PROS / This compact scope provides a beautiful picture.
CONS / It has a lower aperture than other scopes in the same price range.
VERDICT / This telescope is extremely compact and offers the versatility of both terrestrial and celestial views.
The Celestron NexStar 90SLT is a good option for stargazing beginners. It offers a decent balance of features, including the opportunity for astrophotography and both celestial and terrestrial views. However, even though this is a go-to telescope designed to find targets for you, we found it somewhat difficult to maneuver compared to other telescopes in our reviews.
This telescope 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 its computer figures 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 saves you time compared to some manual telescopes. Getting this telescope set up and pointed at your first target is easier and more pleasant than setup with traditional scopes. In addition, the physical assembly of this scope is easy. 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 we got with some of the best telescopes in our lineup, and the 90 mm aperture is just average for this price range, we were pleased with the picture overall.
The telescope has 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 TheSkyX First Light Edition. 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 get a fair amount of power in a truly compact tube with the NexStar 90SLT. It looks small, but the views are grand. We like the versatility of this scope too: It give you great views of birds during the day and stars at night.
We have experienced some painfully long wait times for Celestron customer service, but the support is good overall. The company's website is excellent and positively packed with information about this and every other telescope it 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.
The Celestron NexStar 90SLT is not the best telescope for beginners, 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 experience the beautiful picture it provides.