Celestron StarSense Autoguider

A new cool gadget for Celestron computerised mounts and telescopes lands at BINTEL.

30th November 2023: We’ve received the new Celestron StarSense Autoguider and this a great add add-on for Celestron computerised mounts and telescopes.

What does it do?

The Celestron StarSense Autoguider carries out three main tasks:

First of all, it automatically aligns either your AZ or EQ mounted telescope with the night sky. Once it does this, your telescope will then be able to move to an astro object that you’ve selected on your hand controller, via an app or PC. It will then keep track of that object.

This replaces the alignment procedure you’re probably familiar with if you have a Celestron computerised telescope or mount. Previously you moved the telescope around and pointed it towards a few, bright stars or Solar System objects to get the mount aligned with the night sky. Once this is done your Celestron telescope knows where it’s pointing and can then find and track night sky objects.

The Celestron StarSense Autoguider carries out this step for. It will automatically move the telescope around; identify the stars it’s seeing and set the mount’s alignment. This saves time when setting up your telescope and makes sure it’s accurately aligned for GOTO operation.  This is similar to what the current Celestron StarSense Autoalign does.

On Celestron mounts, this GOTO feature doesn’t rely on it them being polar aligned. The Celestron StarSense Autoguider will work on AZ mounted telescopes like the Celestron NexStar SE and Evolution series or on Celestron GOTO mounts like the Advanced VX or CGX series that’s not properly polar aligned.

The next main feature is autoguiding.

A common feature for astrophotography is the use of an autoguider setup. This is often a camera attached to either a small telescope on the main telescope tube itself or peering into its optical path. It can also be an all-in-unit like where the autoguider scope and camera are combined into one. The idea is not to take images through the autoguider, but rather have the autoguider “lock on to” a star in its field of view. While telescope mounts are quite accurate when tracking astro objects, they can drift slightly over time. What they’re tracking will move a tad in their field of view.  When taking long exposure astro photos, an autoguider will compensate for drift in any direction. For example, if the star it’s tracking moves up slightly due to drift, it will send a signal to the mount to move slightly down to compensate. There’s a complete section on the BINTEL website about autoguiding gear.

This way the mount will accurately track objects over an extended periods of time ensuring sharp long-exposure images.  While autoguiding is normally associated with astrophotography, it will also make for effortless visual viewing for extended periods of time.  The Celestron StarSense Autoguider would make an ideal companion if you’re using your Celestron telescope or mount for outreach or educational use. Locate what you’d like folks to view during the event – Jupiter, Saturn, the Globular Cluster Omega Centauri for example – and the autoguider will keep the object in view all night.

Finally, the Celestron StarSense Autoguider will assist with Polar Alignment.

As I mentioned, the Celestron StarSense Autoguider will set up your computerised Celestron telescope or mount to align with the night sky AND accurately guide and track for astro objects.

For even better tracking, it’s a good idea to Polar Align telescope mounts, especially for astrophotography.

Polar Alignment is where the RA axis of an EQ telescope mount is pointed at the spot in the sky where the Earth’s axis is pointed. This is called the “Celestial Pole”. In Sydney, the South Celestial Pole is directly south and about 34 degrees up. (The celestial pole is always in the same direction as the hemisphere you’re located and at the elevation as your latitude.) We’re not as lucky as folks in the Northern Hemisphere who have a star called Polaris that’s close to the North Celestial Pole and can help with Polar Alignment north of the equator. In fact, the area around the South Celestial Pole doesn’t have many stars to help quickly line a telescope up and achieving accurate Polar Alignment in this neck of the woods can be tricky.

The Celestron StarSense Autoguider has features that will advise out how much your telescope’s EQ mount needs to be moved and in which direction to achieve accurate Polar Alignment. It should only take a handful of minutes to set your mount up. Please note it doesn’t move the mount itself around – it just tells how much to move the mount.

Attaching the Celestron StarSense Autoguider

There are two telescope fittings included. If you have a Celestron SCT, EdgeHD, RASA then the Celestron StarSense Autoguider will bolt directly to the telescope tube.

The other fitting lets it attach to any telescope tube that has a standard finderscope bracket.

Who’s it for?

  1. It’s for those astronomers with Celestron computerised telescopes and mounts who like to have a gizmo to carry out the initial alignment process. (If this all you need, the standard Celestron StarSense is all you need.)
  2. It you’d like to add autoguiding to your Celestron setup
  3. If you like help polar aligning your Celestron EQ mount. (There’s also QHY Polemaster devices that help with this)

Who’s it NOT for?

The Celestron StarSense Autoguider needs to work with computerised Celestron mounts. It’s not going to work with non Celestron telescopes if they’re not mounted on a Celestron mount. For example, you might have a Celestron C8 telescope on a Sky-Watcher EQ6-R and in this case, it won’t work. (You can however use the basic StarSense AutoAlign for Sky-Watcher Telescopes for mount alignment.)

If you have say, a Sky-Watcher Esprit 100ED on Celestron CGX-L mount, it will work.

It’s not for other brands of telescope mounts such as those from iOptron or the ZWO AM3 and AM5 mounts.

It’s also not for any of Celestron StarSense Explorer model telescopes. Despite the name similarity, these telescopes use a mobile phone and app for positioning and not a motorised mount.

What Celestron gear does it support?

The following Celestron products are supported by the Celestron StarSense Autoguider:

  • Advanced VX Mounts
  • CGX and CGX-L Mounts
  • CPC and CPC Deluxe Telescopes
  • NexStar Evolution 5,6, 8 and 9.25 Telescopes
  • NexStar SE 4, 5, 6 and 8 Telescopes
  • CGEM II Mounts
  • CGEM and CGEM DX Mounts
  • CGE Pro Mounts

Computerised Celestron products NOT supported are:

  • NexStar SLT Telescopes
  • Astro Fi Telescopes
  • SkyProdigy Telescopes
  • LCM series Telescopes

You can download the manual and setup guide here.

Summary:

The Celestron StarSense Autoguider is great addition to most Celestron computerised telescopes and mounts. It makes setup faster and helps track astro objects through the night as well as assisting with Polar Alignment.

If you’d like to know more or check compatibility of the Celestron StarSense Autoguider with your current gear, please feel free to drop us a message.

Cheers,

Earl White

BINTEL

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