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Celestron StarSense Explorer Dob Overview


Celestron StarSense Explorer Dob Review

The Celestron StarSense Explorer Dob is a intelligent ‘improve’ to a conventional 8″ Dobsonian telescope, because of its built-in smartphone app that helps you discover objects within the night time sky. It’s a visible telescope (not designed for astrophotography), however pictures of vibrant objects just like the Moon and planets are attainable via the eyepiece. 

With 8 inches of aperture, this telescope has sufficient energy to see, not solely the moon and planets, but in addition deep-sky objects like distant galaxies and nebulae.

On this submit, I’ll present you ways the Celestron StarSense Explorer Dob works, and clarify why I believe this can be a nice telescope for rookies that might use some assist discovering objects within the night time sky.

The model I will probably be reviewing is the 8″ mannequin, however the telescope additionally is available in a enormous 10-inch diameter measurement for these on the lookout for even deeper views. Remember that this mannequin is sort of heavy. 

Celestron StarSense Explorer Telescope

Celestron StarSense Explorer Dob Overview

Within the following video shared on my YouTube channel, I cowl the principle options of the telescope and share my experiences utilizing it within the yard.

The supportive people over at Celestron despatched me a demo model of their 8-inch mannequin for assessment. I had an opportunity to check the StarSense Explorer Dob over the course of about 3 weeks, and fortunately the climate cooperated. 

In contrast to lots of the astrophotography telescopes I sometimes discuss on this web site, the place I sit at a pc display – a visible Dobsonian telescope like that is meant to be loved outdoors on the eyepiece. It’s all in regards to the visible expertise and seeing new deep-sky objects for the primary time. 

As I’ve mentioned at size up to now, an 8-inch Dobsonian telescope is arguably the absolute best first telescope for a newbie. I began with a 4.5″ aperture Dobsonian myself again in 2010 (Orion SkyQuest 4.5″ Dob), and the remainder is historical past. 

An 8 Inch Dobsonian Telescope

In contrast to the common-or-garden Dob I began my astronomy journey on, this one has a big 8-inch mirror. An aperture of this measurement is able to offering spectacular views on the eyepiece.

The straightforward design of a Dobsonian makes them simple to make use of, and reasonably priced contemplating their light-gathering energy. They don’t require polar alignment, counterweights, or any electronics (apart from your telephone). 

The heavy Dobsonian base (rocker field), permits you to easily pan throughout the sky with out vibration. It’s a very hands-on ‘point-and-view’ expertise that helps you join with the night time sky in a tactile method.

An 8-inch mannequin is extensively thought-about to be the ‘candy spot’, balancing optical efficiency with a sensible measurement. That is most likely the perfect match for most individuals, because it’s extra manageable than the heavy 10-inch model.

For comparability, an 8-inch mirror offers 78% extra gentle than a 6-inch mannequin, which implies having the ability to discover extra deep-sky objects within the sky like galaxies and nebulae.

Dobsonian Telescope Sizes

Evaluating the most well-liked measurement of Dobsonian Telescopes. 

The telescope and base are about 50 kilos as an entire, so for most individuals, it’s best to move the scope in two items. The large handles on the optical tube, and the rocker field base make this course of a lot simpler. 

The telescope itself is nothing too particular, a well-made Newtonian reflector telescope with a sturdy Dobsonian base. The eyepiece rack is a pleasant contact (I really use these so much), and the stress knobs safe properly when the tube sits within the rocker field. 

This mannequin has an 8-inch mirror, offering a local focal size of 1200mm at F/5.9. That is sufficient attain to get have a look at Saturn’s rings or Jupiter’s moons, with a high-powered eyepiece.

Talking of eyepieces, this telescope bundle comes with a helpful 1.25″ Celestron Omni 25mm Plossl.  This can be a excellent mid-range, all-purpose eyepiece. You may also use any of your current 1.25″ or 2” eyepieces on this telescope because of the included adapter. 

25mm Plossl eyepiece

The included Celestron Omni 25mm Plossl is a good all-purpose eyepiece. 

I’m informed the 10-inch mannequin has some balancing points, which might be ‘magnified’ when a heavy eyepiece is in place. I didn’t expertise any points in steadiness on the 8-inch mannequin, even with a few of my heavier eyepieces within the telescope. 

Close to the target finish of the optical tube, additionally, you will set up the included crimson dot finder. This easy system serves its objective, and nothing extra. Simply don’t overlook to show it off when you’re completed. 

This mannequin is taken into account to be a “Push-To” telescope as a result of every little thing is finished manually by the consumer. It doesn’t embody a motorized ‘GoTo’ mount to maneuver the telescope by itself, it’s a must to do all the pointing. 

Nonetheless, with the modern StarSense Explorer system, you might have some assist. The system makes use of plate-solving expertise to provide you a giant benefit over the standard star-hoppers. 

Placing the Telescope Collectively

The optical tube meeting (OTA), together with the two″ Crayford-style focuser and smartphone dock, comes utterly assembled in its personal field. Nonetheless, it’s a must to put collectively the Dobsonian base your self. 

Setting up the rocker field took me about half-hour to finish utilizing the offered instruments that include the telescope bundle. That is most likely the least enjoyable a part of the whole expertise, however as soon as it’s completed, you’re in your method. 

If you are placing the bottom collectively, you need to obtain the StarSense Explorer app in your smartphone, and enter the distinctive code Celestron provides you with the scope. It’s a giant obtain too (practically 500 MB), so get it began earlier than you set every little thing collectively. 

AstroBackyard telescope review

Establishing the Celestron StarSense Explorer Dob in my yard. 

The StarSense Explorer Dock

The StarSense system entails this odd-looking bracket and angled mirror the place you’d usually see a finder scope. The equipment features a large plastic cowl to maintain on the dock when not in use, which might be a good suggestion to maintain that mirror clear. 

As I’ve seen others point out, a tether for this cowl would have been a pleasant characteristic, as it might be simple to lose this merchandise after organising at nighttime. It’s slightly too large to suit comfortably in your pocket. 

The telephone I take advantage of is an enormous Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely, so giant smartphones should not an issue on this dock. The twin-axis adjustment knobs make it simple to line up the digital camera lens in your telephone with the mirror. 

StarSense Explorer Dock

The StarSense Explorer Dock comes put in on the telescope out of the field.

At first, I didn’t know what I used to be , however that is really the place you’ll use your telephone digital camera to take brief photographs of the night time sky. In case you’ve used smartphone adapters to take footage together with your telephone via a scope earlier than like I’ve, this setup might look complicated.

Sure, there’s a smartphone holder right here, however it’s not hooked up to the eyepiece like a conventional smartphone adapter. Your telephone digital camera is pointing on the angled mirror, which displays a large discipline of view of the sky in entrance of your telescope. 

It is advisable to place your telephone into the StarSense docking station, and use the controls on the adapter to line up the digital camera lens with the mirror. There’s a setup wizard within the app that makes this course of easy and easy to observe. It consists of useful movies alongside the best way.

Bear in mind, there’s a delay within the ‘live-view’ picture, so be sure to wait till you’ll be able to see a picture displayed in your display. The mirror within the bracket displays what your telescope is pointed at into the digital camera lens in your telephone.

It’s not trying via the telescope in any respect, simply on the market within the open. It’s a giant huge open view of your yard, so be sure to regulate the sunshine ranges and digital camera settings for a transparent view.

my phone screen

Operating the StarSense alignment course of at nightfall to verify pointing accuracy.

There’s a easy setup routine that it is advisable to do in the course of the day, or higher but, at nightfall. The method of aligning your digital camera with the StarSense device is much like aligning a finder scope, besides this time you aren’t shifting the telephone’s place in any respect.

It is advisable to level the telescope at a distant object, like a streetlight or tall tree, after which use the crosshairs within the app in order that it’s centered on the identical object in your eyepiece. You simply pinch and zoom to get the crosshair aligned on the digital camera, with the identical object you see via the eyepiece. 

This felt unusual to me as a result of on a conventional finder scope it is advisable to bodily transfer the scope, however not this time. The software program is aware of!

How to align Celestron StarSense Explorer

It is advisable to pinch and zoom the crosshairs to align the digital camera together with your eyepiece. 

As soon as it will get darkish out, It is going to use this pointing info to plate-solve the star patterns within the sky and decide your telescope’s actual place. 

A few of you’ll discover this course of fairly cool and thrilling as I did, however others will cope with some substantial trial and error. However you’ll get it will definitely, I promise.

The most important adjustment I needed to make to my typical observing session was that I now want to go away my telephone within the docked place for the whole observing session, or danger shedding my preliminary alignment.

Nonetheless, I discovered that I might really use my telephone whereas docked, and even take it out, place it again in, and retain the alignment. This isn’t advisable, nonetheless, so depart your telephone within the docking station to be secure.

The StarSense Explorer app can drain your telephone battery in a rush, so having a conveyable battery pack to maintain your telephone charged is good. Celestron despatched me their little flashlight/battery charger with this demo (Celestron PowerTank Glow 500), which is a helpful accent for a setup like this.

Phone attached to the telescope

My giant telephone sat securely within the docking station.

As soon as the telescope and StarSense Explorer system are aligned and able to go, we are able to begin having fun with the guided expertise it offers. The on-screen star map is basically slick, and shifting the telescope towards your object within the night time sky is definitely lots of enjoyable.

The arrows let you know which method it is advisable to transfer the scope, and ultimately, the crosshair will flip from crimson to inexperienced when you might have discovered the goal. I used to be fairly impressed with how effectively the system works, and that the item I wished to see was really there within the eyepiece, the primary strive.

There’s a motive Celestron expanded the StarSense system into their Dobsonian line-up. It’s been confirmed to work and it’s enjoyable. Newbies can now bang off dozens of objects in a single night time, with the assistance of this easy system that makes use of a tool they already personal.

finding deep-sky objects

The star map and steering system work effectively and are enjoyable to make use of.

The StarSense Explorer App

There are two most important parts to the StarSense Explorer Dob bundle – the 8-inch Dobsonian telescope tube and rocker field, and the onboard StarSense docking station and devoted smartphone app. 

In fact, you need to use the telescope by itself like a conventional Dob, however the true energy of this bundle is realized if you make the most of the StarSense explorer smartphone app and the brand new talents your telescope has.

Anybody can obtain the StarSense Explorer app on their iPhone or Android system, however you have to to enter the distinctive code that’s included with the telescope bundle to totally put it to use. 

Celestron starsense explorer mobile app

The Celestron StarSense Explorer cell app. 

The app is appropriate with Android units 7.1.2 and better and iPhone units 6 and newer. 

Tip: use night time mode in your Android or use the accessibility operate in your iPhone to modify your display to crimson to guard your night time imaginative and prescient whereas utilizing the app. Turning down the display brightness will assist with this too. 

The way it Works

  • It makes use of a bracket, your smartphone, and the telescope to find objects within the night time sky utilizing the StarSense sky recognition expertise.
  • As soon as the bullseye turns inexperienced in your telephone, it is able to view via the telescope eyepiece
  • The mirror inside the bracket will mirror what your telescope is pointed at into the digital camera of your telephone
  • The system makes use of plate-solving expertise to investigate star patterns in real-time to find out the telescope’s place within the night time sky.
  • It is going to let which strategy to redirect the telescope after the item has shifted out of the sphere of view because of the Earth’s rotation. 
  • When the bullseye is crimson, use the arrows in your display to know which path you need to push the telescope. As soon as it reveals inexperienced, you might have reached the place of your goal
  • Use the StarSense Explorer app to entry a listing of accessible night-sky objects (i.e. planets, nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, and many others.)

How to use Celestron StarSense Explorer Dob

Alignment Steps

  1. Place Telephone on StarSense Dock. Mount your telephone on the StarSense dock
  2. Heart Telephone Digicam Over Mirror. Flip the knobs on the backside of the bracket till your telephone’s digital camera view is centered within the mirror.
  3. Choose Alignment Object. Align your telephone’s view to the telescope view. Level your telescope at a terrestrial object at the very least 100 yards/100 meters away and heart the item within the telescope’s crimson dot finderscope.
  4. Centre Object in Eyepiece. Modify the main focus so that you just get a pointy picture.
  5. Align Digicam View to Telescope View. Slide the digital camera view till the identical object is centered within the crosshairs.
  6. You’re able to find objects. Level your telescope at a transparent patch of sky with stars and anticipate the crimson bullseye to show yellow. Observe the path arrows to focus on and when the bullseye turns inexperienced, look via the eyepiece.

The standing bar on the prime of the display offers further steering.

Alignment Ideas 

Make sure you observe the following pointers for the alignment course of:

  • Make sure that your telephone’s digital camera is correctly aligned with the telescope and keep away from bumping your telephone as soon as positioned within the StarSense dock to keep away from having to realign your digital camera.
  • After aligning and centering your digital camera, you might even see small areas which might be reduce off or exhibiting in black. That is because of the selection, and sometimes, huge angle views of most of in the present day’s cellular phone cameras. There’ll nonetheless be sufficient sky exhibiting for StarSense to find out its present place. 
  • In case your bullseye continues to look ‘crimson’ it implies that it’s not sensing the sky as a way to decide its place. When this occurs it could possibly be because of: cloud cowl, it’s nonetheless too vibrant out, one thing shining into the mirror, one thing within the discipline of view or a vibrant moon. It might additionally imply that it’s not aligned correctly (i.e. not centred over the starsense dock), or there’s dew on the mirror.
  • When centering your digital camera over the starsense dock, you could discover reflections in your discipline of view. This could possibly be from gentle reflecting off the again of your cellular phone case into the mirror and digital camera. You could need to swap out your case for one thing non-reflective to get this to work
  • It’s a good suggestion to align your telephone and telescope every time you utilize it for probably the most correct studying. 

Steadily Requested Questions

  • This scope can’t discover objects in the course of the day.
  • It solely reveals the sky because it presently seems – no potential for future sky views
  • You can’t use it with a pill, it’s too large for the star sense dock
  • You may unlock 5 completely different units with the code
  • It’s a good suggestion to totally cost your telephone earlier than utilizing it and perhaps even get slightly battery pack as the continual photographs and processing them to find out your location, can drain your battery
  • Objects larger than 70-75 levels in altitude should not included in the perfect record of things, since it’s laborious to place nearer to the zenith. 
  • For these within the southern hemisphere, StarSense will already know your location and regulate accordingly

Celestron StarSense Explorer 8″ Specs

Optical tube: 

  • Aperture: 254mm (10″)
  • Focal Size: 1200mm (47.24″)
  • Focal Ratio: f/4.7
  • Tube Weight: 29.2 lbs (13.24 kg)
  • Optical Design: Newtonian Reflector
  • Tube Dimensions: 1117.6mm x 292.1mm diameter (44″ x 11.5″ diameter)
  • Tube Materials: Metal
  • Focuser: 2″ Crayford focuser, consists of 2″ extension tube and a pair of″-to-1.25″ adapter
  • Finderscope: StarPointer red-dot
  • Main mirror thickness: 30mm (1.18″) (approx. 1:8 thickness ratio)


  • Kind: Altazimuth Dobsonian base
  • Dimensions: 673.1mm x 533.4mm x 533.4mm (26.5″ x 21″ x 21″)
  • Weight: 25.6 lbs (11.6 kg)
  • Whole Weight with base: 54.8 lbs (24.86 kg)

Included Objects

  • Optical tube
  • Dobsonian Base
  • 25mm eyepiece
  • 2″ Crayford focuser
  • StarPointer™ red-dot finderscope
  • StarSense Explorer dock
  • StarSense Explorer unlock code
  • Eyepiece rack
  • Collimation cap
  • Celestron Starry Night time Fundamental Version Software program

Celestron StarSense Explorer Comparisons

I assumed it might be useful to match this telescope with two different standard visible telescopes for rookies; the Celestron NexStar 8SE and the Apertura AD8 Dobsonian 8″.

Celestron Explorer vs Celestron NexStar 8SE

The NexStar 8SE is a particularly standard visible telescope for rookies because of its Go-To expertise and focal size. It’s an 8-inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope with a focal size of 2032mm at F/10.

This specific telescope excels in views of the moon and planets. The slower focal ratio does implies that fainter nebulae and galaxies will probably be more durable to look at, which is particularly true in the event you’re observing from a light-polluted metropolis. 

One of many greatest attracts to this telescope, except for the compact, travel-friendly design, is its computerized GoTo performance. You may select an object you wish to view on the hand controller, and the telescope will level proper to it. A lot of these electronics although come at a worth.

celestron nexstar telescope review


  Celestron StarSense 8” Explorer Celestron NexStar 8SE
Telescope Kind Dobsonian Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture 8 inch 8 inch
Focal ratio f/5.9 f/10
Focal size 1200mm 2032mm
Go To Capabilities No Sure
Whole Package Weight 43.4 lbs (19.68 kg) 24 lbs (10.88 kg)
Value 799.95 USD 1,599 USD

Celestron Explorer vs Apertura AD8

You probably have been following my channel for some time, that the telescope sort I like to recommend most to rookies is a Dobsonian telescope. I take into account this to be the perfect telescope sort for a newbie because of its mixture of ease of use, operate, and affordability.

By beginning with visible astronomy via a easy to make use of, and well-built telescope, you’ll be able to be taught the night time sky by yourself, casually expertise the fun of stargazing, and spend time outdoors at night time.

Up to now, I’ve had nice success with the Apertura AD8 8″ Dobsonian, and assume it’s an incredible selection for rookies. Given the similarities and advantages of each telescopes, I assumed it might be attention-grabbing to match these two head-to-head. 

The Apertura AD8 is the 8-inch mannequin and has sufficient aperture to point out extra objects and element within the night time sky than smaller devices. 

Apertura AD8 Dobsonian Telescope


  Celestron StarSense 8” Explorer Dobsonian Apertura AD8 Dobsonian 8″
Focal Ratio f/5.9 f/5.9
Focal Size 1200mm 1200mm
Kind of Electronics StarSense None
Included Equipment Focuser
Eyepiece rack
Collimation cap
1 eyepiece (25mm)
StarSense Dock
StarSense unlock code
Starry Night time (Fundamental) Software program
Laser Collimator
Eyepiece tray
25mm Extension tube
2 eyepieces (9mm, 30mm)
Main mirror cooling fan
Adaptor for focuser
Picture finder and bracket
Whole Package Weight 43.4 lbs (19.68 kg) 52.2 lbs (23.67 kg)
Value 799.95 USD 699.95USD

Closing Ideas

There have been quite a few makes an attempt by astronomy producers so as to add GoTo or hybrid-GoTo techniques to the Dobsonian design up to now. Instruments to assist customers keep away from the ‘I do not know discover something’ situation.

A few of them took off, others didn’t. The distinction this time is the StarSense Explorer system makes use of your individual telephone because the expertise element, saving you the price of bolting on an extra piece of {hardware} with computing energy.

If you’re an observing purest, I doubt you’ll want to make use of a system that has you gazing your telephone for thus lengthy. Sure, the app has a ‘night time mode’ to assist maintain your eyes tailored, however as a lot of , a very ‘screen-free’ observing session is a completely completely different expertise.

You probably have your coronary heart set on astrophotography sooner or later, the aspect of tech on this system possible received’t deter you from utilizing it, and also you’ll even get a sneak peek into the unbelievable energy of plate-solving.

In case you’re available in the market for a unbelievable newbie telescope that almost ensures a constructive first expertise, an 8-inch Dob continues to be among the best choices accessible.

If including an extra layer of steering through your smartphone is price it to you, then the Celestron StarSense Exlploerer Dob is an unbelievable worth.

The StarSense Explorer makes astronomy extra approachable for rookies and will get you to your first victory quicker, and that’s a reasonably particular factor.

best beginner telescope

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