Have you been searching for a new telescope to blow your mind, but to no avail?
Look no further than here, with our review of the Celestron NexStar 8SE Compound Telescope. This telescope is truly ‘out of this world’ and perfect for beginners and avid astronomers alike.
If you’re unsure whether this telescope is for you, we’re here to give you the ‘scope’ and rundown of what’s good, what’s bad, and whether the Celestron Nexstar 8SE is worth your time.
- What Is The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope?
- Key Features
- Where Can I Buy A Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope?
- Celestron NexStar 8SE Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
- How Does It Compare To Celestron’s Other Telescopes?
- What Can You See With The Celestron NexStar 8SE?
- Celestron NexStar 8SE Specs Table
- Magnification Table
- Setting Up The Celestron NexStar 8SE
- How To Use The GoTo Function
- How To Use The Celestron Sky Align Feature
- Astrophotography & The Celestron NexStar 8SE
- Celestron NexStar 8SE Review Summary
- Our Verdict
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope?
The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is one of the largest from Celestron’s NexStar range, and one of the most popular the company manufactures. The NexStar 8SE is a compound and computerized telescope that is aimed at beginners and hobbyists due to its ease of use yet great optical quality.
We found the 8se simple to set up and use, this telescope is a great addition for any avid astronomer, and will truly take your breath away when it comes to using the scope. It’s incredibly impressive considering its price tag, with a range of features and specifications to make star gazing simple, easy and even more enjoyable.
In this review, we will go over what makes the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope great, what flaws it has and give you a comprehensive and candid overview of the product to see if it’s worth your time!
- Easy for basic astrophotography
- Compact, and portable and easy to handle
- Simple to set up
- Perfect for beginners
- Comes with fully automated GoTo mount to select from a database of 40,000 objects, and telescope will automatically point to it
- Schmidt-Cassegrain optics with impressive 8” aperture
- Alt-azimuth mount
Where Can I Buy A Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope?
- Compact, and portable and easy to handle due to being a Schmidt-Cassegrain scope
- Impressive 8” aperture collects up to 77% more light than smaller models
- Computerized scope and mount allows for simple and easy to use object finding and tracking
- Celestrons SkyAlign feature allows for quick and simple alignment to your location
Quick, easy and simple to use. The Celestron 8se is the perfect combination of features and capability for any beginner looking to learn quickly or intermediate looking for their next scope.
*Be sure to check all the links as different stores may offer different promotions or have varying stock levels*
How Does It Compare To Celestron’s Other Telescopes?
The Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope is part of a range of Celestron catadioptric telescopes that come in four different sizes.
A catadioptric telescope is another term for a compound telescope, which is made up of mirrors and lenses to give a longer focal length in a shorter housing.
Within Celestron’s impressive catalog of telescopes, there are 4”. 5”, 6” (See our review here) and 8” models from the NexStar range. As you can imagine, the NexStar 8SE is the largest telescope in this range.
Every telescope in this range comes with motorized tracking, and an altazimuth mount. In addition, the tracking is easy to set up, and the computer that controls the telescope has a database of over 40,000 objects, so you are never limited in what you can find, see and explore.
What sets the Celestron NexStar 8SE apart from others in the NexStar line is that it has 8 inches of aperture and is the largest in the group.
For this reason, it is one of the most competent telescopes to see objects in the sky in no time at all. In addition, it’s not too overpriced or unattainable, and has a computerized motor that will find objects for you.
In comparison to other NexStar models in the range, the NexStar 8SE is by far the most popular as it can collect 77% more light than the smaller models. So, whilst everyone claims this is their favorite Celestron NexStar telescope, let’s see if it’s just right for your needs.
What Can You See With The Celestron NexStar 8SE?
If you can get past the initial collimation, alignment and set up your Celestron NexStar 8SE, you will be able to see so much! For instance, when used correctly, you may be able to see the phases of Mercury and Venus, or the bands of Jupiter, along with it’s cloud belts, moons and disks.
In addition, you may even be able to see the ridges, valleys, mountains, craters and details of the Moon, or Saturn’s rings, cloud belts and moons. Some astronomers may be able to focus upon Neptune, and its moon Triton, along with Uranus and Mars’ dust storms.
You’re not limited in what you can find with this telescope, as you can even explore outside of our solar system, with thousands of galaxies, star clusters and nebulae easy to explore and find with the 8SE’s GoTo feature.
So, let’s take a look at some of the other features in detail that the Celestron NexStar 8SE has to offer.
To help you decide if this telescope is right for you, let’s dive into some of the features and plus points that the Celestron NexStar 8SE has. We’ve picked out some of the key and most important features of the NexStar 8SE for you to consider.
The Celestron NexStar 8SE is equipped with a computer that has a full database of around 40,000 objects to choose from. Whichever one you pick, the telescope will automatically point to the object.
Then, it will automatically track it and all you need to do is look through the eyepiece and you’ll be able to see it. Then, you just operate the telescope with the keypad control on the side.
One of the great advantages of this telescope is that it has a compact design that makes it easy to handle, pack away and take anywhere with you, whether that’s for traveling or for using it in the field.
One of the most impressive features of this telescope is its optical performance.
This telescope has an 8” primary mirror which makes it oh so easy to spot objects. You are able to spot planets such as Pluto with magnitude 14 on this telescope!
With the aperture and focal length, the NexStar 8SE has incredible optics, and can provide you with extremely detailed and brilliant images with great clarity.
Celestron boasts its own Starbright coating that brings you better light transmission for clearer images and much more accurate focus with next to no aberrations.
With its long focal length, you’ll have great viewing and some wonderful magnifications. This works so well because the Celestron NexStar 8SE gathers up to 77% more light than other NexStar models due to the longer optical tube.
This will ensure that the larger aperture with this telescope allows you to see galaxies and nebulae in impressive detail, with high magnification, which is perfect for observing planets and the Moon comfortably and easily.
When it comes to optics, you cannot go wrong with the Celestron NexStar 8SE, as you can see so much with this telescope, and it’s so simple to focus, explore and use.
This is why we recommend this telescope if you enjoy gazing into the night sky, finding planets and galaxies, or you are new to the world of astronomy. It will really broaden your horizons and the images will blow your mind!
By far the greatest feature with the mount is the GoTo technology, that can select up to 40,000 objects and automatically point to it for you to be able to see planets, stars, clusters and galaxies.
This telescope comes with an altazimuth mount, which is easy to move. This mount can be adjusted up or down, left and right, so that you can point the telescope at any part of the sky. However, we found the altazimuth mount took a little bit of extra work to align with the Earth’s angle of rotation.
That being said, as soon as your scope is mounted on this mount, it is ready to use and you can start having some fun with the scope.
What you should know is that the mount can become jiggly in high magnifications, especially if you have heavy accessories.
This mount can take eight AA batteries if you’re on the go, but it is best to use this as a back up, and use a power supply cord instead as if the power is lost, you will need to realign and reboot it anyways.
What we like about this mount is that it has a hand controller that has a catalog of about 40,000 objects to view. What we don’t like about the altazimuth mount is that it’s not great for tracking objects precisely for the purpose of astrophotography however, will do the job for someone beginning to learn.
Upon first opening the box, you will see that the Celestron NexStar 8SE comes with a sturdy metal tripod. The legs are made of 38 mm steel tubes, making them very strong and robust, and they weigh about 9 lbs. You’ll also find the eyepiece in a small tray between the legs.
At the top of the tripod, you have a motorized fork ark, which is another 11 lbs. What this means is that the 8” size of the Celestron NexStar 8SE is not easy to support.
This causes a lot of pressure on the arm, so you may need an additional arm on the other side if you want to avoid any vibration or wobble. We found that with the NexStar 8SE that this can be avoided with either vibration dampening pads or with a motorized focuser to help you out.
Aside from that small hiccup, it’s really easy to use, and anyone will find it simple to align the tracking motor with ease. If you can get past the initial set up and alignment, then the images and performance will be spectacular.
With this telescope, you will get the tripod, the OTA, the mount arm and hand control inside of the box. You’ll also receive a finderscope, a 25mm Plossl eyepiece and the star diagonal.
Whilst the eyepiece that comes with this telescope is fine, and perfect for observing many objects in the sky, you may want to purchase additional ones for better quality images. Check out our recommendations for additional eyepieces here.
Many people enjoy a little astrophotography, and the Celestron NexStar 8SE is great for this purpose, as it provides clear, accurate images. However, there are some limitations, so it is best for casual photographers rather than professionals.
This is largely due to the fact that the tracking motor keeps objects in the eyepiece as they move, which is fine for looking down the lens with the eye, but not great for photographing.
We found that because of the drift of the scope, as the mount does have some issues with vibration and movement which will result in some blur on the images, especially if you want to use long exposure settings.
If you’re just taking images of bright subjects such as the sun or planets, then astrophotography should not be an issue for you with the Celestron NexStar 8SE.
Celestron NexStar 8SE Specs Table
If you want to know what kind of magnification you can achieve with different eyepiece sizes with this telescope, then check out this simple table for guidance.
|25 mm||81 X|
|10 mm||203 X|
Setting Up The Celestron NexStar 8SE
Don’t be alarmed by this telescope’s large 8 inch aperture, the Celestron NexStar 8SE is surprisingly easy to set up and move around. Of course, it comes with a simple to follow instruction manual, and it should not take more than about 20 minutes to an hour to set it up initially and put all of the components together.
We found the hardest part of this process is attaching the actual telescope to the mount, but aside from that, set up is rather simple.
To set up the Celestron NexStar 8SE, you will need to attach the scope of the single armed fork to start with. It’s best to do this on a soft surface in case you drop it or scratch it. Then, you need to lock it in place, before you begin attaching the fork to the stand.
That being said, the Celestron NexStar 8SE is built with to a very high standard and we found it to be very robust and sturdy. However, that does not mean that you can throw it around and not damage it, it just means that a few accidental knocks or bumps here and there will not result in you needing to replace it.
As always with any accidentally knock whilst trying to assemble it is to ensure the mirrors are aligned and to collimate the scope. We have a handy guide on collimation here.
Collimation is simple to do, all you’ll need is a screwdriver, and you will just have to adjust the screws that hold the primary mirror in place. We also advise that you mount the Celestron NexStar 8SE as far forward as possible in its mounting housing position, as this can stop the eyepiece from hitting the mount.
The only issue that you may find with using this telescope is that it can be a bit tricky when it comes to temperature. With catadioptric telescopes, the optical tube is sealed, so the air inside of this tube may take longer to reach the temperature of the outside air.
When there is a stark difference in temperature between the scope and the air, it can become misty and you may find that viewing performance is not as good as it can be.
To avoid this, simply set up your telescope about 3 hours before you want to use it, to let it acclimatize to the weather or temperature outside, or use a dew shield to stop it misting up and affecting your viewing pleasure.
Then, you should be good to go. All you need to do then, is take it down when you’re done, which is super simple as the whole thing packs away neatly so that you can take it on the go with you.
How To Use The GoTo Function
Once you have set up and mounted your Celestron NexStar 8SE, it’s time to start using it! The beauty of the Celestron NexStar 8SE is its GoTo feature, which can find up to 40,000 objects in the universe for you to focus on and examine.
This takes all of the pain out of researching and spending hours trying to locate an object, cluster or planet through map reading. Instead, using the impressive technology of the Celestron NexStar 8SE, you can select the exact object you want to view, and the telescope will find it for you.
The only thing you need to remember is that the GoTo controller is powered by AA batteries and a power supply. If you don’t want to rely upon batteries, then it’s best to use the power cord, but you may find it’s easier to have both, so that you have a back up if one fails or runs out.
The Celestron NexStar 8SE comes with the battery pack, but not a power supply, so it could be worth getting additional equipment such as an AC adapter and a separate power pack. Then, once it’s powered up, you can use the GoTo feature to your heart’s content.
How To Use The Celestron Sky Align Feature
If you’ve assembled the telescope, and you’re ready to try it out, you can start using the SkyAlign feature. However, you have to make sure that the red dot on the finder is properly aligned first, or you may not see results.
Once your telescope is properly aligned, you can turn on the finder and the computer should kick in. After it has loaded, you should get a notification asking if the Celestron NexStar is ready, and press enter when you are ready to begin the alignment process.
From the menu, choose the button that says SkyAlign, and then click on City Database. Then, you will need to search for the country you are in, the state or city in which you reside for the telescope to accurately use the database.
After this, you will need to select your local time in seconds, minutes and hours, or select your time zone if that is easier for you.
Lastly, you will need to enter the date so that you can accurately track the stars and objects in the sky. Once you have made these adjustments and settings, they will remain on your telescope until you choose to change them so that you don’t have to alter it every time you turn it on.
The next step is to point your telescope at the night sky, and identify three celestial objects such as the Sun or stars. Then, you will need to use the directional arrows in order to move the telescope towards the objects, so that it can focus on them and press the ‘align’ button.
This should ‘Match’ the telescope with the night sky, and you will be able to track up to 40,000 celestial objects such as planets, Moons, stars, nebulae and clusters with ease, and the telescope can do all of the searching and finding for you.
Astrophotography & The Celestron NexStar 8SE
The Celestron NexStar 8SE is designed to make things easy for users, and it’s no different when it comes to astrophotography. The NexStar 8SE has a built in wedge to align the telescope, but you will need to purchase an adapter for your camera in order to connect it up to the telescope.
The 8 inch aperture of this telescope makes taking images very easy, but they will not be good enough for professional photographers. If you want to be a serious astrophotographer, then you will not be able to produce long exposure images of celestial objects with this telescope.
The astrophotography capabilities are more limited to fun images and snapshots of what you can see with the telescope, so keep that in mind when deciding whether this telescope is for you.
Celestron NexStar 8SE Review Summary
- Fantastic optics
- Not too expensive
- Low maintenance
- Easy to set up
- Large aperture
- Computerized telescope
- High quality materials
- Compact and portable for traveling
- Simple to use
- Good stand and motor
- GoTo features to easily find objects
- Battery life is not great
- Finder scope can be difficult to align
- Mount is not the steadiest
- Only comes with 1 eyepiece
If you’re looking for a telescope that is designed to make life easier for beginners, and astronomy enthusiasts, then the Celestron NexStar 8SE will be perfect for you.
It’s an exceptional telescope for general purpose, and does not come with a hefty price tag when you consider all of its features and benefits.
For those new to astronomy, then this telescope will be a dream come true. It’s got all of the features such as GoTo technology, and incredible optics due to its 8” aperture, along with the SkyAlign function that makes stargazing and finding celestial objects all too easy.
In addition, it’s simple to set up, easy to use and we found its compact enough to take anywhere with you to start gazing into the night sky wherever you are. In this sense, you cannot go far wrong with the Celestron NexStar 8SE.
The only thing is, if you’re a serious hobbyist, or you are more experienced in astronomy, then you may notice some of the limitations of the Celestron NexStar 8SE.
For instance, it can experience some wobble at higher magnification, as the mount is not the greatest. If you encounter this we recommend picking up a sturdier mount to better suppor the weight. Additionally, it can produce some good images, but it is not specifically designed for astrophotography, so some may struggle with this.
That being said, if you just want to use it to see some accurate, stunning images clearly of the night sky, then you will love the Celestron NexStar 8SE.