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This app-Assisted Telescope Makes It Perfect for Amateur Astronomers



Living in Astronomy enthusiasts have plenty to choose from. Numerous apps are available to assist you in navigating the sky and finding good locations for viewing. The best thing about optics is that they are now cheaper and more integrated with software.

Celestron’s StarSense Dobsonian telescope, is an excellent example. A smartphone mount on the telescope and an app calibrated to your device will allow you to easily navigate the night sky, even if it is not obvious. how to You can visually see the stars.

Dobsonian Design

Celestron’s StarSense Explorer X telescope has been a favorite of mine (9/10 WIRED Recommends), and it uses the same app as the cradle. Simple and effective, the tech here combines the power you have of the smartphone’s star map with that of the telescope. The telescope uses a mirror to perform the navigation. Dobsonian models are much more advanced and larger.

Dobsonian telescopes use a Newtonian mount with a two-axis altazimuth. Mounts turn in circles and allow the scope to move around. It can hold a heavier mirror than in other designs. Additionally, the mount point places the balance point at the base of the scope which makes it very easy to move. This results in a powerful, large telescope that is easy to move and not too heavy.

Celestron offers two identical Dobsonian models. The first scope is an 8 inch, while the second, which I tried, is a 10 inch scope. The design of both scopes is the same, except for the larger size which increases light gathering power.  You need to remember that this telescope is very large. Don’t let the words “10-inch” in the name fool you—that only refers to the aperture (diameter). The 10-inch model is just shy of 5 feet high when fully assembled. 44 inches is the length of the scope. Although it is lightweight, it can be carried around by most cars.

Two packages arrived with the StarSense. It comes in two boxes. One contains the base, while another large box holds the scope. The scope arrived assembled. The base is easy to put together, and it took only 20 minutes. The entire process is one-time. The handle can be used to transport it. It is heavy but easy to carry. You should keep it indoors as it’s a paperboard.

This scope is lighter than the previous model and can be carried easily. The scope comes equipped with dust covers that protect the mirrors from damage when it is being moved around. It fits in the base, and is tightened with two big knobs. The knobs are used to place the scope. 

The StarSense also includes a 25-mm Plössl eyepiece (though any other eyepiece you might have should also work), a 2-inch Crayford focuser, and a collimation tool. A laser collimator is a must-have for anyone serious about starwatching. Don’t be afraid to ask a collimator questions if it is unfamiliar. It doesn’t take much to see amazing views.

Next, attach the phone mounting bracket and the star-spotting scope. These are used for calibration purposes or to manually navigate. After everything has been assembled, calibrate your eyepiece with a stable object approximately a quarter mile away. I used a small structure. You can drop your phone into the case, then open the app to guide you through the entire process.

Navigation App

It’s hard to comprehend the scope of Celestron’s smartphone-enabled telescopes if you have never used a telescope with no smart app. My best opinion is that I find the use of a telescope difficult, even though I have taken two semesters in astronomy at college.

Celestron StarSense is my favorite system. My kids don’t need to go searching for stars all day. Just pull up the application, open it, then follow the arrows to get it into the eyepiece. The red, orange and green bull’s-eyes let you know when it is visible, so I can just do it. There are many oohs, aahs, and smiles from the kids. This eliminates the frustration, waiting, and loss of interest that could occur if I navigated manually. You can eliminate the learning overhead how to use a telescope is a huge win for getting newcomers—kids or otherwise—interested in astronomy. It is worth learning. how to Use a telescope. But that is only after you have initially expressed interest.

The description section of the app has a nice feature. It gives information about the object and offers suggestions for observations. StarSense can suggest an eyepiece with a lower power to allow you to view the entire cluster from one perspective.

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