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Old 03-15-2014, 03:43 AM
Alex Vrenios Alex Vrenios is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 10
Default Celestron StarSense

The Celestron StarSense unit is a small odd looking device that mounts on the OTA like a finder scope. It's actually an imaging device.

If I understand it correctly, it swings the scope around and pauses every so often to get an image of a section of the sky. It analyzes that image, along with several others, and builds a model of the sky above. It also relies on city (or Lat/Lon) and time information that you give it the first time you align for a given site. (You can save/load previous alignment info.)

Once the first alignment is complete, there is a one-time process that adjusts for the difference between the line-of-sight angle of your scope vs. that of the StarSense unit itself. That correction is forever, so long as you don't readjust or remove the StarSense unit.

And that's it. Once you've done this you can just push the ALIGN button, sit back and watch the show. Once the scope stops moving for a while, check the hand control to make sure the alignment was successful.

It comes with two brackets, one for large and one for smaller scopes. The camera fits either one. The larger bracket fits on a "base" that mounts on larger scopes, but there is no base for smaller scopes. I asked Celestron about that and they recommended the Orion 07215 Schmidt-Cassegrain Finder Scope Base, for about $18. (There are two that look exactly alike in photos. Be sure you get the right product part number!)

You might well ask why a $329 device doesn't come with one of these, or why they don't even make one, which is probably the answer to the first question. But I needed the small base for my C6 and C5. The larger base fit the C11.

It also comes with a hex wrench to tighten the bracket around the barrel of the camera, and a StarSense Hand Controller that replaces the original NextStar HC, and a manual.

It's best to update the HC's firmware as soon as you get it. There are a few unusual experiences reported at Amazon and Cloudy Nights that seem to be resolved by the latest update.

Without the StarSense, you might have to find out how frustrating the 2-star alignment plus 4 more calibration stars can be on an Advance VX GEM. To beat that, people on Cloudy Nights are turning the mount off, then on, and doing that 2+4 routine a second and sometimes a third time, just to get an accurate alignment, probably for long exposure astrophotography, but really?. With the StarSense, you just slew the scope to another view angle and let it take another image to analyze. And another, if you lie, up to ten total. The accuracy increases with every additional image you ask it to take.

I can recommend this to anyone who feels like they just spent a lot of money on equipment that's just too much of a bother to align. Better yet, check all the reviews of that purchase carefully before you buy.

Last edited by Alex Vrenios; 04-29-2014 at 04:31 PM.
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