Learning to find celestial objects without assistance is not something to be avoided; you’ll definitely need this skill to some extent if you choose to stay with astronomy.
Sure, it’s a challenging feat, but many astronomers, me included, regard this as an enjoyable aspect of the activity.
But, let’s get real; navigating with nothing more than a star map can be tough, especially under badly polluted skies.
And, for beginners, it’s easy to get frustrated with the whole idea of astronomy if you don’t know where to look or what you’re looking at, right?
This is where the best-computerized telescopes come into play.
You don’t have to be highly technical at stargazing with the best computerized telescopes because these telescopes can locate objects for you.
The built-in computer locates planets, galaxies, and other objects you want to see. This contrasts with regular telescopes, where you need to locate the objects manually.
Computerized scopes offer an accessible introduction to what can be a daunting hobby to being with, and are much quicker and easier to use than normal, manual telescopes.
Of course, there are also several disadvantages to owning a computerized scope, and one of them is cost.
But, from my astronomy experience, I believe the benefits of a computerized scope outweigh the cons, and cost shouldn’t be a reason for you to look the other way, especially if you’re just starting.
Now, if you think computerized scopes would be a great pick for you, here’s a roundup review of the best-computerized telescopes on the market.
Table of Contents
The Best Computerized Telescopes For The Money
#1 Celestron NexStar 130SLT - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Our top pick, the Celestron NexStar 130SLT, is an affordable, entry-level scope that has much to offer anyone interested in stargazing, be they novice or expert.
It is an upgrade from the smaller 114mm Celestron; it’s bigger and better. The large 130mm aperture has better light gathering capabilities, delivering more illumination and a better understanding of the cosmos.
But the aperture isn’t the only draw!
A combination of modern features, such as ‘Go-To’ technology, and the traditional, easy-to-use design of the Newtonian scope are some of the reasons we choose to put this scope at the top of our list.
Features and Benefits
Portability is a big issue, especially for travel astronomers who need to take their scopes to different locations away from light pollution.
Fortunately, all the scopes in the NexStar SLT Series fall in the category of fairly portable scopes and the 130 SLT is no different.
It’s the bulkiest one of them all, but not too heavy for a scope of its power.
With an optical tube of less than ten pounds, it’s easy to move it around different locations.
Of course, it’s not something kids can move and set up on their own, but it certainly wasn’t a big problem for my neighbor’s 15-year-old son.
I also love that the scope breaks down at the tube and mount, so I simply disassemble it and stash it in my car’s trunk or backseat without it taking up too much space.
Beginners will definitely fall in love with the SkyAlign technology as it removes the guesswork from the alignment.
The proprietary technology makes setting up and using the scope faster and easier than ever before.
Here, you simply need to point the scope at any three objects, and the scope will triangulate its position and automatically locate any other object in the sky.
It means no calculations, no finding the equator or the North Pole, or any of those complicated methods of aligning a scope.
It’s an awesome feature for novices with no prior knowledge of stargazing because, unlike other alignment technologies, SkyAlign doesn’t require astronomers to confirm the star they’re pointing to. You don’t need to know the name of the stars, you can even pick the moon and the other two bright planets!
And there’s more.
The software also boasts of a database of over 40,000 celestial objects, including nebulae, stars, and galaxies, so you will never miss out on any of the celestial objects. Again, this makes the 130SLT a great option for those who haven’t used a scope in the past.
The NexStar 130 gets its fair share of criticism in the market, but earns double the amount of praise.
It has fantastic optics for such an inexpensive ‘GoTo’ Newtonian reflector scope.
Part of the amazing optical performance is due to the 130 mm (five-inch) primary mirror, which allows 30% more light to enter the scope than its 114 mm equivalent.
With a five-inch aperture, maximum light transmission is guaranteed allowing you to see crisp images of the moon, and much further afield, including the cloud belts on Jupiter, ice caps on Mars, and thousands of deep space Messier objects.
Plus, the multi-coated parabolic mirrors perform quite well and will eliminate any form of chromatic aberration, allowing you to see the objects in their real colors and forms.
Overall, the 130SLT will treat you to crisp, bright, and clear views of celestial objects.
However, since the 130SLT is a Newtonian telescope, it does require some calibration. You’ll also have to do some basic maintenance every once in a while. This means the scope might not be the best option for kids.
One great thing with this scope is that it features a computerized alt-az fork arm mount and NexStar + Hand Control.
In combination, these features not only ensure you get more out of your investment, but also make it easier to target objects in the sky.
They act as a sky tour, guiding you through a tally of the automatically-generated list of the best objects to observe.
#2 Celestron NexStar 6 SE - Best All-Round Pick
If you feel the Celestron 130SLT lacks the frills and feel of a professional telescope, then you might want to consider the NexStar 6 SE.
It’s another option from Celestron’s NexStar series belonging to the SE line of scopes.
The SE scopes are ranked higher than the SLT ones, but are a rung lower than the Evolution Line, which raises the bar even further.
But as you can see, the 6 SE, falling as it does right between NexStar lines, strikes a balance between cost and performance.
I consider it an all-round option, especially since it can be used both by beginners who are getting into astronomy and the more seasoned astronomers.
And, given its capabilities, the NexStar 6SE is difficult to outgrow. It can be used as a main scope or as an add-on to existing kit.
Features and Benefits
Coming in at 21 pounds, the Celestron 6SE is a touch on the heavy side due to the technology and components compacted into it.
It’s a minor inconvenience for those who might need assistance when moving the scope from one location to the other.
Despite the bulkiness, the quality of the 6SE over lighter instruments causes many astronomers to not consider this a major design flaw.
What is a downside is how quickly the scope drains the eight AA batteries. At times, it feels frustrating when the computer “clocks out” while you’re still engrossed in observing.
The Celestron 6SE is a Schmidt-Cassegrain with a long focal length and short tube.
It’s not as heavy as you would expect for the long focal length because it has a folded light path which allows for a shorter and compact OTA that doesn’t require a large mount and eliminates balancing issues.
The Schmidt-Cassegrain also allows light to travel in the optical tube twice instead of once, making the scope more comfortable at focusing at high powers.
Generally, the scope doesn’t suffer from any major optical defects or imperfections at all.
Celestron promises a great deal when it comes to operational abilities, and we were delighted to learn that it does exactly as it promises.
For example, it employs Celestron’s SkyAlign technology, which removes the guesswork for star alignment.
The system is impressively simple to use, and beginners particularly will love how easy it’s to align and target objects even without prior celestial knowledge.
SCT’s aren’t everybody’s favorite, but this optical design has been around for about half a century, which speaks volumes of its performance and purpose.
The NexStar 6E is a high-power lunar and planetary champion scope.
While it might not have the largest aperture for observing the faintest deep space objects or even the largest field of view, it can do more than you expect.
The 1,500 mm focal length and slow f/10 specs are great for seeing celestial objects, even under light-polluted conditions.
Jupiter is the easiest to observe, including its four moons, cloud bendings, and the Great Red Spot.
Saturn shows its unique yellow-green color, with the clear Cassini Division, and the moon is phenomenal to observe.
Mars and Venus are harder to gather details on, but you can observe the black-red-white stains on Mars.
#3 Meade ETX80 Observer - Best Portable Option
Some people get a thrill out of getting a lot for a little.
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys this kind of bargain hunting, the Meade ETX80 will stretch your dollar the most.
And not only that, the Meade is the perfect option for those who need an ultra-light and compact option that is easy to move around, quick to set up, and fast to put away.
The scope doesn’t skimp on performance, either, and while it might not match that of the previously reviewed Celestron option, it gives you a lot for the price.
But, is it the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
Meade’s ETX80 compact size and ease of use make the first impression.
This option is subtle in design and will take minimum effort to carry, pack, assemble, and disassemble.
It’s a lightweight option, and my entire family love it because it’s far easier to handle than most scopes.
My 11-year-old youngest son finds it easy to move the scope from place to place.
It’s compact too, so when I stash it in my backseat or trunk I still have space for extra gear when traveling.
Due to its tracking abilities, I find the Meade is a great pick for a family scope as it makes it easy to locate objects and track them for the entire family to see.
Sometimes, budding astronomers buy scopes only to lose interest after a short time because they can’t locate wonderful objects in the sky.
This is not the case with the Meade ETX 80!
It’s a computerized, robotic system, which aligns your scope and lets you find thousands of objects in the sky.
It removes the guesswork from your stargazing experience, especially if you don’t know where or how to look.
The Meade Observer finds it for you and then tracks it for you.
Plus, you don’t have to go through the hassle of adjusting the position of the scope once you’ve “locked” onto an object, since the scope follows the target as it moves through the sky.
The Meade’s tracking ability makes observing the universe so much more enjoyable than having to keep adjusting the scope constantly. It also lets you spend more time enjoying the view and less time trying to keep the object in sight.
The ETX80 is equipped with the new AudiStar hand controller, which works as the brain of the entire ‘GoTo’ system.
The new hand controller incorporates all AutoStar features and adds new and unique software, the Astronomer Software.
This is audio software that emits hours of pre-recorded descriptions of the objects you slew to.
The Meade Observer has quite a small aperture, so its light-gathering capabilities are limited, to an extent.
However, it’s still possible to observe bright sky objects such as the moon, planets, open clusters, and bright DSOs, even in light-polluted conditions.
It’s also easy to make out some details such as the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, and Saturn’s rings.
The open star clusters of the Pleiades, the Hyades, and Double clusters are also quite visible while using the Meade.
Unfortunately, global clusters and nebulae are better seen when viewing from dark, less polluted areas.
If you are OK to part with a significant chunk of cash for a serious and great telescope, then read on.
The NexStar 8SE is a serious contender for professional use, but may also appeal to beginners and intermediate users.
It doesn’t come cheap, but it has everything you would need for a scope for stargazing.
But, of course, like all things in life, it also has its share of imperfections.
Read on to discover the good, the imperfections, and how to get the most out of this scope.
Features and Benefits
The build quality on this scope is at the top of the league.
It can handle pretty much anything you subject it to, including knocks, falls, and dings. Overall, the scope can take on odd knocks in the field without you having to pay a heavy price for it.
However, it doesn’t mean it can be abused without consequences.
The biggest design fault on any Schmidt-Cassegrain is mis-collimation.
Whether knocked or not, the 8SE can come out of alignment, which can be tedious to remedy.
To make the process easier and less risky, we advise you to replace the screw with a set of Bob’s Knobs.
The NexStar 8SE is a ‘GoTo’ telescope that eliminates the hassles of aligning and targeting celestial objects.
It employs Celestron’s proprietary SkyAlign technology to identify and target objects in the sky.
Beginners will love this feature, as they don’t need to have any prior stargazing knowledge to make the best of the scope.
Even better, the scope is packed with a database of more than 40,000 objects to select from a menu, and the scope will automatically point to them.
The 8″ primary mirror is a thing of beauty, and, with such an aperture, it’s easy to see objects down to a magnitude of 14. It’s enough to bring Pluto just within reach if you have dark enough skies.
NexStar’s light-gathering capabilities are incredible and will provide brilliant image clarity and detail.
The large aperture and short focal length deliver wonderful views, even at 200x magnification, which I find perfect for bringing in the moon and planets.
With more light entering the scope, it’s easy to see dimmer objects like galaxies and nebulae in greater detail.
At a dark location, the scope will allow you to see cloud bands on Jupiter, the four Galilean Moons on Jupiter, Neptune and her moon Triton, Saturn’s surface, and the Cassini Division.
The NexStar 8SE is a capable scope for both lunar and planetary astrophotography, but you’ll need either a CCD camera or DSLR.
Simple, deep-sky astrophotography is also possible of objects like the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy.
However, the very nature of the Alt-Az means there’s a constant up-down motion, so it doesn’t take long before the image gets blurry. It may not be the right scope for serious astrophotographers.
#5 Orion XT10G - Best for Home Use
The Orion XT10G is a large and powerful Dobsonian, often seen as a jumping point before entering the larger Truss series.
It’s a wonderful scope by any measure, coming in with a massive aperture and excellent optics.
The XT10G is perfect for those looking for something more substantial and maybe a great second Dobsonian for those that have outgrown their smaller scope.
Features and Benefits
The Orion XT10G is a Dobsonian, and while not all Dobs are huge, this one is a bulky option.
It’s not a scope that you can move around easily as it’s bulky and likely to wear you down fast.
The scope is nowhere near portable, and I wouldn’t recommend it for travel astronomers or those that constantly move in search of the perfect stargazing location.
However, it fits the bill for a home-based telescope which you don’t have to move a lot.
‘GoTo’ motorized system
The main selling point of this scope is the ‘GoTo’ motorized system, which allows for completely automatic tracking of the stars.
It’s a crucial element to astronomers for several reasons, as below.
First, it allows for easy and fast use. Having the scope track on its own is a dream come true, particularly for beginners with no prior knowledge of stargazing,
The second reason has to do with astrophotography. This is because night time photography requires longer exposure for crisp shots, and it’s vital to have a scope that can track the stars smoothly on its own. This is exactly what the XT10G does.
Another reason you will love the XT10g is the large database of celestial objects.
While the Intelliscope version of this database has a whopping 14,000 to choose from, this option dominates with a staggering 42,000.
With such a huge database, astronomers have a much richer depth of field.
Of course, while you may never see everything in the Intelliscope database, you might one day find yourself enthusiastic with a single section of the night sky where the Intelliscope only offers a third of the XT10g.
The optical performance of the scope is amazing, especially considering the large aperture.
Astronomers love the scope’s light-gathering capability, which delivers crisp and clear images of different celestial objects such as the moon, planets, and stars.
However, for the sharpest low-power views, you’ll need quality wide-angle eyepieces because of the short focal ratio of f4/7.
Other than that, the optical performance of the scope is decent and will provide detailed images.
Best Computerized Telescope Buying Guide
Buying a computerized telescope can be quite a challenge.
You need to be cautious and ensure you get your money’s worth.
Below are some tips to follow to ensure you get the right one for your observational needs.
But before I share the tips with you, let’s look at the different types of computerized scopes on the market.
Types of computerized telescope
There are two types of computerized telescopes, namely motorized (‘GoTo’) and non-motorized.
‘GoTo’ computerized telescopes are the most popular option.
They have a computer and motors built into the mount.
Using ‘GoTo’ scopes is easy, as you simply need to select the object you wish to see through the control panel, and the scope will move into position through the motors in the mount.
‘GoTo’ scopes allow astronomers to automatically track diverse objects in the sky, leaving all the manual work aside.
The motors then work with the computer to automatically keep the eyepiece’s object for as long as you wish to observe it.
The non-motorized computerized telescope has a computer built into the scope, just like a ‘GoTo’ telescope, but it lacks a motor.
This means you have to move the scope by hand to the object you wish to observe, but the computer will guide the way.
They’re less convenient than the ‘GoTo’ options, but they’re relatively cheaper for that reason.
The third option is for astronomers with a manual telescope. You can invest in a ‘GoTo’ mount that guides you to your observational location.
Integrating a ‘GoTo’ mount onto your scope gives you all the features of a computerized scope, but it’s cheaper and will let you use a telescope that perhaps you already have.
Features to consider when purchasing the best computerized telescope
Now that you’re aware of the different types of computerized telescopes, let’s look at the features to consider when selecting one.
When you choose a computerized option, you pick it because of the ease of tracking objects.
So, the size of its database is critical.
There’s no point in investing in a scope that won’t follow the objects you’re interested in.
However, most suitable scopes will have all the necessary objects you would expect, such as major stars, planets, and nebulae.
Others will have more deep space objects than others.
At the same time, it’s good to have a scope with a database that is easy to operate and access. It’s no fun to spend your whole night flicking through menus.
All computerized scopes require alignment before use.
Most offer various methods, but the most common one requires you to level the mount and then find two bright stars in the sky.
From here, it becomes easy to pick the stars from a list, which you can then center in the scope.
When combined with date and time, it gives your scope all the data it needs.
The other alignment process is through a GPS or WiFi connection, which are convenient and easy to use.
Ease of use
Some telescopes are more difficult to use than others, which you should bear in mind from the beginning.
When choosing a scope, ensure that it matches your skill level.
For instance, if you’ve never used a telescope before, you’d be best to purchase a simpler option that won’t frustrate you.
We recommend that you take your time when choosing a scope and pick the one that’s easiest for you to use, depending on your level.
A computerized telescope requires some type of power source.
Many use AA batteries for portability. The only problem with this powering system is you’ll require lots of batteries.
Alternatively, you can switch to an electric outlet, but you’ll need an adapter for this.
Either way, it’s something to consider when making your purchase decision.
With any telescope, the aperture size is critical.
The larger the aperture, the more light your scope can take in, and this lets you view more objects and get better images.
Size and weight
The size and weight of a telescope vary a lot, so you need to be realistic about where you’ll be doing your viewing and the amount of storage space you’ll have.
If you don’t have the means of transporting a scope, then you should opt for a more compact and lightweight option.
If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard where you can set up your scope, you don’t have to worry much about portability.
However, if you’ll be traveling to dark sky locations with your scope, you’ll need to choose a smaller one.
At the same time, you’ll need to settle on a size that gives you a good viewing experience but isn’t too much hassle to move around.
Motorized ‘GoTo’ mounts can either be EZ or Alt-Az, but when your mount is computer controlled, the mounting type is less critical.
What matters a lot is the stability of your mount. Pick a mount that minimizes vibrations to give the best image possible.
So, what is the best computerised telescope for deep space viewing? Scopes for deep space viewing should provide the brightest image possible. This means looking for a large aperture size.
Generally, Dobsonian reflectors and compound telescopes are best suited for deep space viewing.
Additionally, you’ll need a sturdy and stable mount system.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our list of the best-computerized telescopes has an array of exciting options, but we feel the Celestron NexStar 130SLT takes the crown.
It’s no better than the other items, but we love how it balances cost, ease of use, and performance.
True, there’re better scopes with better optical performance, but the Celestron NexStar 130SLT seems to be a hit on all fronts.
Using the scope is easy, even for beginners, with the SkyAlign feature helping with the automatic tracking of objects in the sky.
It’s a performer too, and while it doesn’t excel in astrophotography, it’s perfect for celestial observation and will give you accurate and detailed image views.