PROS / With its self-aligning features, you will not find a telescope that is easier to use.
CONS / Smaller aperture means less starlight and less spectacular views.
VERDICT / This telescope is incredibly easy to use because it figures out where it is in the universe and then points itself at beautiful celestial targets.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced with another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Many experienced astronomers still balk at the idea of letting a scope do all of the work of finding stars, but we think telescopes for beginners should be as easy to use as possible, and Celestron's SkyProdigy 90 is.
Go-To telescopes are impressive enough, but Celestron's SkyProdigy series takes the concept one step further. Most Go-To scopes are relatively easy to align. You just find a few bright stars, make sure you know which way the instrument is pointed and the rest is automatic. The SkyProdigy is even easier than that. All you have to do is put the telescope together and turn it on. This telescope will figure out where you are in the universe and will then take you on a tour of it.
This award-winning concept is going to make entry into the hobby of astronomy so much more pleasant for many folks. We don't think this means you will never learn how to find celestial objects on your own. It does mean that you will be able to see and marvel at them long before you know how to read a star chart and extract coordinates, then point a telescope “on the numbers.” We believe ease of discovery will motivate you to learn where these objects are on the sky.
All of that wonderful self-aligning technology costs money, though. It will not be worth it for everyone. You have to decide if you value aperture or the ease of self-alignment more. We think aperture matters more overall. We would choose to invest in more light-gathering capability and align the telescope ourselves. For someone who is very new to the hobby, however, Celestron's SkyProdigy 90 makes a lot of sense. If you arrive late to a chilly, dark observing site, you’re not going to want to spend 20 or 30 minutes of cold-finger-time fumbling to align your telescope. And you’re not really going to remember that you saved $100. The 90-mm of aperture will still offer you views of the moon, planets and some deep-sky targets, and the included 25- and 9-milimeter eyepieces will give you even more variety in your viewing.
Celestron's no-tool assembly makes the time between opening the box and looking at the stars very short. This starter scope is designed to stay collimated, but you will need a screwdriver and some extra time if the optical elements come out of alignment.
This unit has an external battery pack, so you will need to keep an eye out for cord wrap when you're tracking objects. We liked the solid feel of the large single fork arm; in fact the mount could probably handle a larger telescope. So you know that pointing and tracking with the SkyProdigy 90 will be smooth and accurate.
Trading ease of use for aperture is a matter of personal preference. There are no telescopes for beginners that are easier to use than the SkyProdigy 90, but there are scopes in the same price range that have more light-gathering power. If ease of use is high on your list, this is your best bet.