The NT114CF by National Geographic Telescope is a Newtonian reflector telescope with a 114mm aperture, and it is actually a pretty affordable option available on the market considering its aperture size.
This is our review for the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF based on our tests with the telescope.
- 4.5” (114mm) aperture, offering impressive light-gathering capability. This is more than enough for observing planets, the Moon, and other deep space objects
- f/5.2 focal ratio, shortening exposure time in deep-sky photography
- Includes two interchangeable Plössl eyepieces and a 2x Barlow lens (19x-103x magnifications)
- An alt-azimuth mount with panhandle control, allowing smoother movements when navigating the night sky.
- Carbon-fiber optical tube wrap assembly, lightweight but very durable
- Full-sized tripod included with an accessory tray, useful for keeping eyepieces and other accessories while providing additional stability
- Includes adapter for smart devices, observers can use their smartphones/tablets to capture and share images from the telescope
- Stellarium software, red dot viewfinder, and a downloadable star map to aid your observation and locate observing targets
How to Setup the NT114CF – Step by Step Instructions
The NT114CF comes almost completely preassembled, so setting it up is actually very easy, and you can check the image below on how to properly set up this telescope:
The explanation for the images:
Step 1: set up the tripod first by spreading out the legs. Push on the spreader bar between the legs to do so.
Step 2: take the accessory tray and mount it on the spread bar. You can easily do this by twisting it into a secure position. We can then use this accessory tray to store the included eyepieces and Barlow lens.
Step 3: take out the mount head (the one with a metal construction), take off the bolt on the bottom, and place the mounting head on the tripod.
Step 4a: Thread in the handle controlling the movement of the mount, which will also lock the altitude swivel. You can also lock the azimuth knob, located on the side of the mounting head.
Step 4b: Reattach the bolt and tighten the mounting head from the bottom.
After these steps, everything is now secured, and you can place the actual telescope on top of the mounting head. Place the telescope tube by placing the dovetail bar on the mount, and then secure it by locking the knob on the side. Finally, attach the included red dot viewfinder on the top of the telescope.
National Geographic Telescope NT114CF: Included Accessories
By purchasing the NT114CF telescope, you would also get:
- Pan-tilt alt-azimuth mount
- Focus wheel
- Tripod with accessory tray
- 2x Barlow Lens
- Two 1.25” Plössl eyepieces (9.7mm & 26mm)
- Red-dot viewfinder
- Smartphone adapter
Carbon-Fiber Optical Tube
The carbon-fiber optical tube essentially allows the telescope to be lightweight (11.64 lbs), which is great considering its 114mm aperture but also maintain the durability of the optical tube.
It’s quite obvious that the lighter the telescope is, the better for so many reasons: it is easier to transport the telescope to the observation area and back to its storage area.
Also, a lighter telescope would mean that we don’t need a heavy and sturdy tripod to support this telescope or we’ll need to deal with telescope vibration. Wind, hand touching the telescope, and motor drives can cause vibrations to the telescope, and a small vibration can mean a lot when magnified through the lens.
The thing is, the heavier the telescope is, the more prone it will be to vibrations and it would need a massive and heavy tripod to counter this.
A lightweight telescope can significantly help in reducing or even eliminating this vibration issue.
Another important thing to consider is that carbon fiber adapts better to temperature than aluminum. Aluminum takes longer to cool down than carbon fiber, which can cause temperature differences between the internal parts of the telescope and the outside temperature.
Even the slightest temperature difference can cause focusing issues and distorted images, and a carbon fiber telescope can tackle this issue by adapting better to temperature changes.
Considering most carbon fiber telescopes are very expensive, the NT114CF is a really interesting product by offering a 100% carbon fiber optical tube at such a low price.
NT114CF Magnification Review
Magnification is obviously one of the key factors to consider when reviewing any telescope and the NT114CF is no different.
We can measure the actual magnification of the telescope by dividing the focal length of the telescope by the focal length of the eyepiece.
The NT114CF includes two different eyepieces, one with a 9.7 mm focal length and another with a 26 mm focal length. S
ince the focal length of the telescope is 500mm, then we get 19.2x magnification (for the 26mm eyepiece) and 51.5x magnification (for the 9.7mm eyepiece).
As we’ve discussed, you also get a Barlow lens in the package, which will double the magnification to 38.4x and 103x, respectively. To do this, simply place the Barlow lens to the eyepiece holder (before the eyepiece), then slide in the eyepiece into the Barlow lens’ slot.
The inclusion of these two different eyepieces and Barlow lens is actually pretty generous since you get more versatility from the whole package.
High magnification is preferred for lunar observation and for observing the planets, in this case, we can use the 9.7mm eyepiece (with the Barlow lens if necessary).
On the other hand, lower magnification can provide a wider field of view, so it’s better when observing deep space objects like nebulae or further galaxies.
What Can You Expect To See With the NT114CF
Based on our tests with the NT114CF, here are some objects you can expect to see with the telescope:
- Terrestrial viewing: the NT114CF is actually versatile enough so you can use it to view various objects on Earth depending on your location. You can use both the 26mm and 9.7mm eyepiece for this purpose.
- The Moon: bigger magnification is typically better for lunar observations, so you can use the 9.7mm eyepiece or even the Barlow lens to observe the details of the Moon and its famous craters, among other objects.
- The planets: you can quite easily see Jupiter, Mars, and Venus with the NT114CF with both included eyepieces and the Barlow Lens.
- Nebulae and deep-sky objects: you can clearly observe the M27 nebula (Dumbell Nebula), which is located 1,360 light-years away from Earth, and even the M27 Ring Nebula (2,400 light-years away from Earth)
Collimating The NT114CF
Since the NT114CF is a Newtonian (reflector) telescope, then you will need to collimate it every now and then.
Collimation is, in a nutshell, the process of realigning the primary and secondary mirrors to get the most optimal image from the telescope. Think of collimation like routine car maintenance: once the images got out of focus, there’s a huge chance that you’ll need to collimate the telescope.
With the NT114CF, collimation is pretty easy since the primary mirror is already factory-collimated and is mounted permanently.
So, to collimate the NT114CF, you only need to adjust the position of the secondary mirror to fine-tune the alignment. You can use the NT114CF right out of the box as both mirrors are already collimated.
How To Use the National Geographic NT114CF Telescope
As with any telescopes, never point the objective to the lens without a solar filter, and never look into the sun as you can permanently damage your eye. Even pointing your telescope to the sun alone can damage the optical tube.
Since the NT114CF is a Newtonian reflector telescope, then the image produced will be upside down. When observing space objects, this is hardly an issue, but keep this in mind when using the telescope to observe terrestrial objects.
When you first use the telescope, you will need to calibrate the included red dot finder during the day. Again, be careful with the sun, and simply find an object in the distance (i.e. a tree) and point at it. Center this object in the eyepiece, and then align the red dot in the finder with the adjusting knobs.
While you do get a star map in the box, and while it’s pretty useable, we’d recommend using a website or various star map apps to aid you in locating deep sky objects you’d like to observe.
Using a Smartphone With the NT114CF
It’s a common practice nowadays to use various smartphone apps to aid your stargazing, and also to capture images and videos with your smartphone’s camera by attaching it to the telescope’s eyepiece holder.
The NT114CF does include an adapter so you can attach your smartphone quite easily. It is a pretty basic adapter with suction cups, and depending on your phone’s surface material, it might not be enough in securing your smartphone in place.
You can help secure the phone with a rubber band or other fasteners if you want, but we’d recommend getting a better adapter if you really want to use your phone with the telescope.
Should You Buy The National Geographic Telescope NT114CF?
Considering the NT114CF is a Newtonian reflector scope with a pretty large aperture (114mm), it is a very interesting telescope to get considering it is a very affordable telescope below $200.
However, don’t expect that it can catch a clear image of Nebulae millions of years away from Earth. It does offer pretty decent performance for its price, but it is not a high-end telescope by any means.
A great, affordable option if you want to give it as a gift for your children, or if you are just planning to start backyard astronomy as a hobby.
If you are planning to get the NT114CF, we’d also recommend the following accessories:
- Smartphone adapter: as mentioned, while the NT114CF does include an adapter as a bonus, it is not very good, so you might want to get an upgrade, which is pretty affordable nowadays.
- Extra eyepiece: more eyepiece sizes mean different magnifications, so added versatility. We’d recommend getting an eyepieces collection for the best value.
- Filter: you might want to check out our previous guide on telescope filters here
- Dew heater: the dew is always the enemy of any astronomers, and we’d recommend getting a dew heater with a temperature regulator to prevent dew buildup effectively.
- Scope cloak: protect your telescope during storage, very important to keep it clean, dry, and protected. We’d recommend the Orion 15188 cloak.