Reflector telescopes were some of the best inventions of their time. Just as they were invented to upgrade the refractors, so were the Cassegrain models created to further improve the reflectors performance.
I have been a Celestron customer for over 40 years now. Over these years, I have bought more than 10 scopes from the company as gifts for my friends, family and even as upgrades for my personal collection. Being such a big telescope buff, I always have interested individuals and groups over at my house for star gazing sleepovers. It was at one of such events that I got approached to do a review of these two telescopes.
What are the differences between the SkyProdigy 130 and NexStar 6SE?
Type of telescope
Aperture 130mm, 650mm Focal length, f/5 Focal ratio
Magnification on eyepiece 25mm: 26x
Magnification on eyepiece 9mm: 72x
Min. Useful magnification: 19x
Max useful magnification: 307x
Aperture 150mm, 1500mm Focal length, f/10 Focal ratio
Magnification on eyepiece 25mm: 60X
Max. Useful magnification: 354X
Min useful magnification: –
Computerized Alt-Azimuth Mount – single fork
Motorized Alt-Azimuth Mount- single fork
SkyProdigy130 vs NexStar 6SE – How they differ
The NexStar 6SE is a sturdy, light-weight and beginner-friendly telescope of the Schmidt-Cassegrain models. It is ideal for all types of observations in the dark night skies. Celestron have their own multi-coating system that they have used on this scopes lenses to maximize light transmission and minimize distortions or aberrations. Brighter deep-sky objects like nebulae and the planets as well as the moon and its amazing terrain will be visible with this telescope.
Celestron uses their trademark software for both these telescopes, the NexRemote Telescope Control, that works effectively on your PC or laptop from which point all telescope movements will be managed. The GoTo technology has been updated with a database detailing positions of celestial objects. All a user has to do to get it going is follow the prompts the device will give you and fill in the required details. You will only need to enter your location, date and time for it to get configured and you will only have to do this once.
Hand controlled telescope
The hand controller of the SkyProdigy 130 is the Celestron’s signature NexRemote just like all the other computerized telescope series which enables control of the scope. At its base, the hand control has a phone port to facilitate connection to a SkyPortal software compatible laptop via an auxiliary cable for hands-free control of the scope. The back of the NexRemote has LED lit buttons to assist in slewing and inputting commands plus an LCD display screen that shows messages and additional data. On this screen, you will get prompts to read on celestial objects, selection menus and alignment notifications.
NexStar 6SE has a hand controller that works with compatible devices to help with hands-free control of the telescope. The NexRemote control has LCD screen displaying 1130 characters of data at a time. The buttons are backlit as well for optimal use in dark ambience. As you use your scope and make discoveries of new objects, the system can add these user-generated new locations up to 100 of them. It has a database filed with over 30,000 celestial objects and detailed information about their history and form of existence.
Celstron SkyProdigy 130 vs NexStar 6SE- An Overview
Prodigy 130- Overview
The technology used for this scope comes in handy for telescope users across the divide because it eliminates the need for manual adjustments which is cumbersome to do in the dark night. This mount is an azimuth type that will adjust the telescope left and right or up and down with great precision. By keying in your location and aligning your lenses focus on the hand control device and okaying it for the scope, it will then rotate on its azimuth base until it gets the target you have set for it. It will further proceed to follow the target in alignment with the earth’s rotations.
SkyProdigy 130 has an aperture of 152mm with a focal length of 1500mm which gives us a focal ratio of f/9.87. It comes with two eyepieces; 9mm (72x) and the 25mm (26x) and is classified as a Schmidt-Cassegrain. Operations are computerized and enabled by Celestron SkyPortal App free and downloadable software that needs a compatible Apple or Android phone or tablet for it to work as a hands-free control center and also serve as a larger display of the field of view.
Designed to operate electronically, this telescope operates on 8AA batteries but needs an AC/DC adapter for longer power usage. The battery pack has a cord to connect to the scope and an adapter port. It has nine variations of slew speed at 4 degrees per second.
A rotating slash shows on the display during GoTo slew executions to let you know that it is configuring. The slash disappears when it is completed and you should now be able to see your target’s field of view. If observing more than a hundred objects, you can click on one to display details and information about that particular object.
The alignment process of the SkyProdigy 130 has got to be the easiest in Celestrons models. It uses the StarSense technology to automatically align your telescope without requiring any input from you, the user. All you need to do it push one button and let the telescope scope and move to its angle of alignment. Taking only a few minutes to set-up, you should be able to view immediately the alignment is successful. What’s more exciting is that even as a beginner who doesn’t have a clue of what to look at, there is a database filled with over 40,000 celestial objects to chose from. If that’s not exciting enough, there is also a SkyTour that your telescope automatically configures during the alignment process which allows the scope to give you a little tour of your apparent field of view indicating what is within your view.
There is an integrated camera that comes with SkyProdigy models and it is only there to capture an image at angle of collimation for the telescope to keep a record of. It could take up to three different images but the drawback is that the camera doesn’t provide for a port to allow for external image sharing or saving. Otherwise, this is a great scope. The good news is that you will ever have to repeat any alignment processes once done successfully the first time.
There is also the SkyPortal App software that has over 40,000 pre-installed celestial objects that can be slewed to with just the touch of a button. It helps to use a laptop with the GoTo feature because you can see more of those objects in your scopes view based on weather conditions and the time of year. Some objects of the New General Catalogue and the Messier will be easily accessible as compared to others. Vision is limited to the aperture size so most of these objects might not be visible with this scope.
Eyepieces provided with the Prodigy 130 are of fair quality with the 25mm displays levels of astigmatism along the edges of the field of view of 2 degrees it gives. You could add a Barlow 2x to increase the field of view and better magnification. You will benefit from views of the sword of Orion or the Pleiades’ Merope Nebula in the dark sky. For higher planetary images, the scope performs quite well showing Saturn, crepe ring, equatorial belt and the polar region.
The mount has a servo motors that have greatly smoothened the tracking and slewing movements of the telescope. This is completely computerized and control rests solely on the hand controller which also has a phone USB port to enable connections to a phone or any Apple or Android compatible device.
The tracking function of the SkyProdigy 130 are good but could be better. Sometimes, the scope will slew to the edge or past the target’s field of view. The 8AA batteries do not last and it is highly advised for you to organize an external powered adapter. These two are probably the biggest frustration any newbie might encounter with this device.
The mount that comes with this scope is not the strongest in the Celestron mount products. The manufacturer chose to use plastic at the tripod leg locks which greatly contributes to the shakiness of this stand.
What we like
- Go-To computer control
- Light weight
- Easy to assemble
- Ideal for kids, beginners and amateurs
- Decent optics
- Quick Alignment
- Wide field views
What we don’t like
- Inconsistent accuracy on Go-to and tracking functions
- Needs external power source
What can you see with your SkyProdigy 130?
- Nebulas and star clusters
- Solar system
- Planets and galaxies
- Saturn’s rings
- Jupiter and her moons
NexStar 6SE – Overview and Key Features
The NexStar 6SE has an aperture 150mm wide and rests in a tube with a focal length of 1500mm and the resulting f/10 ratio is great for moon and planet imaging. The tube gathers great light and the heavily coated anti-reflective mirrors and lenses. The smaller size of the secondary mirror minimizes light obstruction and plays a huge part in creating color correct images.
There is also a 90-degree angle diagonal mirror which enables comfortable viewing and can be used to horizontally correct the view of the skies which will vertically still be warped. The use of the red dot finder assists in object finding and without magnification, will allow you to star-hop while you navigate the skies.
For astrophotography, this secondary mirror could be removed and a DSLR camera attached in its place giving a wider field of view with a f/2 focal ratio for quick astrology snaps. They provide us with a 25mm eyepiece which gives us a magnification power of 1300x. the eyepiece has an adapter 1.25 inches wide and can accept these length eyepieces if you would like to experiment with others to vary magnification view. Meade added a foldable rubber rim on the eyepiece barrel in consideration of those who wear glasses.
As you start out with your scope, you might be unsure of what is possible and this system will give you a tour showing you views within your scope from which you can select what to focus on. The scope also features the SkyAlign software for easy and quick collimation of lenses and mirrors for optimal views and images. You have the option to align by two-star, one-star or three-star and with a simple pointing towards thee bright stars, allows your scope to self-align and this is a one-time process. The mount being alt-azimuth can slew left, right, up and down for celestial observation but the tracking is off for terrestrial views.
With the Dovetail plate, a DSLR camera can be added to the assembly and the NexRemote can be used to automatically trigger the shutter to capture breathtaking imagery. The alt-azimuth tripod mount is powered by 8 AA batteries that you have to buy separately and has dual-servo axis motors for smooth slewing in high magnification with close to zero vibrations. There are also optimal encoders that are used to track the GoTo functions and to help keep the scope in alignment when in manual mode. The tripod stans are adjustable and the accessory tray can hold accessories and additional weight for added balance and vibration reduction.
What we like
- Computerized and Easy to use
- Quick and simple set up
- Compact design that is portable
- Access to a learning database great for beginners
- SkyAlign software with all details
What we don’t like
- Might need a moon and solar filter
- Needs external power source
What you can see with the NexStar 6SE
- The polar caps on mars
- Moon surface craters and general lunar shots
- Phases of Venus
- Jupiter’s moons
- Saturn and its rings
- Solar systems
It goes without saying that NexStar 6SE has outdone the Prodigy 130. The focal length and ratio of the 6SE helped me see more and clearer images with little to no aberration. It is like a whole other world up there with the Schmidt-Cassegrain.