Why not go big for your first-time telescope buy with a computerized GoTo telescope?
It’s not as expensive as you might think as the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT comes in at a low price point for what it has to offer.
As a scope that’s been around the block for long time, there’s much to be said about it that’s been tried, tested, and proven by the masses.
To decide if the 130 SLT could be the scope that teaches you a thing or two over the next few years, allow yourself to be illuminated right here.
✔️ Best Feature: Price
❌ Worst Feature: Light-duty mount
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Beginners
- Optical Design: Reflector
- Aperture: 130 mm (5.12”)
- Focal Length: 650 mm (26”)
- Focal Ratio: f/5
- Eyepieces Included: 25 mm, 9 mm
Our Verdict: If you’re looking for a computerized GoTo setup for the first time, the Celestron NexStar is a great series to start with. The 130 SLT has the potential to be a long-lasting telescope. With the familiar and easy to understand alt-az movement, you can easily find objects and keep up to speed with GoTo to learn the night sky.
Who is the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Best Suited to?
To be frank, advanced telescope users will have no interest in the 130 SLT. It’s too light-duty and simple. However, the game park and rules are not the same when it comes to beginners.
The NexStar scope could serve as a great first-time telescope and first-time computerized telescope. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and obviously its computerized design enables it to be a valuable aid to the learning amateur.
For the low price, array of included accessories, and a 2-year manufacturer warranty, the NexStar 130 SLT is a good buy if you’re on a strict budget.
How Does the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Perform?
For a budget computerized telescope, the NexStar 130 SLT performs extremely well. There have been criticisms over its lifetime in the market mostly due to the light-duty mount and some electronic issues. However, performing firmware updates and incorporating tips to optimize telescope stability helps to improve its performance, knowledge, and skills.
The NexStar 130 SLT is a 5.1” Newtonian on a motorized alt-az mount. There are both benefits and cons of this type of setup, but if you’re mostly using it to get to know the night sky, taking unguided short exposure photos, and for visual use, you won’t be disappointed.
You’ll soon learn to be comfortable with collimating a Newtonian since the NexStar will need it. But, with proper alignment, you’ll be able to observe objects within the Messier Catalog, planets (although small), and various DSOs from galaxies to larger nebulae.
Features & Benefits
Quality computerized telescopes are expensive, but as one of the handful of GoTo scopes in the entry-level market, the NexStar 130 SLT has a leg up over the high-end competition – affordability and decent quality.
Its low price point is a very attractive feature to beginners that are new to the astronomy field. It would make a decent, first-time GoTo telescope for someone who wants to ease their way into the computerized field without breaking the bank.
The NexStar 130 gets a fair share of criticism in the market, but it also earns double the amount of praise. It actually has very good optics for a cheap GoTo Newtonian as it does have a well-ground and polished, aluminized, parabolic mirror and a quality-milled secondary mirror.
With a 5” aperture and fast quality optics, maximum light transmission is guaranteed, and crisp, bright, and clear views is an expectation that is delivered. You can also dabble in some limited, short exposure astrophotography of the moon and planets with a CCD or webcam-style eyepiece camera.
The 130 SLT has a single-speed 2” rack-and-pinion focuser, so it may creep under heavy loads, but it can be swapped out for a dual-speed Crayford focuser if you feel so inclined.
Computerized Alt-AZ Mount
The OTA with its Vixen dovetail sits atop a computerized alt-azimuth single fork arm mount with servo motors. Unfortunately, it has a load capacity of 8 lbs, so you’re about maxed out with weight by the time you get your setup complete without any imaging gear.
The mount head weighs 5 lbs and sits on a 5 lb stainless steel tripod with 1.25” legs. The tripod comes preassembled and ready for instant use.
The mount requires 8x AA batteries which is not ideal, but it’s also similar to many other GoTo power requirements in the market. You can use a 12V power tank which is the better, reliable option.
NexStar+ Hand Control
To slew up to 9 speeds, access a 40,000+ object database, perform five different alignment procedures, and more, just use the NexStar+ hand control.
Beginners can input time and location and have the mount perform a guided sky tour of an automatically generated list of the best objects to observe.
For easy GoTo alignment, you can perform the Sky Align procedure that’s easy enough for amateurs to figure out. Point the scope to any three bright objects in the sky and the computer will do the rest.
The buttons on the hand control are a little small to use with gloves on and you may need a red LED flashlight to help illuminate what buttons are what during use while you learn the system.
Computerized scopes should be enjoyable and part of that enjoyment should come from its ease of use. Hauling out a heavy setup is no fun, but since the 130 SLT weighs only 18 lbs (approx.) completely assembled, it makes for easy travel to dark sites out of town.
Having a 5” OTA on an 8 lb load capacity 5 lb mount head and 5 lb tripod is pushing weight limits. Since this is designed to be a visual-only telescope, it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. However, any DSLR imaging with autoguiding is out of the question with this light-duty mount.
You may also experience vibrations and tremors at maximum magnification even though the leg spreader accessory tray also helps to absorb some of the vibrations.
To help minimize these effects, don’t extend the tripod legs more than you need and tighten up the mount bolts and fork clutch without over tightening – you could cause the plastic parts to break. You can also attach a weight to the leg spreader and anti-vibration pads may be invaluable. Don’t forget to use a bubble level during setup to ensure accurate alignment.
Do you have to Enter the Time and Date Every Time on the NexStar Telescope?
The NexStar 130 SLT does not have an internal clock or GPS, so yes, you must enter the time, date, and location every time you power on the computerized telescope.
This can be solved with purchasing a GPS system separately.
What Accessories are Included with the NexStar 130 SLT?
The 130 SLT comes ready to use out of the box. It comes with a StarPointer red dot finder scope, Starry Night Special Edition Astronomy Software, NexStar+ hand control, motor and tripod, 2” rack-and-pinon focuser, star diagonal, and two eyepieces.
You should also consider buying a laser collimator, filters, and a Barlow lens.
Is the View Upside Down in the Celestron NexStar Telescope?
There are different types of telescope optical designs in the NexStar series, but the 130 SLT is a Newtonian Reflector. This means the image as seen through the telescope will be upside down.
There is not adequate way to correct for this as it is designed for celestial use where image orientation is of no consequence. A Newtonian is not recommended for terrestrial (land-based) observation.
Can the NexStar 130 SLT Telescope be Mounted to an EQ Mount?
Yes! The OTA has a Vixen dovetail bar that can be mounted to any other mount with a Vixen dovetail base. It can be mounted to a computerized EQ mount for tracking or to try various astrophotography methods and techniques.
Can a Computer be Connected to the Celestron 130 SLT Telescope?
Yes, you can connect a computer to the hand control via a RS232 cable. You will need to install drivers on the computer to use telescope programs such as Stellarium and Sky Safari.
You will be able to control the mount via the programs on the computer, but you will not be able to see what the telescope is seeing. A camera would be needed for this type of capability.
Sure, there are some flaws about the 130 SLT, but they’re solvable and can be improved. With solid optics and a visual-worthy computerized mount, the skies can be yours. You’ll learn more in one night with the computerized system than you would without.
You can also find yourself upgrading parts and accessories after a while to improve your skills and perhaps get into imaging with this Newtonian reflector. For the price, it will pay itself off sooner than later.
The NexStar 130 SLT is not the most feature-packed or high-end GoTo out there, and it’s not meant to be. What it is meant to be is a simplified GoTo in an affordable package.