Celestron NexStar 5SE telescope review

The Celestron NexStar 5SE is an all-rounder that's hard to beat as an introduction to observing and imaging

Celestron NexStar 5SE review
(Image: © Celestron)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Celestron NexStar 5SE is a highly reliable, affordable and travel-friendly telescope that oozes accessibility and versatility from its classic orange Celestron optical tube. In its size and price class, it’s hard to beat, and with SkyAlign, it has a beginner-friendly system for getting started that will also be highly prized by more experienced astronomers who want to get going quickly before the clouds roll in. The long focal length and high focal ratio tailor the NexStar 5SE to lunar and planetary imaging in particular, and it will facilitate great images of the our neighbors in the Solar System as well as some of the brighter deep-sky objects such as the Orion Nebula or the Andromeda Galaxy.


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    (Almost) complete package for beginners

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    Good GoTo system

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    Best at planetary imaging


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    Only one eyepiece of average quality

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    Motors drain batteries quickly

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    Not perfect for imaging faint deep-sky objects

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    Long-exposure astrophotography is restricted

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The Celestron NexStar 5SE follows Celestron's tradition of making exceptional Schmidt-Cassegrains, and is one of the most recent in a long line of five-inch aperture models dating back to the early 1970s. The NexStar 5SE lives up to the reputation of its predecessors, only with added bells and whistles in the form of a motorized GoTo mount that provides access to almost 40,000 moons, planets, stars, nebulae, clusters and galaxies in its database.

As a general rule of thumb, how much you can see with your telescope depends largely on its aperture. Pleasingly, if there were a Venn diagram of telescope aperture and portability, the NexStar 5SE would be in the intersection – compact enough to be transportable, but with enough aperture to resolve small details or drink in enough light to see or image fainter objects well. An excellent offering that's not only suitable for beginners, but also for seasoned astronomers hunting for a "grab and go" instrument that delivers exceptional image quality at the touch of a button.

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Gemma Lavender

Gemma is content director of science and space magazines How It Works and All About Space, history magazines All About History and History of War as well as Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) kids education brand Future Genius. She is the author of several books including "Quantum Physics in Minutes", "Haynes Owners’ Workshop Manual to the Large Hadron Collider" and "Haynes Owners’ Workshop Manual to the Milky Way". She holds a degree in physical sciences, a Master’s in astrophysics and a PhD in computational astrophysics. She was elected as a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2011. Previously, she worked for Nature's journal, Scientific Reports, and created scientific industry reports for the Institute of Physics and the British Antarctic Survey. She has covered stories and features for publications such as Physics World, Astronomy Now and Astrobiology Magazine.