Anyone can look up and stare at the stars shining above them as they twinkle in the night sky, but to observe the planets and the more detailed wonders above us you’ll need the help of a high-quality telescope.
Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes (SCT) are the preferred choice for deep-space observation thanks to their large aperture and small, compact design, which makes them easily transported.
You can spend night after night studying the surface of the moon, the planets, stars, and field views (albeit slightly narrow) of deep-sky objects.
They’re not the most affordable choice, and seeing as they’re a high-ticket item it’s important to find the one that best suits your star-gazing needs. That’s why we’ve reviewed five different SCTs for you to see.
We’ve also put together a buyer’s guide to tell you more about what exactly a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope is, why you should consider getting one, and what factors you should look out for when making your decision.
In a hurry?
Shoot for the stars and aim to add the Celestron 8SE computerized telescope to your basket today. Keep reading to find out why.
OUR TOP PICK
From a brand that’s almost as iconic as their orange tube design, our top pick is the Celestron 8SE computerized Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.
The technology has been updated for even better performance and it includes the newest features.
Enjoyed by beginners and more seasoned stargazers alike, this SCT is suitable for both children and adults meaning the whole family can enjoy it.
It’s a great investment and it’s at the more affordable end of the spectrum for those who don’t want to blow the budget.
Assembly and disassembly are a one-person job for user convenience and solo starry nights.
It’s easy to transport the telescope to different locations because of its compact size and because the single fork arm and steel tripod are broken down into individual parts.
You’ll be up and running in no time thanks to the Sky Align technology which calibrates your telescope.
Starry Night software, one of the best systems currently available for interactive sky simulation, is also included for free with your purchase.
The 8-inch aperture primary mirror ensures a high standard viewing quality and allows plenty of light in. Connect via WiFi and you can use Star Sense technology as this is compatible with the telescope.
It also has a fully-automated GoTo mount which tracks celestial movement using their database of over 40,000 space objects, so you can track your target with ease.
- Computerized control system
- Fully-automated GoTo mount for easy tracking and location
- 8-inch aperture
- Features Sky Align technology and Starry Night software
- Easy to assemble and disassemble for convenient portability
- Two-year warranty and unlimited access to technical support
- Requires an AC adaptor which is not included
Next up we have another NexStar telescope from Celestron, but this time with a 6-inch primary mirror and a precision optical system that has a 1500mm focal length.
The aperture is big enough that it’s good quality and you’ll be able to see a number of things through it, but it’s even more small and compact in comparison.
This does mean that you won’t be able to see quite as much as you would with the 8SE telescope, but it still gathers 44% more light than a 5-inch model, and it’s also less expensive which makes up for the lack of light intake.
One feature they share is the fully-automated GoTo mount which is great for beginners especially.
For trips to further afield, this is an easily transportable telescope that is super quick to assemble.
It’s great to take with you for a weekend away camping or if there’s a particular city spot that has the best view of the sky.
Parts of the assembly break down into separate components which makes it easier to pack up and travel with, and it’s super lightweight so you should have no trouble carrying it even on your own.
When you’ve chosen your location, Sky Align will drastically reduce the amount of time it’ll take to set up as it does everything for you, so you’ll be fully aligned in minutes.
Included with the telescope are a red dot StarPointer finderscope, a 25mm Plossl eyepiece, a visual back, and a mirror star diagonal.
You can also purchase additional separate adaptors to connect a DSLR camera in order to take your own photos of what you see using the built-in wedge to polar align the NexStar 6SE.
- Less expensive compared to the 8SE Celestron NexStar telescope
- Comes with accessories included
- Compatible with other popular Celestron accessories such as Star Sense and Auto Align
- Highly portable and great for weekends away
- Makes astroimaging easy
- The alignment process can be tricky
- Some reported issues of power failure
Next, we looked at the Celestron CPC 1100 XLT SCT telescope with a fully computerized dual fork arm Altazimuth mount that features an in-built GPS.
With over 40,000 objects in the database, the 11-inch telescope will reveal the wonders of the sky for you to see.
You can adjust the telescope’s height between 55 and 70 inches which includes the mount and the tripod.
The optical tube is 24 inches in length, 12.3 inches in diameter, and weighs 65 lbs with the mount, although the whole telescope weighs 74 lbs overall.
The focal length is 2,800mm and there’s a 9 x 50 finderscope that helps to find objects with precise detail and high levels of accuracy.
The large aperture does mean it’s more expensive, and this is one of the priciest options we’ve included in this list.
However, it’s still highly portable as it was designed to be taken with you when you’re on the move, so you can star-gaze from whatever location you choose.
This shows in the carry handles that are located on the sides which means it’s easily moved around by one person, rather than needing a whole team to transport it.
Additionally, it features the StarBright XLT optical coating to enhance the transmission of light that travels through the optical pathway to ensure you receive better, higher quality images.
- Built-in GPS
- An 11-inch telescope with a 2,800mm focal length
- You can adjust the height of the mount and tripod
- Highly portable
- StarBright XLT optical coating
- Expensive option
You guessed it, we have another Celestron model for you to consider. The diffraction-limited SCT is 9.25 inches and offers extremely accurate tracking as well as incredibly sharp views.
It features advanced computerized settings such as the fully-automated GoTo mount, which uses a database of 40,000 celestial objects to locate and track them easily for you so you won’t miss a thing, even if you blink.
With GPS technology, you’ll no longer have to worry about manually entering your location as it’s automatically done for you to standards of high levels of accuracy.
SkyAlign makes alignment a simple process after which you’ll be able to see thousands of space-objects.
Just like the previous model, it features StarBright XLT optical coatings for improved images.
The ergonomic design means it’s easily moved around the site for the best view and getting it back home is no issue. You can also control it remotely for added convenience.
- Accurate tracking
- Sharp, clear images
- Automated GoTo mount
- StarBright XLT optical coatings
- Remote controlled
- Smaller aperture than the previous model
- Expensive option
Last on our list is this telescope from Sarblue, an ideal choice for anyone who’s more of a novice astrophysicist.
It’s great for beginners as the lid detaches to reveal the inner workings and clever construction of the scope, which helps you to learn more about how the mechanics work and results in a greater understanding of this tool.
It has a focal length of 750mm and a tube length of just 200mm, it’s the most portable option we’ve included on this list and it’s also the most affordable by far, making it a great budget option for those looking to spend a little less.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s less powerful than it actually is, as looks can be deceiving.
It actually features a high-precision multi-coated optical glass lens to reduce spherical and chromatic aberrations for even sharper images.
You receive a top-quality 20mm wide eyepiece included with the telescope which magnifies the view x 37.5 which makes even the objects at the furthest distance seem sharp and in focus. Even those over 8 meters away are visible to you.
It also comes with a useful phone adaptor, a tabletop tripod, and an erect-image diagonal.
The hassle-free warranty is limited to one year, but you’re entitled to 24-hour customer service should you run into any problems.
- The most affordable option we’ve included
- Great teaching tool thanks to the detachable lid which reveals the mechanics of the telescope
- Multi-coated optical glass lens
- Small and compact for easy transportation
- High-quality eyepiece included
- Can see things up to an 8-meter distance away
- Not the best for astronomical purposes
Best Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope Buying Guide
So, now you’ve seen five of the best Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes that are currently available on Amazon, but you still might not know how to make the right choice for your star-gazing needs, which is where this handy buyer’s guide comes in.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about what a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope is, why you need one, and what factors to look out for when you’re making your decision.
What is a Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope?
It may sound like the name of a character from a TV sitcom, but a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope (SCT) is actually a telescope that allows you to view deep-sky objects in much more detail.
It’s undoubtedly the best choice if you’re hoping to have the best stargazing experience and impressive views of the moon and planets.
There’s an interchangeable eyepiece at the back of the telescope which is where you look into as you direct the front end upwards towards the sky.
In terms of what you can expect to see, on a night with good sky conditions you can make out the colored rings around Jupiter and Saturn.
They might not be as focused as the images you’d get using a refractor, but Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes are the perfect blend of an aperture large enough to provide the detail you want whilst still being relatively compact in size.
Benefits of a Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope
They might be a little more expensive than other telescopes, but there are many advantages to using a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.
The main three benefits are as follows:
- Large aperture. Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes typically offer a larger aperture than refracting telescopes, for example, which allows you to see objects in the sky in more detail.
- Portable. Compared to refractors, they’re slightly smaller in length which is great for storage and transportation. They’re also lightweight which means they’re usually a one-person job to set up and get settled into the right position.
- Minimal chromatic aberration. Unlike refracting telescopes, Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes don’t suffer as much from inaccurate coloring and blurring around the edges of images.
That’s not to say they’re without fault, however. We already mentioned that they were on the pricier side, and it’s worth noting that you could acquire a Newtonian that has the same aperture for less money than an SCT.
They also need to be realigned periodically which can be a complicated process depending on the brand and model, and they have a slightly narrower field of view.
We should add a disclaimer here and state that you can purchase an SCT telescope on its own and decide on the type of mount you want once at a later date.
However, if you want to use it straight away you can mount your SCT to AZ and EQ mounts. Fork-arm mounts are also a common choice, as this allows you to utilize GoTo imaging technology.
The type of mount you prefer will come down to what you’re intending to use your telescope for, but it should always be sturdy enough to carry the weight of your telescope and provide adequate support. If in doubt, it’s better to overmount than to underestimate it and have your telescope topple over.
The more aperture that your telescope has, the more you’ll be able to see. This is because the level of aperture refers to how much light your telescope is able to take in which determines how clearly you’ll be able to see through it.
To be exact, the aperture is the diameter of a telescope’s lens or mirror which acts as the primary optical element. The larger this is, the deeper you’ll be able to dive into the sky to see objects, stars, and planets at far off distances.
City dwellers will definitely reap the rewards of a higher aperture level as it means your telescope will be able to handle the vibrant, bright lights of your metropolis with improved performance.
You’ll still need to tweak a few finer adjustments, but it should make it much easier to see the sky even in highly illuminated locations.
Size and Portability
There are some seriously impressive telescopes available today that come in a range of shapes and sizes, and while it may be tempting to open your eyes as wide as they can go, there are some practicalities you may want to consider first regarding the size of your telescope.
Star-gazing from your backyard is all well and good for an everyday occasion, but sometimes when there are special occurrences taking place or if it’s a little cloudy in your neck of the woods, there might be a need to travel for the best view of the night sky.
In this case, you’ll value being able to easily transport your SCT from one place to another, so you can chase the stars around the sky. Also, consider the weight of the telescope and whether you’ll be able to shift its position once it’s set up to get the optimal view.
Carrying on from the last point, the larger the telescope you choose to go for, the more you’ll end up paying for it. These tend to be more expensive than smaller scopes, but it depends on the brand and the quality of the product.
At the more affordable end of the price range, SCTs tend to be more of a basic model, whereas some of the high-end telescopes are equipped with comprehensive computerized controls or smartphone operation via WiFi.
No matter what size you end up choosing, a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope is not a purchase that’s going to be light on your wallet so it’s important to do your research before you click add to cart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the focus for a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope?
You’ll find the focus behind the primary mirror on a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.
What’s the difference between a Schmidt Cassegrain and a Maksutov Cassegrain telescope?
There are a few key differences that set these two types of Cassegrain telescopes apart.
For example, where a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope has a thinner corrector lens that’s located behind the primary mirror, a Maksutov Cassegrain telescope features a thicker corrector lens that is spherical and replaces the secondary mirror with a small aluminized spot just inside the lens.
The former telescope also has a larger aperture compared to the Maksutov.
Do you have to collimate a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope?
Simply put, yes.
If you want to capture the sharpest images, you’ll need to collimate your SCT as this will ensure optimal optical performance from your telescope.
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