Between all the NexStar SE telescopes, why would you opt for one of the smaller ones?
The NexStar 5SE has a place in the market even though it doesn’t get as much light transmission as the 6SE or 8SE.
With StarBright XLT coatings, GoTo, portability, and a light weight, this telescope offers plenty to be a worthwhile buy.
As a very popular telescope, zoom in on its details to see if the 5” model is the right one for you.
Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: Ultra-lightweight
❌ Worst Feature: Requires 12V power supply
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Limited Astrophotography
- Optical Design: Schmidt-Cassegrain
- Aperture: 125 mm (4.92”)
- Focal Length: 1250 mm (49”)
- Focal Ratio: f/10
- Eyepieces Included: 25 mm
Our Verdict: Not everyone needs the weight that comes with a bigger aperture, so if this sounds like you, the 5SE provides a good balance between light-grasp and a lightweight platform. With GoTo, a built-in wedge, and great optics for seeking out planets, you’ll be kept busy until you’re ready for a larger upgrade.
Who is the Celestron NexStar 5SE Best Suited to?
The primary benefits of the NexStar 5SE computerized telescope is its lightweight platform, GoTo, and planetary performance. This will appeal to those who want to travel often with their telescope, prefer the convenience of having GoTo for automatic object locating and slewing, and who want to maximize their planetary observations and possibly planetary imaging.
Smaller aperture scopes will always be cheaper than larger ones, and GoTo will always be more expensive than manual mounts. With a 5” aperture and a computerized mount, you have a fair price for this NexStar setup.
If you’re on a budget and need the 5SE’s features, it will serve you well.
How Does the Celestron NexStar 5SE Perform?
The NexStar 5SE is a portable compact telescope. Like many SCTs, it comes on a computerized alt-azimuth fork arm mount. This makes for a very lightweight setup for those who want user-friendliness and the convenience of traveling and setting up their telescope system under dark skies.
The optics are excellent for its Schmidt-Cassegrain design and 5” aperture. Yes, it’s on the smaller side for an SCT, but it does have its benefits. Popular for its planetary performance, you can see surface details with great contrast and brightness with its f/10 focal ratio and 1250 mm focal length. Plug in a high-power eyepiece and watch celestial objects come into view with ease.
The mount on the NexStar SEs are light-duty, so they’re not your imaging type of mount. However, they do provide GoTo which is extremely helpful for finding objects, and a built-in wedge could very well provide some automatic tracking benefits as well.
Features & Benefits
One big advantage of the 5SE versus the larger models of the NexStar SEs is its lighter OTA weight. Weighing in at only 6 lbs, it’s extremely well-suited to the load capacity of the mount which is only 10 lbs.
The 5SE with its smaller aperture is a good thing for many who travel to observe because the total kit weighs less than 20 lbs. Besides, getting under dark skies would obviously be the best move to maximize as much light transmission as possible and minimize light pollution for quality views.
The 2” stainless steel legs definitely help with stability, and you have some leeway to load up the OTA for visual-only use while gears run smoothly. Anything you can do to help keep the mount running accurately and without excess strain is a must-have if you’re going to have GoTo at all.
Don’t underestimate the 5” aperture of the NexStar 5SE. Undoubtedly, it’s smaller but it’s so much more portable and convenient for travel. With a good LPR (Light Pollution Reduction) filter, you’ll enhance your visibility of bright objects and bring out more detail on the dim ones.
With good optical quality under its belt, you can reach up to 250x magnification which is a good cap for a 5” scope. Because it is a 1250mm telescope, a focal reducer/corrector could help to widen the field of view at low power like with the included 1.25” 25mm Plossl eyepiece that provides 50x magnification.
You can get more with shorter focal length high-power eyepieces, attach a moon filter, and see the rings of Saturn, belts and moons of Jupiter, and more very easily.
Computerized Alt-AZ Mount
Like many SCTs, the NexStar 5SE comes with a single fork arm mount that is also used on the 6SE and 8SE models – so the mounts on each scope provides identical benefits.
With this model, you’re guaranteed smoother GoTo performance because you likely haven’t maxed-out the weight cap. It offers excellent stability free of vibrations even at maximum power. While the hand control offers a database of approximately 40,000 objects, many will not be visible through the NexStar simply due to the small aperture and 40% by diameter secondary obstruction.
You can make quick work of aligning the GoTo with SkyAlign, Auto 2-Star Align, Solar System Align, and more. The mount lacks dual encoders, so you cannot slew the telescope manually without ruining the GoTo alignment. Even if you neglected GoTo for manual slewing, the azimuth axis is difficult to slew by hand.
Because the 5SE is a long focal length slow telescope, it does provide fantastic views of the planets. If you’re a very new beginner to telescopes who needs help finding them, GoTo can get you there.
While you must input the date and location specifics every time you power it on, you can purchase a GPS system separately and it’ll do the work for you. You may also want to consider buying a WiFi module for the NexStar so that you can control the mount from your smartphone and bypass the hand control.
While the 5SE comes with features suited to astrophotography, it’s really too light-duty for deep space imaging but you can get away with up to 30 second exposures, stacking, and ditch the frames you don’t want.
It is worth mentioning that the NexStar is compatible with the Fastar/HyperStar lens to achieve fast f/2 performance, but you’ll need to remain weight conscious about the type of DSLR or CCD camera you choose. A good option would be the NexImage webcam.
With a built-in wedge and option to polar align, you can also achieve some crude but functional equatorial movement to track objects. It doesn’t offer fine EQ adjustments for serious astrophotography, and with a long focal length and light payload capacity, it’s really not for imaging anyway although that doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at it.
Requires 12V Power Supply
For most GoTo systems to run efficiently, they require 12V power supplies like a battery tank. The NexStar 5SE is no different. It will provide long-lasting, reliable power for as long as you want it.
However, the issue is that the NexStar is advertised for its 8x AA battery compatibility. While technically true, the Celestron SCT telescope eats battery life like a kid in candy shop – fast. You won’t get much time to observe relying on only AA batteries and it will prove to get expensive very quickly.
Can you see Galaxies and Nebulae with the Celestron NexStar 5SE?
Even with the 5” aperture and 2” secondary mirror obstruction, you can still see a great deal of the night sky with the NexStar 5SE. With GoTo, you will be able to locate galaxies and nebulae, although using filters will help to enhance the view as they will be harder to see compared to scopes with a larger aperture.
Does the NexStar SE Telescope Need to be Collimated?
The NexStar 5SE should come collimated from factory. It will require collimation every now and then, but it holds very well. It’s not uncommon to go months without having to collimate the SCT scope. If you travel with it, the telescope is likely to be accidently knocked here and there and would require more frequent collimation versus one that is setup and used at home.
Can you see What the NexStar is Seeing from a Laptop/Computer?
With its current setup, there is no way to see what the telescope is seeing through a device. You must use a camera or digital camera eyepiece connected to a computer to achieve this benefit.
Does the Celestron NexStar SE GoTo Need Internet to Work?
No. You do not need cellphone data or internet access to operate the NexStar 5SE. The hand controller has all the preloaded features and functions needed for operating GoTo.
If you use software with the telescope, you will need the WiFi module and the ability to connect to it to WiFi.
What is Included with the NexStar Telescope?
The NexStar 5SE comes with the single fork arm mount, NexStar+ hand control, and tripod with accessory tray. It also comes with a Star Pointer Finderscope, star diagonal, 25 mm Plossl eyepiece, and a built-in wedge.
The NexStar 5SE is covered with a 2-year Celestron warranty.
Beginners new to GoTo are looking for great optics, portability, and a decent price. The NexStar 5SE has all these requirements to be a good, dependable scope for a long time to come.
While it’s not built to excel for EQ-type tracking and astro-imaging, it does provide a taste of both features with its built-in wedge and ability to be used with accessories for trying your hand at astrophotography.
For lightweight, entry-level GoTo scopes that will help you stay within budget, the NexStar SE scopes should be serious considerations.