Perfect for beginners or amateur hour disaster? Today we're reviewing Celestron's Nexstar 4se Telescope
Many long term stargazers wince at the idea of a 'compact, computerized telescope'.
Many of us have been burned by that promise over the years. However, initial reports on Celestron's Nexstar range have been really promising.
This small telescope offers up to 102mm aperture, comes with a point and track database of over 40,000 items, and has an easy no-tool setup even beginners can handle.
In today's article, we'll be discussing the Nexstar 4se from Celestron. We'll be looking at whether it is the 'on-the-go' masterpiece everyone claims it to be. We will also be exploring whether this is a great beginners' telescope or if it's another XL kids toy charging adult prices.Read on to find out what we think of the Nexstar 4se from Celestron….
The Nexstar 4se is the smallest of the four telescopes in the Nexstar range. It is a 4-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope with Starbright XLT high transmission coating on the lens. It has an internal flip mirror for ease of use.
The telescope is equipped with an internal battery and handy tool tray. It has an ultra-sturdy, steel tripod. This tripod is suitable for a large range of terrains and packs down into a compact bundle.
Assembly is quick and easy. It requires no tools. The mount is quick-release and easy to adjust to the user's height.
When it is fully assembled it weighs 21 lbs. Its full height is roughly 32 inches. It requires 8 AA batteries to run on the go, but can also be plugged in when used at home.
The 4se comes with Celestron's patented Nexstar computerized system. This includes a database with over 40,000 objects. There is also space for the user to add up to 200 extra objects into this database.
The scope is GPS compatible and has unrivaled star finding technology. The 4se is also capable of taking and downloading high-res photos. The control panel on the telescope is backlit with LED lights for ease of use in dark locations.
An RS-232 cable is provided to allow advanced control from your computer.
The Nexstar 4se comes with a 2-year warranty and unlimited technical support from 'US-based' experts.
This model also comes with a free CD-ROM that includes educational material and worksheets to help little ones fall in love with stargazing (or to perhaps reignite a fire in you).
- Lightweight, and easy to travel with
- Stable tripod
- Top of the range technology takes all the frustration out of stargazing
- SkyAlign offers a 40,000 item database and is a point and track system
- SkyAlign has space to store up to 200 extra items chosen and recorded by the user
- Sealed scope
- Starbright XLT high transmission coating prevents scratching
- The website offers an in-depth catalog of support material
- DSLR photo support mode
- Free, downloadable upgrades for hand console and many other items
- GPS compatibility
- Impressive optics for a small and portable machine
- 2-year warranty
- Unlimited technical support
- Customer service can be a little difficult to deal with.
- Battery operated (8 AA batteries)
- SkyAlign can take a while to set up
Celestron Nexstar 4se Review Buying Guide
Let's get down to brass tacks and talk about the Nexstar 4se's optics.
If you're a beginner, you'll find the 4se's 102mm aperture more than long enough. Whilst it isn't anywhere near the longest on the market, 102mm is a lot longer than what most other portable telescopes offer.
Its focal length is also respectable, coming in at a solid 1325mm. It offers 241x High Theoretical Magnification and general Magnification of 52x. Both of these are, again respectable and pretty impressive on a portable scope.
This is a Maksutov-Cassegrain model scope (as opposed to a Newtonian scope). This is great news for beginners. Maksutov-Cassegrain scopes need to be adjusted a lot less frequently than their Newtonian counterparts.
Celestron coats their 4se lens with Starbright XLT high transmission coating. Not only does this make it easier to see through but it also protects it from the elements when stargazing outdoors. The scope itself has an airtight seal that prevents dust from getting into the lens.
There is also an internal flip mirror that allows the user to flip images at 90 and 180 degrees whenever they wish.
Ease of Use
If you're looking for something super portable that still packs a punch then this might be the perfect scope for you. The 4se is lightweight, easy to pack down, and still smart enough to take the hassle out of stargazing for any beginner.
This isn't the most powerful scope in our kit, but it's the one we always bring out with us for trips (particularly ones that involve a little bit of hiking to get to the view point).
Is this an easy telescope to use?
Yes, even beginners are going to have an easy time with this one. There is a reason Celestron have been market leaders for decades. They know how to build high-quality, easy to use, impressive scopes.
And if you ever get confused just jump on their website. They have a mind-blowing catalog of resources on there that will help you with any of your issues.
This really is a great choice and investment for beginners. Even as your skills outgrow using this as your main telescope you will still be able to use it as a travel tool. You will always have a use for it.
Now, let's dive into the details of the Nexstar 4se's computerized elements.
Celestron's SkyAlign technology is some of the best in the business. It offers point and tracking for the 40,000 celestial bodies in its database. Access to which is included with your purchase.
It also offers the fantastic ability to record and add up to 200 extra items of your own choice to your database (good on you if you can discover 200 new stars, don't forget to thank us in any acceptance speeches!).
To get the most out SkyAlign you will need to know your precise location and time. Thankfully the 4se is GPS compatible. We recommend setting this one up before sunset, so you have time to get SkyAlign running perfectly.
This software also offers you the opportunity to remotely direct your telescope from your computer - using an RS-232 cable (this comes with purchase).
The 4se has a setting that allows you to take assisted photos with your camera. With a few tweaks, you can set the telescope up to boost the zoom on a DSLR. This combination can lead to some breathtaking long exposure shots of the night sky. Particularly the Milky Way.
The Nexstar 4se has a side control panel that can be used from any location. The buttons on this panel are backlit by LED lights. This makes it possible to use them, even in pitch black locations.
The 4se also comes with Flash upgradeable hand control software. Celestron is constantly putting out free updates for their devices. Simply plug your telescope into your computer and upgrade at your leisure.
The telescope also comes with a free CD-ROM which contains a printable sky map, some awesome worksheets, and tons of educational material about space and the night sky.
Other features include:
- DC Servo motors with encoders on both axes
- Remote shutter release features
- GPS compatibility with optional CN16 GPS accessory
Celestron is a bit hit and miss when it comes to customer support.
On the one hand, they have a fantastically in-depth website that can talk you through nearly any possible problem you might have. There are troubleshooting articles and a catalog of videos talking you through how to use their products.
Unfortunately, their service over the phone isn't quite as good as their website. We found them to be a little curt and disinterested. We can't speak for all their operators.
Another huge plus is Celestron's corner is that they offer a very inclusive 2-year warranty. Not that we'll think you'll need it with a product made this well.
Celestron is one of the leading names in Telescopes right now and has been since they formed in the 1960s. They are an innovative company, based in the United States. So, it's no surprise to us that this is a great product.
This is marketed at beginners, but it's so well designed that it would make a valuable addition to any Stargazers kit. For the price, you'll struggle to find a better on the go tool.
Yes, Celestron's customer service does leave a little to be desired. But, these machines are so well made that we doubt you'll ever have to interact with them. We'll be honest, for a machine this good, at this price… we'd put up with a lot worse.
So, is the Celestron Nexstar 4se the perfect telescope for beginners?
Yes, and it's so much more…