Celestron NexStar 8 SE Computerised Telescope
We’re in £1000+ territory with the NexStar 8 SE, but with the hefty price tag comes not only a name you can trust, but also some seriously high-end optical equipment. However, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean superior – you need to be aware of your astronomy-related intentions before blindly spending this much money on a telescope.
If you’re planning on doing some deep-space exploration with view to producing long-exposure images, then the NexStar 8 SE could very well be what you’re looking for. This is a large telescope features an 8-inch aperture, producing some of the crispest and detailed images possible. The GoTo mount also facilitates instant location and effortless tracking of celestial objects with very little need for manual adjustments of the direction in which the scope is pointing.
The drawback of the SynScan mount becomes obvious if you’re taking long-exposure shots for 30 seconds or more however, since the movement of the mount will cause steaks in your photographs. The advantage of the 8SE over the 5SE won’t be appreciated by amateur astronomers however, but when looking at deep sky objects such as the M13 Galaxy, the difference in light capture becomes readily apparent. This is an expensive telescope at around £1250 on average, but for the advanced astronomer, it is a versatile piece of hardware capable of terrestrial, celestial, and deep-sky observation.
Celestron NexStar 6 SE Computerised Telescope
The NexStar 6 SE differs from the 8 SE only in size, sporting a 6-inch rather than an 8-inch aperture. This difference is negligible when looking at relatively close objects, but becomes a little more apparent when looking at deep-sky objects, the 6 SE’s 2-inch deficit on the 8 SE producing much less detail at these deep-space ranges.
However, the 6 SE is simply a more portable telescope. Both require maintenance and care due to the high quality of the optics inside, but one must also consider the cost of the case: the 6 SE case is much cheaper than that of the 8 SE, for example, and the increased portability of the 6 SE makes it a much more versatile telescope. The 6 SE is therefore the most strongly recommended telescope on this list if you’re looking for the best balance between specs and value.
Almost every dedicated astronomer with decent experience knows just how important the right equipment is to proper sighting and documentation of the night sky. Just as a professional photographer would be severely hampered by having the wrong equipment, astronomers who are serious about their craft will eventually have to invest in equipment that goes beyond the many telescopes for beginners on the market. Though more expensive, telescopes for advanced users simply possess more features and allow for deeper and clearer exploration of the night sky. Only with advanced-level telescopes can a serious astronomer hope to perfect their craft, so here are the some of the most impressive top-quality telescopes for the advanced astronomer.
Sky-Watcher Skymax-127 SynScan AZ GoTo Telescope
The Skymax-127 model is simply a larger version of the 102 model, but the extra size adds significantly more detail to the images produced by the scope. The specs of the telescope speak for themselves: magnifications of x60 and x160 are far more than of the beginner/budget telescopes could ever dream to achieve; the primary mirror diameter 127mm and resulting potential of x254 aren’t specs to be sniffed at; the focal length of 1500mm and ratio of f/11.8 mean this is an ample-sized rig for even intermediate and advanced users.
Enough of the stats, however – how does this telescope perform? Compared to the 102 model, this scope is capable of gathering 55% more light, producing much clearer images. The 127 can easily be used for moderate to high-powered observation of the night’s sky. The supplied eyepieces (10mm and 25mm) should suffice for many users, and the 6×30 finder-scope will help with manual sighting of celestial objects.
The AZ GoTo aspect of the mount is what most strongly distinguishes it from any beginner telescopes, however. The GoTo has access to the SynScan database of well over 40,000 objects in the sky, and will guide the telescope automatically and accurately to each of these objects. The price tag of £360 also makes this one of the best-value telescopes for advanced users.
Sky-Watcher Skyhawk-1145P SynScan AZ GoTo Telescope
You don’t have to look far in astronomy circles to discover that the SkyHawk 1145P happens to have been the telescope that got their users hooked from that moment on. The 1145P sits, after all, at a very reasonable price point (around £260 to £270, the lower end of the scale compared to other items in this article), has impressive optical hardware, and yet is small enough to be set up and utilised frequently without excessive fiddling or constant maintenance.
The magnification variants resulting from the optics supplied with the 1145P – x20, x40, x50, and x100 – ensure the telescope’s versatility. When compared with the slightly cheaper SkyHawk 114, this telescope outperforms its predecessor due to the lack of magnifying element its predecessor has in the focuser drawtube. Without this element to limit its performance, the regular focuser of the 1145p ensures it’s a more versatile scope with the ability to produce stunningly clear images at varying distances. The parabolic primary mirror also ensures razor-sharp image reproduction without the image warping often associated with flat mirrors.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘beginner’ classification of this scope on the product page at Optical Vision – the AZ GoTo functionality adds icing on the cake of what is already a stunning example of a reasonably-priced telescope perfect for the intermediate to advanced astronomer.
Skywatcher Skymax-127 EQ3-2 Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope
The EQ3-2 mount for this telescope is alone enough for it to be worth consideration from advanced users. The sturdy Equatorial mount ensures pinpoint accuracy when tracking celestial objects across the sky, and the aluminium legs of the tripod make for a seriously solid base.
The telescope itself is a very fine collection of optical hardware. The OTA is compact in nature, making it easy to assemble and also to transport if necessary. The specifications of the telescope itself are identical to the SkyMax 127 SynScan GoTo telescope listed above, with the main difference here being the mount itself. All of the optical components of the scope are again multi-coated, so you can expect to benefit from the elimination of internal glare. The scope performs well with higher magnifications, too, and the EQ3-2 mount, while not benefitting from the GoTo technology, offers a much more accurate object-tracking experience provided you’re well versed in utilising the red-dot finder in order to locate your desired objects in the first place.
The price point of this telescope is higher than previously seen on this list, but the £390-£400 price tag nets you one of the smoothest and most impressive mounts that money can buy.