Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope Review

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Celestron has been making quality telescopes, based out of California, for years and they have taken their expertise and innovative ideas to the next level with their NexStar SE series of scopes.

The Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope is high tech, a modern variation of a Celestron classic that packs in high tech features for an affordable price. This telescope hits the sweet spot between innovative, usable, and affordable like no other telescope in their arsenal.

The NexStar SE line features a massive built-in database of stars and celestial objects, a fully motorized goto mount, and the quality optics that you have come to expect from Celestron.

They package this all together in a great scope that falls into an area that has a large amount of appeal.


  • Schmidt-Cassegrain design
  • 5” primary aperture
  • f/10 focal ratio
  • 295x highest theoretical magnification
  • 28lbs assembled weight

This Schmidt-Cassegrain scope has great visuals and power combined with the Celestron package of technological upgrades which makes the Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope a potent telescope kit that anyone can find a use for.

Celestron NexStar 5SE
  • Massive built-in database and controller opens up the sky
  • Great visuals stemming from a large aperture
  • Computerized goto mount
  • No built-in power supply
  • Occasional software glitches
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Let’s dive in.

Phenomenal Optics

Phenomenal Optics

First and foremost, cool extras aside, the Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope is a good telescope.

It doesn’t matter if a telescope can find a distant galaxy on its own and point at it, if the optics are no good then those features are useless.

That is why Celestron has made a good telescope first and added all of the neat things second.

The 5” primary aperture is great because it allows for a lot of light-gathering ability without being too large or unwieldy. The visual quality of this scope are simply fantastic.

The Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope is capable of getting amazing colorful views of Jupiter, showing all of the reds and oranges of its cloud bands. It can also pick up stunning white and blue light from distant star clusters and blue supergiant stars. The quality of the images that come through this telescope really is breathtaking.

From the cold closeness of the moon to the super vibrant light of massive hot stars, this telescope can do it all. This is because of its decent but not massive aperture and its middling focal ratio. The combination makes a versatile optical platform in which you can get amazing views of the universe.

Many telescopes do one or the other well. Either Jupiter looks amazing or a far off nebula looks amazing but configuring a single telescope to see both equally well can be hard.

Can the Celestron NexStar 5SE do both?

This is possible due to Celestron choosing to make this line of telescopes Schmidt-Cassegrain design rather than a traditional refractor or reflector. The design elements of the Schmidt-Cassegrain really make this telescope more versatile.

Even without the computerized features, this is an easy to use telescope that comes with an altazimuth mount. This means that this telescope can entertain and teach novice stargazers and is also powerful enough to whet the whistle of a more experienced astronomer.

Amazing Technology

The visual quality of the Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope is masterfully blended with Celestron’s technology to create a powerful computerized tool for stargazing. Celestron has added a database of stars, planets and other celestial objects numbering over 40,000 objects. This database has been integrated with a fully motorized goto mount meaning that the telescope can find any one of these objects if they are viewable in the sky.

The telescope will find the object for you and move into position for the best viewing. This means that anyone can use this telescope and begin to explore the universe without any experience whatsoever. This makes it perfect for anyone who wants to get into astronomy but doesn’t know where to start.

This is all possible because of Celestron’s proprietary SkyAlign technology. This neat feature allows the telescope to be aligned anywhere simply by focusing on three bright objects in the sky. These objects can be big, bright and easily identifiable. If you can pick out Venus, the moon and Polaris or any combination of three bright objects, this telescope will use the position of these three things to find itself in the universe and line up all of the database objects for you.

This takes all of the guesswork, adjustments, pointing and searching out of the equation and allows you to simply look at the objects in the sky without any frustration or hassle. Once it locks onto the desired object it is even able to track the objects across the sky for you so that you never lose sight of that great view.

The three things together, the database, computerized mount, and the SkyAlign make this an unmatched feat of technological engineering in the telescope space.

Some Quick Math

With 40,000 objects built into its database, the Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope has the potential to keep you entertained for years – decades even – to come. If the curious astronomer looked up three different objects every night, seven days a week, three sixty-five, it would take them 36.5 years to get through the whole database. That is if you don’t double back to any favorites or take part in any celestial events or even take a day off.

If the intrepid astronomer uses this telescope nightly and looks up ten unique objects from the database it would take them 11 years to get through the whole thing.

We all know that no one is going to use this telescope that much which only extends the potential usefulness of this scope. If being entertained by unique sights is what you are looking for out of a telescope this one could literally keep you busy for decades to come. That is not something most telescopes can boast about.

High Tech And Portable

Phenomenal Optics

In order to get the most out of this telescope’s features, it would be ideal if you could take it to a variety of different skies. Some sights are seasonal, some are only visible from certain parts of the world and some are dependent on truly dark skies. If you could take this telescope with you, you could get the full effects of this massive database.

That is why it is a huge plus that this telescope is extremely portable. It is not heavy, it has a sturdy tabletop base and it can be mounted to a tripod. The Schmidt-Cassegrain design is not fragile and can be taken along in the car without having to worry too much about it.

This really opens up the abilities of this telescope. If you are comfortable or inclined to take this telescope along with you the sights that you can get out of it will only go up.

It still will work great in your backyard but if it never moves then it will not be able to fully use the database that comes included. It will still have plenty to show you but they have made this telescope portable so that you could travel with it and unlock the full suite of features it has to offer.

But Wait, There’s More

In addition to the amazing technology packed into this great scope, Celestron has also included some added accessories to flush out this kit even further. This setup has a 25mm Plossl eyepiece, red dot finderscope and a mirror star diagonal all included.

The eyepiece is singular, which is kind of a bummer but with everything else included here it can be overlooked. The Mirror star diagonal makes it so the images all come in right side up which is perfect for astrophotography and casual viewing. The red dot finderscope is great if you want to turn off the computer for a while and do some manual searching of the skies.

This all comes included along with the tripod, database controller, SkyAlign technology and the database itself which comes preprogrammed.

This is a great bundle of accessories and features which is all packed on top of a great telescope in its own right for an affordable price.

NexStar 5SE Computerized Telescope Tour

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Great Features Not Included

There are also aftermarket addons that Celestron has made that make this telescope even better. If you are willing to pay more for some of the extras they can be well worth the price depending on what you are looking to get out of your telescope.

One of the coolest aftermarket products developed as an upgrade to SkyAlign which allows the telescope to align itself based on GPS coordinates instead of the night sky.

This means that, with this optional upgrade, your telescope could align itself no matter where on earth it was without the aid of bright objects in the sky.

The other great upgrade is the rechargeable power pack and the power source. Both of these really expand this telescope’s usefulness by relieving the use of AA batteries to power the telescope at all times.

With the GPS upgrade and rechargeable power pack, you could take this telescope anywhere on earth and get some truly unique views of the sky.

Nothing Is Perfect

Despite all of the amazing things this telescope does well, nothing is perfect including the Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope. There are a few gripes that come with such a great machine.

The first major issue is the battery life of the base model.

Without paying the money to upgrade to a better power source the base model of the Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope runs on AA batteries.

Eight in total to power the mount and controller. At first glance, this is a good feature because AA batteries are plentiful, easy to find and store.

The problem is this telescope is so powerful that it chews through the batteries like crazy.

The cost and hassle of keeping a ton of AA batteries on hand quickly becomes a burden and adds up over time.

Buy rechargeable batteries you will thank me later.

I see what Celestron was trying to do but they should have included a slightly better power source with this telescope out of the box.

Don’t worry that the telescope becomes redundant if you run out of battery power as you can still use the manual altazimuth mount but its a little annoying that you cant use the computerized features.

Speaking of the computer, the other big complaint with this telescope is the occasional software glitch. People have reported issues with getting SkyAlign to work properly, firmware issues and having problems with the database connecting with the computerized mount.

None of these problems seem very widespread and I only briefly struggled with SkyAlign until I figured out how to get it to work more consistently. These kinds of issues are a byproduct of living in such a technology-heavy age. Unfortunately, all of the amazing computerized features that make this telescope so amazing can also come with the occasional bug.

Celestron offers full customer support from their California based offices so if you have any issues they should be available for both customer and tech support any time.

That being said, overall this is still one of the best telescopes on the market today along with its big brother the Nextsart 6SE.


Overall, this is simply one of the best telescopes on the market. It is just right in so many aspects. It is not too large, it is powerful enough to see just about everything in the sky, it is not bank-breakingly expensive, it is portable and comes with all of the modern amenities that are available for telescopes today. This telescope can be used by a complete novice or stretched by a more advanced user.

It can be used manually or fully automatically. Also, it can show you the cloud bands of Jupiter or a nebula whose name is simply a string of letters and numbers. It can be taken in your backseat or set up on a picnic table in your backyard. The name of this telescope is versatility and it has the potential to be the very last telescope you ever have to buy.

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