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Celestron Advanced VX 8″ SCT Reviewed: Recommended Scope

The Celestron Advanced VX 8 is one of the best telescopes in their Advanced VX series of telescope and mount bundles, thanks to its relatively modest weight and bulk, decent portability, and acceptable amount of astrophotography capability.

Celestron offers several Schmidt-Cassegrains bundled with its Advanced VX mount, including 6”, 9.25”, 11” and the 8” model we’re reviewing here. The 6” is a little small to be useful, the 11” is plain unstable, and the 9.25” is a little big. The C8 Advanced VX is just about the right combination of telescope and mount to be useful for both visual astronomy and astrophotography without being too unwieldy or unstable.

How It Stacks Up

Ranked #3 of 6 ~$1750 telescopes

Rank 3
Celestron Advanced VX 8" SCT
4.3
What We Like

  • Large aperture
  • GoTo functionality
  • Capable of astrophotography


What We Don't Like

  • Long focal length means limited field of view
  • Hard to use for long exposure astrophotography
  • Setup and alignment can be intimidating for beginning astronomers


Bottom Line
Recommended Product Badge

The Celestron Advanced VX 8” Schmidt-Cassegrain is a jack-of-all-trades telescope. While it’s more expensive and more complicated than some options, it’s capable of a lot and provides a fair amount of versatility should your specific interests within the hobby change.

For purchasing this telescope, we highly recommend HighPointScientific, the largest telescope retailer in the United States. Their knowledge of the subject, combined with features like a price match promise, free lifetime tech support, a 30-day return policy, and financing choices, makes them a great pick.

The C8 Optical Tube

Celestron Advanced VX 8

The C8 is Celestron’s oldest mass-produced telescope, having debuted in 1970. Other than small changes to the manufacturing and coating processes, the C8 has hardly changed in the past 51 years. It is an 8” Schmidt-Cassegrain with a focal ratio of f/10 and a focal length of approximately 2032 mm. Its 8” of aperture is enough to show you deep-sky objects and planets with a fair amount of detail without being too unwieldy, and while 2032mm is a bit of a long focal length for larger objects, it’s not claustrophobic like the larger Schmidt-Cassegrains in Celestron’s lineup. The current crop of C8 OTAs are also equipped with Fastar/HyperStar compatible secondary assemblies. Being a Schmidt-Cassegrain, the C8 requires occasional collimation, but not nearly as often as most Newtonian reflectors.

Altogether, the C8 weighs about 13 pounds and is about 17 inches long. This means it’ll work on a variety of different mounts and fits in a very small space such as a large backpack, suitcase, or dedicated carrying case. It uses a standard Vixen-style dovetail bar to attach to mounts.

Using the Advanced VX Mount for Visual and Imaging

The Advanced VX is Celestron’s cheapest GoTo equatorial mount. It has a 30-pound stated payload capacity, and roughly 40,000 objects in its internal database (most of which are either stars or simply invisible to most telescopes). Setting it up and polar aligning it is a slightly more involved process than setting up and polar aligning a standard alt-azimuth GoTo mount. However, the Advanced VX’s equatorial design allows one to do long-exposure astrophotography. The AVX comes with Celestron’s standard NexStar+ hand controller (the variant for equatorial mounts). The NexStar+ hand control has a database of over 40,000 objects, including the entire Messier, Caldwell, NGC, and IC catalogs.

The AVX can take advantage of nearly all of Celestron’s advanced technologies, such as SkyAlign and CPWI (their new software developed in conjunction with PlaneWave), a well as their StarSense AutoAlign, SkySynch GPS, and SkyPortal WiFi add-ons.

The Advanced VX mounting saddle is designed to handle two different styles of dovetail plate. Celestron refers to these as CG-5 and CGE. The CG-5 dovetail plate is pretty much identical to the Vixen-style dovetail, while the CGE dovetail is basically identical to the Losmandy style dovetail plate.

At about 35 pounds altogether, the Advanced VX may sound a little heavy, but it does break into plenty of smaller pieces (the heaviest being the tripod at 17 pounds). 

RECOMMENDED BUY FOR VISUAL AND BASIC IMAGING

The AVX was designed to be a mount both for imaging and visual observing. For visual observing, the requirements are far less than those needed for imaging. And here, the AVX does pretty well.

Read why we prefer High Point Scientific to Amazon

When properly set up and aligned, the GoTo’s performance and tracking are accurate and reliable. Put an object in the eyepiece and you can expect it to stay there for as long as you intend to look at it. Slew to another object, and, assuming you did a good star alignment, you can expect it to put the object right in the center of the eyepiece.

Though heavier loads may make it strain and may decrease accuracy, it still generally performs well, definitely good enough for visual use. But in two areas, the AVX is a bit of a disappointment.

The first is backlash, particularly on the declination axis. One of the chief reasons the CG-5 was never a great performer for imaging was the backlash, which could be pretty significant.

Backlash is a problem caused by gears that don’t mesh together as closely as they should. This can be due to gears that aren’t being held tight together, or gears that aren’t properly sized to fit each other. The key symptom is some give in the axis.

While properly meshed gears should remain in contact with each other at all times, when gears aren’t properly meshed, there may be some looseness which can result in back and forth wobbling. For visual use, this can be a nuisance but is usually not a problem (though it can decrease the accuracy of GoTo performance). For imaging, it can result in noticeable problems in the stars.

The backlash on the Right Ascension axis in the AVX is definitely better than the previous CG-5 models experienced but still may seem a little high for some users, especially those who need high-precision for imaging. The backlash on the declination axis, however, is a common complaint among users. There are some ways of reducing it, but it’s disappointing that Celestron wouldn’t have done more in design and manufacture, particularly since this mount is designed with imaging in mind.

Accessories

The Celestron AVX 8 SCT comes with a 1.25” 25mm Plossl eyepiece providing 81x, along with a 1.25” prism star diagonal. You’ll almost certainly want an additional eyepiece for higher magnification at the very least, and ideally a 2” diagonal and one or two 2” wide-angle eyepieces as well for the widest possible field of view and lowest useful magnification.

The Advanced VX 8 SCT is supplied with a standard 6×30 finderscope. While a red dot finder would probably be easier to use and is all that is really required, the 6×30 doesn’t have any batteries to worry about draining and works fine for the simple task of aligning the GoTo mount.

What can you see with the Advanced VX 8″ SCT?

The large aperture and moderately long focal length of the C8 make it great for viewing the Moon, planets, double stars, and smaller deep sky objects. Large open clusters and nebulae won’t fit in the field of view, but the C8 is great for viewing smaller galaxies like M82 and M51, globular clusters like M13, and planetary nebulae like the Cat’s Eye. It’ll also have no trouble showing you details as small as a mile on the Moon, Mars’ dark shading and ice caps, Mercury and Venus’ phases, Jupiter’s cloud belts, the Great Red Spot, and, of course, Saturn’s rings with the Cassini division in them. Uranus and Neptune are star-like dots, and Neptune’s moon Triton can be faintly seen. A plethora of moons surrounds Jupiter and Saturn.

Astrophotography Capabilities

It’s also good to keep in mind that a common rule of thumb for astrophotography says that your total payload weight for imaging should be kept to one-half the mount’s rated maximum or less. At 13 pounds bare, by the time you load up the C8 with a camera, auto guiding, etc., it is going to be above 15 pounds, which is the most you can really load onto the Advanced VX and expect consistently good performance, especially at a 2032mm focal length. But it will suffice if you keep your exposures short and do a good job with polar alignment and autoguiding. Overall, the C8 works pretty well for deep-sky astrophotography with a DSLR or dedicated astronomy camera if you add an aftermarket f/6.3 reducer to it to shorten your exposure times—and, of course, use an autoguider. You can also convert the C8 to an f/2 system using a Starizona Hyperstar, which will allow you to get more detail with much shorter exposure times and a wider field of view.

The C8 is also excellent for planetary and lunar astrophotography when coupled with a Barlow lens and a high-speed planetary camera.

Pricing and Availability

The Celestron Advanced VX 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope review was published in 2019, when it was priced at $1550, and the price has risen considerably in percentage terms since then. For the most up-to-date store prices, go to High Point Scientific (the #1 US dealer) and AgenaAstro (our #2 pick). Demand presently outweighs supply, as it has for the past 1.5 years, so be prepared to place a backorder.

Aperture:203.2mm
Optical Design:Schmidt-Cassegrain
Mount Design:Computerized Equatorial
Focal Length:2032mm
Focal Ratio:f/10
Focuser:Single Speed Internal Focuser
Assembled weight:47.5 lbs
Warranty:Celestron 2 Years

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