StarSense Explorer

239 reviews
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About this app

Unleash the power of your smartphone to take you on a guided tour of the night sky, even if you’ve never used a telescope before.


This one-of-a-kind app uses patent-pending technology in combination with a Celestron StarSense Explorer telescope (sold separately) to analyze star patterns overhead to calculate the telescope’s position in real time with pinpoint accuracy.

StarSense Explorer’s sky recognition technology has revolutionized the manual telescope by eliminating the confusion common among beginners and enhancing the user experience for even seasoned telescope users. Many would-be astronomers become frustrated or lose interest in their manual telescope because they don’t know where to point it to see planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies—the good stuff! StarSense Explorer tells you exactly which celestial objects are currently visible in the night sky and where to move your telescope to place those objects in the telescope’s eyepiece.


The user-friendly planetarium interface allows you to scan the skies for objects you wish to view. You can also search for objects in the extensive database.

Not sure what to observe? StarSense Explorer automatically generates a list of all the best stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and more currently visible from your location. Simply select one from the list and off you go!

While you observe, you can access detailed information, images, and audio descriptions for the most popular objects. It’s a great way for the entire family to learn scientific facts, history, mythology, and more, deepening your understanding of the night sky.


To get started, assemble your StarSense Explorer telescope and download the app. Your telescope includes a unique unlock code to access the full features of the app. Connect your phone to the telescope by placing it into the StarSense dock and launch the app.

After a simple 2-step procedure to align the smartphone’s camera with the telescope, the app displays a view of the night sky and shows a bullseye on the screen to represent the telescope’s current pointing position. From here, you can select an object to view by tapping it in the planetarium view or selecting it from the Tonight’s Best observing list. Objects will vary from night to night; you may see planets like Jupiter or Saturn, nebulae like Orion, the Andromeda Galaxy, or other object types.

Once you select an object, the app displays pointing arrows onscreen. These indicate where to move the telescope to find it. Follow the arrows until the bullseye appears centered on target. When the bullseye turns green, the object is visible in the telescope’s lower powered eyepiece.


StarSense Explorer uses image data captured by the smartphone’s camera to determine its pointing position. The app captures an image of the night sky and then matches the star patterns within the image to its internal database in a process like fingerprint matching or facial recognition.

The process of extracting star pattern data in images to determine a telescope’s current pointing position is called “plate solving.” It is the same method used by professional observatories and orbiting satellites.

The StarSense Explorer app is the first app ever developed that uses plate solving to determine the smartphone’s current pointing position. Other astronomy apps rely on the smartphone’s gyroscopes, accelerometers, and compass to estimate its pointing position. These methods are not accurate enough to place objects within the telescope’s field of view.

StarSense Explorer technology is patent-pending.


Most smartphones manufactured after 2016 running Android 7.1.2 and higher. Check for detailed Android compatibility information.

StarSense Explorer has localization support for French, Italian, German, and Spanish.
Updated on
Sep 12, 2023

Data safety

Safety starts with understanding how developers collect and share your data. Data privacy and security practices may vary based on your use, region, and age. The developer provided this information and may update it over time.
No data shared with third parties
Learn more about how developers declare sharing
This app may collect these data types
Personal info
Data is encrypted in transit
You can request that data be deleted

Ratings and reviews

234 reviews
Doug Whatley
November 29, 2021
So far, SSE is more trouble than it is worth. It can rarely get a fix. It's always saying to move to another part of the sky. When it does seem to get a fix and I try to locate a target it will lose the fix and say to move to another part of the sky, etc. That said, I have gotten it to work on rare occasions. When that happens I am pleased. But that is so rare. Right now (today) I can't use it at all because it says it is "Downloading 10 data files" additional. Except the percentage meter says 0% and it has been so for the last 9 hours. No progress. (I have the smartphone on house WiFi with Speedtest reporting 768Mbps back to my internet provider.) I'm about to get a new smartphone and I have read reviews that say the app has trouble running at all with the latest smartphones.
46 people found this review helpful
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Paulo Oliveira
September 7, 2021
The app sucks, simply doesn't work. To make things worse, it's the second largest app I have (600MB) only behind the Google app. I set up as prescribed, following the tutorial, it gets to a point that the app can't really do much of anything else and a message pops up for me to consult technical support. Which, on its turn, has a waiting time of 4 to 5 hours the last i tried. Better send an email.
29 people found this review helpful
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Wesley Hughes
June 2, 2023
This app does not work with the Pixel 6 Pro right now. The camera when setting up the alignment works fine but then when you go to try to find position in the sky, it doesn't want to actually find the position. It used to work fine on my Pixel 3. I tried to calibrate the camera in the settings of the app and it was trying to take four and eight second long exposures at ISO 100 and still couldn't find the position.
15 people found this review helpful
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What's new

Fixed startup crash affecting some users.