Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ Review: Don’t Fall Into The Trap.
StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ has one of the worst quality optics that is in the astro-tech industry.
It is a shame. Every other StarSense Explorer telescope has at least “decent” optical quality. LT 114AZ doesn’t.
This telescope is full of design flaws. The optical design is dreadful, the mount and the focuser is plastic, and the accessories that come with it are useless.
A tabletop telescope is the best choice at this price range.
You can also check out TableTops, which I personally prefer. They provide the best build quality and optics at this price range.
You can check out our guide for the best design choice at every price range.
Cheap Main Mirror
Faulty Secondary Mirror
The optical tube has a spherical primary mirror. Celestron implemented corrector lenses for the spherical mirrors. In theory, the design should work well with the correctors, but it doesn’t.
The optical design is faulty.
A properly working corrector lens for this kind of design is expensive, and Celestron didn’t put that into the system to keep the price down.
As a result, the views are dim, mostly out of focus, and challenging to collimate even for the most experienced of astronomers.
Overall Optical Performance
It is not worth talking about optical performance. Focusing, collimating, or overall getting a decent view with StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ is challenging.
Is Astrophotography possible with Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ?
No, it is not possible. You can get planetary images with a DSLR camera or with your smartphone, but that is it.
Slow-Mo Control Knob
The mount is completely plastic and stiff. There is a slow-mo control knob for the vertical axis, but it is not enough to fine-tune the telescope. As a result, the telescope is hard to use with the app.
Lots of plastic, everywhere.
The mount is frustrating. There is nothing good to be said about it.
The tripod is aluminum. It is surprisingly among the better parts of StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ. With vibration suppression pads, it has a decent level of stability, but by itself, it hardly carries the optical tube.
Works Without WiFi
The StarSense Explorer App is the best part of the scope. It is the reason why this series is worth considering.
The app works brilliantly.
Code for Unlock
Celestron sends a code with every StarSense Explorer telescope for unlocking the app. This is probably to prevent the app from being used with every telescope that is out there. It has no other function.
The alignment procedure is pretty easy. You point the optical tube to a bright object, and find the same object in the app and align with the red cross. You hit done, and the app knows exactly where the optical tube is pointing in the night sky.
Real-time Simulation of the Night-Sky and the Telescope
After the alignment, using the gyroscopes, compass, accelerometers, the app keeps a real-time simulation of the night sky and the optical tube.
Plate-Solving tech is groundbreaking.
It also uses an image recognition process called plate-solving to create a map of the night sky. The plate-solving process is key and keeps everything precise. It takes 1-2 seconds, and the app does it every time the optical tube changes its position.
StarSense Explorer App works surprisingly well. It is, by far, the best part of the telescope.
Red Dot Finder
The accessories are cheap stuff to get you started out of the box. They aren’t worth much, and if you own this telescope, you should upgrade them all.
The eyepieces are Kellner models. They are mostly plastic and second to worst quality eyepieces after Huygens. They should be upgraded to at least Plössl models.
All of the accessories are cheap.
The finder is a standard red dot version. This one is OK since navigation with this telescope is mostly done with the app.
The diagonal is a plastic, 1.25″, amici model. It creates an image defect and should be upgraded to a star diagonal.
The focuser is mostly plastic and feels sticky. It is challenging to fine-tune it to get a sharp focus. Combined with the flawed optical design, the focusing experience is tedious.
Faulty Secondary Mirror
Apart from the StarSense Explorer App experience, the whole package is low in quality and hard to use.
The optical design is flawed with an extra corrector.
The telescope is challenging to collimate, even for an experienced astronomer.
The mount is plastic.
The accessories are as cheap as it gets.
There is no sign of stability and smoothness with the whole experience.
This is one of those models that discourage newcomers from astronomy. It is that bad.
A TableTop telescope will provide vastly superior optical performance, a butter-smooth motion, and overall a more pleasing experience.