Celestron NexStar Evolution Telescopes: Easy Does It

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In 1970, in Torrance, California, Celestron succeeded in streamlining the manufacturing process for making high-quality Schmidt-Cassegrain reflecting telescopes and introduced the landmark Celestron 8, at the then-unprecedented relatively low price of $1,000. As a result, thousands of amateur astronomers were finally able to observe objects in interplanetary space previously seen only in research observatories. In 2007, the company set out to simplify the complex and daunting procedure of setting up and calibrating a telescope and came up with the world’s first “smart telescope,” the SkyProdigy, which won multiple awards when it was released in 2009.

"Celestron has introduced a unique new line of three NexStar Evolution Telescopes in 6-inchft, and 9.25-inch sizes and they’re poised to take the astronomical experience to an unprecedented new dimension."

Now, Celestron has introduced a unique new line of three NexStar Evolution Telescopes in 6-inch, 8-inch, and 9.25-inch sizes and they’re poised to take the astronomical experience to an unprecedented new dimension. The entire setup and control process is now completely automated and the total viewing experience is enhanced by making it possible for users to locate and learn about virtually any celestial object they can see using Android and iOS devices—including iPads. The telescopes have built-in Wi-Fi that directly connects to the devices, no router required, for wireless use. This elevated experience increases the system’s convenience, usability and functionality immensely, as users can now control these telescopes with their smartphone or tablet, while having the added benefit of a rich color display with animation and video capabilities that previous NexStar hand controllers were not able to accomplish.

Basically, any Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is akin to a mirror telephoto lens that can be physically much shorter than its effective focal length, due to its folded light path. Using a combination of lens, mirror, and precision corrector plate, the scope is able to achieve crisp images with true color rendition, virtually no distortion across the entire field of view, minimal haloing, and a high magnification potential greater than the compact optical tube assembly might imply. All three models of the NexStar Evolution feature a single-arm fork mount and Celestron’s proprietary StarBright XLT multi-coating throughout the optical path that maximizes light transmission while minimizing light loss. Each scope comes with 2 Plössl eyepieces, a Star Diagonal, an adjustable stainless-steel tripod with level and leg height index marks to facilitate quick setup, a long-life rechargeable lithium-ion phosphate battery that provides up to 10 hours of viewing on a single charge, and an AC power supply with multiple international outlets. The run time includes powering not only the motorized mount, but also the auxiliary accessory ports, a USB charging port, and the built-in Wi-Fi system. 



 

There are also clutches to allow users to move the altitude and azimuth axes manually when the power is turned off. Celestron’s SkyAlign technology, pioneered nearly a decade ago, continues to evolve and expand with technological advances and allows even novice users to set up and align the telescope in minutes, with minimal effort, providing a satisfying and sophisticated out-of-the-box observational experience. Users just need to point the telescope at virtually any three bright objects in the sky, and the telescope does the rest—without even having to level the scope perfectly or point it at the North Star; time, date, and location coordinates are obtained from the mobile device to virtually eliminate cumbersome programming every time you set up in a new location. The NexStar Evolution automatically slews (rapidly tracks) to planets and objects in the major astronomical catalogs, provides a Tour Mode for selecting the most popular objects for your date and location using a pre-programmed alignment system, and even displays informative back stories, such as historical, astrological, or mythological, on objects as you view them and, if desired, an audio description of what you’re seeing. The motorized, computer-controlled fork mount provides slew speeds up to four degrees per second to quickly center objects in your eyepiece.

Interactive automation and wireless smart device control are definitely the signature features of the NexStar Evolution line, and using the new SkyPortal app in conjunction with the telescope’s built-in Wi-Fi is what makes it possible. Rich with multimedia support, it delivers a real-time synchronized display of the sky without requiring any specialized knowledge on the part of the user. Other new features include an internal rechargeable battery, a newly designed mount with ergonomic handles, an adjustable lighted accessory tray that stays assembled when folded and provides storage spaces for three 1.25-inch eyepieces and one 2-inch eyepiece, a new drive system with precision-machined worm gears for superior pointing and tracking accuracy and minimal backlash, and auxiliary ports that accept StarSense to take your viewing experience up a couple of notches when you’re ready.

Celestron SkyPortal App Screenshots

Assembly of any of the three Celestron NexStar Evolution telescopes is straightforward and simple, and the instructions in the manual are easy to follow—even for non-technical types. Once that’s accomplished (it should take about 10-15 minutes) just unplug the mount from the AC adapter, select a suitable spot with a clear, unobstructed view of the sky, set the assembled unit down, level the mount using the tripod’s built-in bubble level, orient the telescope tube parallel to the ground and pointing at the horizon, switch on the power, connect your smart device, do an automatic three-star alignment, and you’re ready to keep your eye on the sky.

Using your smartphone or tablet to control the telescope is a snap, as long as you have a decent signal and, by using SkyPortal, all you have to do is touch a target on the screen and the telescope will immediately go to that object. Accuracy can be further enhanced by adding more alignment points to SkyPortal. Advanced telescope control is also found the in the app, including Lunar, Solar, or Sidereal tracking rates, and “anti-backlash” to eliminate any play between the gears when adjusting the altitude and azimuth. There are also settings for varying the slew speed and direction to match various celestial objects. One other thoughtful feature: a battery status indicator that displays charge/discharge, voltage, and high, medium, and low capacity.

To sum it all up, there is really no other telescope line currently on the market that can deliver the easy and intuitive setup and observation experience provided by using a Celestron NexStar Evolution with the SkyPortal app. Thousands of potential enthusiasts who have, up to this point, avoided astronomy because of its complexity will now be able to enjoy the glorious experience of observing the night sky at an amazingly high level without having to master a steep learning curve. These are indeed the telescopes of the future and, needless to say, any one of these three extraordinary units would make a great gift for the family and provide countless hours of enjoyment experiencing the wonders of the universe in real time.

Three Great NexStar Evolution Telescopes Compared


Celestron NexStar Evolution 6" Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
 

Celestron NexStar Evolution 6" Schmidt-Cassegrain

The smallest member of the line, it provides a 6-inch aperture with a focal length of 1,500mm and a focal ratio of f/10. With the 40mm eyepiece, it yields a magnification of 38x and, with the 13mm eyepiece, it yields a magnification of 115x. A 90-degree star diagonal for more comfortable viewing, a StarPointer Red Dot finder scope, and an internal 9.6 V 4.5 Ah LiFePO4 rechargeable battery are included. Optical tube length: 16 inches. Weight: 35.4 pounds. 

Celestron NexStar Evolution 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

Celestron NexStar Evolution 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain

Popular with serious astronomy enthusiasts, it provides an 8-inch aperture with a focal length of 2,032mm and a focal ratio of f/10. With the 40mm eyepiece it yields a magnification of 51x and, with the 13mm eyepiece, it yields a magnification of 156x. A 90-degree star diagonal for more comfortable viewing, a StarPointer Red Dot finder scope, and an internal 9.6 V 4.5 Ah LiFePO4 rechargeable battery are included. Optical tube length: 17 inches. Weight: 40.6 pounds.

Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25" Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25" Schmidt-Cassegrain

This impressive top-of-the-line telescope boasts a 9.25-inch aperture with a focal length of 2,350mm and a focal ratio of f/10. With the 40mm eyepiece it yields a magnification of 59x and, with the 13mm eyepiece, it yields a magnification of 180x. A 90-degree star diagonal for more comfortable viewing, a StarPointer Red Dot finder scope, and an internal 9.6 V 4.5 Ah LiFePO4 rechargeable battery are included. Optical tube length: 22 inches. Weight: 49.6 pounds. 

1 Comments

Wow, have things changed in forty years. I'm now retired and re-exploring old hobbies.  I've had refractor and reflector scopes, but never accomplished any "wow!" momentous, or enthusiasim solidifying observations.  just lost in space.  New tech is amazing.  How much is this "wow" factor going to cost me?

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