Price $2949 (for 8 inch)
Celestron is one of the largest producers of affordable telescopes for beginners and experts alike. The Celestron Nexstar Evolution HD is an advanced powerful telescope suitable for all astronomy enthusiasts. This scope comes in 3 aperture sizes: 6 inches, 8 inches, and 9.25 inches. The 8-inch version has a focal length of 2032 mm and also comes in a configuration that includes Starsense. Starsense is an innovative add-on that simplifies the alignment of the telescope, which makes pointing and guiding very accurate. It works by comparing the observed star patterns with its own database to figure out precisely where it is pointing. This is known as plate solving, and it has greatly enhanced the ability of amateur astronomers to precisely locate objects. When the SkyPortal app is paired with the Wi-Fi of the telescope, the software database can automatically point the telescope to the chosen object. This is great for beginners or more advanced users who want to do photography.
The HD optics provide a flat field across the field of view. This means that stars will appear pinpoint from one corner to another. Uncorrected lens/mirror configurations have different focus points in the center than in the corners because of curvature. This results in stars in the corner of the field of view appearing like little comets instead of points. This is called coma, and the HD optics correct for this phenomenon.
Out of the box, this telescope is not well suited for photography because it is a slow optical system at f/10 and it is on an altazimuth mount. The optics are fine, but any attempt at long exposure photography will result in rotation of the field of view. Processing software can correct some of this, but it can only go so far. If you really want to use this telescope for photography, you need to purchase a wedge mount to convert to an equatorial mount. To make it even better, this telescope is compatible with the Hyperstar system that attaches to the front of the telescope, converting it to a very fast f/2 system (greatly shortening exposure times) with a focal length of 400mm, fantastic for wide-field imaging. The company claims that because of the HD optical system, flat fields are produced even all the way across a full-frame sensor.
The mount is an altazimuth computerized go-to mount with a database of over 40,000 objects. It has built-in Wi-Fi, but there is no GPS or guide port The Starsense unit would serve the purpose of both, but I have not tested the Starsense ability to keep an object in precisely the same place, which would be necessary if long exposures were attempted. Also included are two eyepieces and a 1.25-inch star diagonal.
Flat field across the field of view
Large 8-inch aperture
Precise positioning with Starsense unit
Not suitable for astrophotography out of the box except for very short exposures
No guide port for precise autoguiding
A 2” star diagonal would be better for a scope of this size
Verdict 4/5 stars
If astrophotography is your desire, this telescope can work, but only with additional modification (equatorial wedge), but there are better options out there, such as the Celestron Advanced VX 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope. It has similar specs without the flat field. This should not be a problem with a APS-C camera sensor, and it has an equatorial mount. If you just want to enjoy the beauty of the nighttime sky and look at objects without them moving out of the field of view, this is a great scope. Its large aperture will afford plenty of light gathering, and its portability will make traveling to a dark sky site possible for getting even better views.