With so many affordable go-to telescopes for beginners coming onto the market now, consumers have the power to pick and choose the features they want. If you are struggling to decide which capabilities are most important, Celestron's NexStar 90SLT might be a good option. It offers a decent balance of features, including the opportunity for astrophotography and both celestial and terrestrial views.

Even though all of the scopes we reviewed are designed to find targets for you, it is worth a reminder that this is one of them, and that go-to is a wonderful feature for beginners. We found this one to be somewhat difficult to maneuver when compared with other products in our telescope reviews.

This particular instrument is not designed to align itself for you, nor is it particularly easy to set up. However, using the SkyAlign feature, you should be able to point the scope at three bright objects in the sky, whether you know what they are or not, and have the scope's computer figure out what they are and where you are.

It may take practice and patience to get good at aligning this scope, but as you get good at it, it will save you time when compared with some of the manual telescopes. Getting this telescope set up and pointed at your first target is easier and more pleasant than set up with traditional scopes. In addition, the physical assembly of this scope will be easy for most users. It doesn’t require any tools to assemble. The picture we got with this telescope, especially when pointing it at the moon, was clear and beautiful. While it didn’t have quite as much detail as some of the best telescopes in our lineup, we were pleased with the picture overall.

The telescope comes with the ability to point itself at more than 4,000 objects right out of the box, but you can further your astronomy education with the included CD-ROM of The SkyX, First Light Edition software. This astronomy software offers a sky map with a 10,000-object database to help you learn about nebulae, clusters, planets and more. You can also zoom in on areas and print maps.

One of the joys of the Maksutov-Cassegrain design is the tiny package. Maksutov-Cassegrain scopes use both lenses and mirrors. You are getting a fair amount of power in a tube that is truly compact with NexStar 90SLT. It looks small, but the views are grand. We like the versatility of this unit, too: It give you great views of birds during the day and stargazing at night.

We have experienced some painfully long wait times for Celestron customer service at times, but the support mechanism is good overall. The company's website is excellent and positively packed with information about this and every other telescope the company sells. We found the instruction manual with ease, and the way it describes each telescope's specifications is really helpful to users with a little or a lot of experience.

Celestron NexStar 90SLT Summary:

While this is not exactly our favorite beginner scope, mostly because you can get one with more aperture and one that aligns itself better for a comparable price. However, there is a lot to be said for this compact, versatile telescope. The best first telescope is one that you will use. This is one that will not sit idle for long when you see how well it works for all types of viewing, on the ground and in the sky, and you experience the beautiful picture it provides.


Celestron NexStar 90SLT 22087

This scope has a compact design and provides a beautiful picture.

Other scopes in the same price range have more aperture.

The Verdict:

This telescope is extremely compact and offers the versatility of both terrestrial and celestial views.