The Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope ($799.95/£649.99) could not come sooner. If you need essentially the most bang to your buck when observing the evening sky with a telescope it’s best to all the time take into account a Dobsonian. That’s been a rule of thumb for years on this planet of novice astronomy, however Dobsonian telescopes are sometimes ignored by freshmen as a result of their design means they should be manually pointed at objects.
Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian: Key Specs
Optical design: Newtonian reflector
Aperture: 8-inches/203 mm
Focal size: 47.24-inches/1200 mm
Focal ratio: f/5.9
Eyepiece focal size: 0.98-inches/25 mm (48x)
Total package weight: 43.4 lbs/19.68 kg
Mount sort: Alt-azimuth Dobsonian
They’re additionally very massive, onerous to maneuver and tough to retailer. Why hassle when you may get a small, transportable and computerized ‘Go To’ reflector telescope that finds objects for you?
Cue Celestron’s distinctive StarSense tech, which finds objects utilizing solely a smartphone app. The telescope itself nonetheless must be manually pointed at objects, however StarSense makes that very straightforward by guiding you to targets in seconds.
With the arrival of the Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch — in addition to a barely bigger aperture 10-inch model — are we witnessing the rebirth of the Dobsonian telescope?
Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope: Design
- StarSense Explorer dock
- StarPointer red-dot finderscope
- 2-inch Crayford focuser (with 1.25-inch adapter)
25mm Celestron Omni Plössl eyepiece
2″ Crayford focuser
2″ Extension Tube and 1.25″ Adapter
StarSense smartphone dock
StarPointer red dot finderscope
Celestron Starry Night Basic Edition Software
The Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope is big. All Dobsonians are, relative to other designs of telescope mounts, but at least its 8-inch aperture limits it to about 10kg each for the base and the tube (the 10-inch version weighs 13.24kg and 11.6kg for the tube and base, respectively). It’s a solid tube rather than a collapsible design, so it’s not as easy to store when not in use. Aside from that this telescope has a rather impressive design that’s packed with extras. Both the tube — which has a focal length of 1,200mm — and the base itself have built-in carry handles to make them easier to move. The latter also has an eyepiece rack (an excellent quality 0.98-inch/25 mm (48x) Celestron Omni Plossl eyepiece is included).
At the top of the Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope’s tube are three components; focuser, red dot finder and smartphone mount. Its Crayford focuser natively takes 2-inch eyepieces, though in the box is also an extender tube and an adaptor so you can use 1.25-inch eyepieces. There’s also a StarPointer red dot finder in the box. Though technically you don’t actually need this, it’s there to help with alignment. It also gives you a quick way to point the telescope at the Moon, or if you want to use it during the day.
Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope: Performance
- Limiting magnitude 14.2
- StarSense works in seconds
- Use wireless earphones to get audio descriptions
Despite its fancy smartphone app, the Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope isn’t a ‘Go To’ telescope. In fact, it’s more of a ‘Push To’, with the StarSense app acting as a dynamic guide. StarSense works really well. During our test in a light-polluted city we were able to place an iPhone 12 Pro in the smartphone mount, uncover the small mirror positioned behind it and align its camera using X-Y adjustment knobs, and then let StarSense get busy taking photos of the night sky. That’s essentially how it knows where it is, together with data from your phone’s camera, gyro, accelerometer and GPS sensors.
The app takes a little getting to know, but once you’ve got the hang of its arrows and the way the app zooms in as you get closer to your target, it’s all very easy to use. How you find actual targets couldn’t be easier. As well as issuing ‘Push To’ instructions, the StarSense app contains vast lists of celestial objects currently visible from your exact location. That catalog has massively expanded since the last time we looked at StarSense and now includes a plethora of deep-sky objects perfect for training a Dobsonian on. It’s also worth observing while wearing some wireless Bluetooth earphones because the StarSense app has an audio description for each major object you point the telescope at.
When the bullseye turns inexperienced you are prepared to watch — and the views on supply are actually glorious. Bright stars have a slight four-pronged starburst (although Celestron’s XLT reflective coatings maintain these diffraction spikes to a minimal). In our check, we simply break up double stars, with superb views of the pink and blue companions in Albireo in Cygnus. Ditto the ‘double double’ near Vega in Lyra. Saturn, though near the horizon, clearly displayed its ring sample. However, it is with the deep sky that this ‘scope actually excels. Objects look sharp, detailed and contrasty. The readability within the nice globular cluster in Hercules (M13) was mesmerizing, and so was the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). It’s straightforward to make fairly superb changes to the sector of view by barely transferring the tube (though you do should get used to the inverted picture) whereas the main focus wheel is completely calibrated and works rather well. Optically talking this Dobsonian is an extremely spectacular product — and glorious worth for cash.
Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope: Functionality
- Useful carry deal with on tube and base
- Can connect a digital camera
- Needs occasional collimation
The Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope is straightforward to make use of. It’s partly due to the StarSense app, after all, which makes aligning it extremely straightforward. However, even with out that flashy app, this can be a telescope that has a good sufficient construct high quality to work with out a lot fuss. Its metallic focus knobs work easily and exactly as does the panning knob. We discovered it easy sufficient to maneuver the tube whereas the bottom has clean actions and high-quality bearings. It’s inflexible sufficient, although it does require a little bit tweaking for those who’re spending the night inspecting targets on the zenith. It’s additionally value remembering that the mount is such that when taking a look at issues near the horizon the optics are pretty near the bottom — so an open observing location is advisable. The carry handles on each the tube and the bottom proved actually helpful.
However, there are three small points with utilizing a smartphone app to align a telescope. No, not mild air pollution — the StarSense technique seems to have the ability to address that. The first downside is the preliminary alignment, which requires the person to level this telescope at a shiny star and corroborate it with the mirror picture proven on the StarSense app. It’s subsequently essential to have a deep twilight and a shiny star (we used Vega). It’s not tough however it’s going to journey up some absolute freshmen. The second minor challenge is the cloud. Since the software program repeatedly plate-solves the celebs it sees within the smartphone mirror simply earlier than issuing the ultimate close-in bullseye, it requires a transparent sky, so stargazing by gaps would possibly trigger it to lose itself. The third challenge is that by leaving a smartphone within the cradle you have not then obtained entry to your ordinary smartphone app for stargazing or your smartphone’s digital camera for some fast afocal lunar astrophotography. The latter is definitely doable on the Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope, although you too can connect a handbook DSLR or mirrorless digital camera to the focuser utilizing a T-adaptor.
For all their simplicity and supreme light-gathering powers, there’s one thing about Dobsonians — and all Newtonian reflectors — that are not very beginner-friendly. This telescope must be collimated, which principally means it must have its elements particularly aligned to convey mild to its finest focus. That requires an Allen head wrench and a Phillips head screwdriver, which is a little bit of a fiddle, however at no level throughout our review did we have to do that regardless of the product being in transit.
Should you purchase the Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope?
The Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope is a massively spectacular telescope. Although we’re certain freshmen may get used to it, it is primarily aimed toward intermediate customers after an excellent high quality, good worth Dobsonian telescope and who’ve the arrogance to manually purpose it. As such it is an important telescope for studying the evening sky, too. However, it isn’t light-weight. Although there are some glorious handles to hold the tube and the bottom individually — and it is simple sufficient to swivel and pivot as soon as in place — a telescope this dimension requires some cautious consideration. However, in case you have the house it comes extremely advisable and may offer you a few years of unimaginable deep sky views.
If the Celestron StarSense Explorer 8-inch Dobsonian telescope is not for you
If you just like the sound of StarSense however want a extra compact telescope then take into account the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ, which is a must have for freshmen. If you need a good bigger Dobsonian telescope and also you’re comfortable to manually purpose at targets then the Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan Dobsonian’s (opens in new tab) 12-inch aperture will entry the deep sky. For youngsters, a mini-Dobsonian can be out there within the form of the Celestron FirstScope 76, although it is solely ok for Moon-viewing.