How to use the Celestron StarSense Explorer APP

1 Comment6 December 2023  |  Admin

How to use the Celestron StarSense Explorer APP

If you have ever used a stargazing app to point your phone at the night sky, you’ll know how useful having a planetarium in your pocket can be. What if that app was attached to a telescope? That’s precisely what the Celestron StarSense Explorer telescopes do.

StarSense is the first type of telescope to use a smartphone to analyse the night sky and calculate its position in real-time with pinpoint accuracy. It’s fast becoming one of the most popular new telescope types around, but what makes them so immersive and impressive is the StarSense Explorer app.

What is the StarSense Explorer app?

Don’t confuse Celestron StarSense Explorer telescopes with computerized GoTo telescopes that slew automatically to objects from a list. StarSense Explorer is a smartphone app that guides users in accurately pointing a manual telescope, so a specific object is in its crosshairs and visible in its eyepiece. Still, the app is separate from the telescope. You, the user, make the telescope and the StarSense Explorer app work in unison.

The app, designed to work only with Celestron StarSense Explorer telescopes, was developed by Celestron in collaboration with Simulation Curriculum, maker of the excellent planetarium app Sky Safari. Not surprisingly, the StarSense Explorer app is slick, professional-looking and easy to use.

How the StarSense Explorer app works

Compatible with both Apple (iPhone 6 and newer) and Android (Android 7.1.2 and later), once the StarSense Explorer app has been downloaded to a smartphone, it can be used off-grid where there is no phone signal.

What makes the StarSense Explorer app so unique is its sky recognition technology, which uses a smartphone’s camera, gyroscope and accelerometer. The app itself has the night sky’s star patterns in its internal database, which it correlates with the stars above the telescope using a clever smartphone holder and mirror system. It accurately aligns the telescope by using an image of stars reflected in the mirror. The app then uses a simple system of arrows to help you manually move your telescope until a specific object is in the eyepiece. It’s so easy!

Setting up and using the app

There are eight steps to using the StarSense Explorer app. Just make sure the app is downloaded to your smartphone, which should have plenty of battery life (even if it does, a spare smartphone battery is a good idea). Now head outside while it’s still light.

  1. Dock your smartphone: put your smartphone into the holder attached to the side of the Celestron StarSense Explorer telescope.

  2. Launch the app: load up the Celestron StarSense Explorer app on your smartphone.

  3. Launching Celestron Starsense App

  4. Point the telescope: orient the telescope at a street light, a chimney, or a tree and ensure it’s centred in the eyepiece. Move the focuser until the subject looks sharp.

  5. Align the smartphone holder: within the app, find the same object using a live-view image (coming from your smartphone camera and that mirror) and drag the image on your screen until that object is centred beneath a virtual red cross.

  6. Choose your target: once it’s dark, pair some wireless earphones with your smartphone and load up the StarSense Explorer app, which will show you which objects are visible in the night sky above you. Select one from the list, and you’re ready to move your telescope into position.

  7. List of planets on Celestron Starsense App

  8. Follow the arrows: move your telescope to the object using the on-screen arrows displayed in the app. The app will recalibrate it and the telescope’s position as you move it.

  9. Calibrating Celestron Starsense Telescope

  10. Wait for the bullseye: your object is ready to view through the eyepiece when you see the bullseye graphic on the app turn green. 

  11. Green Bullseye Celestron Starsense Telescope

  12. Observe: look at the object through your telescope’s eyepiece and listen to the audio description.

It's as simple as that! When used properly, the StarSense Explorer app’s incredible ability to analyse star patterns overhead and calculate the telescope’s position in real-time – and with pinpoint accuracy – makes using a Celestron StarSense Explorer telescope easy for beginners and experienced amateurs alike.

Jody R James
10 June 2024  |  18:34

good detail

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