These telescopes work with your phone to show exactly what’s in the sky – CNET

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The Starsense Explorer DX 130AZ on the left and the Starsense Explorer LT 114AZ on the right


Mitchell Chang/CNET

A few months back, before COVID-19 hit, Celestron sent us two telescopes, the Starsense Explorer DX 130AZ and the Starsense Explorer LT 114AZ to review.

At the same time I was actually looking to buy one myself, but the price difference made it hard to figure out what was a good beginner telescope for me and my family. Getting a chance to test these two telescopes would at least help me in my decision making process.

I took them home before the shelter-in-place order in San Francisco and ended up using them for almost four months. What I didn’t know at that time until I actually opened the box and put them together, was that these Celestron telescopes used your phone to help you find objects in the night sky.

The technology behind using your phone is Celestron’s Starsense technology. It’s basically an app that uses your phone’s camera to scan the night sky and then sends the scans back to Celestron’s database. It was very helpful, especially for a beginner like me who had no idea what I was looking for or even looking at. 

This isn’t a new technology per se, in fact there are several apps that give you real-time information of the night sky, but these are the first telescopes that are built with actually pairing your phones with them. Once the Starsense app is paired with the telescope, it lists objects that were visible in the night sky that particular evening and guides you to the object.

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The StarSense app showing available objects, information about the object and location information.


Mitchell Chang/CNET

It helped having these telescopes with me, especially this summer because there were so many things to look at and it really helped me find the type of telescope I was looking for. I also found that I became more adept and finding objects and at least knowing where to look for them. In fact I looked forward to nights where I knew something was going to be visible and would be outside for hours.

Most importantly however the Starsense app was a must because of the simple fact that it not only tells you what is visible that evening but guides you and the telescope to the object as well.  

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Full moon taken from the Starsense Explorer LT 114AZ.


Mitchell Chang/CNET