The Celestron Astromaster 114EQ Telescope is a reflector telescope in the Astromaster line. Astromaster has been known as a quality entry point into astronomy due to their quality, affordability, and ease of use. The Celestron Astromaster 114EQ is no different in this respect. This reflector telescope is an enormous beginner scope that offers excellent power and comes in under $200 for the kit and is great for anyone who wants to get a reflector with a little more legs than the smaller ones but still doesn’t break the bank.
- Newtonian Reflector
- 114mm primary aperture
- f/8.6 focal ratio
- 269x highest theoretical magnification
- 17lbs assembled weight
With a theoretical magnification of 269x and an average focal ratio of f/8.6, this is a good reflector telescope that should function the way that you would want it to but is reported to have a few design flaws that hold it back from being truly great.Check Latest Price
None of the drawbacks found in this design are actual dealbreakers, and they can be dealt with if you have the patience or the knowhow. For power and design, it is still a good deal when it comes to affordability.
The optical quality, when calibrated properly, is very good for the price point. With a 114mm primary aperture and a focal ratio of f/8.6, this is a tremendous all-around reflector. The optical tube of this scope is perfect and is perfect for the beginner stargazer.
The aperture size, magnification power, and focal ratio are all ordinary, which makes it a great balanced telescope. It does not stray too far in either direction in terms of zoom and focus, meaning it is excellent for a general stargazer.
Some telescopes are high at looking at things like planets and moons, while other telescopes are high at looking at deep space objects, this one is going to do both. Beginner astronomers are not usually going to fall into any of the niche categories that exist in astronomy yet. They will love the ability of this telescope to do multiple things well.
The optics on this reflector are going to be great for looking at the moon, planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, as well as some deep space objects like Andromeda or nebulas far away. The optics on this telescope are not going to break any records or stretch the limits of the imagination, but they will be able to do a lot, especially for someone just starting.
The moon looks great with this scope and elaborates on some of the finer details. You can also see the colored bands around Jupiter along with some of its moons in orbit. When the night is right, you can also see the rings of Saturn. The Andromeda galaxy can be spotted in greater detail as can the Pleides and other star clusters. All of the fan-favorite sights in the sky will be obtainable with this scope.
EQ = Equatorial Mount
Telescope usually denotes what kind of mount they come within their names. The Celestron Astromaster 114EQ has EQ, which means equatorial. Many telescopes in this price and experience range will have AZ in the name for altazimuth.
Many other telescopes come with a simple altazimuth mount, but this one comes with an equatorial one, which has some benefits. The primary benefit of the equatorial mount is the ability to line it up with the equator and track objects across the night sky for hours at a time. So this makes long-form viewing sessions more feasible than with a standard altazimuth mount.
The equatorial mount also introduces the user to the concept of sky tracking, which is an essential skill that any serious astronomer is going to have to learn at some point. The equatorial mount is going to allow the user to learn how to track objects and align their telescope in a certain way to get the best results.
If you want to look at objects for longer than a few minutes in any given session, you are going to have to learn this skill. The included mount in this kit is perfect for learning the ropes of micro-adjustments, alignment, and long term tracking of objects.
On Shaky Ground
In addition to the equatorial mount, the Celestron Astromaster 114EQ also comes with a standard collapsable aluminum tripod. But this is where the problems begin to arise. Many users complain that the tripod is too light for the compact optical tube and becomes wobbly during use.
This is a problem for two reasons: first is that if you bump or move a telescope out of alignment during use, it can throw off the entire session. You will have to relocate and refocus on the object in question before you can start viewing it again. This can be time-consuming and frustrating.
A wobbly base can be annoying. You won’t realize how big of an issue this can be until you are looking at a distant object, and the slightest movement causes you to lose sight of what you were seeing.
On flat ground, the tripod seems to work okay, but on grass or uneven ground, the issues become more apparent. You could weigh down the feet of the tripod to give it extra stability. Still, it would have been better if Celestron had recognized the issue during design and upgraded the tripod to a heftier version for this telescope.
This is a bummer because the telescope is so light and compact that it would be a great telescope to take along with you on your outdoor adventures. But the lack of a good tripod puts limits on where this telescope can thrive outside of the backyard.
Part of the issue is that this telescope is trying to pack a lot of aperture into a compact optical tube, making it short and dense compared to some other models.
114EQ Reflector Telescope User Review
On top of that, some users report the optical tube to be unbalanced. I did not have those issues, but I could see where someone might have a problem. The tube is very compact compared to some, and with the tripod, it can feel like the telescope won’t sit right on the stand. It wants to move more than a telescope should both in terms of footing and balance.
Luckily, this is an easy upgrade or fix, depending on your situation. If you want to try and weigh the tripod or stake it down, you can probably deal with the wobble, or if you want to upgrade to a better tripod, they are not super expensive and are usually universally compatible. Same with the balance, it is something that can be tweaked to your liking with a little bit of fiddling. The tripod is an issue that arises with this model enough to be mentioned, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker.
To keep the cost of this scope down it looks like Celestron skimped a bit on the accessories. In addition to the tripod and mount, they have also included two eyepieces, Starry Night software, and a red dot finderscope. There are no extra goodies or bonus addons to flesh this kit out. While it has everything it needs to work right out of the box, it does not have any eyecatching addons to sink your teeth into.
The inclusion of the two eyepieces is standard. The ones given here are 20mm and 10mm in size, giving you two standard zoom levels to play around with. The inclusion of the finderscope is nice, but this has also become standard in recent years.
The finderscope makes it easier for you to locate and focus on your desired objects and is much needed when using a manual mount like the one included here. But the scope involved isn’t anything spectacular.
The Starry Night software is excellent for beginners but is getting a little dated. Some people reported getting old versions of the software shipped on aging CDs that don’t work well with modern computers. However, it is excellent for teaching new astronomers the ins and outs of the night sky. The more familiar you are with the night sky, the better equipped you’ll be to do some quality stargazing.
I would have liked to see them throw in a collimator cap or even a full laser collimator since this telescope requires frequent collimation.
The biggest issue this telescope has is the need for frequent collimation. Collimation is the calibration of the mirrors in the telescope to make sure that they are in alignment. If the mirrors get out of alignment, which can happen if it is bumped or moved, then the image quality will take a hit until everything is too blurry to view properly. This generally occurs over time with regular use, but some telescopes are more sensitive than others.
This can be a big issue for a telescope trying to market itself to beginner astronomers for two main reasons. First, new astronomers are going to have to learn how to collimate their telescope right off the bat, and if they don’t, they are going to run into problems with image quality. Second, they do not include what you need to effectively collimate the telescope, so a new user is going to have to figure out what to buy and then figure out how to collimate the telescope.
All of these extra steps and extra parts needed have led to a lot of confusion among first-time telescope users. There is a lot of discussions online by the uninitiated who say that the telescope does not work or that it is too blurry to use. They get frustrated, leave a bad review, and give up.
So is this the reason for some bad reviews?
The telescope is working fine, it just needs to be collimated, but the lack of proper documentation and instruction has led to some frustration with this model. This is compounded by the reported wobbly tripod, which will increase the chances of getting misaligned mirrors and leading to more frequent collimation.
This is another skill that anyone looking to get into astronomy is going to have to learn eventually, and I guess there is no better time than the present. It would have been much better if they included a collimation cap and some instructions so the stargazer could learn how to do it right off the bat. That would have boosted the value of this as a beginner telescope immensely, but instead, we are left with a lot of confusion and blurry images.
This telescope is certainly not perfect. It has a few issues that arise from its basic design. The short focal ratio and wide aperture have made a compact reflector that is great at what it wants to do but becomes awkward on the stand. The unbalanced and wobbly setup leads to a frequent need to recalibrate the scope, which can be daunting for a beginner astronomer.
However, for the price, this telescope gives a vast optical range and can be useful for a lot of different night sky views. It can also teach you a lot. From collimation to proper tripod set up and extended viewing session tracking, a beginner can undoubtedly learn a lot on this telescope.
With some patience and dedication, this scope can be with you as you go from novice to intermediate and maybe even an advanced user. It’s not Celestron’s job to teach out the ins and outs of astronomy, but I wish they would have added some more beginner-friendly tips or features to flesh the scope’s strengths out.
If you want an excellent optical tube for a reasonable price and are not afraid to learn on the job, then this telescope can be a superb purchase for the beginner or intermediate astronomer alike.Check Latest Price