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Jul 30

Telescope Reviews: Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

Celestron is one of the oldest manufacturers of telescopes in the United States, having gone into business in 1955. Interestingly enough when Tom Johnson first started his business it was actually known as Valor Electronics and manufactured electronic components for the US military. It was only when he built a telescope for his sons in 1964 that he realized that there was a market for such things and as luck would have it he also realized that there was also a demand for Schmidt-Cassegrain (compound) telescopes at the same time.

So from 1964 onwards Valor Electronics was rebranded to Celestron Telescopes and remained in business until 1997 when they were takeover by Tasco and then in 2005 a company called Synta, a Taiwanese manufacturer of astronomy equipment and components, bought the Celestron brand and business. Sadly Tom Johnson, the founder of Celestron, only passed away very recently in March 2012 but his legacy lives on in every single Celestron telescope that’s pointed up at the sky each night.

Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

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Schmidt-Cassegrain

So the Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope eh? So what exactly does that mean then? This type of telescope is known by a few different names and you might have heard the term catadioptric telescope, and if not then you’ll definitely have heard the term compound telescope before. That’s all that a Schmidt-Cassegrain actually is. The internals of this Celestron NexStar 8SE combines the best of what goes into a refractor telescope with the best of any reflector scope also, this combination giving a lower cost per aperture and impressive results too. Plus there’s also the advantage that you can use this telescope during the day or at night – you get a double whammy there in terms of overall value.

Motorized Celestial Fun

It’s the dream of any kid who has ever wanted a telescope to own one of the computer controlled models like the Celestron NextStar Telescope. So when you’ve become an adult (against your will, we know!) and want to treat yourself to something then this Celestron telescope is a great option. Well you can use the excuse that you’re buying it for “the kids” but you’re going to use it yourself too obviously. That’s no harm either – it beats turning your brain into goo by sitting and watching hours of bad news reports and Jersey Shore. Education stimulates the mind and gazing out into the universe is a great start!

The GoTo Computer

Now obviously a motorized telescope is very little use without a computer to control its motion and to help you pick out those planets and stars you’ve always wanted to take a look at. The GoTo computer has a database with over 40,000 celestial objects included in it and can even provide you with some basic info on whatever star or planet you’re currently focused on. In addition to this you can also connect a DSLR camera to this telescope and use the GoTo computer to trigger the shutter on the camera to take pictures. Please bear in mind that the computer needs 8 x AA batteries and you’d best make sure these are high-quality batteries because the Celestron NexStar 8 eats lesser batteries for breakfast! The computer with this telescope is also flash upgradeable and can be connected to an external power source, such as a PowerTank, to save you a small fortune on buying and carrying replacement batteries around with you.

8-Inch Telescope

The gaping 203.2mm (8-inch) aperture of the Celestron 8 gives you an idea of what to expect when you’re looking through it. When you’re looking for the best possible sky gazing experience then you tend to get better results from a more expensive telescope with a bigger aperture, and of course the GoTo technology helps here too. The optics in the NexStar 8SE are coated with the StarBright XLT advanced coating so you get an extremely high level of performance from the scope overall. The single 25mm eyepiece provides for a maximum magnification of 81x, which is more than enough for picking out the bigger details of planets and objects without our own solar system but also to highlight detail on objects much, much further away.

Color Choices

The Celestron NexStar 8SE compound telescope is available in a rather nice orange color, pretty different for a telescope but not so different that you wind up hating it.

Dimensions

The Celestron NexStar has the following measurements and dimensions:

  • Focal length: 2032mm
  • Eyepiece: 25mm
  • Max magnification: 81x
  • Total weight: 24 pounds

Pros

  • The Celestron NexStar SE has excellent optics and they require little or no maintenance
  • Using the GoTo computer and software is very straightforward and removes a lot of the usual guesswork from stargazing
  • Even at 24-pounds assembled this telescope is still pretty light considering it also contains a motor – weighing far less than some other large telescopes

Cons

  • Celestron NextStar Telescope comes with a single eyepiece!
  • You really will need an external power source for any kind of extended use; it goes through unbranded batteries really quickly

Verdict of the Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

The Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope is very easy to set up and align, thanks to the GoTo software, and the optics is some of the best you’ll find at this price range. Great scope but a tiny bit expensive for some tastes.

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