Celestron has built a name for themselves as a trusted brand in the telescope business with a wide variety of options each equipped with a bunch of great features. This might be a problem if you’re new to telescopes and don’t know where to start. Take a look at Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE VS Celestron NexStar 6SE for more on Celestron NexStar SE line’s favorites.
Hi, I’m Amir and I’ve been a Telescope enthusiast, user and collector for several decades now. The first telescope I ever bought was at a garage sale and it was terrible. However this scope but it fueled my interest in astronomy and sky gazing. Since then, I have been able to gather a lot of knowledge and experience in telescope purchase and use. Most beginners who I interact with are always curious about more advanced telescopes, particularly from the NexStar line. I will be discussing 3 of the most commonly asked about telescopes: the Celestron NexStar 4SE, the Celestron NexStar 5SE and the Celestron NexStar 6SE. After going into detail about their various differences, we will take a look at what each of them has to offer. This should come in handy for anyone interested in either telescopes, but doesn’t know how to decide amongst them.
What are the differences between the Celestron NexStar 4SE, the Celestron NexStar 5SE and the Celestron NexStar 6SE?
CELESTRON NEXSTAR 4SE
CELESTRON NEXSTAR 6SE
CELESTRON NEXSTAR 5SE
Type of telescope
Hybrid telescope with Maksutov-Cassegrain Optic system
Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope style
Hybrid Schmidt-Cassegrain optical system
Aperture 102mm or 4 inches, 1325mm Focal length, f/13 Focal ratio and 241X, 15X as highest and lowest useful magnification.
Aperture 6 inches, 1500mm Focal length, f/10 focal ratio.
Aperture 125 or 5 inches, 1250mm Focal length, f/10 Focal ratio and 295X, 13X as highest and lowest useful magnification
Alt-AZ computerized Single fork Arm mount
Automated Altitude-Azimuth Single Fork Arm
Automated Altitude-Azimuth Single Fork Arm
Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE Vs Celestron NexStar 6SE
– How they compare
Telescope type and working principles
One of the biggest differences between the three of these instruments is with the optics and the operating principle. For instance, the 4SE is a Maksutov-Cassegrain style telescope, which isn’t the case for the 5SE and 6SE: Both of which are Schmidt Cassegrain style telescopes.
Apart from visual astronomy, there are many things you can do with a telescope. Among these is astroimaging and astrophotography. To accomplish this you must pair your telescope with the right devices to allow photography. He 6SE unlike its predecessors the 5SE and 4SE lacks the SLR port to connect an SLR camera.
However, the 6SE is well equipped and readily compatible with high tech accessories for astrophotography. For example, photography with wide field and deep sky imaging is possible by simply replacing the secondary mirror with a camera or DSLR.
All the telescopes in the NexStar series have Celestron’s unique Star bright XLT coating. Using state of the art manufacturing, this coating is made with strict standards and the purest available materials. These optical coatings are meant to improve performance of the telescopes optics. Usually, highly reflective metals are used as the material to make optical coatings. All the models on this series come with optical coating for enhanced performance.
Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE VS Celestron NexStar 6SE
– A comparison review
Celestron NexStar 4SE
The 4SE as the name suggests is a 4 inch aperture instrument that combines Celestron’s best features in a compact body. The easy to use format with high quality optics on this device ensures the 4SE live up to the iconic Orange tube status. Some of the key features on this instrument include the following.
This Maksutov Cassegrain Style telescope with a 4 inch aperture on the primary mirror and a 1325mm focal length is the first of many things. It is the first of the Orange tube series also known as the Celestron NexStar SE line. It is also the first Maksutov Cassegrain style telescope that has Star bright XLT optical coating on its optics. This coating is a blend of the purest available materials. This coating severs to improve. With said 1325mm focal length and f/13 focal ratio, the 4SE will allow great views of the moon and planets. Additionally, the aluminum optical tube housing these optical instruments is updated with the most relevant features that allow beginners and seasons observers to utilize .Because this is a Maksutov Cassegrain style telescope, you won’t need to maintain the optics as frequently as you would other styles of telescopes.
The tried and true Alt-Az GoTo mount is coupled with Celestron’s Sky align system that will point to and tack all the objects in its 40K celestial object database. This means access to literally thousands of stars, nebular, clusters, among other celestial objects in minutes. Celestron instructs that you center 3 bright objects in your eyepiece then press the Align after which the telescope should align.
One of the 4SE telescopes’ selling point is its compact convenient size. You can easily break down and reassemble this telescope. This is all thanks to their revolutionary singe arm fork mount that when coupled with their sturdy steel tripod is an unbeatable combination. Features like the Sky Sync and Star Sense Auto align are a treat to all advanced users. Like all other NexStar SE telescopes, the NexStar 4SE comes with access to the Starry night Astronomy software that is planetarium level software all users can utilize. Celestron provides all the support you might need through their website or even via phone.
If you are interested in astrophotography, the built in wedge on the 4SE tripod allows this instrument compatibility with other devices for astroimaging purposes. Thanks to the included shutter release cable and camera control you can take exposures with an SLT camera remotely. This instrument is powered by 8 AA batteries which are sheltered in an internal battery compartment which effectively prevents cords wrapping during use.
What we like
- Includes the high transmission XLT optical coating
- Comes with the RS-232 cable and NexRemote software which allow you to access your telescope from the computer
- Allows access to thousands of images and renderings of stars, galaxies among other celestial wonders that are well cataloged to ensure you get through them correctly, and by name
- Easy to set up and use
- Lightweight scope that is both compact and portable
- Makes accommodations for astrophotography and astroimaging
What we don’t like
- You will outgrow this instrument pretty quick
What can you see with the Celestron NexStar 4SE?
- Saturn’s rings
- Jupiter’s bands
- Stars in the Hercules globular cluster
- Lunar surface features
Celestron NexStar 5SE
The NexStar 5SE is a flexible tool designed to suit both beginners and advancing users. This is a well equipped telescope that is easy to use and even easier to upgrade instrument. Additionally, it includes quality optics at a great price. Here are some of the features that make this orange tube classic a good choice of telescope.
The 5SE is a Schmidt Cassegrain with an aperture of 125mm, 1259mm focal length and f/10 focal ratio, this SCT instrument is great for all sorts of users. Its optics contain the patented XLT star Bright optical coating that helps significantly improve the light gathering power on this telescope. Magnification on this device ranges from 18X as the lowest useful magnification and 295X as the highest theoretically useful magnification. The optic system gadgets are contained in an aluminum optical tube. Because of the obstruction caused by the secondary mirror inside the tube, resolution and contrast on this scope is slightly impaired compared to other optical systems. Specifically, the Secondary mirror obstruction by area is at 16.6% while by diameter is at 40%.
Celestron utilizes the basic but reliable Alti-Az mount design on this telescope. Their revolutionary single fork arm mount on the 5SE is meant to ease use and improve portability of this model. Do not worry; setting up the 5SE is even simpler thanks to this revolutionary design. You can easily break this instrument down into smaller lightweight pieces that are easy to transport and set up. This is the sort of convenience anyone who likes to move their telescope around will appreciate. The accompanying GoTo mount provides accurate tracking and pinpointing of many celestial objects. You may access their 40K+ celestial object database which ensures you will not run of things to observe. The 5SE is powered by 8 AA batteries and reinforced by steel sturdily design tripod, you can expect to use this telescope for long sessions without fail.
Celestron equips this model with the Sky Align feature. This feature will require that you center you have 3 bright objects your scopes eyepiece bright objects then press ALIGN. Alternatively, They recommend that you can attach the Star Sense Auto align which will automatically align itself.
Advanced users will enjoy the compatibility on the 5SE which will ensure they can utilize it for various activities. For example, you can use Sky Sync to provide GPS coordinates or completely automate alignment with the Star Sense Auto Align technology.
Anyone interested in astroimaging and astrophotography can utilize the 5SE for lunar and planetary imaging. By replacing the secondary mirror on this telescope with a camera, DSLR or CCD camera, this telescope can take wide field images. Alternatively, you may use the in-built in wedge that lets the user take long exposures.
What we like
- Easy to use
- Great for beginner and advanced user
- Compatible with a variety of high tech accessories
- Great for astrophotography
- Compact and portable
- Comes with the XLT StarBright coating for a 56% increase in light gathering capacity
- Uses the dual axis motors on its mount to allow exact tracking and reduced instances of vibration
- Free access to Starry Night Astronomy Software
What we don’t like
- Battery life could be better
What can you see with the Celestron NexStar 5SE?
- Several deep space objects including Hercules Globular cluster’s stars, The Whirlpool galaxy’s spiral arms and much more
- Lunar phases and some geographic feature
- Saturn’s rings
- Jupiter’s cloud bands
Celestron NexStar 6SE- Overview and key features
There are many components of this instrument that make it great for beginners and even better for advancing users. For Example, Celestron cleverly designed the 6SE as a combination of advanced features with great optics on an easy to use system. Here are some of the key features on the Celestron NexStar 6SE.
Optics specifications on this Schmidt Cassegrain include the following: a 6 inch aperture on the primary mirror, a 1500mm focal length and f/10 focal ratio. With these, the telescope can achieve a 60X magnification using the 25mm eyepiece. However, the maximum magnification on this instrument is 354X while the lowest limit is 21X. Performance on these optics is improved thanks to the Star Bright XLT Optical coating used on said optics. Unfortunately, the secondary mirror in this Schmidt Cassegrain style scope has a 14%, by area, obstruction.
The revolutionary single arm fork mount is meant to simplify set ups and takedowns after sessions. Moreover, the entire instrument breaks down into single manageable components. Thanks to bonus additions like the SkyAlgin technologies, alignment is so much easier with the 6SE. To align the NexStar 6SE, you will have to center three bright objects on the eyepiece and then press the ALIGN BUTTON.
For advanced users, the NexStar is equipped for with various technologies and compatibilities that allow you to explore other forms of astronomy outside visual observation. For example, astrophotography with wide field and deep sky imaging is possible by simply replacing the secondary mirror with a camera or DSLR. Additionally you may use this instrument to generate impressive images of various celestial objects. This telescope purchase often includes free access to the Starry night software for astronomy which is available for both Mac and Pc options.
On top of this, the Sky Sync GPS accessory allows you to access the data from orbiting GPS satellites for enhanced alignment. The 6SE is true to its line and bears the traditional orange optical tube supported by the traditional Celestron stainless steel tripod with a50.8mm tripod leg diameter. With a total assembled weight of 30lbs, this SCT style instrument is made for high functionality with extreme portability.
What we like
- With the 6inch primary mirror, you can observe many important solar system constituents
- Part of the iconic orange tube series, for which Celestron is known
- Compatible with accessories many advanced users will appreciate
- Several great features for advanced users including SkySync GPS for high functionality alignment
- Star Sense Auto-Align which is the telescopes automatic alignment function
What we don’t like
- Price is a bit on the higher side
What you can see with the NexStar 6SE
- Craters of the moon with diameters as small as 1600m
- Saturn’s rings, cloud belts and even moon
- Jupiter’s moons ad belts
- The globular cluster core and other detailing in nebulas
- Mars and her clouds or even dust storms
- Asteroids and stars with a 13.4 magnitude
Verdict: so which is better? Celestron NexStar 4SE , Celestron NexStar 5SE OR Celestron NexStar 6se?
Choosing from 3 of the 4 NexStar SE line is difficult, especially considering how well equipped these telescopes are for most users. Overall, the 6SE has the capacity to outperform the 5SE and 4SE. It is a great tool for beginners to learn and advance their interests in astronomy.
Frequently asked Questions
What is the difference between a Cassegrain and a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope?
Cassegrain telescopes are a type of telescope that often combines a mirror at the rear with a lens at the front. Using this system, the mirror acts as the primary surface where incoming light bounces off and on to the lens where it is folded up to the eyepiece.
Can you use the 6SE for astrophotography?
Yes you can. This instrument is designed with versatile compatibility to high tech devices that allow all sorts of astrophotography for beginner, intermediate and advanced users. Once you set it up right, the Celestron 6SE is very functional in astroimaging and photography.