Celestron NexStar 8SE Review

When it comes to telescopes, we all know that they can be costly purchases. There is a range of telescopes on the market, and knowing which one to buy can be tricky, especially if you are a beginner wanting to see more of the night sky. 

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is a popular choice for beginners and advanced stargazers alike. But what do we know about it? Today we will conduct an in-depth review of one of Celestron’s best selling telescopes to see if it is truly worth spending your money on. 

We will cover the specifications of the telescope, where it sits compared to other telescopes, its optics,  the mount, the technology and software it comes with, and what other owners have said about their scope! You will leave here today knowing this telescope better than you know yourself! 

Overview

In a rush? Let’s cover the main points of this telescope.

  • Large 8-inch aperture 
  • Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope that is suitable for adults and children 
  • Wi-Fi and compatible with star sense technology 
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble  
  • A sturdy steel tripod ensures stability and durability when in use.
  • There is some minimal vibration, but this can be rectified with dampers. 
  • Two-year warranty and unlimited access to US-based technical support 
  • Free starry night software provides an interactive experience of the night sky.
  • Fully-automated goto mount has a database of over 40,000 celestial objects tracks objects for you. 
  • SkyAlign allows for a quick set up of the telescope.
  • Compatible with Celestron’s app for your smartphones and laptops. 
  • The telescope is lightweight, weighing 33lbs when fully assembled. 
  • Portable and breaks down to a compact size that is easy to travel with
  • Customers recognize purchasing additional eyepieces with the telescope to enhance your viewing experience.
  • The optics were praised for their excellent quality, providing a bright view of the night sky. 
  • The telescope can run on AA batteries, but the battery life on these can be relatively short. 
  • You will need to provide your power adapter, such as an AC adapter, to extend the battery life.

Sounds like the telescope for you? You can purchase your Celestron NexStar 8SE here!

Want to know more? Keep on reading for a more in-depth look at hopefully your next telescope. 


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Celestron NexStar 8SE

Celestron’s NexStar Range

Before we get into the closer details, let’s take a quick look at Celestron and their NexStar range of telescopes. The NexStar range comprises catadioptric telescopes in four sizes. 

Catadioptric telescopes use mirrors and lenses to provide a long focal length while maintaining a relatively short body, resulting in a compact telescope with fantastic views! The telescopes are available in 4-inches, 5-inches,  6-inches, and 8-inch models. When we refer to the inches here, we are talking about the aperture of each telescope. 

Each telescope features an altazimuth mount, motorized goto tracking with 3-star alignment, and a database of over 40,000 celestial objects. We will go into further detail about these features later. 

The NexStar 8SE is considered the ‘daddy’ of the group, thanks to its 8-inch aperture. It is an excellent choice for a beginner or more advanced astronomer who: 

  • Has a decent budget that will also include some accessories 
  • Wants significant light gathering power
  • Wants to quickly explore the night sky (we estimate it will take an hour for the telescope to be set up).

The 8-inch NexStar tends to be more popular than the smaller four and 5-inch telescopes. It also collects a whopping 77% more light than the 6-inch option. Today we will look at what makes it such a good telescope and why it could be the one for you! 

Specifications

Let’s take a look at the specifications  of this telescope in the table below: 

Telescope Type

Schmidt-Cassegrain

computerized?

yes

Mount

Altazimuth with Goto motorized tracking 

aperture

8-inches (203.2mm)

Focal length

80-inches (2032mm)

Focal ratio

f10

Magnification 

81x

Limiting magnitude

14

Maximum theoretical magnification

400x (5mm eyepiece)

Useful maximum magnification

300x (7mm eyepiece)

Assembled weight

33lbs 

Now that we have an overview of the telescope and its specifications, let’s take a closer look at its features and what customers have to say. 

Features

The Celestron NexStar 8SE has some fantastic features that set it apart from the other telescopes on the market. 

What type?

The NexStar 8SE is a Schmidt-Cassegrain computerized telescope. For the beginners in the room, you may be wondering what that means. A  Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope combines a Cassegrain reflector’s path with a corrector plate to produce a compact telescope that uses spherical surfaces. 

Developed in the 1970s, the Schmidt-Cassegrain revolutionized astronomy for beginners. Stargazers could now purchase large aperture telescopes that are compact and reasonably priced. 

These days, Schmidt-Cassegrains are mainly made by Celestron and Meade, offering a telescope for everyone. From a manufacturer’s point of view, they are easy to make compared to other telescopes. 

They are great for beginners and casual stargazers as they are portable and feature large enough apertures to see faint deep-sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae. Advanced astronomers and astrophotographers enjoy Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes too.

They are easy to mount and guide and are great for narrow field imaging. You can also shoot wide-field imaging with the help of a telecompressor. 

Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes are still extremely popular. The computerized element of the NexStar 8SE is the goto technology. The technology locates and tracks the desired objects, doing all the hard work for you!

We will look at this further down, but computerized telescopes are popular with beginners and advanced astronomers alike. 

Aperture

The telescope features an 8-inch aperture, which is a large primary mirror. It packs more light and smaller telescopes on the market, which will allow you to see more of the night sky. For example, an 8-inch aperture and the right magnification can enable you to see Pluto! 

Teamed with the focal length, you get a fantastic viewing experience, with 150x and 200x magnification levels! These are excellent levels for viewing our moon and planets. You can push beyond the 200x magnification for bright objects that are visible. 

It’s the big aperture that draws many astronomers to the Nexstar 8SE. The larger aperture is excellent for showing enhanced details in galaxies and nebulas; whether you are a beginner or an advanced astronomer, you will enjoy this!

For those who may have owned telescopes before, the 8-inch aperture is a feature to look out for. Compared to the six-inch apertures, your 8-inch telescope will gather 77% more light! This will make a massive difference to your visibility, allowing you to see more than before!

See what?

So what can you see with this 8-inch beauty? At a dark site, you should probably be able to see the following objects listed below.

What you will see will vary depending on the light, clouds in the sky, and if your telescope is correctly aligned. 

You should be able to see:

  • Cloud bands on Jupiter
  • Jupiter's moons and shadows on the planet 
  • Saturn’s surface bands and Cassini Division in her rings
  • Several of Saturn’s moons 
  • Martian ice caps and smaller moons such as Phobos and Deimos
  • Neptune and her moon, Titan
  • Countless galaxies and nebulae, including all the Messier catalog

The NexStar 8SE has a robust build too, which is a positive feature for your new telescope to have. It can suffer a few knocks while you are out without too much damage, a reassuring thought for those clumsy folk out there! 

However, whether you bash your telescope or care for it perfectly, alignment can be an issue. As with all telescopes that use mirrors, they can pop out of alignment from time to time. 

There is a simple solution, though. You will need to collimate your telescope. You can do this with a screwdriver to adjust the screws holding the mirror in place. You will find these three screws at the rear of the telescope. 

Some users opt to replace the screws with a set of Bob’s Knobs. These make the collimating process easier and quicker to do. You can even do it with your fingers then, eliminating the need for tools! This is not an essential step, but one worth considering if you are looking to save time! 

Goto Mount

The telescope features a fully automated Goto mount that makes this telescope a popular choice. The goto mount features a database with more than 40,000 celestial objects. These objects can be located and tracked by the telescope, doing all the hard work for you! 

The mount is an altazimuth mount that moves up and down and left to right. These mounts are not aligned to the Earth’s rotation angle, which can be problematic if you want to undertake astrophotography with your telescope. 

Over time, there can be some drift of the scope, which leaves any images with trails on them. This is not too concerning if you want to take pictures of bright objects such as the moon and other planets. However, if you want photographs of deep space galaxies and nebulas, you might have some issues getting the quality you want. 

You can purchase an adapter and mount, which allows you to attach your DSLR camera to the telescope to take photographs with ease. The mount and adapter are an additional cost and not one every telescope user chooses to make. 

Not everyone struggled to take deep space photographs, though, so this may be a case of trial and error with the telescope! Aside from astrophotography, the goto mount and tracking is an excellent addition. 

Technology

When it comes to computerized cameras, you want to know what technology or software the telescope comes with.

Along with the goto mount mentioned earlier, the Celestron Nexstar 8SE, you get starry night software thrown in for free! The software is one of the top-rated astronomy programs and provides an interactive simulation of the night sky.

The telescope is also compatible with Celestron’s Sky Portal app, which can be used on your smartphone or laptop to learn more about the night sky and how to track objects. 

The telescope is WiFi compatible, too, so you can experience an out of the world experience enhanced by technology. 

Celestron’s SkyAlign

When it comes to tracking galaxies or nebulas, your telescope needs brilliant accuracy to center it in your eyepiece and then follow it as the Earth rotates.

To do this, the goto system we discussed earlier needs to know precisely where on the planet your telescope is and the local time. 

To achieve this, Celestron uses its Skyalign technology. For the technology to work  correctly, need the following:

  1. Your exact location
  2. The local time (including the time zone and any daylight saving information)
  3. Show the telescope the location of three bright night sky objects.

To ensure this can be done correctly, the telescope needs to be level; you can use the spirit level included to do this. The viewfinder will also need to be aligned with the scope; otherwise, you will not be able to point at three objects. 

The best time to align the red dot viewfinder is during the day, where you can point the telescope at a distant stationary object. Good options are radio masts, chimneys, or a telegraph pole. Centre the top of the object in your eyepiece. 

Next, you will need to adjust the viewfinder, so the object's top is in the viewfinder’s very center. You will need to do this without moving the main scope, thus aligning your scope and viewfinder. 

At night, when you are ready to use your scope next, enter your location. Using the nearest town is an acceptable option, but using your coordinates will provide excellent accuracy levels. Next, add the local time to your goto controller and your timezone. You will also need to add whether daylight saving is in force or not. 

Once this is done, it's time to do the three-star alignment. To do this, find three bright stars in the sky. If possible, use stars in different parts of the sky with no light points nearby.

It is best to avoid street lights while doing the star alignment. Be sure to consult your instructions or any online tutorials if you need more assistance to do this. 

Once complete, you can begin observing! Select an object on your database and start stargazing! It is best to complete this process during the daytime to enjoy your evening viewing without wasting any time! 

Set Up

The Celestron NexStar 8SE has been praised for its easy setup. If you are new to telescopes, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to do this correctly, an hour would be expected for beginners. 

When setting up the telescope, be sure to thoroughly read the instructions beforehand to avoid any issues emerging during setup. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and after a few times, you should be able to set your telescope up in as little as 15 minutes. This will give you even more time to enjoy the night sky!

When it comes to disassembling the telescope, it breaks down easily into small pieces that can be packed away and stored easily. The pieces are small enough to fit in a car trunk, ready for transportation. 

The box your telescope arrives in is suitable for transporting your telescope initially. However, the box will wear over time, and it is best to consider purchasing a storage or carrying case for your NexStar 8SE. 

If you travel with your telescope a lot or have the budget for a storage case, it is worth investing in one. However, if you are only going to use your telescope in your garden and keep it stored in the home, the original packaging will probably suffice. 

Mounting

Mounting your telescope can be one of the most tricky parts of setting up your new telescope.

The best way to mount your telescope is to attach the scope to the single-armed fork first. Doing this on a soft surface will help to prevent scratches. Make sure it is locked in place before attaching the fork to the stand. 

Following the above steps will avoid any accidental damage to your telescope as you won’t be using locking screws and holding the heavy telescope, minimizing the risk of you dropping it from a height. 

It is also worth mounting your telescope as far forward as you safely can. Doing so will prevent the eyepiece from hitting the mount when you point the scope towards the zenith.

Aside from these, you won’t need to worry about polar alignment, thanks to your altazimuth mount. Once you have found the mounting technique that suits you, mounting your telescope will be a breeze! 

Any issues?

The mounting of this telescope is done with a single-armed fork. The single-arm has to support a lot of weight, which can cause there to be some minor vibration. This is noticeable when touching the scope to adjust the focus; for example, the eyepiece will vibrate slightly. 

There are ways around these vibration issues, though, so there is no need to despair! You can pause in between turning the focusing wheel, which will give vibrations a chance to stop naturally. You can purchase vibration dampening pads for those with the budget, which can remove the tremors in the mount.

Alternatively, you can purchase a motorized focuser that will eliminate your need to touch the telescope by hand. These options can be costly, so it is worth weighing these options up before making your purchase.  

Battery Life

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is powered by AA  batteries, which, as we know, are affordable and widely available. However, the batteries do not last a long time.

A solution to the poor battery life is to use an AC adapter to power the scope, or you can purchase a Celestron PowerTank, which can be plugged into your car to charge your telescope while you are out. 

These options will allow your telescope to last longer and operate at optimum speed. Using the telescope with the AA batteries can slow the telescope’s performance, which is something to consider when making your purchase. 

What did customers say?

Customer reviews are an excellent way to learn more about your new purchase and hopefully provide some insight without any bias. To save you scrolling through reviews, we have once again done the hard work for you! So what did customers have to say?

Overall, the Celestron NexStar 8SE was well received by customers, with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5! Many cited the excellent value for money the telescope was, especially for beginners who had never used a computerized telescope before. 

Customers praised our Moon’s excellent view and found they could see details they have previously not seen in photographs. Other customers could see as far as Saturn on a clear night and take fantastic pictures of these with either professional cameras or their phones!

A few customers claimed they received little to no support from Celestron when they experienced problems with their telescope. This was not a widely reported problem, and in these cases, Amazon has intervened to ensure that customers have been compensated. As the issues were so fewly reported, we don’t think you will have any problems!

How much?

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is very reasonably priced for a telescope of its size. The access to free software and its celestial object tracker makes it excellent value for money. 

While it is more costly than Celestron’s telescopes with smaller apertures, it is an affordable option compared to other 8-inch aperture telescopes. There are, of course, cheaper telescopes on the market, but when you consider the outstanding optics and excellent technology included, the 8SE is a bargain! 

When considering the telescope’s price, it is worth considering any added extras you will need to purchase. Most customers will buy dampers, storage or carry case, and additional lenses. It is a good idea to consider the price of these when deciding the budget for your telescope.

Support?

Celestron knows that not everyone purchasing a telescope is an expert astronomer. They also understand that sometimes, things break. That’s why they offer unlimited access to technical support from a team of US-based experts.

They are on hand to provide any assistance you may require when it comes to your telescope! 

There is also a two-year warranty described as “unbeatable,” allowing you to buy and use your telescope worry-free! Your telescope will last beyond the two-year warranty period, so it is worth considering contacting your home insurance provider to list the telescope as a valuable item.

This can provide you with security and peace of mind that your telescope will always be protected! 

Final Word

As you can see, the Celestron NexStar 8SE has lots of fantastic features that make it an excellent telescope to purchase! While the battery life leaves much to be desired, power adapters are an ideal solution to elongate the battery life and your viewing time of the night sky.

At an affordable price, the NexStar 8SE includes software that enables beginners to understand the night sky and track objects with ease. It is an excellent telescope for beginners and experienced astronomers alike. 

 Compared to smaller telescopes, the Celestron NexStar 8SE will deliver 77% more light to deliver a bright and clear view of the night sky. It is worth considering purchasing the additional power source and vibration dampers to enhance your stargazing experience. 

We are sure that if you purchase the NexStar 8SE, you will love it! What are you waiting for? Purchase the telescope now! 

Andy Morgan

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