Customer Reviews

94
4.1 out of 5 stars
Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope
Price:$399.00 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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169 of 171 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2007
I got my Celestron 130 SLT last month and am extremely happy with it. For the price, it's a great scope and the goto software was pretty easy to get the hang of. The sky mapping software that comes with the scope is also a great help and easy to use. A few caveats: Buy the AC power cord....otherwise you'll need new batteries every night. You'll need to reset the date/time on the goto computer every night.....it doesn't remember date/time between uses. It takes a few tries to get proficient with the three star align....it works pretty well, but you need to make sure you've setup your location and the date/time correctly. This scope isn't weighted and is very light. This causes it to shake a LOT when you touch it (i.e. when you're focusing). It takes a few seconds for it to stabilize after any adjustment. Some people weight the tripod tray to add stability. The focuser could have a finer adjustment. It takes a very steady hand to get optimal focus. The scope doesn't come with a Barlow lens, which is a necessity for this scope. You'll want to get one right away. The scope does have a 2" eyepiece adapter, which is unusual and a really nice feature on a starter scope such as this. It's worth buying a 2" eyepiece for wide views. I didn't find the NexStar PC driver software very useful (after buying the $15 cable to use it). Instead, I downloaded a trial version of the pricey NexRemote software, which allowed me to operate the scope from my laptop much more easily. These caveats are all very minor, as this is a solid scope with better optics and software than the alternatives. In short, the scope was way better than cheap toy scopes I'd used and all reviews I read said it had great optics for the price with very few problems/annoyances. I got a great view of Jupiter and its moons the first night I used it. After I got the hang of it, I started checking out Messier Objects, including the brighter galaxies and nebulae, which are easily recognizable with this scope. I'm extremely pleased with it and I'm very glad I got this scope instead of comparable competing scopes, which all seem to have serious issues per the various reviews I've read.
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124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
Verified Purchase
OK, here is the Bible according to Celestron SLT scopes.

When the scope is working, it's fantastic (see below if you have a non-working scope with a boot loader failure). The Newtonian design is comfortable to look through - the eyepiece is at the front of the scope, and it is positioned around eye-level when standing. Newtonian optics are also simple, which keeps the cost down (and minimizes light lost to lens absorption).

The optic properties of this scope are outstanding. The 650mm focal length and 150mm (about 5-1/8") aperture are great specs, especially when paired with the highly-recommended Celestron accessory kit (Celestron Model 94303, available on Amazon). The scope comes with a 9mm and 25mm eyepiece, for magnifications of 72 and 26 power (magnification is focal length divided by eyepiece length, so magnification increases as focal length increases, and decreases as eyepiece length increases). The big 130mm aperture of this scope gives the scope a maximum useful magnification of about 307 power, using the rule of thumb that you can magnify 60 times for each inch of aperture.

At a focal ratio of f5, this is a fairly "fast" scope, meaning it lets in a lot of light for it's focal length. The f-number is the focal length divided by the aperture size, and the lower the f-number, the faster the scope. Faster is (generally) better. F-numbers will be familiar to photographers, and telescopic "lenses" operate on the exact same concept as fast photographic lenses. In photography, a lens is "fast" because it allows a shorter shutter speed (because it lets in more light), meaning you can capture faster motion that would be blurry with a longer exposure (as would be required by a "slower" lens).

The auto-orientation works like magic, but it's better to give it very precise time and location. Use a GPS for location; don't just tell it what city you are in (you can choose your location input method). For some reason, the controller can remember your last location and the time zone of your previous observation, but the controller does not keep time when it is switched off, so you must enter the (exact) time again whenever you switch the power off and back on (C'mon, Celestron - seriously?)

You can orient the scope by pointing the scope at ANY three bright objects (you do not need to know what they are) or two objects if you know what they are (but this is said to be less precise). The scope must be level (it has a built-in level bubble). Although this scope is not really classified as a "beginner's scope," it is great for beginners - you don't need to know anything to begin viewing amazing things, and a beginner will not "outgrow" this scope anytime soon. The only comparable computerized Newtonian scope that I could find in this price range is the Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope, but it is available only with a table-top mount (???). If that Orion scope (750mm focal length, 6-inch aperture) was available with a sturdy tripod mount in this price range then I would be writing this review for that scope, because I would have bought that scope instead, without a doubt. Orion lost my business because they expected me to have a study TABLE available at each observation site.

The optional Celestron accessory kit includes (among other things) 6mm, 8mm, 13mm, 17mm, and 32mm eyepieces and a Barlow 2X adapter. With a 6mm eyepiece and a Barlow 2X adapter (which effectively doubles the magnification of the eyepiece, making it a 3mm focal length), the scope can achieve a magnification of 216 power (pretty respectable). You could purchase shorter eyepieces or a 3X Barlow to push the magnification near the 307 power limit, but I don't think you will find yourself wanting to do so - you will be amazed at what you can clearly see (the bands of Jupiter and its Galelian moons, the rings of Saturn, etc). Note that the 307-power limit cannot be exceeded with eyepieces or Barlow lenses - the image will be pretty much worthless if you try to exceed this limit, which is a function of how much light the scope can gather (which is determined by the aperture size). As you approach this limit, the image quality decreases, so you will probably find images much more satisfying at low-to-mid-200 power than you would at theoretical maximum 300+ power.

The gray moon filter in the accessory kit is especially useful for bright objects (such as the moon, of course, but also Venus and Jupiter).

The longer eyepieces are needed for viewing large objects such as various asterisms, galaxies, and nebula. Some of these objects span 2 or 3 degrees of sky (or more) - which is really big (the sun and moon are 0.5 degrees.) Some objects can only be fully viewed at very low magnification (such as afforded by binoculars), so don't make the mistake of assuming that high magnification is always better. If you attend a star party, expect to find binoculars (usually mounted on a tripod) in use. The Pleiades star cluster, for example, is best observed at lower magnification.

The eyepieces that come with the scope (and the accessory kit) are 1.25" diameter, but the scope can also accept large, very nice (and expensive) 2" eyepieces - just remove the 1.25" adapter which comes with the scope.

The tripod mount is good, but will wiggle a bit in the breeze, especially at higher magnifications. It helps to add some weight - the tripod has a small shelf which lends itself to this purpose. A couple bags of rice or beans will do, but I bought a 20-lb theatrical-grade sandbag (double zippers keep sand out of my optics, and sand doesn't attract bugs or rodents). Put that weight on your tripod and don't touch the scope while viewing (take your hand OFF of the focus knob) and you should have a steady view, even in breezy conditions. Stiff winds may require additional measures, such as springs attached to the legs and anchored to stakes in the ground.

I was told by someone at a Star Party that this mount is not well suited for long-exposure deep-field photography. As it tracks objects across the sky, the mount makes slow adjustments, but it does not adjust azimuth (side-to-side) and altitude (up-and-down) at the same time, but in succession, in a stair-step pattern. The eye won't notice, but a long-exposure photo will see blurring. Alas. But I have not verified this info. In any event, it should work fine for short-exposure shots, like the moon (you will need a camera adapter, of course).

The motorized mount goes through batteries pretty fast, especially if it is tracking something all the time. The default power source of eight (standard alkaline) AA batteries will probably last a night, but I would not push it to two nights if I had been tracking the whole night before. You can hook it up to a car battery and it will run forever. I use a wheelchair gel battery - they are smaller and lighter than car batteries, and will take the deep-cycle use (charge and deplete, charge and deplete). Buy a trickle charger and use it when the battery is not being used, to keep the battery fresh and extend its life. Or you can get the Celestron Power Tank. You can use an AC adapter if you have access to AC - any adapter that puts out 12 volts DC at 2.5 amps or more with a 2.5mm barrel plug (negative on outside, which is standard) will work just fine (you can have all the extra amps you want - it won't hurt anything). There are scads of suitable adapters on Amazon that are a whole lot cheaper than the one Celestron sells.

This is a Newtonian scope, and Netownians are subject to collimation errors, meaning that the two mirrors are not precisely aligned. I recommend the Celestron Collimation Eyepiece (Celestron Model 94182, available on Amazon). This will allow you to quickly and easily (and accurately) calibrate your scope for an absolutely perfect image. Some people do this each time they transport their scope, because any sort of vibration can cause the mirrors to drift (though it seems to be a rather minor problem for this scope, in my experience). The instructions that come with the eyepiece are excellent.

Get a red flashlight. Celestron makes one that has a dimmer. Red won't mess up your night vision nearly as badly as other wavelengths.

I rate this scope at five stars, despite the BOOT LOADER problem (solution below).

========= BOOT LOADER PROBLEM ====================================================

Within two days of getting this scope, it failed to "boot" (the mount is computerized, and it needs to successfully "boot up," just like any computer. If it cannot boot, it is useless). When the hand controller was turned on, it said, "reading packages" and then stopped with an error message, "BOOT LOADER Invalid Pkg: 0080." This renders the scope dead - it cannot be moved, even with manual arrow buttons.

Fixing the problem is a bit tricky. You need to flash the firmware in your hand controller (which has somehow become corrupted), but it's not as simple (or as well-documented) as it should be.

First, you need to buy a serial cable to connect your computer to the controller. It's 9-pin RS-232 (female) on one end and a modular connector on the other end (it looks like a telephone plug). The Celestron model number for this cable is 93920, and you can buy it on Amazon.

If you have a reasonably modern computer then you probably don't have a serial port. If you have a 9-pin MALE D-connector then you have a serial port (though it may be disabled in your system BIOS settings). Otherwise you need to buy serial capability - I recommend a USB to Serial converter (also available on Amazon from many suppliers).

Connect the computer to the controller. Make sure you are plugging the serial cable into the base of the handheld controller, and not into the body of the motorized mount. Both the controller and the mount have modular serial connections (and both can be flashed), but you are flashing the handheld controller, not the mount.

You need to download and install the Celestron Firmware Manager (CFM) from Celestron's website (it's in Support/Downloads/Software, near the bottom of the list). It's a Java application, so it should work on any computer platform. But it will be downloaded as a zipfile - you must extract the contents and then run CFM.jar (on Windows, just double-click it). You can't run it within the zipfile - it must be extracted. Make sure your scope is connected first.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: There are two types of Celestron motorized controllers. There's the Alt/Az (which is used by this SLT mount, as well as LCM, SE 4/5/6/8, and CPC) and the Equatorial mount (used by CGE, Advanced, and CGE*). In the CFM menu (along the top of the CFM window), select "Hand Control" and make sure the proper type of control is selected for your model of scope (this CST scope is Alt/Az). THIS IS THE REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT PART - Under the mount type selection you will see three radio buttons. The first one is selected by default, and it tells CFM to automatically detect the mount type. This is NOT GOOD. CFM thought I had an Equatorial mount. Even if I select Alt/Az, my selection will be overridden by the "Auto Detect" option. Select the Second option, which says "Always do what I selected this time" and CFM will then respect your selection.

Now flash the controller in the CFM, and you should be good to go.

And if you go to a remote site or star party, it's a good idea to bring a laptop with CFM (and your cables), just in case you need to do this again. I was 160 miles from home (beneath a rare Class-1 darksky!!!) when I had this problem. Fortunately it was only an hour before sunrise, so I didn't miss too much.
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96 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2007
Verified Purchase
I received this telescope about a month ago. It is easy to use and works well. The 2 lenses that come with the scope allow you to begin checking things out in the sky, but there are a few more things needed. 1- A filter kit (at least one filter for the moon. It's too bright to look at without one). 2- 2X Barlow Lens. This will double the magnification of the lenses you have.
Also, this scope needs maintenance. The mirrors must be perfectly collimated (lined-up) on an F5 scope. (The lower the focal ratio, the more precise the collimation must be, and F5 is low.) My scope needed collimating right out of the box. The scope does not have to be shaken hard to knock the mirrors off of angle or alignment. This requires tools and some mechanical ability. Get info online or visit local stores that sell reflector scopes. I paid $200 for my set of collimating tools (Sight Tube, Cheshire and Autocollimator). For this scope to work properly, this maintenance must be done regularly.
PS- This scope is a Newtonian Reflector type.
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105 of 119 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
The optics are good, but the software and the tech service are terrible. I ordered the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT based on glowing reviews I had read. It arrived promptly and was easy to assemble. I was easily able to align the view finder with the main optics, which seemed to be very good. But I was totally unable the align the computer. I made a dozen attempts after entering and re-entering the necessary information and entering the position of various triplets of widely spaced stars, but the computer kept telling me that alignment had failed. I attempted one call to tech service, but was on hold for half an hour before I gave up. I emailed tech service regarding my problem, and received an automatic acknowledgement, but absolutely no further contact over a two week period. Amazon allowed me to return the scope as defective, and even paid the return shipping. So Celestron was terrible, but Amazon was great.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2010
I've just started using this scope a couple of months ago after it sitting in my closet for 2 years. But in the past 2 months I've used this practically every clear night available. Here are my thoughts and advice after extensive use:

For the price and the aperture this scope is great. The first thing I did was buy a Ultima barlow and 3 X-Cel eyepieces - 25mm, 10mm, and a 2.3mm. With the 10mm barlowed you get magnification of 130X which will give you great views of the rings of Saturn and the bands of Jupiter. On nights of exceptional seeing you can use the 2.3mm for a magnification of 280X -which is close to the max useful magnification of 300X- and can see the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. The moon is awesome at high magnification, but if it is more than a quarter full you need a filter because it is too bright to view. From my very light polluted yard (limiting magnitude at zenith about 4 - 4.5) I can still see most of the Messier catalog, although I haven't been able to resolve any globulars, and some of the fainter nebula aren't viewable, and the few brighter galaxies are just smudges. However, open clusters are great to look at and some of the brighter nebula are great (Orion, Swan, Lagoon). I'm sure that if you get this scope to a dark site it would be way better.

As far as the GoTo feature - it works great if you align it properly. The most important things you need to do are to enter an accurate time(don't estimate - I was off by 20 minutes one night and couldn't find anything) and date, gps coordinates (I used Google Earth to get the exact coordinates of my house and anywhere else I may take my scope), and have the scope level. As far as the Star align, I found that the One Star align works best. If you don't know any named stars use the Sky software that came with the scope and learn to identify the brightest stars in the sky for that night. Using this method I've consistently been able to slew to dozens of Messier objects each night with no problem. Last night I spent 2 hours slewing between about 14 different objects in the southern part of the sky, and at the end of the session the scope was still bringing objects to near the center of my 25mm eyepiece - it definitely does what it is supposed to.

Also learn how to collimate it. The manual shows how to do this just by looking through the focuser and centering the reflection of you eye - this will give you a rough collimation - but to align more accurately you need to buy a collimation tool.

Overall this is a great beginners scope - it will show you enough of the wonders of the night sky to make you want a bigger scope and see even deeper!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2010
This was the first telescope I have ever bought. It is easy to understand how to use, and you can see some pretty amazing things. It is a bit pricy if you just have a passing interest, but if you are serious, and you want to buy a telescope to really learn on, and build a base of astronomical knowledge, this is a perfect telescope.

The computer works well, once you figure it out. It is a bit tricky to get at first, but once you do, it works like a charm and does the real work for you.

I didn't buy it on amazon, but I did a lot of my research on amazon. I went to scope city, and am glad I did. It is great to be able to take my telescope to the guy who sold it to me, and ask him for help. Or suggestions of what it worth getting. Like a moon filter, works great, but a solar filter won't be much good, for how much they cost.

But as for the telescope it self I would give 5 stars. I gave it four for the some times tricky computer navigation. Just don't use Polaris (the North Star) because it's on the sky's meridian, which is what divides the sky in half, or something like that.

I am very happy with my purchase, and would recommend someone who could afford it and would use it.
review image review image
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2008
It works well enough as soon as you get used to it. The family has been enjoying it.

But there are moderate and avoidable issues that Celestron should address:

o The clock necessary for tracking does not keep the time after powering off forcing one to set it each time. This is an annoyance. These days, that would be a simple function to provide but for some reason Celestron does not.

o The battery compartment is cheaply made and the cover tends to pop off.

o The software TheSky is old and certain functions cause the program to crash. The only way to fix that is to go the the publisher's web site and pay for a new version. Celestron should provide a version that does not crash.

o As others have stated, the included lens selection is insufficient but that is an easy problem to remedy buy purchasing additional ones. Though I've not tried one yet on the scope, I recommend a CCD imager as a nice addition.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2008
I have revisited my review and dropped 1 star after owning this scope for 2 years now. The 1 star drop to 4 stars is due to the azimuth [horizontal] motor acting erratically now. It will slow down as if it is binding somewhere, then speed way up for periods. Contacting service had me running various basic tests, but all failed, so they gave me an RMA number to send back for repairs. I have decided to wait for winter to return the mount so I won't "miss" it for the 3-4 months of coldest weather, but now being out of warranty, I've no idea how much this repair will cost. I will update this review again after the repair. In any case, since I don't use it all that much, I'd have expected this scope to last a lot longer before this sort of thing happened.

***************************
(Original Review starts here)

I have now owned this telescope for 4 months, using it (so far) exclusively on upper Manhattan... yes, NYC! So my experience so far is with the moon and planets. For this, it's a great telescope, bringing out many details quite nicely. Set up was quick and easy to understand. Once set up, I did notice a little tweaking on the alignment [mirror collumation] was needed, and after some indoor alignment, followed by "bright-star" fine tuning, this telescope's fine optics came into full display.
The 2 eyepieces that come with the scope are quite good, but it was with my 7mm Nagler eyepiece that Saturn's rings shone fine, and Jupiter's cloud bands popped right out!
Now, the few caviats: This scope is not good on a windy day as it is prone to vibrations! Vibrations induced from touching the scope to focus quickly disappear so, for normal use, it's quite tolerable. As to the "goto" system: If you're going out just to spot the moon or planets, use the "solar system" alignment. It's quick and only takes one planet or the moon to align. 3-star alignment for multiple object gazing is a bit trickier, but here's the two secrets: The tripod comes with a built-in bubble level. USE IT! If your scope is not level, alignment will fail. Also, make sure your watch is accurate! If you enter the time and it's more than 30-45 seconds off, again, alignment will fail!
Take the time to set up the telescope carefully first [yes, there's a bit of a learning curve, but once you've memorized it, it goes quickly. Yes, you'll have to "fiddle" with their battery compartment cover, but it will pop into place when you've got the 2 battery holders in the right position. Finally, get yourself a really GOOD eyepiece somewhere in the range of 5-8mm for truly spectacular lunar and planetary views. Be prepared to spend $150-$300 for that eyepiece, but then you'll experience this scope's full optical potential!
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90 of 114 people found the following review helpful
This may be a wonderful telescope. It is difficult for me to know since I have never been able to use mine. It was purchased, along with the Celestron eyepiece set and NexImage Camera for around $700.00 in September of this year.
The first scope had to be returned to Celestron because the tracking motor would not function on the day that I unpacked it.
After 4 weeks, I received the new scope.
The motor works but it will not track. I am unable to get the scope to align.
That covers the telescope. But the real problem is in the customer service. My first mistake was to send the scope in for repair. Because of the time involved, a refund becomes virtually impossible.
So now I am stuck with a $700.00 white elephant that Celestron wants me to send back to them again for further repairs and a further 4 weeks of waiting.
If you have to have this telescope, then buy it from Amazon so that you have the protection that I DO NOT have. I screwed myself on this deal because I trusted Celestron to be an honest company with quality products.
If you buy Celestron, make sure that you protect yourself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2011
Verified Purchase
Being an amatuer astronomer and keen to pass on the topic to my two kids, I did a lot of reasearch and then zeroed in on the Celestron Nexstar 130. I was surprised at the size of the box when it arrived, but the weight was manageable. Setting up was a breeze using the colored brochure and I was soon gazing at the moon and marvelling at the crisp images. However, there are a few things worth remembering:

1. Performing a collimation of the scope is not a very easy task manually. I suggest to go in for a manual collimator available from Celestron, which makes it a tad easier. However, if you want to be really fast, buy a laser collimator or else make one. It is pretty easy to do so.

2. The supplied tripod is very flimsy and when you are viewing small objects, it tends to be disturbed easily and the slightest vibration tends to get amplified by a large extent. Somebody suggested using a weight on the tray and it worked to a large extent.

3. Nobody tells you how quickly the batteries tend to run out. From the begining, it is better to buy a adaptor and use it with power. However, while slewing the scope, be careful of winding the cord around the mount and tripod legs. If the power goes off, the handheld computer pad needs to be setup from scratch.

4. Setting up the scpe, espcially the hand device needs a little bit of practise and input of the lat lon needs to be precise as the computer uses this, the date and time to identify the night sky and traverse to the right position in the night sky for viewing.

5. The finderscope is very good at centering the scope the stars and moon for accurate alignment.

6. Invest in some Barlows and Plossls from the begining as the scope will not give you much pleasue with what comes out of the box. The Celestron eyepice set is quite good with Barlows/Plossls and filters all in a nice box.

All in all, it was a steal at the price I got last year. The kids, my wife and a host of my friends love the scope and the crisp pictures it offers.
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