobby can be frustrating enough without being "stuck" with inadequate gear. Trust me - the spending money for upgrades never ends (camera, filters, mounts, software, guide scopes or camera, OTAs, etc) so buy something you won't have to upgrade right out of the box.
I'd have to agree with Charlie...don't get an 8SE. Even with an equatorial mount it's a waste of money. Assuming you want to image, a lot depends on what you want to image and do you want to be able to see it in the photograph without a magnifying glass. I've had a good number of scopes and mounts to get to what works for me. If you want to image galaxies, moon, planets and some nebula, the minimum scope for me would be a 9.25 and a CGEM mount. Preferably an 11" scope and a CGEM. I've had an 8se, the mount the equatorial mount attachment and sold them all. Tried an 8" reflector with an EQ-G mount and didn't like the scope results. The mount was good. Except for large nebula the field of view is so small you'll probably want a second scope, eg. an 80 or 70mm apo. I had an 80, sold it and have a 70mm Stellarvue. You can get the entire nebula in, eg. the Rosette, the Heart, the Soul etc. The EG-G mount works great for that scope with very little periodic error and without tracking. You'll need to guide with an 8, a 9.25 or 11. Rather than fool around with mounting a second scope and getting flexure problems balancing, backlash, I'd suggest a small finder scope with a cmos camera. Different companies make their own now - I got one from KW Telescopes in Canada for about $300. OPT and Orion make similar ones. If you want to do solar photography I'd recommend a Lunt 60mm double stack pressure tuned solar scope. Saving my pennies for one now. Had a pst coronado, and while it was ok it had no backfocus so you could only use a webcam. Very limited for imaging. Cameras are another choice. I had an sbig xcm and sold it and now using a modified Canon that works fine for me. If I ever get another ccd I'd get a QHY. Software is another choice and processing is HUGE. Right now I use Nebulosity2 for imaging, aligning and stacking, stretch and curves etc. PHD for guiding and Photoshop Elements8 and Lightroom 2 for final processing. And......when you get get tired of aligning and carrying the scope and mount out and in every night, you'll want to build or buy a dome!!!!! So, depending what your primary interest is I'd either start with a 9.25 or 11 scope and cgem mount, or a 70 or 80mm apo and EQ-G mount or a 60mm lunt with an EQ-G mount. Check celestronimages.com for my profile if you want to see my progression from 'tail light' pictures of nebula to now or my website. http://wix.com/dnklooz/davidkloozastropix. Hope this helps.....it's fun, but expensive, particularly when you're starting and unsure of what to get.
The SE can't track smoothly, you won't get much shots really. Klooz did better with that scope than anyone I know. But it's pretty difficult, in fact klooz's stuff got really good when he went equatorial. It's night and day comparison.
Well, i dont plan on going pro, lol Im hoping to be able to photograph some galaxies, maybe, or at least be able to view some, without breaking the bank. The SE 8 appealled to me because of its star guide-type abilities, but I don't really know enough to pick a path. I do understand its an expensive hobby, but like I said, I'm not looking to discover new earth-like planets or anything! :)
http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=80-11844 It's a bit more expensive than 1000. If I were you i'd go to astromart and pick up an inexpensive goto equatorial mount and a reftractor and start with that. That'd be the most reliable option, especially if you plan on taking images.
Welcome Eric! We make Charlie wear a football helmet when he is out of his cage. What were you looking to see/do with your scope? That is the best place to start and can build up from there. The Paramount is the best of the best no question...but unles you either plan on going pro, or have the money to spare, there is no need...and if you are only looking to observe there is clearly no need. What are you looking to do?