Complete NexStar Guide: SLT vs SE vs Evolution Comparison – Choosing Your Ideal Telescope

Celestron’s NexStar range of telescopes stands as an iconic collection in the astronomy community, mirroring the quality and history of the brand. The distinctive bright orange of the NexStar SE series gives a nod to Celestron’s heritage, back to the original debut of their classic C8 tube telescope. These telescopes are known for bringing the wonders of space closer to both amateur and experienced stargazers, presenting the moon, planets, and deep-sky objects with clarity.

With several lines under the NexStar banner – including the SLT, SE, and Evolution model releases – there’s a commitment to providing personalised experiences for all levels of astronomy enthusiasts. Variations in features such as aperture size, magnification abilities and integrated technology across these lines illustrate Celestron’s effort to cater to a diverse range of astronomical interests and requirements. From observing Saturn’s rings with a high-resolution lens to exploring the Orion Nebula or other celestial objects, NexStar telescopes are designed to enhance our exploration of the night sky.

Key Takeaways

  • NexStar telescopes merge Celestron’s storied past with modern astronomical needs, highlighting a variety of models tailored to different preferences.
  • Advanced features like the Computerized GoTo Mount and SkyAlign Technology are central to the NexStar range, offering enhanced stargazing experiences.
  • Model-specific attributes like aperture size, magnification, and technological accessories distinguish each line, catering to a spectrum of astronomers from beginners to the experienced.
NEXSTARSLT SeriesSE SeriesEvolution Series
90 SLT102 SLT127 SLT130 SLT4SE5SE6SE8SEEvolution 6Evolution 8Evolution 9.25
Size (mm)
90mm / 102mm127mm / 130mm102mm / 125mm150mm / 203.2mm150mm / 203.2mm235mm
Highest Useful
213x / 241x300x / 207x241x / 295x354x / 480x354x / 480x555x
Database Objects10,000+40,000+120,000+
w/ Tripod
12 lbs / 14 lbs18 lbs/ 18 lbs21 lbs / 28 lbs30 lbs/ 33 lbs35.4 lbs / 36 lbs46.6 lbs
Power SourceAA Batteriesx 8AA Batteriesx 8Internal Rechargeable Battery
StarBright XLT CoatingNOYESYES
iOS / Android

Automated Star Tracking System

When we’re venturing into amateur astronomy, the challenge of spotting celestial bodies can be daunting. We’ve perhaps gazed at the moon or the brightest planets for a few evenings, but soon we crave the thrill of discovering what lies beyond our own solar system.

Computerised GoTo Mounts:

  • Offer automated object location, enabling us to find stars and galaxies with ease.
  • Navigate the night sky with pre-programmed sky maps, minimising the learning curve.

Key Features of GoTo Telescopes:

  • Tracking Accuracy: Auto-tracking aligns the telescope to follow objects as they move.
  • Mounting: Provides a stable platform, essential for clear, focused observation.
  • Object Database: Contains thousands of celestial bodies for easy selection.
  • Software: Includes intuitive applications that guide the telescope’s alignment.
  • Hand Control: Users operate the telescope with a computerised hand controller.

Such technology in computerised telescopes, especially in models like the NexStar series, has made observing distant celestial objects far more accessible to us, encouraging a tantalising foray into the cosmos without the initial frustration.

SkyAlign Methodology

The Celestron NexStar telescope offers a seamless stargazing experience, particularly with the integration of the SkyAlign feature. Here’s how we can put it to work:

  • Identify three bright stars in the sky.
  • Align our NexStar telescope to each one.
  • The telescope then matches our position with known celestial points, regardless of where we are or the time of year.

Once alignment is successfully completed, we gain access to an extensive database of night-sky objects, ready for us to explore.

Enhanced Optical Clarity with StarBright XLT Coating

Optical Performance:

  • Utilises patented StarBright XLT optical coating
  • Boosts light transmission

Retained Luminosity:

  • Focuses on reducing optical input and reflection loss
  • Critical for maintaining a bright and clear view


  • Coating integrated on interior optics where light diminishment can occur
  • Not featured on SLT telescope models


  • Delivers enhanced views of the cosmos
  • Ensures optimal light preservation

By minimising light falloff throughout the telescope’s optics, we enhance our night sky observations. These advancements in optical technology embody our commitment to delivering exceptional stargazing experiences.

Comparison Between NexStar SLT and SE Models

When choosing between the Celestron NexStar SLT and SE series, we consider several factors that could sway our decision based on individual requirements and budget. The SLT series offers a budget-friendly solution to new astronomers, whereas the SE line is more feature-rich, catering to both intermediate enthusiasts and determined beginners.

  • Price Point: The SLT is an attractive option for those who are budget-conscious but desire a computerised GoTo telescope. It strikes a balance between cost and functionality.
  • Mount Quality: SE telescopes boast a mount that is more robust, reducing visual disturbances from accidental nudges. This stability isn’t as pronounced in SLT models, which are noted to exhibit vibrations that can momentarily affect viewing clarity.
  • Built-in Wedge: Unique to the NexStar 4SE and 5SE models, the integrated wedge enables the scope to align with the Earth’s axis, crucial for long-exposure astrophotography and time-lapse imaging. Purchasing a wedge separately for other models could cost upwards of $200.
  • Database of Celestial Objects: The NexStar SE outshines the SLT with a database containing over 40,000 celestial bodies—more than 10 times those available on the SLT line, providing a more comprehensive sky exploration experience.
  • Aperture and Build: SE models sport larger apertures and Schmidt-Cassegrain optical designs, which gather more light and offer clearer, more detailed views of distant celestial objects. The SLT line, with its Maksutov-Cassegrain setup, is more compact, making it a more portable choice.
  • Portability and Ease of Use: The NexStar SLT telescopes, notably the SLT 130 or Celestron NexStar 127SLT, benefit from being lighter and more manageable for transportation, thanks to their design and lighter-duty tripods.
  • Focal Ratios: SE telescopes typically feature faster focal ratios which can influence the field of view and potential for certain types of astrophotography.
  • Exterior Design: The iconic orange tube of the NexStar SE lineup not only gives it a distinct aesthetic but also indicates its advanced capabilities compared to the black design of the SLT telescopes.

Our consensus is that both lines have their merits: SLT telescopes are excellent entry points for beginners, while SE models provide the enhanced build, extensive database and additional features better suited for those looking to delve deeper into astronomy. The 6SE offers a 6-inch aperture and enhanced build quality with the Schmidt-Cassegrain design, making it a significant step up from smaller aperture models.

In summary, our selection between the NexStar SLT and SE lines rests upon our commitment to astronomy, the importance of astrophotography to our pursuits, and the depth of our pockets. It’s crucial to align our telescope choice with our aspirations and the scope of our celestial explorations.

Comparison: NexStar SE Series Vs. Evolution Series

When contrasting the Celestron NexStar SE series with the Evolution line, we observe significant differences indicative of the latter’s advanced specifications.

Aperture and Cost

  • The Evolution telescopes begin with a minimum 6” aperture.
  • Starting prices are approximately $500 higher than the SE models of equivalent aperture size.
  • This range caters to enthusiasts preferring high-calibre observing experiences.

Power Supply

  • Evolution models feature an integrated lithium-ion battery, negating the need for external power sources.
  • Users can enjoy up to 10 hours of operation, typically ample for an entire night of stargazing.
  • SE and SLT models require additional investment in an external battery, such as the Celestron PowerTank.

Astrophotography Suitability

  • Both series offer good performance for astrophotography.
  • Evolution telescopes are often preferred for their more robust build and longer battery life.

Versatility and Mobility

  • Internal batteries make Evolution telescopes more portable and user-friendly in the field.
  • Small precision declines are reported in the last 2 hours of battery use but are considered a minor compromise for the convenience offered.

Consumer Preference

  • The attachable price point of the Evolution range is justified by its enhanced features and capabilities.
  • Despite the series being power-intensive, the convenience of an included power solution makes it favoured by many.

Both the NexStar SE and Evolution series have their distinct advantages, with the latter offering a more premium experience at a higher cost. This makes the Evolution series particularly suited for those looking to invest in a more versatile and feature-rich astronomical tool. It excels particularly in remote viewing contexts where the internal battery eases operational concerns, thus supporting prolonged observations of celestial bodies. Whether aiming for wide-field observation or closer planetary imaging, these telescopes stand out in both performance and convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can We Observe with a Celestron NexStar 6SE?

  • Planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the cloud bands or rings they possess.
  • Moon: Craters, valleys, and rilles in stunning clarity.
  • Deep-Sky Objects: Nebulae, star clusters, and distant galaxies.

Comparing Optics: Celestron 5SE versus the 130 SLT

  • Aperture: 5SE offers a 125mm aperture, whereas 130 SLT has a slightly larger 130mm.
  • Mount: 5SE comes with a single fork arm mount, the 130 SLT has a motorised alt-azimuth mount.
  • Features: Both offer GoTo capabilities, but the 5SE often includes more advanced features.

Is the NexStar 8SE Suitable for Novice Astrophotographers?

  • Ease of Use: User-friendly with automated tracking.
  • Capability: Excellent light-gathering power for capturing celestial images.
  • Cost: Higher investment, but offers growth for an astrophotography hobby.

Defining Traits of the Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope Type

  • Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT).
  • Compact Size: Offers a balance between portability and performance.
  • Versatility: Good for both terrestrial and celestial viewing.

Distinctive Features of the Evolution Series Compared to SLT and SE Models

FeatureEvolution SeriesSLT and SE Models
MountAdvanced computerised WiFi mountComputerised GoTo Mount
Power OptionsBuilt-in battery for cordless operationExternal power sources required
App IntegrationUse with Celestron’s app for operationsHand controller predominantly used

Advantages of Opting for a NexStar 8SE for Hobbyist Astronomers

  • Larger Aperture: Enhanced detail of celestial objects.
  • Light Gathering: Superior to smaller models, better for dim objects.
  • Expandability: More suitable for long-term growth in the hobby.