Celestron Nexstar: which model to buy? [Reviewing the SE & SLT range]

2018-10-06T17:08:24+00:00January 25th, 2018|

The Celestron Nexstar range of computerized telescopes are some of the most popular on the market for being some of the highest quality and best value for money.

There are eight telescopes in the range – four in the SE category, and four in the SLT category. Below we break down the differences and analyze what they deliver.

Computerized telescopes seek and find the objects in the sky for you when you enter instructions on a built-in keypad, as opposed to manual telescopes where you seek the objects in the sky yourself. Computerized telescopes can be perfect for beginners, or those just with less time to dedicate to their telescope.

But of the eight telescopes, what are the differences and which one is right for you? Below we outline assess Celstron’s Nexstar SE and Nextar SLT telescopes in turn.

1. Celestron Nexstar SE telescopes – summary table

Make & model
Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope
Celestron NexStar 5 SE Telescope
Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope
Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope
Celestron NexStar 5 SE Telescope
Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope
Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope
Telescope type
Maksutov-Cassegrain
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture
4 inch
5 inch
6 inch
8 inch
Focal length
1325 mm (52 in)
1250 mm (49 in)
1500 mm (59 in)
2032 mm (80 in)
Weight
11 lbs (4.99 kg)
17.6 lbs (7.98 kg)
21 lbs (9.53 kg)
33 lbs (15 kg)
Prime status
Customer rating
Price
from $399.00
$599.00
from $410.99
$999.00
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope
Telescope type
Maksutov-Cassegrain
Aperture
4 inch
Focal length
1325 mm (52 in)
Weight
11 lbs (4.99 kg)
Prime status
Customer rating
Price
from $399.00
More information
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 5 SE Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 5 SE Telescope
Telescope type
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture
5 inch
Focal length
1250 mm (49 in)
Weight
17.6 lbs (7.98 kg)
Prime status
Customer rating
Price
$599.00
More information
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope
Telescope type
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture
6 inch
Focal length
1500 mm (59 in)
Weight
21 lbs (9.53 kg)
Prime status
Customer rating
Price
from $410.99
More information
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope
Telescope type
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture
8 inch
Focal length
2032 mm (80 in)
Weight
33 lbs (15 kg)
Prime status
Customer rating
Price
$999.00
More information

Last update on 2018-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Celestron Nexstar SE range – detailed reviews

The Celestron Nexstar SE range of computerized telescopes has four different models. These are the 4SE, 5SE, 6SE and 8SE.

The numbering – 4, 5, 6 or 8 – refers to the size of the aperture of the telescope. So the 4SE has a 4-inch aperture, the 5SE 5 inches etc.

2.1 Power & light-gathering capacity – what you will be able to see

The higher the number, the wider the aperture, the greater the light gathering capabilities, and the greater the performance of the telescope to see objects in space.

Therefore, the 8SE is more powerful than the 6SE, and the 6SE is more powerful than then 5SE, and so on. In effect, this means that with a more powerful telescope the objects you are brighter and easier to see.

This is obviously one of the most important factors to consider when buying a telescope – what will you be able to see through it and what are its limits?

All four of the telescopes will enable you to see the planets in our Solar System, detail on the moon and even far off galaxies and deep sky objects. The difference between the four telescopes is that with each step up in size from the 4SE to the 8SE, the clearer and brighter these objects will appear.

The telescopes are programmed with a database of 40,000+ objects in space that can be automatically located and tracked.

Of course, there are other factors that will affect what you will be able to see through your telescope, particularly your location and how much light pollution you might have to deal with (this is particularly an issue around big cities). In fact, some argue that if you live in cities you could favor the smaller 4SE or 5SE models as any additional power above the 5SE will not be effective as light pollution will cancel it out.

This should not be your only consideration though. It is worth thinking about the size and weight of the telescope and whether you need it to be portable. A smaller telescope is much easier to move around and take on trips.

2.2 Ease of use

This range of telescopes is designed to be as easy as possible for set up and use and so can be suitable for beginners. 

Less experienced users will have some learning to do to align the telescope, but the process is about as easy as it gets.

Some basics of the Nexstar SE range are covered in this Celestron video:

2.3 Budget

Another consideration is, of course, price. The cost of these telescopes increases from the smallest model (the 4SE) in steps up to the largest model (the 8SE).

For most people, these telescopes would make reasonable investments and so be sure to think about what your budget is.

2.4 Accessories

Further to this, something that you might not think about is the accessories that you might want to add on:

  • If you think you will want to transport it around then you might need a case – like this one from Celestron
  • An eyepiece and filter set
  • Anti-vibration pads
  • If you are interested in using your camera with your telescope to take photos of what you can see then you will need a T-adapter and T-ring. (The links provided here are for DSLR cameras and so be sure to find the right parts tailored for your camera.)
  • Also, rather than constantly running the telescope on batteries you may also want to get an electricity adapter. Note that tripods are included with each of the telescopes though.

2.5 Key Differences

  • Celestron NexStar 4SE
    • Pros: Smallest and most portable. Most affordable. Easy to use
    • Cons: Most limited in terms of what you will be able to see. Many of the objects in the database will appear quite dim.
  • Celestron Nexstar 5SE
    • Pros: Upgrade from the 4SE in terms of power and performance. Still relatively light and portable.
    • Cons: A little extra weight and extra cost when compared to the 4SE
  • Celestron Nexstar 6SE
    • Pros: More powerful than the 5SE still. Still relatively light and portable.
    • Cons: More expensive, but substantially cheaper than the 8SE.
  • Celestron Nexstar 8SE
    • Pros: Most powerful, providing the best images of deep sky objects and capable of facilitating astrophotography of galaxies and nebulae.
    • Cons: Most expensive, heaviest and least portable.

3. Celestron Nexstar SLT telescopes – summary table

Make & model
Celestron NexStar 90SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Celestron NexStar 102 SLT Computerized Telescope
Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 90SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Celestron NexStar 102 SLT Computerized Telescope
Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope
Telescope type
Computerized, Maksutov-Cassegrain
Computerized, Refractor
Computerized, Maksutov-Cassegrain
Computerized, Newtonian Reflector
Aperture
90mm (3.5 inch)
102 mm (4.02 inch)
127mm (5 inch)
130 mm (5.12 in)
Focal length
1250mm
660 mm (26 in)
1500 mm (59 in)
650 mm (26 in)
Weight
11.99 pounds
14 pounds
20 pounds
20 pounds
Customer rating
Prime status
Price
from $329.95
$424.99
from $314.86
from $314.86
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 90SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Preview
Celestron NexStar 90SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Telescope type
Computerized, Maksutov-Cassegrain
Aperture
90mm (3.5 inch)
Focal length
1250mm
Weight
11.99 pounds
Customer rating
Prime status
Price
from $329.95
More information
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 102 SLT Computerized Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 102 SLT Computerized Telescope
Telescope type
Computerized, Refractor
Aperture
102 mm (4.02 inch)
Focal length
660 mm (26 in)
Weight
14 pounds
Customer rating
Prime status
Price
$424.99
More information
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Preview
Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak Computerized Telescope (Black)
Telescope type
Computerized, Maksutov-Cassegrain
Aperture
127mm (5 inch)
Focal length
1500 mm (59 in)
Weight
20 pounds
Customer rating
Prime status
Price
from $314.86
More information
Make & model
Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope
Preview
Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope
Telescope type
Computerized, Newtonian Reflector
Aperture
130 mm (5.12 in)
Focal length
650 mm (26 in)
Weight
20 pounds
Customer rating
Prime status
Price
from $314.86
More information

Last update on 2018-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Celestron Nexstar SLT telescopes – detailed reviews

The Celestron Nexstar SLT range are also computerized telescopes with four different models. These are the SLT 90, SLT 130, SLT 102 and SLT 127.

“SLT” stands for “Star Locating Telescope”. These a range of refractor, reflector, and Maksutov Cassegrain telescopes. If you want to read more about different types of telescopes and what it means, see our guide on ‘what to look for when buying a telescope’.

The numbering – 90, 130, 102, 127 – refers to the aperture of the telescope as measured in millimeters (rather than inches, for the SE telescopes above).

4.1 Power & light-gathering capacity – what you will be able to see

The SLT range of telescopes are generally less powerful than the SE range but are still quality pieces of equipment that offer the capability of seeing the planets, stars, and galaxies in the night sky.

The in-built computer comes with a database of 4000 objects (compared to 40,000 for the Nexstar SE range).

4.2 Ease of use

Similar to the SE telescopes, the SLTs are computerized which takes a lot of the difficulty out of finding objects in space.

They are relatively light and portable – especially the 90SLT and 127SLT.

Some basics of the Nexstar SLT range are covered in this Celestron video:

4.3 Budget

The SLT telescopes are generally cheaper than the SE range (although prices for the 4SE and 5SE are currently comparable).

4.4 Accessories

The SLT telescopes also come equipped with tripods but these are notably less sturdy than those that come with the SE.

It is recommended to get an electricity adapter to save you from getting through loads of batteries, and a case so that you can pack it up and carry it with you on trips.

 

4.5 Key Differences

  • Celestron NexStar 90SLT
    • Pros: Small and portable, good quality for the money
    • Cons: Some far-off objects may appear dim
  • Celestron Nexstar 102SLT
    • Pros: Relatively small and portable
    • Cons: Some far-off objects may appear dim
  • Celestron Nexstar 127SLT
    • Pros: Small and portable, more powerful than the similar 90SLT
    • Cons: Greater investment required but worth considering the 4SE at a similar price bracket
  • Celestron Nexstar 130SLT
    • Pros: Relatively inexpensive in relation to the power it offers.
    • Cons: Fairly large and heavy

5. Conclusion: Which Celestron Nexstar is right for me?

It’s worth thinking about whether a computerized telescope is right for you. The main benefit is that they make it easier to find what you want to see in the sky and make it so that you can see much more in a session than you would be able to if you were having to find them manually. The downside is that this automation can take out much of the challenge which is actually the driver behind you learning how to be an astronomer.

There is some more analysis of this covered in this article, which also covers some of the alternatives to the Celestron Nexstar range – see the ten best computerized telescopes in 2018.

If a computerized telescope is for you, then the Celestron Nexstar SE range can make a perfect option and come in a range of budgets. If you are a beginner then we’d recommend going for the 4SE or 5SE models. They should give you the power you need and them being smaller and more portable is a huge advantage. You can always upgrade later if you feel you have pushed their limits and they tend to have good second-hand resale value on eBay if you take good care of them.

For further details on these telescopes, you can also check out Celestron’s website.

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