The 114LCM Optical Tube Assembly Performance
The Celestron 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”. 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, which is obviously not the easiest thing for a beginner who’s never collimated anything before, let alone an experienced astronomer. As the scope is also around f/3.5 without the “corrector,” collimating it requires high precision if you can remove and replace the “corrector.”
The 114LCM uses a 1.25” focuser, so it can at least take most standard eyepieces. However, even the best eyepieces available cannot compensate for the natively poor optics of the telescope itself.
About the Accessories
The Celestron 114 LCM computerized telescope comes with extremely cheap 25 mm (40x) and 9 mm (111x) Kellner eyepieces. Even though these eyepieces are sharper and have wider fields of view than the very poor Huygens and Ramsden eyepieces that come with Celestron’s cheapest telescopes, they still don’t meet modern standards of quality.
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.
Some pictures of the 114 LCM on Amazon and other shopping sites show that it comes with an Amici erecting prism diagonal. Not only is this accessory not included, but it also wouldn’t work with the 114 LCM in any way.
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 of over 40,000 objects, the LCM’s hand controller’s database contains only 4,000 objects, but a 4.5-inch telescope will probably be lucky to show half of them anyway.
Even though it is made of cheap parts, the Lightweight Computerized Mount (LCM) swivels and tracks pretty well and works 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, asymmetrical 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 when 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.
The Celestron 114LCM is nothing short of a rip-off at its shockingly high price, and you could get a number of superior alternatives that will beat the 114LCM in clarity, image brightness, and value for the money at a similar or even lower cost.
- The Zhumell Z114 and Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro have the same aperture as the 114LCM, but parabolic primary mirrors free of the shoddy Bird-Jones corrector lens design that the 114LCM uses. Their tabletop Dobsonian mounts are portable, quick to set up and easy to aim, and the included accessories are pretty good, too.
- The Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P of course has sharper optics than the 114LCM by far, as well as a significant boost in light gathering power, a compact collapsible tube design, well-made included accessories, and an easy-to-use tabletop Dobsonian mount.
- The Sky-Watcher Heritage 150P provides a huge 6” of aperture in an easy-to-use tabletop Dobsonian design with a collapsible tube just like the Heritage 130P. The views are miles ahead of the 114LCM or any smaller aperture instrument regardless of optical quality (or lack thereof).
- The Sky-Watcher Virtuoso GTi 150P adds on GoTo technology to the Heritage 150P, but can still be aimed manually with or without the electronics powered on, making it even more convenient to set up and use. A 130mm version (based on the Heritage 130P) is also available, but the difference in price and portability is so small we’d recommend you get the 150P GTi version.
- The Orion SkyQuest XT6 offers, once again, a massive improvement in image quality and brightness compared to the Celestron 114LCM, and unlike the other scopes on this lits stands on its own free of a table or tripod thanks to its long tube and full-sized Dobsonian base. It sports a high-quality 2” single-speed Crayford focuser, too.
What can you see with the Celestron 114 LCM?
The 114LCM’s low-quality optics and wobbly mount give it severe limitations when it comes to viewing anything, but particularly 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. You can see Saturn’s rings, but you won’t be able to find the Cassini Division in them. You may also have trouble finding Saturn’s cloud bands or any of its moons. Venus’s 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. But you won’t be able to see fine details in the Orion Nebula or start to resolve globular clusters if you crank up the magnification on the 114LCM. This is because the optics aren’t very good, so no matter what you do, the image will be blurry and out of focus. Also, because the corrector lens built into the Celestron 114LCM computerized telescope isn’t very good, it’s likely that the views won’t have as much contrast as they would with most telescopes of the same aperture.