Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ Review: Lots of Tech, and Plastic

written by TTB
TTB score

7.2

The Good

  • STARSENSE EXPLORER APP IS BRILLIANT
  • AFFORDABLE SEMI-AUTOMATION
  • DELIGHTFUL BEGINNER EXPERIENCE
  • MAINTENANCE FREE
  • COLOR ACCURACY
  • PORTABLE

The Bad

  • VULNERABLE TO LIGHT POLLUTION
  • PLASTIC MOUNT
  • CHEAP FOCUSER
  • CHEAP ACCESSORIES
Check price on↓

The StarSense Explorer App is what saves LT 80AZ from the abyss of Celestron’s useless, overpriced beginner models. 

Review

The app saves the day again. The actually working, barely buggy StarSense Explorer App.

All the other stuff, the optical quality, the mount, the accessories-they are all cheap and below-average quality. But none of the other companies have semi-automized telescopes for budget prices. None

Celestron Explorer LT 80AZ is worth it if automatization is an absolute necessity. 

It is a funinteresting, and intriguing gateway to the astronomy realm. And it is affordable. But you won’t get the optical power and build quality of a TableTop, that is for sure. 

The StarSense Explorer App saves the day.

Optics

7

80mm Aperture

900mm Optical Tube

F/11 Refractor

Let me start off by saying that the optical quality is below-average. You can easily find better optics in TableTop telescopes or some of the manual Refractors. You are paying for the technology more than the optics.

80mm aperture is pretty modest.

The 80mm aperture can gather enough light for major Solar System details and exceptionally bright deep space objects.

What am I going to see?

Jupiter shows its Galilean Moon’s, and on ideal conditions and with a premium eyepiece, its stripes, and The Great Red Spot.

Saturn appears a bright disk, and its Rings are distinguishable from the planet. Titan and Cassini Division are challenging to observe even in ideal conditions and premium eyepieces.

Mars appears as a bright red disk.

Venus appears as a small yellow disk. Its phases are observable.

NeptuneUranusMercury, and Pluto are impossible to observe.

The Moon is the best target to observe with a long refractor. Due to the long optical tube, there is little color inaccuracy. Countless mountain ranges and craters reveal themselves. It will surely impress you if you are a first-timer.

Deep Space Performance - Unusable

The 80mm aperture is not enough to gather enough light for most of the deep space objects. Adding to that, the long optical tube creates a narrow field view, making it challenging to fit large objects inside the field view.

Deep space performance is disappointingly bad.

Deep space performance pretty bad. Don’t get Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ for deep space observations.

Overall Optical Performance

Optics of StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ lean strongly towards Solar System performance. Some of the brighter and smaller deep space objects can be viewed at a decent level, but don’t expect much in that area. The 900mm optical tube is appreciated; it lowers color inaccuracies that are common in refractors quite a bit. 

Is Astrophotography possible with Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ?

No, it is not possible. You can take images of Solar System objects by holding your smartphone camera to the lens, but that is it. You need thousands of dollars worth of equipment for astrophotography.

Mount

6

Plastic

Slow-Mo Control for Vertical Axis

The mount is mostly plastic.

The mount is almost completely hard plastic. This is to be expected at this price range, but it has annoying shakeswobbles, and squeaks. The 900mm optical tube is not pleasing to move on such a stiff mount. 

There is a slow-mo control knob for the vertical axis is some compensation, but still, the optical tube is not easy to control.

Tripod

7

Aluminum

The tripod is adequate for such a lightweight telescope. It is not rock-solid, but with vibration suppression pads, it provides a tolerable amount of stability. 

I didn’t expect a 2″-steel tripod at this price range.

App

9

Real-Time Simulation

Great Accuracy

Works Without WiFi

The StarSense Explorer App is what saves LT 80AZ from the abyss of Celestron’s useless, overpriced beginner models.

Code for Unlock

Celestron sends a code with every StarSense Explorer Telescope to unlock the app. This is most possibly to prevent the app from being used with any other telescope because it can be used if you can build a decent mirror slot.

Alignment

The alignment process is pretty easy. It is much easier than 3-star alignment, 2-star alignment, SkyAlign, or all that weird stuff that is built into 2000$-3000$ models.

Alignment is a breeze.

You pick a bright object in the night sky; the Moon is a smart starting point.

You point the telescope to that object and align the red cross in the app with that object. 

Hit Done.

That is it. 

Real-time Simulation of the Night-Sky and the Telescope

After the alignment, the app keeps a real-time simulation of the night sky and the optical tube. You know where the optical tube is pointing and where the space objects are relative to the optical tube.

The app is mind-blowingly accurate if the sky is not light-polluted.

According to Celestron, the app achieves this by using gyroscopescompassaccelerometers, and image-recognition tech called plate-solving.

The app works brilliantly, and Celestron’s software engineers deserve a round of applause.

Accessories

5

Kellner Eyepieces

Red Dot Finder

1.25″ Plastic Diagonal

1.25″ Plastic Focuser

The accessories are cheap choices. They are cheaper than cheap plastics.

The eyepieces are Kellner’s. They are second to worst models and should be upgraded with decent Plössl’s.

The finder is a cheap red dot model. This is OK since you are going to use the app for navigation.

The 1.25″ amici diagonal is dreadful. It lowers the image quality, is mostly plastic, and overall, cheap. You need to upgrade to a star diagonal if you want to take full advantage of the optics.

Focuser

The focuser is disappointingly bad. The other StarSense Explorer models have the same build quality, but at least they have 2″ focusers. Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ has a 1.25″ focuser that feels challenging to fine-focus and has a sticky motion. 

The focuser is low in quality. It can be upgraded, but the process will take some spending and time.

Drawbacks

Cheap Build

Low Aperture and Power

Cheap Accessories

Cheap Focuser

The build quality is tedious. There lots of plastic to be found all around the mount and optical tube.

The 900mm optical tube is too much length for the plastic mount.

The 80mm aperture is below modest levels.

There are more powerful models and well-built models for the same price. You should take a look at TableTops and Manual Refractors.

The accessories are cheap choices. They all need a decent upgrade.

The focuser is a sticky, narrow 1.25″ model.

Conclusion

Not many astro-tech companies take the risk of innovation. Most of them are fine with selling 200-year-old optical designs at expensive price ranges. 

In contrast, companies like Celestron and Starizona try to come up with something new with their resources. Astro-tech has lots of room for improvement, and Celestron took another step in the right direction.

TTB score

7.2

The Good

  • STARSENSE EXPLORER APP IS BRILLIANT
  • AFFORDABLE SEMI-AUTOMATION
  • DELIGHTFUL BEGINNER EXPERIENCE
  • MAINTENANCE FREE
  • COLOR ACCURACY
  • PORTABLE

The Bad

  • VULNERABLE TO LIGHT POLLUTION
  • PLASTIC MOUNT
  • CHEAP FOCUSER
  • CHEAP ACCESSORIES
Check price on↓