Celestron Nexstar 8se Review

The Celestron Nexstar 8se is a great computerized telescope for beginners and those more experienced in astronomy but for the reasonable price of a telescope of this quality grade, you’ll have to accept that upgrades and readjustments must be done to really achieve optimal use out of it.

The NexStar 8SE is one of the lowest-priced models that Celestron has available in the Schmidt-Cassegrain range. The 8se offers pretty robust construction and should serve you well if you plan on taking it on excursions.

Specifications

  • Telescope Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Mount: Altazimuth with Goto motorized tracking
  • Focal Length: 2032mm (80")
  • Aperture: 203.2mm (8")
  • Focal Ratio: f10
  • Maximum Theoretical Magnification: 400x (5mm eyepiece)
  • Useful Maximum Magnification: 300x (7mm eyepiece)

Key Features

  • 203mm Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
  • 2032mm Focal Length, f/10 Focal Ratio
  • StarBright XLT Optical Coating System
  • Single-Fork Motorized GoTo Alt-Az Mount
  • 25mm Eyepiece and StarPointer Finder
  • SkyAlign Alignment Technology
  • NexStar+ Computer Hand Controller
  • 40,000+ Object Database with Sky Tours
  • Stainless Steel Tripod


Pros:

  • Good optics
  • Easy to set up (if had a telescope before)
  • Good for beginners
  • Good value for money
  • Can take photos with camera or phone
  • Tripod is pretty stable
  • Good software

Cons:

  • Needs another power source
  • Eyepiece vibration on focusing
  • Takes up a lot of space

Celestron Nexstar 8se Buying Guide

Mount

The  Nexstar 8SE only comes with a single-arm, so you will have some vibration when you adjust the focus of the scope. You’ll need to invest in some vibration suppression pads to alleviate any movement of the scope if this is something that will bother you a lot.

Otherwise, you can always just take more time and breaks between adjusting the focus to allow the eyepieces vibrations to stop.

If you are using any extra heavy accessories on your telescope or have the legs fully extended, then it can be a bit jiggly. You’ll need to take care with the scope as it is easy to knock out of alignment.

Optics

The optical tube for the 8SE is basically just a revised and upgraded version of Celestron’s C8 telescope which has been around for ages. The optics of the 8SE are well made and provide good image clarity and detail.

The combination of the 8” aperture and the focal length will allow you to see sightings of planets and the moon and because you have a larger aperture you’ll be able to achieve sights of dimmer objects like galaxies.

Lens has a short eye-relief distance meaning you have to have your eye right up against it to get a clear focus, which if you wear glasses can be very hard.

We advise you to buy a binocular eyepiece adapter and also their 24mm and their 8mmm eyepiece lenses which offer more comfortable viewing if you wear glasses or contact lenses

Set-up & Usability

For inexperienced astronomers and astrologers, the NexStar 8SE can take a while to assemble and align and may require some viewings of YouTube videos to help you along the way as the written manual can be difficult to comprehend if you have no idea.

For those who’ve never used a scope before, you should set aside at least an hour to be able to set everything up properly before you can start viewing.

You have to enter your location, date, and time every time you want to align your scope as it won’t automatically save and reload your previous location, which is a bit frustrating.

If this is a big turn-off for you, you can buy a separate GPS accessory that will automatically input your data into the telescope's computer. When aligning your telescope you’ll want to do so in a dimly lit area, if your backyard has a lot of light pollution it will be difficult to align.

Portability

Whilst you’ll be able to move it from site to site with you, you’ll have to do so with the accompaniment of many boxes. It’s not light, so not ideal if you’re hiking or constantly on the go and what to observe the night skies.

It would probably be easier to transport the scope and mount as one piece rather than taking it apart every time. However, it does take up a lot of space so unless you have a decently large designated area to keep your mount and scope you’ll have to take it apart and keep it in the storage box.

The 8SE telescope kit we bought only came with a case for the accessories to be stored in so there was no included carry case for the scope itself. We’d recommend stretching your budget to accommodate the price of a designated Nexstar scope carry bag to keep everything safe and secure when you’re not using it.

You can find it here.

Power

The 8SE mount is powered by 8 AA batteries but we recommend getting a 12-volt DC portable power supply and cord if you want to be able to use it when you’re not at home.

However, even when you’re using the telescope plugged into a power supply, you should keep the batteries in the battery compartment of the scope just in case the power supply is off from a plug, there is no internal backup and you’ll have to completely reboot the scope.

Running the scope off battery power will only end in disaster as they eat through it very quickly, so play a smart move and purchase a power cable.

Please be aware that Celestron does not include a power supply with the 8SE so you’ll need to buy one of your own. We recommend buying a long cord to go with it so you won’t pull it out of the plug when moving your scope around inside and outside.

Software

The Nexstar database software that comes with it is designed for Windows operating systems and is great for beginners who are just getting into astronomy.

Those who are looking to progress can find compatible software that will be able to control the goto motor and also link your scope to an app to control where it is pointing to.

Astrophotography

As the 8SE has a computerized GOTO tracking motor, it will keep objects in your eyepiece which is great if you’re just viewing the night sky. However, if you do want to capture some photos the mount will limit you as your images will be slightly blurred or having trails on them.

However, if you want to guarantee capturing good lunar and planetary photos and videos, you will need to attach your DSLR or CCD camera onto a t adapter or an equatorial mount.

CCD cameras or DSLR can be used with it but will require 2x or 3x Barlow lenses. You can also connect the scope directly to your cell phone and take your photos that way as well. 

If you want to achieve astrophotographs of Orion Nebula or Andromeda galaxies, you’ll need to purchase Celestron’s f/6.3 reducer to keep exposure times between 20 to 30 seconds, any longer than that and the rotation of the mount will cause the images to drag.

If you’ve bought this telescope for the astrographic features then you may want to consider investing a bit more money in an auto star finder to make it easier to spot smaller objects.

Warranty

Like most Celestron telescopes the 8SE offers a 2-year warranty that will cover any repairs or damages that may occur in your first couple of years owning it.

If there are any minor repairs needed to not attempt to do it yourself as if something bad happens, the warranty will no longer cover it.

What can you see with the Celestron Nexstar 8se?

  • The cloud bands around Jupiter
  • Jupiter’s moons
  • Saturn’s surface bands
  • Cassini Division and rings
  • Saturn’s moons
  • Galaxies and Nebulae
  • On a clear night, you can see the entire catalog of the Messier catalog.
Gordon Watts
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