Patented in the 1940s by a Russian inventor, Cassegrains have revolutionized the telescope world and opened our eyes to more than was previously possible.
My father first introduced me to telescopes at the age of eight. My first few experiences with him were the best I’ve ever had and by the time I was a teenager, we were having non-stop debates on different telescopes. Endlessly analyzing their pros and cons. Years later, I now earn a living giving my expert opinion on different scopes and brands. Back to today’s topic.
What are the differences between the SkyProdigy 6 and NexStar 4SE?
Type of telescope
Aperture 152mm, 1500mm Focal length, f/9.87 Focal ratio
Magnification on eyepiece 25mm: 60x
Magnification on eyepiece 9mm: 167x
Min. Useful magnification: 22x
Max useful magnification: 359x
Aperture 102mm, 1325mm Focal length, f/13 Focal ratio
Magnification on eyepiece 25mm: 53X
Max. Useful magnification: 241X
Min useful magnification: 15x
Computerized Alt-Azimuth Mount – single fork
Motorized Alt-Azimuth Mount- single fork
SkyProdigy6 vs NexStar 4SE – How they differ
The GoTo technology for both these scopes 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. 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.
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. The NexStar 4SE 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.
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.
NexStar has a 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. 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.
Celstron SkyProdigy 6 vs NexStar 4SE- An Overview
Prodigy 6- Overview
SkyProdigy 6 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 (167x) and the 25mm (60x) and is classified as a Schmidt-Cassegrain. Operations are computerized and enabled by Celestron NexStars 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.
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. 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.
Designed to operate electronically, this telescope operates on 8AA batteries but needs an AC/DC adapter for long 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. The hand controller of the SkyProdigy 6 is the Celestron’s signature NexRemote just like all the other NexStar series which enables 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 to read on celestial objects, selection menus and alignment prompts. At its base, the hand control has a phone port to facilitate a connection to a NexStar software compatible laptop via an auxiliary cable for hands-free control of the scope. Unfortunately, this telescope does not feature a fork arm for manual manipulation of the scope.
If observing more than a hundred objects, you can click on one to display details and information about that particular object. 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.
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 choose from. The alignment process of the SkyProdigy 6 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. 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 also the NexStar Sky 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.
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. Eyepieces provided with the Prodigy 6 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.
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.
This scopes mount 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.
The tracking function of the SkyProdigy 6 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.
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 6?
- Nebulas and star clusters
- Solar system
- Planets and galaxies
- Saturn’s rings
- Jupiter and her moons
NexStar 4SE – Overview and Key Features
The NexStar 4SE 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.
They provide us with a 25mm eyepiece which gives us a magnification power of 60x. 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.
The NexStar comes with a hand controller that works with compatible devices to help with hands-free control of the telescope. The NexRemote control has LCD screen displaying 16 characters of data at a time. The buttons are backlit as well for optimal use in dark ambience. It has a database filed with over 30,000 celestial objects and detailed information about their history and form of existence.
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. 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.
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.
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 4SE
- The polar caps on mars
- Moon surface craters and general lunar shots
- Phases of Venus
- Jupiter’s moons
- Saturn and its rings
- Solar systems
SkyProdigy 6 gives us a magnification of 22x and the Nexstar gives us 15x low level magnification. These specifications are confirmed by looking through the scope and in my experience, NexStar 4SE definitely produces images with better contrast. For this very valid reason, we’d pick the Schmidt over the Maksutov any day.