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 looked at 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. This particular instrument is not designed to align itself for you, nor does not have a perfect reputation for easy 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. Even if it takes some patience and practice to get it into alignment, you will still save time in the end.

Getting this telescope set up and pointing at your first target will be easier and more pleasant than set up with traditional scopes. The physical assembly that precedes the alignment process also will be a breeze for the vast majority of users. You won't even need a single tool to put the pieces together.

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 that will 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. 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 going to be grand. We like the versatility of this unit too. You should get great views for bird watching and stargazing alike.

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:

This is not our very favorite beginner scope, mostly because you can get one with more aperture or one that aligns itself for not much more money. However, there is a lot to be said for a nice little mak-cass like this. It is very portable and very versatile. The best first telescope is one that you will use. We think this would be a great first scope for many people.


Celestron NexStar 90SLT

Its compact design makes this telescope perfectly portable, which will be especially helpful for those who live in the city.

Other scopes in the same price range have more aperture.

The Verdict:

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