The Optical Tube Assembly Performance
The 114 LCM’s optical tube is the exact same as Celestron’s AstroMaster 114EQ telescope, making it a 114 mm f/8.77 Bird-Jones telescope, which is not a Newtonian reflector.
I’ve talked enough about Bird-Joneses that you can simply read my review of the AstroMaster 114 here to get an idea of exactly how they “work”, but if the simple version is that it’s a catadioptric Newtonian with a spherical primary and a Barlow lens acting as a “corrector” to “fix” the spherical aberration, which in practice doesn’t work at all and causes further problems when you inevitably need to collimate the telescope – collimation requires disassembly of the focuser and tiny “corrector” unit and careful checking with a laser, obviously not the easiest for a beginner who’s never collimated anything before let alone an experienced astronomer. As the scope is also natively around f/3.5 without the “corrector”, collimating it also requires high precision should you be able to remove and replace the “corrector”.
The 114LCM uses a 1.25” focuser, so it can at least take most standard eyepieces. However, even the most expensive eyepieces available cannot compensate for the natively poor optics of the telescope itself.
About the Accessories
The Celestron 114 LCM telescope comes with extremely cheap 25 mm (40x) and 9 mm (111x) Kellner eyepieces. These eyepieces are certainly sharper and offer wider fields than the utterly destitute Huygens and Ramsden eyepieces that Celestron supplies with their cheapest telescopes, but these eyepieces are still not up to par with modern quality standards.
The 9 mm probably has too much magnification for the scope’s optics to handle, despite it being well within the magnification possible with a quality 4.5 inch telescope, which the 114 LCM is of course not one of.
For some reason, some photos of the 114 LCM on Amazon and other retail sites show it being supplied with an Amici erecting prism diagonal. Not only is this accessory not included, but it would be completely useless and nonfunctional with the 114 LCM.
For aligning the mount’s GoTo system, the 114LCM comes with Celestron’s standard “StarPointer” red dot finder, essentially a glorified gun sight. It is plenty adequate for the job.
Reviewing the Lightweight Computerized Mount
The LCM is laughably cheap, even for an inexpensive computerized mount. The internal gearing is cheap and prone to stripping and inaccuracies. You can power it with a bunch of AA batteries, but it will quickly drain those and as such you really need some sort of auxiliary power supply or an AC power cord.
The LCM’s hand controller is Celestron’s standard NexStar+ hand controller. Unlike their more expensive telescopes with catalogs with over 40,000 objects, the LCM’s hand controller’s database contains only 4,000 objects, but a 4.5” telescope probably will be lucky to show half them anyway.
Despite consisting of cheap parts, the Lightweight Computerized Mount (LCM) is pretty accurate in its slewing and tracking and works just fine. However, it has two fatal flaws.
First, the design of the LCM puts the telescope’s optical tube on the side of the center of the tripod at all times. This is unlike almost all good alt-azimuth mounts (computerized or not) which use dual or bowed fork arms to keep the tube centered on the tripod and thus, the center of mass would be fixed.
This offset design not only decreases stability, but when combined with the scope’s extremely light weight, makes it especially liable to being toppled over by children, pets, or even just the user if they’re not careful.
Additionally, the LCM’s supplied tripod is an utter joke. The legs – which are little more than thin-walled, asymmetric aluminum “tubes” – also don’t have proper tips or feet, but rather simple, flattened ends, with some rubber slapped on them. The spreader, leg retaining hardware, and the fasteners/clamps for keeping the legs extended/retracted are also all plastic.
As a result of all of this, the 114 LCM only weighs 13.2 pounds assembled, and has the stability of JELL-O. Even at low power, with the legs extended, the scope will wobble when the focus knob is turned. Forget trying high magnification – even if the scope’s optics could handle it.
Also, because it’s so easy to accidentally move it, it’s easy to ruin the GoTo alignment, and resetting it requires rebooting the scope and starting the alignment all over again.
We’d recommend avoiding the 114 LCM outright and choosing one of the various high quality telescopes available in its price range. Here are some of our top picks:
- The Orion SkyLine 6/Apertura DT6, or another 6” Dobsonian, will offer significantly more aperture, easy collimation, high-quality optics, great accessories and a more stable mount – all at the same price as the 114LCM.
- If you must have a computerized telescope, the Celestron Astro-Fi 102 is a good pick. It’s a little smaller in aperture, but its low-maintenance Maksutov-Cassegrain optics deliver high quality images right out of the box, and the Astro-Fi mount is well-made and easy to control with your phone or tablet.
- For a bit less money, the Zhumell Z114 or Z130 will deliver sharper images and a wider field of view than the 114LCM, on a rock-solid and inexpensive tabletop Dobsonian mount.
What can you see?
The 114LCM’s low-quality optics and wobbly mount give it severe limitations when it comes to viewing anything, but particularly so with the Moon and planets. Jupiter’s moons can be seen, but only as fuzzy star-like points. Its cloud belts lack contrast and the Great Red Spot is likely out of reach. Saturn’s rings are visible, but the Cassini Division within them will elude you and you’ll likely have trouble spotting its cloud bands or any of its moons. Venus’ phases are easy to spot; Mercury’s small disk will likely be little more than a smear with the 114LCM. Mars will likely be a fuzzy orange ball. The Moon looks nice through the 114LCM, but that’s not exactly a tough barrier for most telescopes.
Assuming you can keep the scope steady enough to get it pointed at deep-sky objects, they won’t be so bad – though the long focal ratio of the 114LCM means the field of view is somewhat cramped compared to other telescopes of its aperture. You’ll have no trouble seeing the Orion Nebula, the Ring, the dust lanes in M82, and many of the other popular deep-sky objects as they would appear in any other 4.5” telescope – that is, mostly dim smudges devoid of detail. However, attempting to spot fine detail in the Orion Nebula or begin to resolve globular clusters is futile, as cranking up the magnification with the 114LCM’s poor optics will result in a blurry, out-of-focus image no matter what you do. Additionally, the contrast of the views compared to most telescopes of the same aperture is likely to be poor due to the low quality of the built-in corrector lens of the 114LCM.