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Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ Review

This Newtonian reflector has a 4.5-inch/114mm aperture. Credit: Jamie Carter

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 StarSense smartphone dock is included on the top of the optical tube. Credit: Jamie Carter

A Newtonian reflector with a 4.5-inch/114mm aperture, the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ is able to gather a lot of light. 

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A hand control for fine-tuning doesn’t help much with precise positioning. Credit: Jamie Carter

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.

 

In the box are 25mm and 10mm Kellner eyepieces as well as a 2x Barlow adaptor. Credit: Jamie Carter

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.

The basic red dot finderscope is poorly positioned on the other side to the eyepiece. Credit: Jamie Carter

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.

A basic eyepiece tray is part of the tripod. Credit: Jamie Carter

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.

 

Website: www.celestron.com 

MSRP: $230

 

* Other Celestron StarSense telescopes reviewed on AGT:

Review: Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ

Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ Telescope Review

Celestron’s New StarSense Dobsonians Reviewed

10″ Celestron StarSense Explorer Dobsonian Review

 

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About Jamie Carter

A science, travel and technology journalist for over 20 years, UK-based Jamie Carter writes for Forbes Science, Sky and Telescope magazine, the BBC's Sky At Night, Travel+Leisure and the South China Morning Post. He edits WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com, leads tours to see eclipses, and regularly tweets about stargazing (@jamieacarter) and eclipses (@thenexteclipse).

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