PROS / It offers the greatest detail of objects even at a low magnification.
CONS / You can’t use this telescope for daytime use.
VERDICT / This Newtonian reflector telescope is suitable for beginner and amateur space enthusiasts. The go-to features make it easy to use while the large aperture will satisfy those who are upgrading from a smaller scope. The clarity and detail on this telescope are excellent.
A telescope that allows you to simply enter the date, time, and your location and then points to the star, galaxy or nebula you want to see is ideal for a first-time user. The Celestron NexStar 130SLT does all that, and it is the biggest model in the NexStar series with its 5-inch aperture. A fat telescope, like this model, offers views of celestial objects that you may not otherwise be able to view with a smaller reflector.
Aside from the bigger aperture and helpful go-to functionality, this telescope is very easy to assemble out of the box thanks to some preassembly. The Celestron NextStar 130SLT is relatively lightweight for being such a large telescope, so you can take it with you to starwatching parties. It’s an excellent choice among telescopes for beginners, and that’s why we gave it our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
Ease of Use
When you get your first telescope, you want to put it together immediately and take it outside to see what you can see. If you’re stuck on the floor reading instructions and installing bits and pieces, it can make the whole experience anticlimactic. Celestron excels at making assembly easier than most of its competitors. Most of the big pieces are already assembled so all you have to do is fit the few pieces together like a puzzle and tighten a handful of screws.
At our test site, each tester took a turn setting up the telescope on the mount and figuring out how to use the go-to features. Although it wasn’t universally difficult to use, a few testers had more trouble using the telescope than others. Those who had experience with telescopes similar to the Celestron NexStar 130SLT found it easier than the first-timers.
Celestron made this telescope, which is suitable for intermediate users as well as those who are new to astronomy, easy to use. Its relatively low weight makes it portable, so you can pack it up and take it on road trips to dark skies where no ambient light reaches. In such dark areas, it can be difficult to see what you're doing, but the backlit buttons on the hand control make it easier to navigate without having to pull out a flashlight.
The NexStar 130SLT offers a generous 5-inch aperture, which means when you haul this scope out to view the stars, you’re going to see bodies of light you cannot see with the naked eye because the bigger the aperture, the more light enters the telescope and your eye. In addition to seeing stars that are dim and far away, the NexStar 130SLT gives you clear views of the moon and details like the craters on the moon, the ice caps on Mars, and the cloud belts of Jupiter.
This is one of the best telescopes for deep sky viewing, but it isn’t ideal for daytime viewing because the image reflected back would be upside down. You get two eyepieces with this scope – a 9 mm and a 25 mm. The higher-power magnification you get from the 9 mm eyepiece gives you an up-close and personal view of the brighter lights in the sky, while the 25 mm eyepiece offers a wider view, which is great for touring the skies. Its highest useful magnification is 307, which means you can zoom in closer on celestial bodies with this telescope compared to most of the telescopes we tested.
Stability & Tracking
The NexStar series of telescopes are some of the best telescopes for newcomers because they offer solid mounts and tripods as well as excellent go-to features. Once you have the telescope set up and batteries installed inside the mount, you can turn on the hand controller and start the process of aligning your scope. After you’ve entered your location, the date, and time, you choose three bright stars – or the moon or a planet – near each other and allow the telescope to align. Once it’s fully aligned, you can choose a star, galaxy or nebula on the hand controller and the telescope turns automatically to the celestial body you want to see.
Warranty & Support
The standard warranty for a Celestron telescope is two years. What that means is that you are protected from defective parts for two years after the purchase date, and the manufacturer will either repair or replace parts or your entire telescope. If you have questions about the telescope, you can expect to find a few answers on the Celestron support page, but the company also offers email or live chat so you can get the answers you need. There are also videos to help you with setup, if you happen to be a visual learner.
The NexStar 130SLT was fairly easy to use in our testing, and that ease can encourage new users to keep using their telescope. Its large aperture gives you a longer view of the night sky, so you’re likely to see new things every night you take it out. In addition, its go-to features make it easy to find the deep sky objects you want to see and help you learn what you’re viewing.