Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 Review: Overachiever
Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 is over the top by every measure and that includes its price tag.
NexStar Evolution 9.25 requires terribly strong finances.
Creating an expensive, “Pro” telescope model is not easy, and justifying the price tag is even harder. Celestron achieved that with the NexStar Evolution 9.25.
With almost necessary upgrades, the price shoots up to around 3000$. If you are barely able to afford this telescope, don’t get it. If you can easily afford this telescope, just get it. It is phenomenal.
2350mm Focal Length
The optical design is the most significant reason why the price tag is justifiable. I will get into technical details for why that is the case, but you can skip this part and get straight to “Planetary Performance”.
Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 is a Schmidt-Cassegrain. The light travels the optical tube two times instead of one with these designs. The most effective advantage of this is the portability and convenience it brings with it. The same optical tube with the same optical length would be impossible to carry around.
The less effective but still important advantage is the lack of optical defects. A narrow optical path is harder to distort or affect. Color accuracy rises to delightful levels with almost no defects, and sharpness levels increase.
Lastly, there is one more advantage to the Schmidt-Cassegrain design. There are no physical objects in the light path except the secondary mirror. As a result, the image is accurate in terms of “shapes” and “figures”.
These are the reasons why large Schmidt-Cassegrain designs are go-to choices for even the most experienced of astronomers. The design is not easy to pull off, but when done correctly, it provides mesmerizing views, no matter your astronomical experience, in a conveniently small space.
The 9.25″ aperture is more than enough for viewing bright Solar System objects such as Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, The Moon, Neptune, and Uranus.
Jupiter’s Moon’s, The Great Red Spot, and its colorful stripes are easily observable.
Rings of Saturn are clear with the Cassini Division between them. The moons orbiting Saturn are observable, but Titan, the largest one, is the one easiest to see.
Mars shows its surface as black and white stains. The poles and the Iron nature of the surface are clear.
Planetary viewing is the strong suit of NexStar Evolution 9.25.
Venus‘ surface is impossible to observe due to its thick atmosphere, but its unique yellow color and phases are easily observable. (The objects look color accurate and sharp.)
Uranus and Neptune appear as bright blue disks. Triton, Neptune’s largest moon, is observable.
Mercury and Pluto are colorful dots as they are challenging to get a glimpse of with any telescope.
Lunar observations with Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 are mesmerizing. As I’ve mentioned before, the Schmidt-Cassegrain design is all about getting closer, gathering more detail, and doing so with incredible color accuracy. These are the exact things you need to observe the Moon.
You have to see it for yourself what observing the Lunar Surface is like. But I can say that thousands and thousands of tiny details reveal themselves. It is a different ballgame.
Deep Space Performance
Deep space observations require a low focal ratio and a wide field view. The optics of Evolution 9.25 aren’t built for these aspects. Expensive upgrades are needed for decent deep space observations.
The first and most essential upgrade is a focal reducer. It will reduce the focal ratio, widen the field view, and flatten the image. This upgrade by itself is enough for great deep space performance.
But, naturally, anyone who gets a 2200$ telescope will upgrade to 2″ eyepieces. For that, you need a 2″ star diagonal. These upgrades are relatively cheaper and will improve the deep space performance even further.
Upgrades are necessary for impressive deep space performance.
Without these upgrades, deep space performance is rather disappointing due to the narrow field view. With these upgrades, deep space performance rises to impressive levels. The performance is on par with a Z8, which says a lot.
Saturn – Jupiter – NexStar Evolution 9.25
Is Astrophotography possible with Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25?
Same as the deep space performance, upgrades are necessary for serious astrophotography. But this time, the upgrades are even more expensive.
There are three separate solutions for top-notch astrophotography with NexStar Evolution 9.25. I will go from cheap to expensive.
Celestron Equatorial Wedge is the cheapest and smartest solution for deep space astrophotography. It will tilt the optical tube, provide “equatorial” motion to counter the Earth’s rotation, and become a gateway to serious astrophotography.
The second solution is slightly more expensive but cooler. It is the HypterStar from Starizona. It replaces the secondary mirror with a camera, lowers the exposure time required by 30x. A 1-minute exposure with the HyperStar will be equal to a 30min exposure image without the HypterStar. If I wasn’t worried about my financials, I would go for the HyperStar. It is much easier to use.
The third and most expensive solution is getting a motorized EQ mount. These cost from 500$ to 2000$. Such a mount design will solve the astrophotography problem completely, and the exposure time may reach 3-4 hour levels, maybe more.
Without these upgrades, you are limited to exceptionally bright objects for photography. Some of these objects are Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, The Moon, bright star clusters, Venus, Neptune, and Uranus.
With these upgrades, any space object is available for imaging.
The Evolution Mount is an impressive achievement of Celestron. It works the way you want it to work; it is intuitive and reliable. Although there are a few problems with the software, the build quality is so delightful it makes you overlook the minor issues.
The first thing you look for in a telescope mount is sturdiness and build quality. The observations must be stable.
The clutches are able to carry the 9.25″ without any problems, and it feels like they can carry even more weight. They are manually usable, which is a huge advantage that is not existent with most other computerized mounts.
The motors inside the mount are metal, which reduces backlash and increases precision. They also provide a stronger connection with the optical tube.
The tripod is a 2″-stainless steel model. There is nothing else to say, really; it is a robust stainless steel tripod.
Overall the base is perfect in terms of stability, but that is what you would expect from a 2200$ telescope. The features that make a difference are the built-in technologies.
Built-in WiFi and Battery
When the Evolution line was first introduced, the WiFi was frustratingly bad. It broke down all the time, and it was difficult to reconnect. But Celestron kept at the problem, and the current Evolution Series’ WiFi works all the time reliably. It feels much better in the field to have a reliable WiFi connection to the telescope.
The built-in battery is a simple Lithium-Ion model. It lasts for around 10 hours, which is fine for a long night.
There are two choices for controlling the telescope: the hand controller or the SkyPortal App.
Using the hand controller feels like time travelling to the 90s. You can understand the “software” from the picture. It is just a few buttons and a small screen. You do the alignment, and the optical tube will follow any object you want. It is simple, works well, but it is old technology.
The SkyPortal App is a different story. It is a real-time simulation of the night sky and the optical tube. When it works well, the experience is dreamy. The precision is on-point, and you are observing any object you tap on the screen in seconds.
The app is buggy, but an admirable attempt.
But the app is buggy and needs software updates. I don’t know if Celestron will able to solve these issues.
13mm Plössl Eyepiece
40mm Plössl Eyepiece
Red Dot Finder
The accessories are barely enough to get you started. As I’ve mentioned before, there are hundreds of dollars that need to be spent to achieve the peak potential of NexStar Evolution 9.25.
There are two Plössl eyepieces included that have 13mm and 40mm apertures. They are below-average eyepieces and nowhere near enough for this telescope.
You can throw the red dot finder to thrash immediately. It is a joke next to the 9.25″ optical tube. Celestron should have sent an 8×50 finder instead of a red dot model.
There is a 1.25″ diagonal, which is absolutely disappointing. Anyone who gets this telescope will want to use 2″ eyepieces, and Celestron knows this. They should have sent a 2″ star diagonal with the telescope.
It is clear that Celestron didn’t want to spend anything on eyepieces. But their mount technology and optical tube are so good, the fact that there are no high-quality accessories included doesn’t help the competition.
Buggy SkyPortal App
Let’s start with the obvious, the price tag is ridiculously high, and that doesn’t include the expensive upgrades required to get the most out of the NexStar Evolution 9.25
The SkyPortal App has issues.
It is not easy for me to praise a telescope so highly, but Celestron deserves it with the Evolution line. They simply have no competition with their computerized telescopes, and the NexStar Evolution 9.25 is the “Overachiever” of the siblings.