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Celestron NexStar 130SLT Review – Not Recommended

The Celestron NexStar 130SLT is a perfect example of why I don’t recommend small, inexpensive GoTo telescopes to beginners. It sounds good on the cover, but we all know not to judge books by their covers.

Let me warn you up front: if you’re looking to get a reassurance after seeing fairly well review and ratings on Amazon, this Celestron NexStar 130 SLT telescope review isn’t going to be one.

How It Stacks Up

Ranked #21 of 33 ~$450 telescopes

Rank 21
Celestron NexStar 130SLT

130SLT Optical Performance Overview

The 130SLT is a standard 130mm f/5 Newtonian like the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST, Zhumell Z130, and others.

It comes with a 25mm 1.25” Plossl eyepiece with 26x magnification, which is good for low power. It also comes with a 9mm Plossl eyepiece(72x magnification) for medium-high power.

The 130SLT’s 5.1” aperture is enough to show a fair amount of detail on the Moon and planets, and does decently well on deep-sky objects. 

However, it must be collimated well in order to deliver good views. This is a challenge for beginners due to the fast focal ratio and crude adjustment mechanisms.

The focuser on the 130SLT is a 2”, so you can use wide-field 2” eyepieces with it, but it’s low in quality and will have difficulty in holding a heavy eyepiece. Also, a heavy 2” eyepiece will further strain the already inadequate mount

Celestron NexStar 130SLT GoTo

The optics are aluminum multi-coated glass parabolic mirror which improves light transmission and contrast. Now you can enjoy deep sky viewing with so much detail, crispness and clarity.

How Inadequate Is The Mount?

The NexStar SLT mount is simply too small for the 130mm OTA; it wobbles.

At high power, it’s too shaky to see anything. Also, the shakiness affects the accuracy of the GoTo. This is a serious flaw, and one of the biggest reasons why I do not really recommend this telescope.

The OTA comes with a Vixen dovetail so it can be moved to a steadier mount, but then you’ve got a useless, expensive, undersized computerized mount lying around.

The NexStar SLT mount is also incredibly antiquated, having been around (originally known as the GT), without significant modifications, for around 15 years.

The hand controller’s small buttons are difficult to operate with gloves on, and one must enter the time and date every time you set the scope up – something that could be fixed with an internal clock costing a few dollars.

Entering the location of the scope if you go somewhere is a complicated process, taking away from the convenience of a lightweight and compact telescope like the 130SLT.

The motorized mount operates on eight AA batteries which can be very costly and can pose inconvenience if you want longer observation. You’ll need an expensive, heavy 12-volt power supply to avoid burning through AA batteries constantly.

The SLT mount can be moved in altitude quite easily by hand and is very easily bumped due to its light weight. But thanks to the simple encoder technology in the mount it will have to be rebooted and re-aligned if you bump or manually move it in the slightest.

With a focal length of f/5, this is definitely a very fast scope which can be very beneficial especially during astrophotography of near objects like moon and the planets. However, you need to purchase a camera adapter and T2 ring to use it for astrophotography. But since it uses altazimuth mount, forget about long exposure astrophotography.

It has several alignment procedures that you can choose from; SkyAlign, Auto 2-star, 1-star, 2-star, or the Solar System so you can decide which works best for you.  The “Sky Tour” function often lists objects which are too dim for the 130SLT, making it rather useless.

The tripod is made of steel which makes a durable support and can be adjusted. The attached accessory tray has a double function as it not only holds the eyepieces in place but also acts as an added support in ensuring stability and absorbs some of the scope’s vibration, which is pretty common with this model.

Simple hacks can be employed to minimize the shaking like setting it up in grass or dirt, using vibration pads or even on a piece of an old carpet. Placing a little sandbag on the accessory tray can also help.

Final Verdict

If this were 1998 or even 2008, I would probably forgive Celestron for the countless technical difficulties I’ve mentioned. But this is 2018. It’s a shame.
Between the shakiness, complications, power consumption, and sheer frustration of using the mount, I don’t really recommend this telescope. It will probably disappoint you.

The OTA is nice, but that’s pointless without a good mount. If you like the OTA, get a Zhumell Z130, which is one of our recommended telescope below $300. 

13 thoughts on “Celestron NexStar 130SLT Review – Not Recommended”

    • The StarNavigator NG scopes are actually less well-built than the NexStar SLTs, and I would hesitate to recommend either.

  1. I have found it to be a decent scope for most types of viewing, but I agree on the shakiness, the power consumption and the GoTo tech being too complicated. Having to enter the date and time every time, really?! I do like the sturdiness and quality of the tripod, but I am really disappointed with some of the plastic parts such as the main battery cover, the end cap and the finderscope battery cover. They look and feel cheap.
    Replacing the battery on the finderscope is very difficult, mainly because of the plastic cover. The end cap doesn’t fit very well and kept popping off. I had to resort to lining the inside rim of the cap with electrical tape. Also agree with mount issues.
    3 star rating at the most.

  2. HI Zane,

    I liked your blog and the fact that you have logical yes or no for specific requirement.

    I want to buy telescope in the range of 300-400 to see planetary moons and if possible some binary stars. I need it computerized.

    Please advise.


  3. Hi,

    My wife is an artist and her current focus is astronomy. I want to buy her a computerized telescope with tripod and ability to take sharp pictures on the smart phone or captured on a portable media under $400. I see a lot of good reviews by you that pertain to table-top telescopes. I was first focused on Celestron lines (114LCM, Astro 130 and SLT 130). Now I am a bit confused as what would be the best option.


    • Why do you need a tripod?

      As far as under $400 – a 6″ or 8″ Dobsonian or one of the Celestron Astro-Fi scopes is probably best.

  4. Been using the SLT for 2 years.
    Yep the mount is shaky but you can mitigate some of this by tightening up the bolts a bit on the mount and the fork clutch may need a bit of a tighten. Put a weight on the leg spreader tray. Also don’t extend the legs further than you need. Collimating using a cheap laser Collimating tool is a breeze once you have done it a couple of times. I do mine in a few mins every time I setup. Plenty of vids on utube cover this. It does take about 7 seconds to settle down after you use the focuser and can be a bit of a pain getting sharp focus, But that not just the SLT. A lot of single arm mounts suffer the same issue. I have fitted a cheap Orion electric focuser on mine which has helped a lot. I would not recommend using the battery option on this. Use a cheap power adaptor off of Amazon look for the correct amps and voltage. I been using an old one off of my old music keyboard since I got the scope. A car battery will be a good option for this scope. No need to go for an expensive deep cycle leisure battery if you’re just using the mount. A car battery will last long enough for a good night viewing. Check out some of the Astronomer websites lots of people use them or the car jumpstart power packs.
    I’m not too keen on the Celestron hand controller its hard to make the letters out in the dark. You can control the brightness of the red light behind the buttons but that isn’t the issue for me. It more about the contrast of black letters against red light that’s the issue.
    Yes you can put a camera on this you just need to get a T adapter. Max 20 to 30 second exposure time I’m afraid. But that the same for all Alt Az mounts.
    You can use a web cam conversion plenty of vids on utube again, You will need to use a Barlow Lens to achieve focus,
    I used to struggle with alignment a lot but I have it down to a tee now.
    Remember to use the bubble level on the mount to level the mount up.
    Align the red dot finder in the day time.
    Use a low powered eye piece to align the scope.
    We Brits have to remember that we set dates by DD/MM/YY but the hand controller does it the US way MM/DD/YY.
    I’m starting to outgrow mine now but I have added a couple of things to my kit that I can carry over to a new Celestron Scope.
    2-inch-wide field 24mm eye piece. Yes, this scope can take 2-inch eye pieces and that little extra weight helps with vibration.
    Celestron wireless dongle so I don’t need to use the hand controller. Use the free sky portal android app to control the scope. I get perfect alignment using this.
    All in all, I’ve had a lot of pleasure using the SLT 130 and I would consider it a good scope for the beginner or someone who may not be ready for the cost of a better setup.
    This is an expensive hobby to take up so check out prices carefully. You can only use the scope when its not cloudy.
    Hope this helps and Dark Skies
    PS those in the UK if your looking for a 130 SLT try giving COSTCO a try. Under £300 with a free plossel eye piece kit to help get you going

    • Hey Lee, I’ve been struggling to view planets with this scope but I’m only at this hobby for a few months now. The only thing I can successfully view is the moon so far. When I try to view Mars, I see the outline of the secondary mirror obstructing the view of the planet. (I understand Mars is not the best planet to be viewing right now..but besides this fact, I can not wrap my head around how to solve this..any help would be greatly appreciated!

      • You’re out of focus. The focuser is not used to “zoom” – if you’ve got it focused for the Moon it will remain in focus on any other target.

  5. I keep wondering which is worse, the tripod included with the 130 SLT or a table-wobble with a 6 inch Dob in a backyard or in the field?


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