If you’re just starting out as an astronomy hobbyist you have two choices when choosing your first telescope. You can choose some mass produced mall store telescope or you can choose a brand like Celestron. The choice might not seem an obvious one at first because of the price difference between a Celestron scope and the mall trashscope costing $50, but you have to take into account that Celestron have been making telescopes since 1964. In fact before Celestron existed as a company the creative force behind this business, Tom Johnson, was manufacturing electronic components for the US military. It was only a twist of fate that caused Tom to start his own telescope business – he’d only intended building a telescope for his kids, but as with most great events he “accidentally” went into the business of making telescopes instead.
So when you’ve shopping for your first real telescope it’s always a good idea to spend your cash on a brand name you recognize and in the world of amateur astronomy there are few other names as well known as Celestron. Basically you know you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck when you buy a Celestron so let’s take a look at today’s review model, the Celestron NexStar 6 SE.
6-inch Catadioptric Telescope
The Celestron NexStar is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, which basically means it has all the best components and qualities from both reflector and refractor telescopes. A compound telescope like this can be far, far more compact than a refractor and doesn’t take up nearly as much space as some of the larger Newtonian telescopes. Normally a telescope with a 6-inch aperture would need to be much larger and not be nearly as portable as a result of that. What you get with the Celestron NexStar telescope is one of the newest compound telescopes in the Celestron range, which features both highly optimized StarBright XLT lens coatings and a computerized system to make lining up stars and planets as easy as pie. The small physical size of this telescope also means that it’s easy to transport around if needs be.
Combining a 6-inch aperture with the supplied 25mm Plossl eyepiece provides you with an effective working magnification of 60x and a maximum magnification level of 459x. Obviously at the higher levels the amount of detail you can see is vastly reduced but within the 60x range of magnification you can enjoy the 44-foot field of view on offer by this scope. If you’ve only ever used refractors telescopes before you’re in for a bit of a treat using a catadioptric scope – there’s just such a huge difference when you stargaze with a “professional” telescope instead. The other benefit of something like the NexStar 6SE is that you can also use it during the day too.
This particular part of Celestron technology allows you to correctly align your Celestron 6SE by simply pointing it at 3 bright stars and letting the computer do the rest of the work. In fact usage has shown that even if you’re dealing with tons of light pollution in your area that SkyAlign can use just two bright stars to align itself with, Polaris being the handiest one. Once the telescope is aligned you’ll find that it will track to whatever planet, star, galaxy or nebula you want to look at almost instantly. This is a big improvement on computerized telescopes from other manufacturers – they take what feels like a mini ice age to get lined up and ready for viewing. The Celestron NexStar system doesn’t suffer from any slow down and while other people are configuring their telescopes SkyAlign will have you online in just minutes.
Instead of relying on printed star charts you can just dial up the celestial body you want to have a look at from the NexStar telescope database of 40,000 objects. Luckily enough the computer is very easy to use and with a bit of practice you’ll be able to call up stellar locations with just one hand. The handheld computer screen is backlit so it’s ideal for being used at night and you can also upgrade the entire computer database through the Internet.
The Celestron NexStar 6SE comes in bright orange, as with others in the Celestron NexStar range. This color might not be your first choice but remember it’s the optics of this telescope that are going to give you the results you’re looking for and not the paint scheme.
This Celestron telescope has the following dimensions:
- Focal length: 1500mm
- Aperture: 150mm (5.91 inches)
- Maximum magnification: 60x
- Weight: 30 pounds in total
You also get a copy of “TheSkyX – First Light Edition” software when you purchase your Celestron NexStar 6SE, which is a nice touch.
- The NexStar telescope computer takes all of the guess work out of finding planets, stars and Messier objects
- You’ll find the NexStar 6SE is also very portable and both easy and quick to set up in the first place
- At above $700 (as of this writing) this isn’t a telescope you want to buy unless you actually plan on using it on a regular basis.
Verdict of the Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope
With a telescope like the Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope it won’t really matter if you’re a bit of an old hand at astronomy or you’re just getting started out with this amazing (and highly educational!) hobby you’ll find that this telescope has something to offer you.