Celestron NexStar 130SLT Review Telescopes
If you are searching for an affordable Newtonian telescope, you have probably stumbled upon the NexStar 130 SLT.
Does this affordable model deliver its promises, or is it just a way for the reputable Celestron to enter the low-end market?
Let us find that out in our new Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Review!
Computerized Star locating Telescope: With GoTo capabilities this is a very easy and fun to use telescope. For both aligning and tracking celestial objects.
Newtonian Reflector optical design: This computerized telescope comes with a convenient Newtonian design and is the biggest of the SLT family with an aperture that can gather enough light to see our solar system and beyond.
Compact and Portable: This is an ideal telescope if you plan to travel or do some outdoor stargazing.
Free Starry Night Software: The NexStar 130 SLT comes with a copy of great software for interactive sky simulation.
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NexStar 130 SLT: a GoTo Newtonian for beginners for a fair price
Our first encounter with the NexStar 130SLT was not really planned. We found out about it by looking up information on current trends regarding Newtonian telescopes and which ones are currently popular.
When seeing the NexStar 130 SLT, our first thought was: “Is this really necessary?”
Celestron already has a massive variety of telescopes on the market for all kinds of budgets, ages and experience levels. But the low-budget market is over-saturated with hundreds of different models, both brand-name and off-brand. So what is it that makes the 130SLT stand out when compared to other models?
Well, in short, it is the combination of modern features such as the GoTo mount and the traditional, easy-to-use design of Newtonian telescopes. And the best thing of all – everything functions just as you would want it to!
Let’s take a closer look:
The NexStar SLT Series:
The NexStar SLT Series by Celestron is designed to be an affordable, entry-level series for different types of interests. The scopes in this series include adjustable, stainless steel tripods that are pre-assembled. This means that the setup is easier and faster compared to off-brand models.
Models in the NexStar SLT series come in a few different designs and configurations. What they have in common is that they are powered by 8 AA batteries or an AC adapter that you have to buy separately. These are used to power the motors and the computer.
GoTo Design: Computers, Motors, and Automatic Alignment
Same as the other Celestron scopes in this series, the Nextar SLT130 features a computerized GoTo mount. This tripod is an alt-azimuth design that has motors and an automatic alignment system called SkyAlign.
The SkyAlign system works great for a telescope at this price point and is incredibly easy to use. It takes only two steps to align the 130SLT.
First, you need to type in your location (country and city), date and time; next, you need to move your red dot finder to a bright object in the sky, then center it in the field of view, and finally repeat this process two more times.
This alignment process works best if you find Sirius (normally the brightest star in the night sky), the star Capella (part of the Constellation Auriga and one of the brightest stars) and combine this with a third bright object, for example the planet Saturn.
Of course, the SkyAlign system will work with many other objects and combinations, as well. Besides this, there is also a Precise GoTo option, which we will explain later.
You will have to experiment a bit until you find the best combination for your region. But this is not really a problem – you do not need to know what objects you are pointing to. You just need to find a bright object and focus on it, which makes it very easy to use for beginners and teens.
The telescopes in the NexStar SLT Series all fall in the category of fairly portable telescopes.
The 130 SLT is the bulkiest one of them all, but it is not too heavy for a telescope of its power. At around 9 kilograms of weight when assembled, it is not a telescope that children can move and set up on their own, but it is certainly not a big problem for most adults.
Portability is always a big issue. When we want to take our telescopes with us, we need to remember that we have to load them into a car, drive around into the mountains or a similar area without light pollution, then bring the telescope out and set it up in a semi-dark environment.
This is especially important for astrophotography, which we will address in a second.
The most important thing influencing portability besides the weight is the setup method and time.
The Celestron NexStar telescopes are all fairly easy to set up with the manual, but make sure to study it beforehand. We have all made the mistake of trying to read the manual with a flashlight on a dark mountain – it is not a pleasure! Learn how to assemble and disassemble this scope during the daytime and you will have no problems doing it in the dark.
All of the NexStar SLT telescopes have a different configuration, but all are fairly solid for stationary astrophotography. You will, however, be limited to short exposure photographs because all of the SLT telescopes use Alt-Az mounts.
The computerized Alt-Az technically makes it possible to take long-exposure photographs, but they will not be as sharp and as clear when compared to a computerized equatorial mount. To put it simply, there will be a lot of shaking and a lack of precision, especially because the mount is small and wobbly by nature.
With the high aperture of the NexStar 130 SLT, Deep Sky Observation with medium-length exposure times are certainly possible. For example, you will be able to get some great shots of the Moon (closeups and wide shots), while also being able to photograph some nebulae and other deep sky formations and objects. The reason for this is that Newtonians like NexStar 130 SLT have a fairly wide field of view.
We think that there are better options available if your main wish is to perform astrophotography, but if you want a well-rounded telescope that can be used for some first-time astrophotography sessions, the NexStar 130 SLT is fairly good.
NexStar 130 SLT Optics:
The optics of this Celestron model are one of the best among low-budget, beginner models, especially considering that the aperture is very high. With 130mm of aperture, your telescope can gather fairly high amounts of light and deliver a very solid image.
With a focal length of 650mm, this model is an f/5 scope. F/5 scopes are fairly fast, meaning that you have a wide field of view, which is useful for short exposure astrophotography of big portions of the sky.
As this is a Newtonian telescope, the image you are seeing is flipped upside down. This is usually not too big of a problem for astronomical viewing, especially if you are not used to any other method. However, it makes terrestrial viewing very uncomfortable, though there are users who think it is an acquired skill that can be combined with terrestrial telescope photography – you would flip the image digitally after taking it.
Optical performance is the biggest plus of the 130 SLT model. The parabolic mirrors are multi-coated and perform extremely well considering the low price point. Your images will be crisp, clear and accurately painted as there is very little chromatic aberration. However, we noticed some spherical aberration during deep-sky aberration, but the scope still performs better than many others in this price range.
What to Expect from the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT
The biggest downsides of this telescopes are the mount and the manual. First of all, the steel mount is certainly of high quality and comes pre-assembled, but it is simply a tad too small and weak for the 130 SLT, which is a little bit chunky due to the big and good optics.
Second of all, the manual is also not very helpful. For example, one way to improve accuracy is to select the Precise GoTo setting. This setting is, luckily, easy to find from the main menu, but it should be documented since it is not the default option.
The Precise GoTo uses 5 stars instead of 3 and makes use of coordinates of space objects. This setup requires just a little bit more time, but for longer viewing sessions, it makes the GoTo SkyAlign experience even better than it is with the standard option.
The Celestron NexStar 130SLT Competitors:
If you are still sitting on the fence, maybe you should take a look at some similar models that might appeal to you more. We have a few suggestions for you:
Celestron – NexStar 4SE Telescope
This is a Celestron GoTo telescope with very similar features and in a similar price range, but it uses a Maksutov-Cassegrain design. The model is part of the famous and reliable Orange Tube telescope series.
- Aperture: 102mm
- Focal Length: 1325mm
- Ratio: F/13
- Unique single fork arm design
Orion StarSeeker IV:
This is another Maksutov-Cassegrain design from the competitor Orion. The StarSeeker IV is stable and portable and might interest you more if you are a fan of Orion.
- Aperture: 130mm
- Focal Length 650mm
- Ratio: F/5
- Huge GoTo database of over 42,000 objects
Celestron NexStar 130SLT Review
If you are looking for a telescope for a beginner and want to have a lot of options for viewing, the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT will certainly not disappoint you.
Although there are many more powerful GoTo telescopes out there (many of them produced by Celestron) this scope has a Newtonian design and is a real bang for the buck.
We can recommend this as a first telescope without any problems or complaints. As long as you can find a stable surface and work around the shaky mount, you will have hours and hours of fun with this amazing piece of technology.
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