Imagine having a sat-nav for the night sky that told you where to point your telescope. That’s essentially what StarSense is – an app for smartphones that guides the user in how to physically move a manual telescope into the exact position to have an object in the optics’ crosshairs. It’s clever stuff, though on the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ this sleek new way of using a telescope is somewhat wasted.
A Newtonian reflector with a 4.5-inch/114mm aperture, the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ is able to gather a lot of light.
However, I noticed a lot of glare and unwanted colors around the edges of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn. It’s something that’s obvious when using both the 25mm and 10mm Kellner eyepieces included in the box, which could be the culprits. Another accessory here demands a second look. Close-ups through the 25mm eyepiece on the 2x Barlow lens (also in the box) did reveal lots of enjoyable detail, with Jupiter’s atmospheric bands and Saturn’s rings standing out.
The same can’t be said for the deep sky, with a distinct lack of brightness in open clusters, globular clusters, and galaxies through the 25mm eyepiece. Unsurprisingly the 10mm and Barlow lens just make things worse.
If its optics are disappointing, so is the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ’s mount, which lacks both fluidity and precision. Moving the bearings left and right encountered stiffness and slight judder while ranging up and down lacked precision – even with a slow-motion hand control present – with noticeable overreach and recoil.
If it’s hard to lock into place on a target, at least finding objects in the night sky is easy. That’s thanks to this telescope’s saving grace, StarSense, which uses a smartphone’s camera to plate-solve stars and align perfectly in just a few minutes. It’s then so, so easy to just select a target and follow the virtual arrows to the celestial destination, much like using a sat-nav on a car. What a shame the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ’s optics are only really up to low-power scanning the night sky, though, happily, StarSense already exists on many other Celestron telescopes* and looks set to become a default feature.
* Other Celestron StarSense telescopes reviewed on AGT: