Celestron Nexstar 102 vs 130

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Hello my fellow amateur astronomers. I am a big Celestron fan and I actually own both a Celestron telescope and binoculars so I was very excited when I got the chance to check out these two Celestron Nexstar telescopes. These are two kind of similar models of telescope and I really wanted to put them both through their paces so I could let any other amateur astronomers or even people looking to get into the hobby know what these telescopes are offering.


Celestron NexStar 102 SLT Computerized Telescope

The first one I got to look at is the Celestron NexStar 102 SLT Computerized Telescope. This is usually available for around £400 – 450 which is a pretty darn good price actually. One thing that will catch people’s attention is the computerized hand control which has a database of four thousand celestial objects! It can be a little on the fiddly side to set up and I have heard reports of people having a hard time getting this up and running. But just take your time and just do what the instructions tell you. The tradeoff for this is that once it is all set up this really could not have been any easier to use. Of course you can just look through the eyepiece at random spots on the sky and that can be cool.

However the Celestron NexStar 102 makes looking at planets, stars, galaxies and the moon just so incredibly easy. The Sky Align (which I think may be a patented Celestron thing actually) is fantastic and allows you to perfectly align three bright objects in the sky. The huge database this has though really does make finding certain planets and other cool objects very easy to do. Honestly this is a really cool telescope and one thing above all else that impressed me was the quality of the lenses. I had heard some criticize this telescope as having just ok lenses, but I was very happy with the clarity of the objects I was seeing. One other thing I want to mention is the build quality. While quite light this has a very sturdy feel to it and the tripod they give you with this is very robust and does not easily move if you bump into it like I actually quite often do!


Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope

Next up we have the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope which can be bought for a little cheaper as it usually retails in the 350 – 400 bucks range.

Click here to see pricing on Amazon

First thing I want to mention here is actually the design. This felt a fair bit smaller than the 102, but not in a bad way. It does have that high quality feel that I expected from a Celestron telescope, but it just does not feel as high end as the 102. Still in its own right this is a very well made telescope and again it has a very strong tripod that is great when you are clumsy like I am. Overall the build quality is very nice and I do not see anyone having an issue.

This is computerized and like most other Celestron telescopes it has that 4,000 database of celestial objects. For someone new to stargazing this is just awesome as it really does make finding specific things very easy. One thing I want to mention here is that this and most other Celestron telescopes all have the same kind of setup. So if you have used one Celestron telescope, you will feel right at home with this one here. I was very pleased with the level of clarity that this telescope provided. I actually had a very nice evening when I used this as the sky was just right and I could get a real good look at Mars. Most people who are new to the hobby will spend a lot of time looking at the moon and the clarity of the craters when using this is very impressive and is sure to really hook you and make you want to look even further into the solar system.


Which Telescope Is Best For Viewing Planets?

This was really close and if I am being brutally honest with you there was not a whole lot in it and on a clear night and you were using the right lenses that you would see just as well with either. But I was really impressed with how clear the moon looked when I used the Celestron 130. The detail on the craters was just amazing and that was great. But being able to see Mars so clearly was what really won me over with this. It was not just that I got a good clear view of Mars, but it was also just how much easier it was for me to use the 130 and how quickly I got to Mars (with the telescope not in real life of course) and there was just no fuss or hassle. I am actually looking really forward to trying this out with some other planets as well.


Which Telescope Is Best For Beginners?

Now I may get a little heat for this, but to me Celestron are one of the very best when it comes to being new user friendly…..when they are set up and running of course! Some people have a really tough time getting to grips with Celestron telescopes in the beginning and there are some well known error codes out there. But once you get a Celestron up and running it really could not be any easier. From my perspective I had a much easier and quicker time getting the Celestron NexStar 130 up and running that the 102. This is not to say that the 102 was a ton of hassle, but it did require a little more jiggling around to get it on the tripod and then a bit more trial and error with the setup. The 130 on the other hand was ready to rock and roll right from the get go. Let me just say that I am not putting the 102 down here, but for a new user I do think the 130 would be easier to set up and then get straight to looking at cool stuff in the sky.


Which Telescope Is Best For The Money?

It is a clean sweep for the Celestron NexStar 130 as at the current price it is going for it is roughly around (depending on where you purchase it) 20 – 50 bucks cheaper than the Celestron NexStar 102 and in all honesty I do know that this is not a ton of money. In general there really is not a huge amount between these two telescopes. They are both really good and while I do feel that the 102 does take a little more tinkering with and a little more getting used to it is still a very good telescope. But when you put them both side to side and I am not talking about looking at what comes with what, what extras you get or what they are made with. But side by side out in the field or out on the side of a mountain for a good night of stargazing. There really is not a ton of difference between these two, but at the end of the day the slightly more ease of use, the incredibly clear images and of course the extra 20 or more bucks that are in your pocket do mean that I have to say the Celestron NexStar 130 is offering the best value for money.


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