NexStar Resource Site

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Important Facts about the NexStar 5i and 8i Scopes

In May 2002 Celestron introduced new 'modular' NexStar scopes - the NexStar 5i and 8i.   Several details are available at their web site ( but the following information is not in their standard 'marketing material':

  • When polar-aligned on a wedge, autoguiding and manual guiding are workable. While certainly not as effortless as is possible with worm-gear driven systems, the spur gears do keep the cost down. This allows for inexpensive entry into lightweight imaging and in fact should work quite well on film.
  • The manual hand control, previously supplied as standard equipment, provides EQ North and EQ South tracking. So, if you polar align on a wedge, it will track at sidereal rate on the RA axis. You just need to manually find objects. (how low-tech :-)
  • Autoguiding (via the Auto Guide port) works whether you are  using the manual or the computerized hand control. Again, with the manual hand control you would need to mount the scope on a wedge, perform a polar alignment and activate EQ North or South tracking.
  • The RS232 command set for the computerized hand control is the same as the NexStar GPS hand control. So, it is compatible with any program that supports the NexStar GPS - TheSky, Starry Night, Cartes du Ciel, etc.
  • The computerized hand control does have cordwrap prevention.
  • Tracking with the computerized hand control is excellent, keeping objects in the field of view for as long as you care.  This is a big improvement over the performance of the original NexStar 5/8.
  • The new computerized hand control will not work with the original NexStar 5/8.
  • The only way an original N5/8 can be upgraded is with replacement of significant electronic parts in the drive/mount unit. Celestron has not decided if they will offer that service and if they do the mount would need to return to Celestron for the upgrade. You are probably better off looking for a buyer for your old scope (most likely the best you could get would be half the 2002 sales price) and then buying one of the new scopes.

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Michael Swanson
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