Celestron Nexstar 6SE vs 8SE [Telescope Review & Comparison]

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In this review, we’ll take a close look at the Celestron Nexstar 6SE vs 8SE. We’ll explore some of the key similarities and differences between these two reputable computerized telescopes.

One of my favorite telescope ranges, the Celestron Nexstar combines excellent optics with an innovative design. Celestron offers the telescope in a variety of different versions and ‘sizes’, enabling you to select the scope that suits your own viewing needs and preferences. One thing’s for sure, both of these models have collected widespread acclaim and positive reviews.

If you are running short of time, and just want a quick overview of what is to follow below, here it is:

Both Celestron Nexstar models are well manufactured and premium telescopes utilizing an f/10 focal ratio and StarBright XLT Optical Coatings to provide you with clear, balanced views of the Solar System and Distant Galaxies.

You’ll be able to observe objects like Cassini’s Division in Saturn’s rings, the Cloud Bands on Jupiter, Geographic Features on the surface of the Moon, and Deep Sky Objects like pinpoint stars in the Hercules Globular Cluster and the spiral arms of the Whirlpool Galaxy etc.

However, the 8SE is considered optically superior to the 6SE variant, with a greater Light Gathering Ability (it can collect 78% more light) and Magnification. The 8SE will enable deeper observations into the night sky and will provide visibility into more DSOs (Deep Sky Objects) like the Red Star Giant. For the most part, the 8SE is the superior model to get if you have the extra budget to spend (available on Amazon). 

While the Nexstar 6SE is similar to the 8SE in many ways, there are some interesting similarities and differences. Here they are:

We’ll do a quick comparison table next, then I’ll break each of the similarities and differences down in more detail in this post.

Difference #1: Aperture (Light Gathering Ability)

The fundamental difference between the two models is the aperture, the light-gathering ability of each telescope. The 8SE is no doubt far superior providing you with 78% more light and a 843x light gathering power compared to the 459x of the 6SE.

For telescopes, the bigger the aperture and light-collecting power the better. It means you can observe more in the night sky and uncover fainter stars and more distant deep sky objects.

When considering the 8SE, I guess it depends on what you are looking to observe but it will give you considerably more objects to go out and identify (if you wanted).

Difference #2: Magnification

Very much along the same lines, the magnification is also superior on the 8SE (81x vs 60x) with the highest theoretical magnification coming in at 480x compared to the 354x. So you are going to be able to observe objects with a lot more detail and clarity with the 8SE over the 6SE.

With Telescope Magnification, more is not necessarily better unless it is backed up by Aperture (thankfully the Nexstar offers this), Otherwise objects can appear dimmer but this is not likely to be the case with either Nexstar setup due to Celestron’s fine balancing of Aperture/Magnification on both models.

Difference #3: Apparent Field of View

In astronomy terms, the field of view refers to the amount of the night sky you will be able to see at any one time (the circle of sky visible through the eyepiece). The apparent field of view is how large that field appears to your eye in the eyepiece. This is important as it dictates what you can actually see at any one time.

Generally speaking, as you reach higher magnifications, the field of view is a smaller piece of the sky.

As the Nexstar 6SE has a higher Apparent Field of View to the 8SE – you will be able to see more of the night sky with each snapshot, and more of the field at at any one time.

Some objects in the sky will require a larger or wider field of view to fully observe them, so this is something to consider when comparing the 6SE to 8SE – what do you want to see and how?

Difference #4: Weight

One of the factors you should consider when buying a telescope is where do you actually want to use it? Do you want to take it with you on the go or are you looking to frequently take it with you on the go to new spots?

Either way, the weight is going to be a factor in how easy it is going to be to maneuver.

The Celestron 6SE is lighter (30 lbs/ 13.6kg) compared to the 8SE (33 lbs/ 15kg) meaning it is slightly more portable and easy to carry. While 3 lbs is not a huge difference, it is of course adding to the load if you need to carry the scope for any period of time.

Having said that, 3 pounds is marginal, and whether it’s 30 lbs (13kg), or 33 lbs (15kg) these are light telescopes compared to others on the market. This makes them ideal for taking with you on the go.

Going further it is important to note that the 6SE and 8SE both come with exactly the same Mounts/Tripods. So effectively, for the 8SE the Mount/Tripod has to carry this additional weight. While they were both designed to carry the weight, the 8SE is nearer the top of the weight limit. So the 6SE may feel slightly sturdier for this reason.

Difference #5: Price

Finally, the 8SE is more expensive than the 6SE for obvious reasons; it is optically superior bringing you more power in a similar sized and weighted scope.

Typically the 8SE is a couple of hundred $s more than the 6SE but you can always get good prices over at Amazon:

View the NexStar 6SE on Amazon     |     View the NexStar 8SE on Amazon

Similarity #1: Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope Design

As the 6SE and 8SE are both telescopes from the same range, it follows that they both utilize the same optical design – the Schmidt Cassegrain (compared to the other types like Newtonian/Dobsonian.

Cassegrains are designed with a mirror at the back and a lens at the front. This means that the light path is folded, and the optical tubes can be much shorter (meaning a more compact telescope). This also corrects the image coma that Newtonian and Dobsonian Telescopes cause.

There are many advantages for opting for a Schmidt Cassegrain:

  • All-purpose telescopes. Ideal for Deep Sky Observations, Astrophotography (work well with DSLR cameras), Planetary and Lunar Observations
  • Small, compact, and portable (unlike Newtonian/Dobsonian scopes). The 8SE has a tube that is 432mm (43cm) in length. An 8″ Dobsonian has around 3x this.
  • Unrivaled optical quality with crisp images over a wide field.
  • Motor-driven tracking and computerized goto functionality.
  • Maintenance-free and infrequently require collimation (optical alignment), unlike Newtonian/Dobsonian telescopes. Plus the longer focal lengths mean collimation is less of an issue.
  • Hold alignment as they age,
  • Longer focal lengths mean that collimation errors are less important.

Similarity #2: Easy Set-Up, Dismantling, and Easy To Use

The Celestron NexStar telescopes are renowned for being intuitive to use and easy to set up/dismantle making them ideal for astronomy beginners and those looking for a telescope to use on the go.

I like the fact that the NexStar telescopes break down into small compact pieces, so you can always put them in the boot of your car and store them away in your home when they are not in use.

The steel tripod comes fully assembled and is instantly ready to use. It has quick-release attachments that you can use to connect to the fork mount along with the optical tube assembly. Set up for both telescopes typically takes around 5 minutes, and you do not need any tools!

Similarity #3: Computerized GoTo Mount (40,000+ Database Objects) with SkyAlign Technology

Both the Celestron Nexstar 6SE and 8SE come with the widely acclaimed Computerized Altitude-Azimuth Single Fork Arm Mount.

The Mount is constructed with high-quality components and you can effortlessly point and track thousands of objects in the sky.

Using the integrated SkyAlign technology, all you need to do is use the hand control and press a button to coordinate. From there the mount takes care of the rest.

With the NexStars, there are over 40,000 objects for you to observe – and more being added all the time.

If you are new to astronomy or are not quite sure how to navigate the night sky and identify objects, this functionality is incredibly useful. You don’t need to know the positions or names of the stars either – you just need to type in your date and time, select your location into the hand control.

NexStar telescopes are therefore ideal for young adults and even children.

Similarity #4: Extra Equipment Provided – Eyepiece, Finderscope, Star Diagonal 

As standard, all Celestron NexStar orders come with a range of extra components that will help you to observe them. As we have already discussed, you’ll be getting the Single Fork Arm Mount and Tripod (which are sold separately and are quite costly purchased that way).

You also get an Accessory Tray to store all of your items along with a Star Pointer Finderscope and Star Diagonal.

A Star Pointer allows you to ‘point and look’ and with an easily identifiable red dot, you can easily stay in position in the night sky.

The Star Diagonal is also a useful additional item – it gives you better comfort when viewing especially when the telescope is pointed overhead.

Both the 6SE and 8SE come with their own respective eyepieces. The 6Se includes a 25mm eyepiece that provides 60x magnification, whereas the 8SE includes an eyepiece that provides 81x magnification.

Similarity #5: Two Year Warranty

The majority of Celestron products, including the NexStar telescopes, come with a 2-year warranty as standard.

This means you will receive your telescope free from any defects in any of the components for two years.

In the unlikely event that you are to experience an issue upon arrival or during that time, Celestron will repair or replace your NexStar so long as it was defective in materials or workmanship at their end.

As telescopes are highly technical and expensive pieces of equipment, having this extended warranty is useful and serves as extra protection for any purchase.

If you want to truly know how the 6SE and 8SE look against one another, the two Celestron videos below will help you to get a feel for their design:

NexStar 6SE

NexStar 8SE

I am a huge advocate of buying the biggest and best telescope you can afford.

If you have the budget, the 8SE is the standout winner for me. It gathers significantly more light (78% more to be precise) and has considerably higher magnification, meaning that you will be able to observe more than what the 6SE is going to be able to provide. With astronomy – more light = power.

That being said, if you do not have the extra funds, the 6SE is still a formidable and premium telescope. In fact, for the price, you are going to struggle to find a better-constructed telescope with high-quality optics as this.

As you will see from the similarities above – whether you opt for the 6SE or the 8SE, you are going to be getting a great telescope for a great price.