Celestron NexStar 6SE Review: Don’t Buy Before Reading This
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If you’ve been giving the Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope some thought or saw it online and are curious to find out more, this article has everything you need to know about it before making a decision on whether to buy it or not.
Delivering crystal clear optics, a sturdy and capable mount with a unique single fork alt-az design, and GoTo functionality, the Celestron NexStar 6SE is one of the most popular entry-level computerized telescopes. Given its capabilities and revolutionary technology, the price tag is reasonable, but the package comes with only one 25mm eyepiece. The NexStar 6SE’s alignment technology takes the hassle out of calibrating the instrument and, once completed, the GoTo system is exceedingly accurate in locating targets at the touch of a button. The telescope’s database boasts 40,000 targets to slew to but the GoTo facility drains batteries quickly.
- Incredible power and image quality
- An impressive suite of technology features
- No color fringing or coma
- Excellent tracking system
- Easy to set up & use
- Robust design
- Drains batteries quickly
- Alignment issues
- Only 1 included eyepiece
Celestron 6SE Review
Celestron’s NexStar 6SE is the middle child of the NexStar SE Schmidt-Cassegrains, with 5” and 8” models also available along with a 4” Maksutov-Cassegrain.
Among all of the NexStar series telescopes, the Celestron NexStar 6SE computerized telescope is one of the best-computerized telescopes for beginners currently available on the market.
Many beginners might find the idea of using a GoTo telescope daunting, but Celestron’s comprehensive manuals and software make the telescope super easy to use.
You can set it up and start observing the night sky in no time.
With a 6-inch aperture, this scope gathers 44% more light than the 5-inch version, allowing you to capture some incredible images of space and the celestial bodies.
The telescope is suitable for limited astrophotography, however, you will require a T-ring or adapter if you choose to photograph with a CCD, CMOS, or DSLR or a smartphone adapter for photography with your iPhone or Android.
My only complaint regarding this telescope is that it comes with only one 25mm eyepiece and its eight AA batteries drain out rather quickly.
Why is Celestron 6SE worth it for beginners & intermediates?
Celestron attempts to blend the perfect mixture of technology, power, and affordability with the 6SE model and gets pretty close to an ideal mix.
The three main factors that make it a telescope suitable for all user levels are its amazing optics and Celestron’s SkyAlign program along with a database of 40,000 celestial objects.
1. Great Optics
The 6SE is built and priced around the entry-level range for a beginner to a moderately experienced observer.
Due to its optical and mount system, it’s very practical to handle. It’s also noticeably light in terms of its aperture to weight ratio, so it’s naturally portable and easier to transport.
The telescope has a focal ratio of f/10 which is much higher than you usually see from a telescope of this size.
So this comes with some unique benefits. With a decent focal ratio combined with the light gathering ability of a 6” aperture, the 6SE allows you to see the structure of massive galactic sights much more apparent.
This telescope is great for looking at specific distant objects and it can show you some truly stunning details that other telescopes just can’t see.
Not only that, but the image quality of this telescope is off the charts.
You will have a hard time believing your eyes when you see the amount of structure and color this telescope can show you of things you never expected you would ever be able to see from your backyard.
I was amazed at how bright and sharp everything appeared, and all this despite being in a city and in a very polluted sky.
It is also an ideal telescope for beginners who are willing to invest a good sum of money in the hobby to learn more about the stargazing experience.
2. Celestron’s Massive Database
Before I explain what exactly is Celestron’s SkyAlign technology, let me tell you about one of the most impressive features of this telescope which is Celestron’s curated database of over 40,000 celestial objects that come preprogrammed into a remote that comes included.
That means right out of the box, your telescope is going to know about thousands of celestial objects and also have the ability to display them correctly.
The database contains everything from individual stars, nebula, galaxies, star clusters, planets, and moons.
The handy remote control separates all of the objects via category and allows you to browse through and pick an object quickly.
Once you pick an object, the rest of the computerized features come into play. The Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope’s fully computerized goto mount, which uses a manual altazimuth base moves into position based on whatever object you pick.
This is where the SkyAlign technology comes into play.
3. Celestron’s SkyAlign Technology
The 6SE comes with a handy SkyAlign program that allows the telescope to orient itself based on three different bright objects in the night sky.
All you have to do is pick an object from the handy controller, align the telescope using three bright objects visible in the sky, wait for the telescope to adjust itself, and find the chosen object.
That’s it! You are ready to view whatever you picked. If you want to keep the object in view for an extended viewing session, the telescope even tracks it across the sky for you so it won’t drift out of the eyepiece.
With the NexStar 6E, the GoTo controller takes all of the navigational work out of the equation, so you can instead focus on enjoying the beautiful sights the sky has to offer. Instead of spending hours of frustration trying to find the objects you’re looking for, you’ll be able to enjoy them in all their glory with the help of the GoTo motor.
Celestron NexStar 6SE: Design
The optical tube of the 6SE is a very compact Schmidt-Cassegrain Catadioptric design, allowing it to be portable while still packing a respectable amount of aperture.
I must tell you that due to the technology and components compacted into the telescope, it weighs 21 lbs. (9.53 kilograms).
Some users may find the telescope heavy and may need assistance in transporting it from one location to another.
The overall design of the NexStar 6SE is robust and the telescope looks and feels sturdy.
This rugged design almost guarantees that the telescope will last for years, provided it is treated with care.
The optical tube of the telescope is supported by an innovative one-armed fork design that is much easier to adjust and handle than the similar two-armed fork design.
The one-armed fork allows you to take the optical tube off the base for cleaning, adjustments, or travel easily without the headache and hassle of other designs.
Celestron NexStar 6SE: Optical Performance
A telescope’s optics play the most considerable role in how well that telescope is going to perform.
The 6SE provides a nice and wide field of view at low magnifications, making this scope perfect for observing brighter DSOs, galaxies, and nebulae.
At higher magnifications, the narrower field of view is ideal for brighter lunar and planetary observation.
The 1500 mm focal length and slow f/10 specs of the 6” SCT are great for seeing details of sky objects – even under light-polluted conditions.
The NexStar 6SE delivers incredible optical performance that’s very impressive for a telescope in this price range. There are no visual aberrations, coma, or color fringing to note when using this telescope.
Image contrast is great for a compound scope (the secondary mirror in a compound and other reflectors decreases contrast), and the internal baffling to prevent reflections in the tube is also very effective.
The 6SE is more than capable of producing a bright, clear, and sharp image at the eyepiece.
A single 25mm Plössl eyepiece is supplied with the Celestron 6SE to provide a magnification of 60x, but so much more can be achieved from the optical system, so I recommend purchasing a selection of eyepieces and filters — bearing in mind that the highest useful magnification is 354x — to get the very best out of this telescope.
A 2x Barlow lens is an excellent place to start if you’re on a budget, as it will double the magnification of the supplied 25mm eyepiece.
Celestron NexStar 6SE: Mount Capabilities
The GoTo fork mount is one of the best features of this telescope. The mount has 2” stainless steel tripod legs, 9 slew speeds, and a payload capacity of 12 lbs.
Each component of the mount is well built, and the electrical connections are secure and should last for years of use.
The single-arm extending from the mount is large and capable of supporting additional weight besides the optical tube, so you’ll be able to rely on this mount for astrophotography as well as visual observation.
As I mentioned before, this telescope possesses nine speeds for slewing to its target.
I found the mount to be notably noisy particularly when I used the moderate to fast settings.
This is not really a deal-breaker because the noise stops as soon as the telescope has found its position.
Also, if you find the noise off-putting and are happy to observe without a computerized mount, it’s quite easy to switch over to a manual one given that the tube possesses a Vixen-style dovetail.
Remember though, you will need a Vixen adapter if you want to fit the tube to another Celestron mount.
Celestron NexStar 6SE: Hand Controller
The NexStar 6SE mount uses the same NexStar+ hand controller supplied with most of Celestron’s computerized telescopes.
The hand controller contains over 40,000 celestial objects in its database and even has storage for user-input objects.
To use it, you enter your location, time, and date, point the telescope at two or three reference stars, and your telescope is ready to use. The whole process takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.
Once the telescope is aligned you can choose from lists of deep-sky objects, the planets, and double stars to point it at, which it’ll slew to automatically with high accuracy assuming you’ve aligned it properly.
The hand control provides up to five alignment options: SkyAlign, Auto Two-Star, Two Star, One-Star, and Solar System alignments points.
It also has multiple features that include anti-backslash, GPS on/off (if using a compatible GPS system), GoTo Approach, Autoguide Rates, Wedge Align, and more.
What can I see with Celestron 6SE?
With Celestron 6SE, you can expect to see the Moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus & Neptune. Outside the solar system, you can expect to see a lot of open star clusters like M35, M11, and M67. You can see M51’s spiral arms and the dust lanes in M82, M64, and M31. M33, M63, and M101 may also reveal faint spiral arms.
The few bright emission nebulae that dot our skies look magnificent in the 6SE, particularly if you use a good UHC nebula filter on them.
The 6SE performs admirably well when viewing objects inside of our solar system, and brighter deep space objects.
Celestron NexStar 6SE: Included Accessories
Beyond the OTA and mount, you’ll get some useful accessories that will help you get started right out of the box.
Here’s what comes inside the box:
- 25mm Plossl eyepiece (60-400x Magnification)
- StarPointer Finderscope
- Computerized Altazimuth Mount with Handset,
- NexRemote Control Software CD.
- Sturdy and resistant Steel Tripod.
- Tripod Accessory tray.
- The Sky – Software for Windows (help you identify celestial objects)
- RS-232 to Serial Port Cable for GPS 16 Accessory – to help you connect the telescope to your computer (download database updates etc)
The diagonal is well-built and allows you to comfortably look through the telescope’s eyepiece at any point in the sky, including the Zenith. The red dot finder is equally well made, and the NexStar+ hand controller is intuitive and easy to use.
Having a computerized telescope is both a blessing and a hassle. Every time you want to start your observation, you must first introduce data such as the time, the date, and the location.
You can start watching the celestial bodies only and after doing that. To avoid this hassle, you should purchase a GPS 16 Accessory.
This small and durable piece will shorten the time spent on mounting the scope, allowing you to have more time for stargazing.
Is the Celestron NexStar 6SE good for astrophotography?
Celestron Nexstar 6SE can be used with lightweight camera devices like a smartphone or CCD webcam-style camera for astrophotography. If you’re serious about astrophotography with 6SE, you’ll have to invest in a wedge (which turns alt-az mount into an equatorial), and a focal reducer.
This telescope will provide great photos of the brighter DSOs you’ll find, but it performs at its best for lunar and planetary photographs.
Celestron 6SE – 2 Year Warranty Guarantee
Celestron telescopes, including the 6SE, come with a 2-year warranty. So if you notice that the scope, the computer, the database, or the mount does not function as it should, you can send it back to get it repaired/brand new scope depending on the issue.
I strongly advise you that you should never try to repair the telescope by yourself. You will likely lose your warranty and will not be entitled to a repair/new scope.
Celestron NexStar 6SE: Limitations
The major limitation of this telescope is that it requires eight AA batteries to operate the computerized alt-azimuth fork mount. Unfortunately, the NexStar 6SE drains batteries quite quickly, making using it quite frustrating when the computer “clocks out” whilst you’re engrossed in observing.
To deal with this issue, you can power the mount with batteries or with an external power source like the Celestron Power Tank.
A rechargeable power pack is a smart investment, especially if you use your telescope often.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most reviewed and recommended telescopes for astronomers. Its power, ease of use, portability, sleek design, and range of accessories make this a brilliant first telescope or upgrade to your current piece.
The Celestron NexStar 6 SE produces super sharp images of the night sky and, once aligned, finds objects with absolute precision.
I highly recommend it especially for beginners and intermediate-level astronomers.
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