Celestron NexStar 8SE Review
Telescopes

Introduction

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is the biggest telescope of the iconic orange tube family made by Celestron.

This telescope is aimed for beginners and hobbyist that want a tool with great optical quality and a lot of light-gathering power.

In this review and buying guide, we will cover all the fundamentals aspects of the telescope and give you our recommendations and conclusions so you can do a well rounded buying decision. 

Key Features:

Fully Automated GoTo Mount: With this system, you will be able to select through a database of 40 000 + objects, push a button and the telescope will automatically point to it (prior a Star Alignment set up).

Compact and Portable: Thanks to its compact form factor this telescope is easy to handle and great for camping trips or taking the telescope to the outdoors.

Schmidt-Cassegrain Optics: Excellent 8-inch aperture with good light-gathering power that will provide impressive views from the Moon, planets and deep-sky objects while keeping and compact form factor.

Easy for Astrophotography: The NexStar SE family comes with a built-in wedge to polar align the telescope. Adding an inexpensive camera adaptor will let you connect your mirrorless or DSLR camera and start taking Astro images.

Extended capabilities with compatible accessories: The telescope is compatible with Celestron’s most popular accessories like the StarSense Autoalign and GPS SkySinc. See our recommendations below.

telescope aperture

APERTURE

203.2mm

telescope focal length

FOCAL LENGTH

2032mm

Motorized telescope

MOTORIZED

Yes

Mount Type

Mount type

Alt-Azimuth

OPTICS
99%
BUILD AND CONSTRUCTION
95%
PORTABILITY
90%
VALUE
98%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Fantastic quality of materials
  • Very Good stand and motor
  • Easy to set up and easy to store (great for traveling)
  • Super easy to use
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • The controller doesn’t perform well in very cold wather
  • Battery Life
  • The finder scope is a little difficult to align

What To expect from de Celestron NexStar 8SE? 


This telescope is aimed for serious observers and beginners that want to start with a telescope that will provide years of stargazing experience before the need to upgrade to a more capable tool.

The idea behind this design is to offer a rounded product that will make you start tracking planets and objects in a quick and friendly manner.

You can expect a very capable telescope that will be packed with great features, making your life easier as a beginner / intermediate astronomer.

Celestron NexStar 8SE Review Optics

Optics:

The primary mirror is an 8-inch aperture (203.2mm) that can gather a lot of light in a compact tube design. The optical tube is surprisingly light making it is easy to assemble.

The optics on this telescope are great value for the money thanks to the StarBright XLT optical coating that enhances light transmission and results in a much brighter image. 

Computer:

The NexStar 8SE GoTo Telescope comes with a computer packed with a database of more than 40 000 objects to select from a menu and the telescope will automatically point to it.

When it finishes tracking look through the eyepiece and that’s it. You will operate everything through the NexStar Keypad Control.

Celestron NexStar 8se Computer
Celestron NexStar 8SE Mount

Mount:

The single NexStar fork arm is a fully automated GoTo mount that includes “SkyAlign” technology. This is the Celestron’s easy to use alignment system.

The mount is very solid and stable and the package comes with a sturdy tripod included.

Portability

This telescope has a clever design. First, the compact form factor leaving you with a big aperture like this in an easy to handle package size. And on top of that, the optical tube is lightweight.

The whole telescope brakes down to separate lightweight pieces making it easy to handle and ideal to travel with or take it to the field.

 

Using the SkyAlign Technology

First, assemble the telescope and make sure the red dot finder is properly aligned. Turn on the finder and the handheld computer will star verifying the packages.

When the notification is NexStar ready press the enter button to start the alignment process.

Select SkyAlign from the Menu and choose City Database. Search the country, state and city you are in. Next enter the local time in hours, minutes and seconds and select the time zone. Finally, enter the date.

The good news is that the controller saves a preset and makes eve easier next time you need to align the telescope.

Now take a look at the night sky and recognize 3 bright celestial objects (Any bright star works).

Use the directional buttons to move the telescope to the first object and press enter.

Using the same procedure drive the telescope to the objects 2 and 3. With the third object, you will press align.

And that’s it, the controller will pop a message “Match Confirmed”. Easy as that you are now able to enjoy tracking 40 000 celestial objects with the click of a button.

Here’s a quick video with the alignment procedure.

What Can you see with the NexStar 8SE?

With the NexStar 8SE you can expect to see amazing views of the Moon, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars and the great Orion Nebula.

You will be able to explore most of our solar system and if the conditions are good (mostly outdoors away from the cities without light pollution) you can dive into deep space objects. Just don’t expect perfect images from the Hubble.

Celestron NexStar 8SE for Astrophotography

Celestron made things easy for those wanting to get into Astrophotography. The NexStar SE family comes with a built-in wedge to polar align the telescope. The only thing you will need to buy is a camera adapter (there are cheap options) and connect your DSLR or Mirrorless camera. Just keep in mind that the wedge is not high quality.

Besides the easy setup, thanks to the 8-inch aperture you will be set with a very capable telescope that will let you take details images of the moon, planets and some messier objects.

That said, this is not the ideal telescope if your purpose is to get serious with Astrophotography. the first problem you will have is the limitation of long exposure photography.

You need to decide if you are planning to do some Astro images just for fun (the NexStar 8SE is more than capable of that) or you are planning to get serious about it. For the second case, we recommend a refractor telescope and a computerized equatorial mount designed for astrophotography.

If you want to learn more and see specific recommendations you can read our telescopes for astrophotography buying guide.

Helpful Resources

Here are some useful links for NexStar 8SE owners:

Recommended Accessories:

 

Power

You need to power the telescope to work. Some higher Celestron Models will let you rotate the telescope manually but with the NexStar 8SE you will need power all time. 

The most typical scenario is to use 8 AA batteries that the telescope will drain very quickly. So if you are traveling or camping with the telescope you have a couple different options: 

Get the 12-volt adaptor for the car charging and a 12-volt extension, works great.

Get a power device like the Yeti 400. It can be charged via solar and it can run the telescope a week long. 

Lenses

We recommend two lenses instead of the Celestron’s Lens Kit. For wider views the 32 mm wide angle lens.

For close-ups the batter zoom will give you the ability to start wide, find what you are looking at and them Zoom in. We prefer this options rather than the Celestron Lens kit. Is more convenient to work with one lens leaving out the need to change constantly from the kit from Celestron. 

Finders 

Although the provided red dot finder that comes with the Celestron NexStar 8SE will get the job done, the Tel Rad Finder has a much wider view of the night sky and we found it easier to use. 

GPS SkySync Unit.

While is definitely pricey. The GPS SkySync is a great accessory that will save you a lot of time. You just enter the time and location.

Storage

At first, you can use the provided cardboard boxes that come with the telescope for storage. But if you are planing to move the telescope constantly you should probably consider buying the telescope with the Celestron Case bundle

Recommended Accessories:

Power

You need to power the telescope to work. Some higher Celestron Models will let you rotate the telescope manually but with the NexStar 8SE you will need power all time. 

The most typical scenario is to use 8 AA batteries that the telescope will drain very quickly. So if you are traveling or camping with the telescope you have a couple different options: 

Get the 12-volt adaptor for the car charging and a 12-volt extension, works great.

Get a power device like the Yeti 400. It can be charged via solar and it can run the telescope a week long. 

Lenses

We recommend two lenses instead of the Celestron’s Lens Kit. For wider views the 32 mm wide angle lens.

For close-ups the batter zoom will give you the ability to start wide, find what you are looking at and them Zoom in. We prefer this options rather than the Celestron Lens kit. Is more convenient to work with one lens leaving out the need to change constantly from the kit from Celestron. 

Finders 

Although the provided red dot finder that comes with the Celestron NexStar 8SE will get the job done, the Tel Rad Finder has a much wider view of the night sky and we found it easier to use. 

GPS SkySync Unit.

While is definitely pricey. The GPS SkySync is a great accessory that will save you a lot of time. You just enter the time and location.

Storage

At first, you can use the provided cardboard boxes that come with the telescope for storage. But if you are planing to move the telescope constantly you should probably consider buying the telescope with the Celestron Case bundle

Conclusion

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is the best telescope for general purpose. It offers a complete package at an affordable price.

If you plan to get serious and plan to do only deep-sky observations or want to do Astrophotography at a more professional level you will find limitations with this telescope. But keep in mind you will need to go after bigger telescopes that can take the cost up to 3x times or more.

For those starting with Astronomy and serious hobbyist, there’s no doubt this telescope will deliver. Celestron produced a great product that solves all the components needed to start stargazing.

In our opinion, if you fall in those categories you can’t go wrong with this telescope.

We hope you found this review useful. If you already have the NexStar 8SE GoTo telescope be sure to share your viewing experience and you comments and review with the form below.

Clear skies!

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