PROS / The NexStar has the longest focal length of any scope on our lineup, creating sharp magnified images.
CONS / This telescope can only move using its remote, making fine positioning frustrating.
VERDICT / Its small size, huge objects library and sharp optics help the NexStar make stargazing simple for astronomers of all levels.
The Celestron NexStar 4SE is a catadioptric telescope. This means it combines mirrors and lenses to focus light from heavenly bodies. Because of this, it has the advantages of both reflector and refractor telescopes. Catadioptric telescopes like the 4SE are compact and have a closed tube design, which reduces air currents that could degrade images.
Everything you need to assemble this telescope is in the box. All the components attach to each other without the need for tools. Additionally, the telescope is very light, weighing only 11 pounds, so you can bring it with you when camping.
The 4SE has a focal ratio of f/13, one of the highest of the telescopes we reviewed. The focal ratio is a combination of the aperture and focal length. Both of these measurements are exceptional: The focal length is 1,325 mm, and the aperture is 102 mm, about 4 inches wide. These powers combine to create close and clear images of faraway objects. Closer objects like the moon appear as small pieces rather than one large picture. This allows you to study close details or see farther objects like stars much better.
On the base of the telescope, there are cable ports for a DSLR camera in case you're interested in astrophotography. A second port on the base is available for a GPS as well.
With 40,000 preprogrammed objects in its database, the 4SE has one of the largest object libraries on our lineup. This makes it a good telescope for beginners, since you can find your targets in a matter of minutes.
Because of its motorized stand and despite the Altazimuth mounting, you may have trouble adjusting the telescope manually. The positioning system is designed to do all the moving for you, so fine-tuning the scope's position can be difficult.
Like all of Celestron's telescopes, the 4SE is under warranty for two years after purchase, but there is no money-back guarantee with this telescope if you aren't satisfied with its performance. We recommend keeping the user manual in a safe place, but in case you lose it, there is a downloadable manual on Celestron's website. If you have further questions about the 4SE, you can contact customer support through the site's live chat or phone line.
The Celestron NexStar 4SE's catadioptric design adds clarity and portability to an already-long list of features. While testing, we were able to see the moon and its finely detailed features. The huge objects library turns astronomy into a point-and-click venture, making it especially good for newcomers. However, its motorized design makes the stand stiff and hard to adjust when you need to move the scope slightly.