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StarSense Explorer Technology

Celestron's StarSense Explorer tells you exactly which celestial objects are visible and viewable in the night sky at that time. Additionally, it directs you where to point your telescope to place those objects in the telescope’s eyepiece. You can also access detailed information, as well as audio descriptions, for some of the more popular celestial objects as you observe.

At the heart of the system is StarSense Explorer’s sky recognition and sky mapping capability. The StarSense Explorer uses your smartphone to very accurately determine its pointing position by “plate solving.”

What is “Plate Solving”?

Celestron’s StarSense Explorer uses the image data captured by the smartphone’s camera to determine its pointing position. Capture an image of the night sky, then use this app to match star patterns within the image to an internal database. This process is similar to that of facial recognition,or fingerprint matching, the only difference is this is with stars. The process of extracting star pattern data in images to determine the current pointing position of a telescope I called “plate solving”. This same method is used by professional observatories and sometimes even orbiting satellites!

The Dock and the App

There are two features that makes the Celestron StarSense Explorer scopes so different than other telescopes. First is the StarSense Dock. The StarSense dock is a special bracket that connects your smartphone to your StarSense Explorer set up. It holds your smartphone in place over an integrated mirror. The Celestron StarSense Explorer app runs on your smartphone. Not sure if your smartphone is compatible? Check out this link to see if your smartphone will work with the Celestron StarSense Explorer app. Once you launch the app, it will guide you on how to align your smartphone’s camera with the telescope’s field of view. The app should then display a view of the night sky with a bullseye to represent the telescope's current pointing position. The app will show a variety of celestial objects visible from where your scope is currently pointing. Once you select an object, the app will display pointing arrows on the screen to direct you where to point your telescope. It’s that simple!

StarSense Explorer App

What you can see

Objects that are highlighted in the planetarium view or listed as Tonight’s Best list are our recommended targets—all currently visible above the horizon from your observing site. You’ll see a variety of objects, which will vary from night to night. You may see planets like Jupiter or Saturn, nebulae like Orion, the Andromeda Galaxy, or other object types.


Dual-axis slow-motion controls on a manual alt-azimuth mount make it easy to follow arrows in-app to your target. Eyepiece viewing is ready when the app's bullseye turns green.

  • Tour the night sky with your smartphone and a StarSense Explorer Newtonian reflector telescope-no experience required!
  • The StarSense Explorer app calculates your position in real time and guides you with a list of currently visible objects.
  • Lock targets for eyepiece viewing with in-app bullseye and slow-motion manual controls.
  • Newtonian reflector with highly reflective optical coatings for excellent viewing.
  • Includes 10 mm and 25 mm eyepieces, smartphone dock, red dot finderscope, and full-height tripod.
  • Smartphone not included.


Still have questions? We have answers.

"How does the StarSense Explorer differ from computerized scopes?"

Celestron's StarSense Explorer combines a special StarSense dock with a gamechanging app. It brings the benefit of computerized telescope pointing to manual telescopes without expensive motors, encoders, hand controllers, or integrated electronics.

Computerized telescopes typically require an alignment process with the night sky. Although Celestron has simplified the alignment procedure over the years, it still requires the user to center the telescope on several stars before it can accurately find objects. What’s more, re-alignment may be needed if the mount is bumped or otherwise moved. StarSense Explorer telescopes require no alignment to the night sky because they automatically (and quickly) plate solve each time the phone is repositioned. Therefore, StarSense Explorer telescopes can be picked up and moved to a different observing location without any need for realignment.

"Will my smartphone work with the StarSense Explorer?"

This scope should work with most smartphones. If you are unsure if your phone will work with this telescope, here is a list with all compatible devices for this telescope.

"How trustworthy is this app?"

Celestron developed the StarSense Explorer app in collaboration with our friends at Simulation Curriculum, the makers of the industry-leading planetarium app, Sky Safari. You can trust the StarSense Explorer app to provide the most accurate models of the night sky, with thousands of celestial objects in the database.

"How does the Celestron StarSense Explorer app work?"

The Celestron StarSense Explorer App The StarSense Explorer app runs on a user-supplied smartphone attached to the StarSense Explorer telescope via the StarSense dock. When you launch the app, it guides you through a simple two-step procedure to align the smartphone’s camera with the telescope’s field of view.