Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope Review: A Stargazer’s Delight

The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope stands as a testament to the evolution of amateur astronomy. This modern classic, with its distinctive orange tube, harks back to the revolutionary design that Celestron pioneered in the 1970s, bringing the cosmos into the backyard of the curious and the passionate. Today, the NexStar 8SE continues to be the telescope of choice for many, celebrated for its perfect blend of size, power, and user-friendly technology.

Embracing both legacy and innovation, the NexStar 8SE offers an 8-inch aperture that promises spectacular views of the moon’s craggy landscape, the serene dance of Jupiter’s moons, and the distant twinkle of globular clusters. It’s not just a telescope; it’s a bridge to the wonders of the universe, designed to inspire beginners and satisfy the cravings of experienced stargazers alike.

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope Review


The NexStar 8SE’s popularity isn’t just rooted in nostalgia; it’s earned through its commitment to quality and functionality. With its fully automated GoTo mount, stargazing becomes a seamless adventure, as the telescope whisks you from one celestial marvel to another across its database of over 40,000 objects. The SkyAlign technology simplifies the alignment process, making it as easy as connecting the dots in the night sky, ensuring that even novices can unlock the full potential of the telescope with minimal effort.

Portability and convenience are at the heart of the NexStar 8SE’s design. The unique single fork arm mount and sturdy steel tripod can be broken down into manageable components, making it a breeze to transport to dark-sky locations or set up for a spontaneous night of astronomy. This design philosophy embodies Celestron’s vision of making high-quality optical instruments accessible to all.

As the telescope market continues to expand, the NexStar 8SE remains a beloved icon in the amateur astronomy community. Its enduring popularity is a testament to Celestron’s dedication to providing exceptional stargazing experiences at an economical price point. Whether you’re taking your first step into astronomy or looking to rekindle your love for the night sky, the NexStar 8SE is a companion that promises to grow with you, revealing the universe’s mysteries one star at a time.

Unboxing and First Impressions of the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

The arrival of the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is an event that fills the air with anticipation. As you unbox this modern marvel of amateur astronomy, the first thing that strikes you is the care with which Celestron has packaged its prized possession. Ensuring that the journey from factory to your front door doesn’t diminish the excitement of a clear night sky, each component is securely nestled within the box, protected from the rigors of transit.

Upon opening the box, you’re greeted with an array of components that promise nights filled with celestial discovery. The contents typically include:

  • The 8-inch optical tube, the heart of the telescope, sheathed in its signature orange.
  • The single fork arm mount and the motorized base, embodying the telescope’s technological prowess.
  • A sturdy steel tripod, ready to provide a stable foundation for your stargazing sessions.
  • An array of accessories such as a 25mm eyepiece, a star diagonal, and a finderscope to aid in your explorations.
  • The NexStar+ hand control, your guide to the cosmos with a database of over 40,000 celestial objects.
  • Various cables and the necessary hardware for assembly.
  • A user manual to help you navigate the setup process and the features of your new telescope.

First impressions

The first impressions of the build quality are nothing short of impressive. The optical tube’s robust construction promises durability, while the fine finish speaks to Celestron’s commitment to quality. The mount and tripod exude sturdiness, reassuring you that they can withstand many nights of adventure under the stars.

The design of the NexStar 8SE is a blend of classic and contemporary. The iconic orange tube pays homage to the original Celestron telescopes that brought astronomy to the masses, while the sleek lines and modern interface of the mount suggest a device that’s very much of the 21st century. It’s clear that this telescope isn’t just built to look good; it’s designed to perform.

As you lay out the parts and prepare for assembly, the excitement is palpable. The NexStar 8SE doesn’t just look like a premium instrument; it feels like one too. From the smoothness of the focus knob to the precision of the alignment tools, every aspect of the telescope assures you that your journey into astronomy will be as rewarding as the views it promises to deliver.

Assembly and Setup of the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

Assembling the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is a straightforward process, designed with the user in mind. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started on your stargazing journey:

1: Tripod Setup

  • Begin by extending the legs of the tripod to your desired height and securing them in place using the attached locks.
  • Spread the legs out until the center brace is flat and the tripod stands firm on the ground.
  • Attach the accessory tray to the tripod to add extra stability and keep your eyepieces and accessories within easy reach.

2: Attaching the Mount

  • Carefully lift the mount and align it with the tripod’s central bolt.
  • Secure the mount to the tripod by turning the locking knob underneath the tripod head until it is snug.

3: Mounting the Optical Tube

  • Remove the protective covering from the optical tube.
  • Loosen the locking knobs on the mount’s arm to prepare for the optical tube’s attachment.
  • Gently place the optical tube onto the mount’s arm, ensuring that it sits securely in the dovetail bracket.
  • Tighten the locking knobs to secure the optical tube in place.

4: Adding the Finderscope

  • Slide the finderscope into its bracket on the optical tube.
  • Tighten the thumbscrews on the finderscope bracket to hold it firmly.

5: Attaching the Star Diagonal and Eyepiece

  • Insert the star diagonal into the rear of the optical tube.
  • Secure it by tightening the set screw.
  • Slide the eyepiece into the star diagonal and secure it similarly with the set screw.

6: Connecting the Hand Control

  • Connect the hand control to the mount by plugging it into the designated port.
  • Coil any excess cable and secure it so that it doesn’t hang loose or interfere with the telescope’s movement.

7: Powering the Telescope

  • Insert the required batteries into the mount or connect the telescope to a power supply if you have an AC adapter or power tank.

8: Initial Alignment

  • Follow the instructions for the SkyAlign or Auto Two-Star Alignment, which will involve pointing the telescope at three bright celestial objects to calibrate the telescope’s computer.

9: Final Checks

  • Ensure all cables are neatly tucked away.
  • Double-check that all optical elements are clean and free from dust or fingerprints.
  • Confirm that the tripod is level and the telescope is balanced.

Ease of Setup for Beginners

The NexStar 8SE is designed with beginners in mind. The setup process is intuitive, and the included manual provides clear instructions. The SkyAlign technology simplifies the alignment process, making it accessible even for those with no prior knowledge of the night sky. With a little patience, beginners can have the telescope assembled and ready for observing in about 20 to 30 minutes.

The hand control offers a user-friendly interface with a database of over 40,000 celestial objects, making it easy to find and track stars, planets, and galaxies. The GoTo mount automatically slews the telescope to any object selected from the database, allowing beginners to jump straight into observing without the need to manually search the sky.

In summary, the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope combines ease of assembly with advanced features, making it an excellent choice for beginners eager to explore the night sky. With its user-friendly setup, you’ll be ready to embark on your celestial adventures in no time.

Specifications Table

Aperture8 inches (203.2 mm)
Focal Length2032 mm
Focal Ratiof/10
Mount TypeComputerized Altazimuth
Database40,000+ celestial objects
Eyepiece25 mm (81x magnification)
Weight24 lbs (10.89 kg) for the mount and tripod
Star Diagonal1.25″
Warranty2 years

Performance and Observing Experience with the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is engineered to provide an exceptional viewing experience, whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a curious beginner. The performance of this telescope is characterized by its superb light-gathering ability and the clarity of the images it produces.

Viewing Experience of Celestial Objects

  • Lunar Landscapes: The NexStar 8SE brings the moon’s surface to life with stunning clarity. Craters appear in sharp relief, and the play of light and shadow along the terminator line—the division between the lunar day and night—reveals a breathtaking level of detail.
  • Planetary Views: The planets of our solar system are rendered with remarkable definition. Jupiter’s cloud bands and its four major moons are easily visible, while Saturn’s rings are crisply delineated against the backdrop of space.
  • Deep Sky Delights: When it comes to deep-sky objects, the NexStar 8SE excels. The light-gathering power of its 8-inch aperture allows you to explore the glowing cores of distant galaxies, the delicate filigree of nebulae, and the sparkling clusters of stars that lie scattered across the Milky Way.

Light-Gathering Capability

  • The 8-inch aperture of the NexStar 8SE is the key to its impressive performance. This sizable aperture allows the telescope to collect a significant amount of light, which is crucial for observing faint objects.
  • The quality of the optics, including the high-transmission coatings, ensures that the light is efficiently focused, resulting in brighter images and better contrast.

Clarity of Images

  • The NexStar 8SE’s optics are designed to minimize aberrations, providing sharp and clear images across the field of view.
  • The telescope’s f/10 focal ratio strikes a balance between wide, expansive views and the magnification needed to see details on planets and other small celestial objects.
  • The precision of the computerized tracking system means that once an object is in your sights, it stays there, allowing for prolonged observation and the opportunity to witness moments like a moonrise over a lunar crater or the transit of a planet’s moon.

User Experience

  • Users often report that the NexStar 8SE’s GoTo system is a game-changer, offering a guided tour of the night sky at the touch of a button.
  • The telescope’s database includes a vast array of objects, making each observing session both an adventure and an education.
  • The intuitive design and reliable performance of the NexStar 8SE make it a joy to use, whether you’re tracking a satellite across the sky or hopping from star to star.

In conclusion, the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope delivers an observing experience that is as rewarding as it is awe-inspiring. Its ability to gather light and present clear, crisp images transforms the night sky into a canvas of exploration. From the rugged terrain of the moon to the distant reaches of the cosmos, the NexStar 8SE is your window to the universe, offering a viewing experience that is both profound and profoundly beautiful.

Technology and Features of the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is not only a marvel in optical engineering but also a testament to the advancements in astronomical technology. Two of the most standout features that make this telescope a favorite among amateurs and seasoned stargazers alike are its SkyAlign technology and the fully automated GoTo mount.

SkyAlign Technology

  • SkyAlign is Celestron’s proprietary alignment technology that makes setting up your telescope a breeze. It’s ingeniously designed to be intuitive, even for those with no prior knowledge of the night sky.
  • To initiate SkyAlign, simply enter the date, time, and your location into the hand control. Then point the telescope at three bright celestial objects. You don’t even need to know the names of the stars—you can choose any three bright points in the sky.
  • The telescope’s computer uses these points to triangulate its position and orient itself with the night sky. Once aligned, the NexStar 8SE can accurately locate and track any of the 40,000+ celestial objects in its database, making it an ideal tool for both learning and discovery.

Fully Automated GoTo Mount

  • The NexStar 8SE features a fully automated GoTo mount that takes the guesswork out of finding stars, planets, galaxies, and more. With the precision of its motorized system, the telescope can automatically slew to any object selected from the hand control’s database.
  • This feature is particularly useful for observing events that require precise timing, such as eclipses, transits, and occultations. The GoTo mount allows you to enjoy these celestial events without the need for constant manual adjustments.
  • The tracking capabilities of the mount are equally impressive. Once an object is centered, the NexStar 8SE will follow it across the sky, keeping it in your field of view even as the Earth rotates. This tracking is smooth and consistent, ensuring that your observations are uninterrupted.

Additional Technological Features

  • The telescope is equipped with a database that includes a wide variety of objects, from the well-known Messier objects and planets to more obscure, deep-sky wonders.
  • The NexStar+ hand control offers multiple alignment procedures, guided tours, and additional information about celestial objects, enhancing the educational value of every stargazing session.
  • For astrophotographers, the NexStar 8SE is Fastar/HyperStar compatible, allowing for a faster f/2 focal ratio for wide-field imaging and shorter exposure times.

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope’s technology and features are designed to make astronomy accessible and enjoyable for everyone. The SkyAlign technology simplifies the initial setup, while the GoTo mount provides effortless navigation of the night sky. These features, along with the telescope’s robust database and tracking capabilities, ensure that your time under the stars is as engaging as it is enlightening. Whether you’re a novice looking to explore the cosmos or an experienced observer aiming to delve deeper into the night sky, the NexStar 8SE is equipped to take you on that journey.

Astrophotography Potential of the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is not only a powerful tool for visual observation but also a capable instrument for astrophotography. Its features offer enthusiasts the opportunity to capture the beauty of the cosmos in stunning detail.

Fastar Compatibility for Astrophotography

  • The NexStar 8SE is compatible with Celestron’s Fastar system, a sophisticated feature that allows for high-speed, wide-field astrophotography. This is particularly advantageous for capturing deep-sky objects.
  • With Fastar, the secondary mirror can be removed and replaced with a Fastar lens assembly, converting the telescope into an f/2 imaging powerhouse. This drastically reduces exposure times, allowing for the capture of faint deep-sky objects in a fraction of the time it would normally take.
  • This compatibility opens up a new realm of astrophotography possibilities, making it easier to photograph large areas of the sky and capture images of nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters with excellent clarity and contrast.

Planetary Imaging with NexImage Cameras

  • The NexStar 8SE also excels in planetary imaging when paired with NexImage cameras. These cameras are designed to capture high-resolution images of planets within our solar system, such as Jupiter’s cloud bands or Saturn’s rings.
  • NexImage cameras, when used with the NexStar 8SE, benefit from the telescope’s 8-inch aperture, which provides a large amount of light and detail. This is crucial for planetary imaging, where capturing subtle details is key.
  • The tracking capabilities of the NexStar 8SE ensure that planets remain in the field of view during the imaging process, which is essential for stacking multiple images to increase detail and reduce noise.

Additional Considerations for Astrophotography

  • The sturdy build and precise tracking of the NexStar 8SE also mean that long-exposure images are possible without the worry of image drift, which is often a challenge in astrophotography.
  • The telescope’s portability allows astrophotographers to transport it to dark-sky locations, where the true potential of its imaging capabilities can be realized away from the light pollution of urban environments.
  • While the altazimuth mount of the NexStar 8SE is suitable for short exposure astrophotography, those looking to do longer exposures may consider using a wedge to convert the mount to an equatorial platform, thereby eliminating field rotation.

The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope offers significant potential for astrophotography, from wide-field imaging with Fastar to detailed planetary captures with NexImage cameras. Whether you’re a hobbyist looking to document the night sky or an aspiring astrophotographer aiming to create breathtaking celestial imagery, the NexStar 8SE provides a solid foundation for your astrophotography endeavors. With the right accessories and some practice, you can unlock the full potential of this versatile telescope and share your view of the universe with the world.

Portability and Storage of the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

The Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is designed with the amateur astronomer’s lifestyle in mind, balancing the need for a powerful telescope with the convenience of portability and ease of storage.

Single Fork Arm Design for Portability

  • The NexStar 8SE features a single fork arm design, which is a significant advantage when it comes to portability. This design choice not only reduces the overall weight of the telescope but also allows for a more compact form factor when transporting it.
  • Unlike bulkier setups that require a dedicated space or vehicle for transportation. The NexStar 8SE can comfortably fit in the backseat of a car or in the trunk. Making it an excellent companion for stargazing trips and astrophotography excursions to remote locations with dark skies.
  • The single arm is engineered to be both lightweight and sturdy. Ensuring that the telescope is easy to carry without compromising on stability during observation.

Ease of Breaking Down and Storing the Telescope

  • Disassembling the NexStar 8SE for storage is just as user-friendly as its setup. The optical tube can be detached from the fork arm and mount with minimal effort, thanks to its quick-release attachments.
  • The tripod’s legs retract, and the accessory tray disconnects easily. Reducing the telescope’s footprint and allowing it to be stored in a closet, under a bed, or in a storage area without requiring excessive space.
  • The mount and arm can be separated from the tripod. Which means that each component can be individually wrapped and protected, a feature that is particularly appreciated by those who wish to take extra care in preserving their equipment.
  • For those living in apartments or homes with limited storage options, the NexStar 8SE’s design is a boon, as it does not necessitate a large, dedicated storage space.

Additional Storage Solutions

  • Celestron offers a range of carrying cases designed specifically for the NexStar 8SE, which not only protect the telescope from dust and damage but also make it even more convenient to transport.
  • These cases are often compartmentalized, providing space for the telescope’s accessories. Such as eyepieces, power supplies, and cables, ensuring that everything you need for a night of observing is in one place.

In summary, the Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope is thoughtfully designed for the astronomer on the go. Its single fork arm design and ease of disassembly make it a standout choice for those who value both performance and portability. Whether you’re heading out for a night under the stars or packing away your gear after an evening of exploration, the NexStar 8SE adapts to your needs, making it as convenient as it is powerful.

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Alternatives to Consider


Celestron NexStar 8SE

Sky-Watcher 8″ Collapsible Dobsonian

Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian

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Optical Design


Newtonian Dobsonian

Newtonian Dobsonian


8″ (203.2mm)

8″ (203.2mm)

8″ (203.2mm)

Focal Length




Focal Ratio




Mount Type

Computerized Altazimuth



Eyepiece(s) Included


25mm Plossl
10mm Plossl

25mm Plossl



8x50 right-angle

Red Dot Finder


24 lbs (10.89 kg)

40 lbs (18.14 kg)

29.2 lbs (13.24 kg )

Additional Features

SkyAlign Technology

Collapsible Tube

Simple setup, no counterweights


Automated tracking, portable

Easy to use, great for deep-sky

Cost-effective, easy navigation


Higher price point

Less portable, manual tracking

Manual tracking, no GoTo system

FAQ Section

Q: Is the Celestron NexStar 8SE suitable for beginners?

A: Absolutely. The NexStar 8SE is designed with beginners in mind, thanks to its user-friendly SkyAlign technology that makes setup and alignment simple. The automated GoTo mount allows users to easily find and track celestial objects. Making it an excellent choice for those new to astronomy.

Q: Can the NexStar 8SE be used for astrophotography?

A: Yes, the NexStar 8SE has great potential for astrophotography. It is Fastar/HyperStar compatible, which allows for fast, wide-field imaging, and works well with NexImage cameras for planetary imaging. However, for long-exposure deep-sky astrophotography, an equatorial mount or wedge may be necessary to counteract field rotation.

Q: What accessories are recommended with the NexStar 8SE?

A: To enhance your observing experience, consider adding a power tank for extended observing sessions. A variety of eyepieces for different magnifications, a telescope case for transport, and filters to bring out the details on planets and reduce light pollution effects. An AC adapter or a portable power supply can also be very useful.

Q: How does the telescope perform in light-polluted areas?

A: The NexStar 8SE can still perform well in light-polluted areas, especially when observing planets and the Moon. However, light pollution may wash out fainter deep-sky objects. Using light pollution filters can help mitigate some of the effects of light pollution. Allowing for better views of these objects.


The Celestron NexStar 8SE stands out as a versatile and powerful telescope that strikes an excellent balance between advanced technological features and user-friendly operation. Its 8-inch aperture provides a window into the cosmos. Offering bright and clear views of everything from the craters of the Moon to distant galaxies. The SkyAlign technology and automated GoTo mount make it a breeze to set up and navigate the night sky. A feature that is particularly appealing to beginners and those who want to spend more time observing rather than calibrating.

Astrophotography enthusiasts will find the NexStar 8SE a capable ally. Especially with its Fastar/HyperStar compatibility for wide-field imaging and its suitability with NexImage cameras for capturing the planets. While it may require additional accessories for more advanced astrophotography pursuits, its potential in this field is undeniable.

The telescope’s design considers the practicalities of the hobby. Offering a system that is not only portable but also easy to store, making it an excellent choice for urban astronomers and those who travel to dark-sky locations.

In conclusion, the Celestron NexStar 8SE is best suited for amateur astronomers who seek a high-quality and versatile telescope that combines the convenience of a portable design with the advanced features of more sophisticated models. It’s an investment that will delight those new to the hobby and satisfy the seasoned observer looking for a reliable, go-to instrument for regular stargazing sessions. Whether you’re starting your astronomical journey or looking to upgrade, the NexStar 8SE is a telescope that promises to grow with you, continually opening up new celestial wonders to explore.