Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope Review

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I don’t have a lot of time to do the things I love. There are some nights I want to go out and catch some celestial views but I just don’t have the time or the energy to set up my scope, align it, find what I want to see, focus it and then spend the time enjoying it. This has put me off many nights and I suspect I am not alone in this.

I had heard rumors about computerized telescopes that do all the legwork for you but after a little bit of research they seemed complicated and expensive and I didn’t want to take the plunge on them. Then I looked into the Celestron SE series of telescopes and I immediately found what I was looking for.

The Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope is the smallest and most compact telescope available in the SE series of computerized telescopes by Celestron. It is affordable, powerful, and most importantly, automated. This telescope comes with all of the bells and whistles that you expect in a computerized telescope made in the 21st century but this model also is affordable to most who want it.


  • Maksutov-Cassegrain optics
  • 4” primary aperture
  • f/13 focal ratio
  • 240x highest theoretical magnification
  • 22lbs assembled weight

The computerized features of this telescope are truly awesome and the telescope itself is a high-quality Maksutov-Cassegrain by Celestron and the combination works really well. The SE series of NexStar telescopes are truly great and this one is no exception.

Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope Review
  • Large database of preprogrammed celestial objects
  • Fully computerized go-to mount system
  • SkyAlign tech makes the set up a breeze
  • Compact and lightweight
  • High focal ratio can limit some views
  • 5SE model available for almost the same price
  • Some software glitches reported
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If you’re in the market for a high tech, fun, easy to use and affordable telescope to fill out your evenings when you don’t have time to fiddle endlessly with a manual telescope then this could very well be the perfect telescope for you.

Fun Features

This is a massively fun telescope that offers a lot. Celestron has done a lot to make this computerized telescope one of the tops on the market. The whole SE line is great and the Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope is no exception.

Optics First

The Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope is a 4” Maksutov-Cassegrain design which combines the reflective primary mirror of a Newtonian reflector and a secondary lens from a refractor telescope to give us the best of both. This telescope design was created in the early 20th century by a Russian engineer looking to improve upon current telescope designs.

The results were very good. The Maksutov-Cassegrain eliminates the aberrations that crop up in refractors while giving us the power of a reflector without all of the fragility and hassle that true reflectors occasionally display.

The power of this telescope is good. It offers a solid amount of light gathering capability with the 4” primary aperture. This makes it about twice as powerful as some of the cheaper telescopes on the market. It gives plenty of magnification power at 240x max zoom.

This makes it so it will be able to find all of your favorite sights and plenty of sights that you didn’t know you wanted to see and will display them in great detail. The image quality on this telescope is fantastic, especially for distant galaxies, planets and other bright objects.

The image quality is so good in fact, that this telescope has attracted a lot of users who are focusing on astrophotography. The Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope has taken some stunning deep space pictures including pictures of distant spiral galaxies, Jupiter in high contrast and far off nebula.

It is hard to find telescopes that offer the kind of quality that makes astrophotography viable so that speaks volumes to the overall detail that this telescope can provide.

Computerized Go-To Mount

If you are worried about honing your skills or finding the time enough to track down these amazing deep space objects to take a look at, don’t be. This telescope is designed to do all of the heavy lifting for you leaving you to simply view the sights without having to worry about anything else.

The fully computerized go-to mount is able to locate objects in the sky, focus on them and track them over the course of the evening, all without your input. This means that the only work you will have to do is to map out what objects you want the telescope to find for you and then wait for it to find them.

This is all possible because of Celestron’s SkyAlign technology. In other computerized telescopes, they can still require you to manually align the telescope so that it knows where it is. This can add time and defeat the purpose of the automatic telescope. Aligning a scope properly can be very difficult and frustrating.

SkyAlign uses proprietary tech to focus on any three bright objects in the sky to locate itself and begin to calibrate and align on its own. All you have to do is point it at three bright objects in the sky. This can be as easy as pointing it at Orion, the moon and Sirius for example. Everyone knows three bright objects and they are easy to find.

Just line up the scope on any of a multitude of bright objects and wait for it to do all of the thinking and calibrating for you and then it will be ready to go tracking objects. When it works, it works very well and could not be easier.

Dazzling Database

All of this automatic, servomotor, computerized goodness is only as good as the database it is running off of. If it only knows the visible objects in the sky then it is no better than what you can offer. That is why Celestron has built an impressive database containing over 40,000 known celestial objects in the sky.

This means once the telescope has aligned itself it has access to a database that can find tens of thousands of objects to show you. This is done through a nifty handheld device that allows you to sort, search and choose an object that you want to see. Once you’ve made a decision the telescope will do its thing, find the object, focus on it and give you the best view possible.

Other computerized telescopes offer their own databases but as far as I can tell Celestron’s is the most robust. 40,000 is a lot of objects. Best of all, the telescope is also capable of tracking the objects for you.

This means if you find an object that is particularly interesting or looks particularly good that evening, the telescope will keep it in view for as long as you need it to, keeping the object in question within the eyepiece. This takes the stress of keeping those pesky wandering stars in view and leaves the actual viewing to you.

The combination of the automatic mount and the database means that this telescope could potentially offer unlimited entertainment and educational value. Even if you attempted to find ten or twenty objects a night, this database can sustain that kind of curiosity for literal years and that is without getting fixated on any specific part of the sky for any amount of time.

Set Anywhere

One of the unique features of this design is that it can be placed on a flat surface. The mount is made so that it can be attached to a tripod or it can simply be set down on a flat surface. Many telescopes require some sort of tripod to be assembled properly.

Combined with the relatively small size and weight of this telescope, the Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope becomes versatile and agile in terms of set up. If you have a flat outdoor space or a picnic table at a campground or any similar kind of hard flat surface with an open sky over it, you simply have to put this telescope down and turn it on.

This eliminates rickety or wobbly tripods which can cause anxiety when your expensive scope is attached to it. This is eliminated by this nifty design feature which I appreciated. It is cool to just set it down on a flat surface and align it and watch it go. This makes it even easier for beginners or people pressed for time to get it ready.

Optional Extras

All of the standard features of this telescope are great but Celestron also adds some optional extras that really can push this telescope over the edge. I usually do not mention optional features in my reviews because they don’t come included but the Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope is an exception because some of these things are very useful.

The first option is anywhere GPS compatibility. SkyAlign is very useful but some people have claimed to have had issues with it working properly 100% of the time. The Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope comes with built-in compatibility to add a GPS component to the scope meaning that it will be able to locate itself and align itself from anywhere at any time without SkyAlign.

Celestron NexStar 4SE Overview

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This optional extra just adds another high tech dimension to this telescope that can make it a truly great travel telescope. Combined with the small size and weight the GPS module could make this the perfect telescope to take with you on your road trips, hikes or any outdoor adventures.

The other optional upgrade that is available is the ability to add in a power source. Right now, the scope runs on 8 AA batteries. This is great when you want to take it with you to dark sky spots with no power but this telescope can really chew through batteries when being used regularly at full power. The option to add a power source is great and can save a lot on batteries over the long haul, especially if you’ll be using this scope at home near a reliable source regularly.

These options go to show that Celestron is thinking about all kinds of astronomers in the design of their SE series of NexStar telescopes. These are both neat and useful and are upgrades not possible on the vast majority of telescopes on the market.

A Few Drawbacks

This telescope is great overall and packs some awesome features into it but there are a couple of drawbacks to this model.

The first is the relatively small size. The 4” model is good enough to do most of the things an astronomer would want but it is not great for everything. The short focal length combined with the smaller aperture size means that this telescope has a very high focal ratio.

This is great for focusing on the planets or a single nebula or star cluster but it is not so great for getting wide-angle views of large parts of the sky. If you are looking for that large reflector experience of seeing hundreds of stars in the eyepiece this telescope might disappoint.

Pricing and Other Models

For everything that you get with this kit, the price is actually very affordable and offers an extremely good value. The issue is, you can upgrade to the 5SE model for only about a 10% increase in price. If you are willing to drop a few hundred on this telescope, to begin with, chances are you can afford the extra little bit for the 5SE version.

The NexStar 5SE is the exact same telescope, same features, same tech and still benefits from being a relatively small scope but with a 5” aperture instead of the 4” shown here. The 5” aperture offers a lot more light gathering capability and only adds a couple of pounds of weight.

The Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope is a great telescope and the 5SE is just that much better for not too much more money-making me wonder if I would ever land on the 4SE on my own or always try and go straight for the 5SE model.

Another potential hangup is that the 4SE’s size means it cannot truly use the entirety of the massive database effectively. It will do its best to find and track every one of those 40,000+ objects but the quality of the image produced is not guaranteed. The high focal ratio and lower light gathering ability mean that not every object in the database will be able to be shown properly.

So should I buy the Celestron NexStar 4SE?

If you want to get the most out of the entire database you will want to upgrade all the way to the NextStar 8SE which is the 8” aperture model which is truly massive. However, this model is twice as much or more depending on the options. While the 4SE will do its best to show you the entire database, the 8SE is the only one who can effectively use the entirety of the massive database.

All in all, the drawbacks to this scope are very few and mainly rest on the question of do you want to upgrade from better to best? There are no true issues with this model outside of the occasional software glitch. As things get more computerized there is more potential for glitches to arise.

A few users reported issues with the SkyAlign technology working properly 100% of the time and others reported a bug where the database could not properly communicate with the go-to mount. These are standard software hiccups and did not seem widespread in any way.

Luckily, Celestron offers unlimited technical support as well as a warranty on the telescope so any issues you encounter of this nature should theoretically be able to be resolved by contacting Celestron. I have not had to contact Celestron customer support so I cannot speak to their effectiveness but they are based in California.


If you are in the market for an amazing high tech computerized telescope on the lower end of the price point for these highly modern models then the Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope is an amazing choice. It is affordable, has decent power, and a plethora of extremely technological options to make this telescope a hands free, hassle-free experience.

If you are low on time, skills or finesse when it comes to your astronomy pursuits, this telescope can take all of the worry and anxiety out of scanning the skies for amazing sights to see. The database is nearly endless and can offer years and years of fun to be had. If you are happy with the Maksutov-Cassegrain design and are satisfied with the power and options offered here then this could truly be the last telescope you ever buy. The ease of use, small size, and computerized functions means that you can set this telescope down anywhere and being seeing the universe in all of its splendid glory. Time and skills not required.

We love this telescope and have added it to many of our best scope guides including Best Beginner Telescope, Best Telescopes for Kids, Best Budget Telescope, and Best Telescopes For Viewing Planets.