Celestron NexStar 8SE Setup Breakdown

Congratulations! You are now a proud owner of one of the most popular, adaptable, user friendly telescopes on the market. Now its time to set it up!

Celestron NexStar 8SE

We at OPT Corp stay true to our name as the telescope authority. All you need to know about how to set up your Celestron NexStar 8SE Computerized telescope can be found in this article. Read on to learn more about how to use this amazing new scope! Click here to access a more in depth, detailed, user manual for this scope.

Table of contents:

  1. Included Parts
  2. Assembly
  3. Hand Controller
  4. Alignment
  5. Direction Buttons
  6. Disassembly

Parts Included

  • Optical Tube Assembly (OTA)
  • Star Pointer (Red Dot) Finderscope
  • 25mm 1.25” Eyepiece
  • 25” Star Diagonal
  • Tripod
  • Accessory Tray / Leg Brace/stabilizer
  • Hand Controller
  • RS232 Cable
Your new Celestron NexStar 8SE shipment comes in four boxes: The OTA, the mount, the tripod, and several accessories. The NexStar 8SE come pre-assembled and can be staged and ready for use in a matter of minutes.

Celestron NexStar 8se


Important note: Be sure to keep all manufacturer packaging. In the event that a part isn’t functioning properly, it is important to keep all the original packaging for exchange purposes. Learn more here

To set up your scope, start on or near a flat surface. This isn’t a required step, it just makes assembly easier. When setting up your scope, we recommend starting from the bottom and working up. In other words: start your assembly with the tripod.

Celestron NexStar 8SE Tripod

Stand tripod upright, pull apart tripod legs until fully extended. Use the knobs on each leg to adjust the height of your tripod. Take your accessory tray and line it up the the tripod support rod and attach using the washers provided. You can then play your accessories into the accessory tray. This will make the items easily accessible, for both the rest of the telescope setup and for ease of use. 

*The NexStar 8SE tripod legs are adjustable for all height levels. We recommend using your tripod at a shorter height. The closer to the ground your tripod is, the sturdier it will be. The tripod should also come with a detached bubble level to assure accurate leveling.

 Next up is attaching the mount head. You may notice that at the underneath the tripod head, there are three thumbscrews. Line those screws up with the holes on the mount head and tighten.

From there, you can slide the OTA onto the mount. Loosen screws on the arm of the mount head to allow for the OTA to slide on properly. The signature orange tube comes with a built-in dovetail that you can slide onto the arm of the mount. Once you slide the OTA onto the mount (be sure to use both hands!) carefully tighten the thumbscrew until the OTA is secure.

Celestron NexStar 8SE OTA Breakdown

Now that you have the foundation of your scope set up, its time to set up the red dot finder scope to the top of your OTA. To do so, simply loosen the screws on your red dot finder scope and slide onto the bracket that comes pre-attached to your OTA, then re-tighten your screws.

Finally, slide the star-diagonal into the back of your optical tube and tighten the screws. Take your eyepiece and insert that directly into your star diagonal and tighten the screws on that as well.

Hand Controller Breakdown

Located on the side of the arm of the mount, the NexStar 8SE hand controller acts as a remote to exploring the universe with your NexStar.). The NexStar removable hand controller has an automatic slewing to 40,000 celestial objects. See below for a part breakdown of the hand controller.

NexStar 8SE Hand Controller
  1. Liquid Crystal Display Window (LCD): The display window has a dual-line, 16-character backlit display.
  2. Align: This button makes your optical tube use your selected star or object as an alignment position.
  3. Direction Keys: After you have set up your telescope, the hand control can be used to move the OTA in altitude (up and down) and azimuth (side to side). Use these directional keys to do so.
  4. Catalog Keys: Use these keys to allow direct access to each of the catalogs in the 40,000-object database of your scope! The NexStar contains the following catalogs in its database:
    • Messier – Complete list of all Messier objects.
    • NGC – Select list of all the deep-sky objects in the Revised New General Catalog.
    • Caldwell – A combination of the best NGC and IC objects.
    • Planets - All 8 planets in our Solar System plus the Moon and Sun.
    • Stars – A compiled list of the brightest stars from the SAO catalog.
    • List – All the greatest and most popular objects in the NexStar database have been broken down for you into lists based on their type and/or common name:
      • Named Stars: Common name listing of the brightest stars in the sky.
      • Named Objects: Alphabetical listing of over 50 of the most popular deep sky objects.
      • Double Stars: Numeric-alphabetical listing of the most visually stunning double, triple and quadruple stars in the sky.
      • Variable Stars: Select list of the brightest variable stars with the shortest period of changing magnitude.
      • Asterisms: A unique list of some of the most recognizable star patterns in the sky.
  1. Info: Press this button to display coordinates and other useful information about selected objects from the NexStar database.
  2. Tour: This button activates the “Tour” mode, which seeks out all of the best celestial objects to view for a given month and slews the NexStar to those objects automatically.
  3. Enter: Pressing “Enter” allows you to select any of the NexStar functions, and sles the telescope to display the objects of the parameters that you entered.
  4. Undo: Takes you back to your previous step. Pressing this button repeatedly will take you back to the main menu, or it will erase date you mistakenly entered
  5. Menu: Displays the many setup/utilities functions like tracking rate and user defined objects, etc.
  6. Scroll keys: These buttons can be used to scroll up and down within any of the menu lists (not to be confused with #3, the direction keys, which move the scope itself).
  7.  Rate: Instantly changes the rate of speed of the motors when the direction buttons are pressed
  8. RS-232 Jack: Allows for you to interface with a computer and control your NexStar remotely.


For your Celestron NexStar 8SE to accurately locate and point at objects in the sky, it must be properly aligned. Once properly aligned, your scope will be able to make a model of the sky to locate any celestial object with know coordinates. There are several ways to align your NexStar scope:
  1. SkyAlign – The easiest way to get your NexStar aligned and ready to observe. It uses your current date, time, and city to create an accurate model of the sky.
  2. Auto Two-Star Align – Requires the same information as above, but the auto two-star align will also ask you to choose and center the first alignment stay, to which your NexStar will automatically select and slew to a second star for alignment.
  3. Two-Star Align – Requires you as the user to identify and manually sleq the telescope to the two alignment stars. Your scope with require for you to know the positions of two bright stars in order to accurately align your scope in the sky and begin finding celestial objects.
  4. One-Star Align – Similar to two-star align however this method only requires you to align with one known star. This method might not be the most accurate of alignment methods, but it is the quickest way to find and track bright planets and celestial objects in Altazimuth mode.
  5. Solar System Align – This methods will display a list of celestial objects typically visible in the daytime, such as specific planets and the moon, to align your scope with.
  6. EQ North/ EQ South – This alignment method is designed to help you align your NexStar while polar aligned, all with using the wedge built-into the tripod.

Polar alignment (with and without the optional wedge)

Although your NexStar can precisely track your desired celestial objects while in alt-az position, it is still necessary to align the polar axis you’re your telescope (fork arm) to the Earth’s axis on rotation in order to attempt long exposer astrophotography.

The easiest way to obtain polar alight without a wedge:
  1. Position the telescope tripod so that the tilt please hinges faces north
  2. Gently rotate the OPT so that it is pointing straight up towards the sky
  3. Loosen the latitude adjustment lock on the tripod
  4. Slowly tilt the telescope due north until the scale on the Latitude Adjustment Rod is equal to the latitude of your observing location
  5. Once in position, securely tighten the latitude adjustment lock to hold the telescope in place.
Wedge Align: The NexStar had two equatorial wedge alignment modes (one for northern hemisphere and one for southern hemisphere) that will help you polar align your scope when using an optional equatorial wedge. After performing either an EQ AutoAlign or Two-Star Alignment, Wedge Align will slew the telescope to where Polaris should be. By adjusting the tripod’s tilt plate to center Polaris in the eyepiece, the fork arm (polar axis) will then be pointing towards the actual North Celestial Pole. Once Wedge Align is complete, you must re-align your telescope using any of the EQ alignment methods. Follow these steps to Wedge Align your telescope in the Northern Hemisphere:
  1. With the NexStar set up as described in the section above and roughly positioned towards Polaris, align the telescope using either the EQ AutoAlign or Two-Star Alignment method.
  2. Select Wedge Align from the Utilities menu and press Enter.

      Based on your current alignment, NexStar will slew to where it thinks Polaris should be. Use the tripod’s tilt plate adjustment to place Polaris in the center of the eyepiece. Do not use the hand control’s direction buttons to position Polaris. Once Polaris is centered in the eyepiece, press ENTER; the polar axis should then be pointed towards the North Celestial Pole

      Direction Buttons

      There are four directional buttons at the top of your hand controller (item 3 on your NexStar hand controller). These buttons control the telescope motion. Your Celestrion NexStar 8SE can be controlled at nine different speed rates. See the chart below for a break down of available slew speeds:


      1 = .5x

      2 = 1x

      3 = 4x

      4 = 8x

      5 = 16x

      6 = 64x

      7 = 1º / sec

      8 = 3º / sec

      9 = 5º / sec


      Rate button: Pressing the RATE key (item 11 on the NexStar hand controller) will allow you to instantly change the speed of the motors. Be it a high slew speed or a precise guiding rate, each rate corresponds to a number on your hand controller. 
      Press the RATE key on your hand control, then select the number on the hand controller that corresponds to your desired speed (use chart above for reference).



          The NexStar 8SE dovetail comes equipped with a quick release bracket that allows you to adjust the optical tube for proper balancing or for removing for disassembling purposes. To remove the OTA from the arm of the mount, simply loosen the quick release clamp knob and slide the tube back towards the rear cell of the tube. 

          Be sure to store all parts of your Celestron NexStar 8SE in a dry, room tempurature environment. You also want to be sure that the OTA is stored in a place where dust and debris will not harm it. 

          After removing your OTA, you will want to safely remove and store any accessories both attached to your scope, and residing on the accessory holder tray on your tripod. To remove the red dot finder scope, star diagonal and eyepieces. To do this, simply loosen the screws on each part and gently slide the item off the scope. 

          To disassemble the mount head, losen the three thumbscrews underneath the tripod head. Carefully lift the mount off of the tripod and store away in a safe location. 

          Unscrew the tripod leg extender/accessory tray and close the legs of the tripod. For easier storing, make sure the tripod legs are at their shortest setting. 

           Shooting with your Celestron NexStar 8SE

          Thank you for reading! What is your favorite aspect of your Celestron NexStar 8SE? We would love to know! Let us know in the comments!

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