Celestron NexStar 130SLT Reflector Telescope Review

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If you have done any research into the latest and greatest on the telescope market you are sure to have stumbled upon powerful, computerized telescopes that search the sky for you. Many of these telescopes are chock full of envy inducing features and goodies but also come in at a price that might break the budget.

If you are looking for a computerized telescope but don’t want to break the bank or don’t see a need for the full suite of features and extras that some of the modern telescopes come with then look no further.

The Celestron NexStar 130SLT Telescope is a respectable Newtonian reflector telescope that comes with slimmed down versions of Celestron’s famous technology features. It is a good telescope in its own right and comes with the ability to function as a computerized telescope for a price that won’t cause a sweat.

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  • Newtonian reflector design
  • 130mm primary aperture
  • f/5 focal ratio
  • 307x highest theoretical magnification
  • 18lbs assembled weight

This is a telescope that is perfect for a casual astronomer who doesn’t need every feature under the sun to be satisfied with their telescope setup. It can still deliver amazing views and includes the handy automatic star finding features that you will want to show off.

  • Computerized telescope on a budget
  • Good power and light intake
  • Perfect for casual viewers or beginners
  • Reported software issues
  • Prone to misalignment
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Celestron has taken a step back to create something with the average person in mind with the NexStar 130SLT Telescope which I appreciate. It is not the biggest, best or flashiest telescope they have made but it works and the things it sets out to do, it does well.

Know What You Need

There is always the temptation to jump right in and go for the biggest or the best thing on the market but like many things in life, this is not always necessary. Astronomy is an advanced hobby with many different gradient layers of experience, goals, and hardware. Not every astronomer out there needs the biggest and best set up to be completely satisfied.

The Celestron NexStar 130SLT Telescope offers a lot but it doesn’t offer everything and that is okay. It’s not powerful enough to utilize the entire database. The size is not the largest size on the market. It doesn’t have a ton of accessories.

But it doesn’t need those things.

If you are a beginner who doesn’t know a Barlow lens from a Plossl lens then this is a great telescope for you. If you are terrible at locating objects in the night sky and get frustrated with the minutiae of fiddling with adjustment knobs then this is a telescope for you. Also, if you are a busy person, live in an area with poor sky conditions or have other hobbies that take up some of your time, this is a telescope for you.

Not all of us are outside looking at the sky every night. If you are one of those people, there are plenty of telescopes out there for you. It is nice to find something that is designed well and given some advanced features that are geared towards a more casual viewer. 

This is an advanced, modern telescope made for the beginner or casual astronomer in mind and it comes out tops considering that.

Deep Sky Reflector

Celestron’s NexStar line is a varied brand of quality telescopes. The SLT branch, in which the Celestron NexStar 130SLT Telescope comes from, is particularly so. The SLT telescopes feature a refractor and a Maksutov-Cassegrain model in addition to the reflector. This telescope is their take on a reflector for the SLT brand of telescopes.

It is a classic Newtonian reflector that boasts a 130mm primary aperture. This works out to just over 5” in size. Sometimes people think that the models whose apertures are displayed only in millimeters are smaller than those advertised in inches. This is usually the case but this model has a very respectable aperture size, bordering on large.

This size allows the telescope to take in the light necessary to give some great views of the night sky. It is large enough to give distinguished views of everything from the crater’s on the moon to individual arms on a distant spiral galaxy.

The focal ratio of f/5 is fairly low which means this telescope is going to be better suited to peer at large star fields than it is trying to hone in on the rings of Saturn. That being said, this telescope is still versatile enough to show you the sights of the solar system that every astronomer craves.

Users have reported being able to see everything from the cloud bands on Jupiter to far away nebula and individual galaxies outside of the Milky Way. This is all possible because of the power that this large classic Newtonian reflector gives in such a reasonable package. The versatility and power at an affordable price make this telescope perfect for both casual viewers and beginners.

Explore the Sky in Style

With the Celestron NexStar 130SLT they have made all of their best technology add-ons a standard feature right out of the box. This is a great value. The telescope alone is worth almost the entire sticker price without all of the nifty things that Celestron has decided to add on top.

This telescope features Celestron’s proprietary SkyAlign tech which allows the telescope to align itself by viewing three bright sky objects. That means not calculations, no fiding the equator or the north pole or any of those complicated methods of aligning telescopes. Just point it at any three notable objects in the sky and let the telescope do the rest for you.

This is perfect for the beginner who hasn’t learned the art of equatorial alignment yet or the busy astronomer who doesn’t have the time to fiddle with that anymore. This technology is not only easy to use but it takes one of the more frustrating aspects of astronomy off the table leaving only the good parts.

SkyAlign™ Telescope Alignment Procedure
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In addition to that, the Celestron NexStar 130SLT also has a database of over 36,000 celestial objects preprogrammed and ready to go on a handset. That means that once the telescope is done aligning itself it begins to figure out what objects are available for viewing.

This is done via the Sky Tour feature which takes the information from SkyAlign and applies it to the database. It then filters out what is available to see at that moment, in that location and gives you an easily scannable list to choose from. This is an integral part of the whole system and it cuts out the thousands of objects that might not be visible and shows you a digestible list of objects you can view right now.

Once you pick one of the objects that are visible the telescope will find the object in the sky for you and then it will even keep it in view as long as you have it selected. Watching the whole thing function from set up to honing in on an object is truly a marvel to see.

When all of the pieces are working properly, the database plus SkyAlign, plus Sky Tour and the motorized mount make the experience a breeze. It takes all of the guesswork out of locating night sky objects and leaves you only with the best views possible and none of the headache.

Not a Perfect World

You may have heard your grandparents or an older coworker complain about the days where things were more mechanical and less digital. That the mechanical machines lasted longer and weren’t so complicated. That is a belief that might hold some water with the computerized telescopes as well.

When the whole system is working properly, gelling and whirring away, it is an amazing benefit to have. However, with the multiple levels of software, firmware and hardware that are working together on such a complex piece of equipment there are bound to be bugs.

Not everyone has issues but bugs and glitches are a definite possibility with this telescope. Some people reported failures to boot right out of the box. Some people claimed the software wasn’t talking to each other between SkyAlign and the handset.

Most of the problems seem to be able to be resolved through Celestron’s US based customer support system but others said they would have rather had a wholly mechanical telescope and skipped the headache of dealing with software issues.

Accessories Not Included

Celestron has a reputation for skimping out on accessories compared to its competitors. They make up for this in quality and innovative upgrades but they have not broken the bank with extra accessories this time around either.

The NexStar 130SLT telescope kit only includes two eyepieces, a 25mm, and a 9mm and a finderscope. That is it. It also comes with the tripod and an accessory tray but those aren’t so much add ons as standard kit for these packages.

It would have been nice to include a focuser or a collimator to truly flesh out the telescope. As it stands the telescope has exactly what it needs to function out of the box. No more and no less.

The eyepieces give you provide two standard zoom levels and the finderscope is necessary if you want to use the telescope separate of its computerized features.

Celestron doesn’t even add in fluff such as a moon filter or a Barlow lens. It is all business when it comes to accessories.

I can’t complain too much considering this package is geared towards casual and novice users but even then, it still feels a little light.

Alignment Woes

One of the other big complaints that nag this model is the ease of which it seems to come out of alignment. It is a reflector which means it is already prone to being misaligned due to the fragile nature of the precise mirrors it uses. This is just a part of owning a reflector telescope but Celestron doesn’t help you out in this department at all.

Some new users, the ones being targeted by this telescope, cannot get this telescope focused and into alignment to save their lives. Celestron doesn’t include a focuser or any type of collimation tools so if the telescope gets too unfocused or misaligned users are going to have to search around for additional resources to help them get it back into shape.

This could have been mitigated by some documentation or a new user guide to help out with these common issues but there is nothing like that. Adding a collimator or a focuser would help get the image quality back in line faster but neither can be found here.

This was a frustration that came up about this telescope that should be noted. IT should also be noted that all reflectors are going to have these issues over their lifespans and its all about how easy it is to get back into alignment and how easy it is for new users to get it to where it needs to be.


The Celestron NexStar 130SLT is a powerful, sleek telescope that can be had on a budget. You don’t have to give up a lot to get a lot. It has great image quality, great potential, and a host of modern telescope features that you don’t usually find on a model at this price point.

This telescope is perfect for the busy astronomer who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend fiddling with their setups and just wants to get quick quality views of the sky every once in a while. It is also good for the beginner who wants to learn the ropes but doesn’t want to dive much farther down the rabbit hole in terms of accessories and pricepoint.

It is a well-rounded telescope kit that provides everything you could want out of a 21st-century model without the headaches and sticker shock of other similar models. With this the reason we have included it our Best Computerized Telescopes categories and Best Telescopes Under $500.

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