5 Best Schmidt Cassegrain Telescopes Worth the Money (2020)

If you are enjoying some amateur star-gazing and are now hooked, you may want to up your game and consider a more professional telescope. Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes are top quality instruments for both beginner and experienced astronomers. 

With the wide choice available, it is a challenge to decide which is best for you. You need to consider price, features, and portability. We have reviewed the 5 best Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, giving a summary of each. This will help you make an informed decision when making your choice.

We Recommend

Best price/value ratio

Celestron
NexStar Evolution

Best for the money

Celestron CPC
1100 StarBright XLT

Best budget option

Celestron
NexStar 6SE

Schmidt Cassegrain vs. Maksutov Cassegrain telescope?

Schmidt Cassegrain. Schmidt Cassegrains are high-level all-purpose telescopes, ideal for viewing the moon, planets, and deep-sky objects. They are also ideal for astrophotography, using everyday DSLR cameras. Most come with computerized GoTo mounts and motorized object tracking. On the con side, expect to pay more than you would for a Dobsonian-type telescope

Maksutov-Cassegrain. The Maksutov-Cassegrain is a great telescope with a shorter tube. They are more suited for objects that require high magnification such as planets, the Moon, double stars, nebulae, and global clusters. They are compact, rugged, and easy to transport. In general, models have a higher magnification than other types of telescopes. Many models are specifically made for use in harsh environments, industrial sites, and military operations.

Commonalities. Both types are built with a catadioptric design that combines a mirror at the back and a lens at the front. This design causes the light path to ‘fold,’ allowing the tube to be shorter. This design also corrects a common problem known as the coma. Coma means that images not in the center of the lens tend to look distorted or wedge-shaped. 

Differences. The main difference lies in the design of the mirrors. Schmidt scopes have a thin complex-shaped corrector lens. Maksutov scopes have a thick spherical corrector lens. The secondary mirror in a Schmidt is a mirror, while in the Maksutov, it is not a mirror; it is an aluminized small spot. Schmidt’s usually have bigger apertures than the Maksutovs.

The good and bad of SCT (Schmidt Cassegrain)

Like most high-end electronic devices, telescopes come with pros and cons. When considering buying a Schmidt Cassegrain, the first issue is the price. You will expect to pay more than other brands. But, this will certainly be a telescope that will last a lifetime. The cost is higher due to the correcting lens, motorized tracking, and the innovative GoTo functionality of the mount. 

Schmidt telescopes offer exceptional clarity, color, and crisps views. Most come with computerized GoTo mounts that track objects as they move across the sky. Many have built-in GPS technology. This allows the scope to plot longitude and latitude, time, and date without you having to enter the data manually.

When it comes to lenses, you have a choice of smaller models with a 150mm (6 inch) lens. Most offer lenses of 200mm (8 inches). These scopes have a design that allows the light to ‘fold.’ This means that the tubes are shorter and more compact. 

Computerized telescopes come with database software of celestial objects, often as many as 40000. By simply focusing on a few key objects, the telescope will find what you want and provide all the info you need. What a great way to easily learn about the night skies! View the surface of the moon, planets, stars, galaxies, star clusters, solar system objects, and nebulae. 

If you want to try your hand at astrophotography, you can connect a simple DSLR camera or webcam to the scope. 

Although the scopes themselves are compact, the mounts are usually quite heavy. This may be an issue if you plan on traveling with your scope

What can you observe with a Schmidt Cassegrain?

When it comes to stargazing, the size and strength of your telescope will make a difference. Schmidt Cassegrains are at the upper end of the scale, so you will get amazing views with all the models.

There are 2 main issues you may want to consider, and it is related to price. Scopes in the lower price range have an aperture of 150mm (6 inches). Those at the higher end have an aperture of 200mm (8inches) or more. The larger the aperture, the more light the scope will collect. This allows clearer viewing of deep-sky objects and those that are further away.

Magnification also plays a part. Most Schmidt scopes offer a magnification of between 50x to 80x. The larger the magnification, the more you will see. But, keep in mind that very high magnifications can also cause blurring of objects.

  • 150mm (6 inch) Aperture. Use this scope to view craters on the moon. Planetary details like textures, color, and surrounding clouds are apparent. You will see details of nebulae and star clusters.
  • 200mm (8 inch) Aperture. More details become apparent. See more detail of the rings of Saturn, the separation of double stars, and precise details of deep-sky objects.
  • 280mm (11 inch) Aperture. Now you are able to view sharper and clearer images. Even with light pollution in the atmosphere, you will see faint nebulae that are not visible with smaller scopes.

How to choose the best Schmidt Cassegrain telescope?

Aperture. Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes offer apertures of 150mm, 200mm, 280mm, and larger. All give stunning, clear views with great color and detail. Your choice depends on your budget. 

Field of View. This is the circle of sky visible through the eyepiece. The higher the magnification, the smaller the field of view becomes. Schmidt Cassegrain scopes offer a field of view of between 0.70 and 1.00 degrees, ideal for the planet and deep-sky viewing. 

Magnification. Telescopes with magnifications of 50x to 80x are ideal for everyday viewing. You can alter the magnification by attaching different lenses. Some scopes come with a kit of lenses of different magnifications. Remember that very high magnifications can distort your images. 

Focal length.  All-round telescopes have focal lengths of around 1000mm to 1500mm. The shorter the length, the more suited it is to a wide field view. To view objects that are further away, you need a longer focal length. 

Mount. Most Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes come with GoTo mounts that offer computerized tracking. If your model does not have a mount, buy one that is lightweight but sturdy. You want to be able to transport it easily. But, you don’t want your scope toppling over while viewing. 

Weight. If you have a permanent place for your telescope, weight is not an issue. For portability, the lighter the scope is, the easier it is to take along with you. 

Size. Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes have a distinct compact size. This allows you to travel with your scope and not lose out on exceptional quality. 

Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes

1. Celestron 6" Schmidt Cassegrain Optical Tube

This is the cheapest of the 5 telescopes that we reviewed. 

Even so, like most Schmidt Cassegrain scopes, it still does come at quite a hefty price.  

The telescope features a 6″ Schmidt Cassegrain Optical Tube Assembly and an Aluminum Optical Tube. 

It has StarBright XLT coatings, which are the premium choice in this industry. 

This innovative coating is made up of three different layers that greatly increase contrast and light transmission. 

We were able to view details on the moon in great detail, really exciting the kids! The telescope has a 1500mm focal length and a 25mm eyepiece with 60x magnification. 

This is a great telescope for a beginner who wants to start with a professional model and not waste time on ‘cheapies.’ 

Check the price of Celestron 6″ Schmidt Cassegrain Optical Tube here

What we liked

  • Well priced for a beginner
  • Light enough for portability
  • Premium StarBright XLT coatings
  • More compact than the 8 inch models
  • Great clarity and light transmission
  • Has a dovetail mount for attaching to a tripod
  • Easy to focus

What we didn’t like

  • May not suit a professional
  • Does not come with a mount
  • Lens cover does not have rubber protection

Aperture: 150mm (6 inch)
Magnification: 60x
Lens diameter: 150mm (6 inch)
Field of view: 0.83°
Weatherproof: No
Weight: 11.85 pounds

2. Celestron NexStar 6 SE Computerized Telescope

At only a slightly higher price than the Celestron 6″ Schmidt Cassegrain Optical Tube, we found that this scope has an incredible range of features. 

It is ideal for both beginners and experienced stargazers. It is fully computerized and you can control it remotely via a PC. 

The scope has a 120mm lens, a focal length of 1500mm, and a magnification of 60x. 

We were able to find and view objects in minutes without any specific knowledge of the skies. 

The scope has a fully automated Go-To mount. The database of more than 40000 objects gave us access to planets, stars, galaxies, star clusters, solar system objects, and nebulae. 

The telescope then tracked the one we wanted automatically. As a family, we took it on an outing and tried some astroimaging! 

Check the price of Celestron NexStar 6 SE Computerized Telescope here

What we liked

  • Great price for all the features you get
  • Fully automated GoTo mount
  • Automatically locates and tracks objects
  • SkyAlign technology for easy alignment
  • Light enough to transport
  • Database of over 40000 celestial objects
  • 2-Year Warranty and Tech Support

What we didn’t like

  • May be complex for people with limited computer knowledge
  • Initial physical assembly can be tricky
  • Remote sometimes does not work well in cold weather

Aperture: 150mm (6 inch)
Magnification: 60x
Lens diameter: 150mm (6 inch)
Field of view: 0.83°
Weatherproof: No
Weight: 21 pounds

3. Celestron NexStar 8 SE Computerized Telescope

This telescope has a 200mm (8 inch) lens, and we certainly noticed the difference when compared to the 6 inch models. 

We observed amazing views of the moon, planets, and deep sky objects like the Whirlpool Galaxy. 

The scope has a fully automated GoTo mount with a database of over 40000 celestial. 

Set up was fairly easy and once it locks onto an object, it automatically tracks it for you. 

The telescope comes with a range of accessories. It has a 25mm E-Lux lens with 81x magnification. 

Also included in the package is a Deluxe Accessory Kit in its own case. The kit contains 5 Plossl Eyepieces, a Barlow Lens, Moon Filter, and 6 Wratten Filters. 

Check the price of Celestron NexStar 8 SE Computerized Telescope here

What we liked

  • Exceptional views with a 200mm lens
  • Ideal for beginners and experienced astronomers
  • Fully automated GoTo mount
  • Supplied with Deluxe Accessories Kit
  • Automatically locates and tracks objects
  • SkyAlign Technology for easy alignment
  • Database of over 40000 celestial objects

What we didn’t like

  • Heavy to transport easily
  • May be complex for people with limited computer knowledge
  • Physical assembly takes time

Aperture: 200mm (8 inch)
Magnification: 81x
Lens diameter: 200mm (8 inch)
Field of view: 0.63°
Weatherproof: No
Weight: 55.4 pounds

4. Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope

This telescope also has a 200mm lens and offers spectacular views of the moon, planets, and deep sky objects. 

Weighing only 13 pounds, it is the perfect telescope to take along on a weekend away. It has a handy 

Built-in 10-Hour Battery, so we didn’t need to worry about power at any time. 

Views of the moon, planets, and deep sky objects were crisp and clear. 

The GoTo mount on this scope has high-performance brass worm gears and motors and tracks objects smoothly as they drift across the night sky. 

We also tried some astroimaging with great results. At a slightly higher price, this scope is still exceptional value for money and is ideal for beginners and more experienced stargazers. 

Check the price of Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope here

What we liked

  • Well priced for exceptional views
  • Celestron SkyPortal app for iOS and Android
  • Easy to use GoTo mount
  • Built-in 10 hour Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery
  • Lightweight for portability
  • Two accessory trays
  • USB charge port for mobile phone

What we didn’t like

  • Higher price
  • Need to buy a cable to plug into PC for software updates

Aperture: 200mm (8 inch)
Magnification: 51x
Lens diameter: 200mm (8 inch)
Field of view: 0.98°
Weatherproof: No
Weight: 13 pounds

5. Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS 2800mm Telescope

This was the most expensive telescope we reviewed. 

It features a large 280mm (11 inch) lens, a 2800mm focal length, and 70x magnification. 

It is definitely more suited for professional astronomers. 

The scope comes with a fully computerized Altazimuth mount and internal GPS. 

The GPS makes locating objects easy as it automatically calculates the date, time, longitude, and latitude of where you are. 

The database of over 40000 celestial objects tracks any object you desire. Although it is quite heavy, the innovative ergonomic design makes it easy to carry. 

My better half managed to do alone without asking for help! We viewed amazing detail on the surface of Jupiter. We also looked at the rings of Saturn and even managed to see Neptune and Pluto.

Check the price of Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS 2800mm Telescope  here

What we liked

  • Large 280mm (11 inch) lens
  • Ergonomic design 
  • Exceptional clarity for professional stargazers
  • Computerized dual fork arm Altazimuth mount
  • Internal GPS tracks your position
  • Database of over 40000 celestial objects
  • Hand control holder to view information hands free

What we didn’t like

  • High price for beginners
  • With the mount, it is heavy to transport 
  • Some users experienced issues with the GPS 

Aperture: 280mm (11 inch)
Magnification: 70x
Lens diameter: 280mm (11 inch)
Field of view: 0.71°
Weatherproof: No
Weight: 83 pounds

 

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