PROS / This telescope offers the greatest detail on objects even at a low magnification.
CONS / You can't use this telescope for daytime viewing.
VERDICT / The go-to features make this telescope 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.
The Celestron NexStar 130SLT allows you to simply enter the date, time and your location, and then it points to the star, galaxy or nebula you want to see. This go-to operation makes it ideal for a first-time user. 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 be able to view with a smaller reflector.
In addition to the big aperture and helpful go-to function, this telescope is easy to assemble out of the box. This helps to make the NexStar 130SLT an excellent telescope for beginners, as you don't have to spend a great deal of time preparing to view the night sky. For these aspects and more, the Celestron NexStar 130SLT wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for best telescope for beginners.
The NexStar 130SLT offers a generous 5-inch aperture, which means when you haul this scope out to view the stars, you see bodies of light you cannot see with the naked eye. This is because the bigger the aperture, the more light enters the telescope and reaches your eye. In addition to showing you stars that are dim and far away, the NexStar 130SLT gives you clear views of 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 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.
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 pieces, it can make the whole experience anticlimactic. Celestron excels at making assembly easier than it is with 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. With its relatively low weight and backlit buttons on the hand controls, this telescope is convenient for those who are new to astronomy as well as intermediate users; however, a few of the testers who were first-time telescope users still had a little more trouble using the telescope than those who had experience with telescopes. In particular, our new testers found there was a slight learning curve when navigating the sky. However, once our newer testers understood the basics, they were able to use this telescope without much issue.
Stability & Tracking
As one of the best telescopes for beginners, the NexStar has a solid mount and tripod 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 enter your location, 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.
Warranty & Support
The warranty for the Celestron telescope is two years. What that means is 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. You can expect to find a few answers on the Celestron support page, but in case you don't, the company offers email and live chat so you can get the answer you need. There are also videos on the website to help you with setup if you happen to be a visual learner.
The Celestron NexStar 130SLT is fairly easy to use, which can encourage beginners to keep using it. Its large aperture gives you a long view of the night sky, so you're likely to see new things every night you take it out. In particular, its go-to features make it easy to find the deep-sky objects you want to see and help you learn about what you're viewing.