Home Comparisons Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE – Which is the best option for beginners?

Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE – Which is the best option for beginners?

by Rizka Amir
Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE

If you are looking for your first beginner level telescope, then you have come to right place. Here you will find two of Celestron’s top options for beginner users. Here is Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE for an in-depth review and comparison of the same.

My home town decided to begin an astronomy club which happens to host its instruments and devices in our local library. At first, I wasn’t sure I could handle an entire Astronomy club, let alone operate a telescope. However, it’s been 5 years since the club begun, over which I have learnt a lot from the telescopes we’ve purchased and exchanged with other telescope enthusiasts. One of the most difficult tasks I received at the beginning was to purchase a telescope suitable for beginners like me back then to introduce many of the locals to computerized telescopes, and how to use them. Since then, my skills, interest in telescopes and knowledge of said telescopes has increased: so much so that I started my own collection of my favorite telescopes.

What are the differences between the Celestron Nexstar 4SE and the Celestron Nexstar 5SE?

Type of telescope
Hybrid telescope with Maksutov-Cassegrain Optic system
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 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

Celestron Nexstar 4SE VS Celestron Nexstar 5SE – How these telescopes compare

Type of telescope

The main difference between the 4SE and 5SE is the optical system both these telescopes utilize. Interestingly, both the 4SE and 5SE are Cassegrain style telescopes but different types of Cassegrains. Because Cassegrains are compound telescopes, they utilize mirrors, lenses and in this case, a corrector in the system to eliminate problems that arise from other operating principles.


Both these instruments have the following optics specifications, Celestron NexStar 4SE: Aperture 102mm or 4 inches, 1325mm Focal length, f/13 Focal ratio and 241X, 15X as highest and lowest useful magnification. The Celestron NexStar 5SE on the other hand has an aperture 125 or 5 inches, 1250mm Focal length, f/10 Focal ratio and 295X, 13X as highest and lowest useful magnification.

The difference in theses three numbers: Focal length, focal ratio and aperture are responsible for the difference in the extent to which you can see far away objects. Usually, the accessories provided should help work with these specs to enhance the telescopes capabilities. Luckily, Celestron uses the unique optical coating formulation: Star Bright XLT. This optical coating covers the surfaces of the optics to enhance reflection and general optics performance. Ideally, these coatings are meant to improve the way the optic reflects or transmits light.


Celestron designed both the 4SE and 5SE with astrophotography and astroimaging capacities. Using either device, you can connect a digital SLR camera to the SLR port. Afterwards, you may capture long exposures with this set up. However, many astrophotographers recommend apertures of at least 6 inches to properly capture deep space images.

Celestron NexStar 4SE VS Celestron NexStar 5SE – A comparison review

Celestron NexStar 4SE

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1935/4371/products/050234110495_NexStar_4SE_11049_10_570x380@2x.jpg?v=1529944204As the name indicates, the 4SE is a 4inch aperture telescope that may be the first of its name but is updated with a variety of Celestron’s best features. Coupled with its compact form and easy to use design, this 4 inch instrument packs a punch like you wouldn’t expect. Here are some of the features that make this functionality possible.

The NexStar 4SE is a Maksutov Cassegrain style telescope with a 102mm or 4inch aperture on the primary mirror. While it might seem small, this 4inch aperture instrument has impressive light gathering capabilities. This is partially thanks to the StarBirght XLT optical coating used on the optics of this device. It is also Celestron’s first Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope style to feature this optical coating. With a 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 NexStar 4SE is equipped with a computerized GoTo Alt-Az mount. When coupled with Celestron’s Sky align system it will point to and tack all the objects in its 40K celestial object database. We are talking thousands of stars, nebular, clusters, among other celestial objects in minutes. In order to use this feature, you must center 3 bright objects in your eyepiece and the press the ALIGN button.

Breaking down and reassembling this telescope is quite the easy task. 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.

Using 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 might quickly outgrow this telescope

What can you see with the CELESTRON NEXSTAR 4SE?

  • Saturn’s rings
  • Jupiter’s bands
  • Stars in the Hercules globular cluster
  • Lunar surface features


View price on Amazon


Celestron NexStar 5SE

NexStar 5SE Computerized TelescopeThe NexStar 5SE is a well equipped telescope that is easy to use and even easier to upgrade. This flexibility to suit both beginners and advanced users is one of the major things we like about this 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.

Optics on the 5SE are arranged in a Schmidt Cassegrain optical system. 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. 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%. However, other optics elements including the magnification which 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.

The single fork arm mount on the 5SE is meat to ease use and improve portability of this model. Celestron utilizes the basic but reliable Alti-Az mount design on this model. Do not worry; setting up the 5SE is even simpler thanks to this revolutionary design. In fact, this telescope breaks 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. Apart from the sturdy construction and high quality material, the accompanying GoTo mount provide accurate tracking and pinpointing of many celestial objects. Access to their 40K+ celestial object database ensures you will not run of things to observe. Powered by 8 AA batteries and reinforced by steel sturdily design tripod, you can expect to use this telescope for long sessions without fail. Weighing in at a total 17.6 lbs, and

For any beginners worried about the alignment part of using a telescope, 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, Celestron recommends 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 instance, you can provide GPS coordinates using Sky Sync or completely automate alignment with the Star Sense Auto Align technology we discussed

In case you are interested in astroimaging and astrophotography, you 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. Additionally, the in-built in wedge lets the user take long exposures.

Accessory wise, you will receive a finderscope, a 25mm eyepiece among other accessories. You can keep any delicate or small pieces which are likely to get lost in the accessory tray provided.

What we like

  • Easy to use
  • 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
  • Great for beginner and advanced user
  • Compatible with a variety of high tech accessories
  • Great for astrophotography
  • 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?

  • Saturn’s rings
  • Jupiter’s cloud bands
  • Lunar phases and some geographic feature
  • Several deep space objects including Hercules Globular cluster’s stars, The Whirlpool galaxy’s spiral arms and much more


View price on Amazon


Verdict: so which is better? Celestron NexStar 4SE OR Celestron NexStar 5SE?

Based on the features, capabilities, pros and cons of each device discussed, the Celestron NexStar 4SE is the better beginner user friendly yet functional telescope. On it, you can grow your astronomy skills and interests as I did mine.

Frequently asked Questions

What can you see with Celestron NexStar 5SE?

Apart from great planetary and lunar shots, or views, you may view various celestial objects. These include objects like Orion’s Nebula. You can view these objects on this telescope while still maintaining a compact form.

What is the difference between the 4SE and 5SE?

The most fundamental difference apart from the different sized apertures indicated in the name, 4 inch on the 4SE and 5 inches on the 5SE is the working principle. This is often determined by the optical system used. In this case, the 4SE is a Maksutov Cassegrain while the 5SE is a Schmidt Cassegrain. Although related, the MAK and SCT as popularly known are two different optical systems.

Can I use the 4SE for astroimaging?

The Celestron NexStar 4SE is equipped with unique ports including the SLR camera port to connect a digital SLR camera for astrophotography. However, it isn’t as equipped as other telescopes in astrophotography. This shouldn’t stop you from supplementing this instrument to suit your needs. After all, the 4SE is compatible with different technologies and can accommodate various accessories for a variety of experiences.


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