National Geographic Telescope NT114CF

National Geographic Telescope NT114CF Review

Embarking on a celestial journey with the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF is an enlightening experience, allowing both novice astronomers and seasoned stargazers to explore the wonders of the night sky.

Dive into our comprehensive review of the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF and unlock the wonders of the cosmos. With a compact design and powerful optics, this telescope offers impressive views of deep sky objects and celestial bodies.

Telescope Features

The National Geographic Telescope NT114CF comes with a plethora of features, including two interchangeable Plössl eyepieces (20mm and 10mm), a red dot viewfinder, and a smartphone camera adapter for capturing the beauty of the cosmos.

The inclusion of a downloadable astronomy software like Stellarium enhances the stargazing experience, making it incredibly easy for users to locate and observe celestial targets.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Explorer 114mm Reflecting Telescope

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Key Specifications

  • A high quality telescope with a 4.5” (114mm) aperture, offering impressive light-gathering capability in low light conditions.
  • Boasts a fast focal ratio at f/5.2, shortens exposure times in deep-sky photography.
  • Includes two plossl eyepieces and a 2x Barlow lens (19x-103x magnifications), yielding good optics.
  • An alt-azimuth mount with pan and tilt control, allowing smoother movements when navigating the night sky.
  • The optical tube assembly is wrapped with carbon fiber, making it lightweight and very durable.
  • Full-sized adjustable tripod included with an accessory tray, useful for keeping the two interchangeable plössl eyepieces handy, and other accessories safe while providing additional stability.
  • Includes adapter for smart devices, observers can use their smart device to capture and share images from the telescope.
  • Stellarium downloadable astronomy software, a red dot viewfinder, and a downloadable star map to aid your observation and locate observing targets

Portability and Build Quality

Experience the perfect blend of portability and robust build quality with the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF. Crafted with a lightweight yet durable design, incorporating modern materials like carbon fiber, this telescope offers unparalleled ease of transport for both backyard observations and ventures into darker skies.

The telescope’s sturdy construction ensures structural integrity, providing a reliable platform for your stargazing endeavors. With features like an adjustable tripod and an accessory tray for convenient storage, the NT114CF becomes an easily portable and user-friendly instrument.

Whether you’re a novice astronomer or an avid stargazer, the telescope’s build quality guarantees a reliable and enduring companion for your celestial explorations. Elevate your observing sessions with a telescope that seamlessly combines portability and durability – the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF.

Optical Features

With a notable 114mm aperture and 500mm focal length, this reflector telescope is designed to provide impressive light-gathering capability, delivering clear and detailed views of celestial objects.

The optical tube assembly, constructed with lightweight yet durable materials, enhances portability for convenient outdoor observations. With an alt-azimuth mount featuring pan and tilt control, users can effortlessly navigate the night sky to explore planets, star clusters, and bright deep sky objects. Included accessories like interchangeable Plössl eyepieces (20mm and 10mm) and a smartphone adapter add versatility to your astronomy journey.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced stargazer, the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF offers an excellent balance of affordability and high-quality telescope features, making it an ideal choice for those seeking the best budget telescope for celestial exploration.

NT114CF Magnification Review

Magnification is 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. Since 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 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.

Mount and Stability

Equipped with a reliable alt-azimuth mount boasting pan and tilt control, this telescope ensures smooth and precise movements, allowing you to effortlessly navigate the night sky.

The stability of the mount is further enhanced by the adjustable tripod, providing a sturdy foundation for your celestial observations. The NT114CF’s user-friendly design makes it an ideal choice for beginners, offering a seamless and immersive experience.

The inclusion of a red dot viewfinder aids in easy object location, while the full-size tripod adds additional stability for detailed and vibration-free views. Whether you’re exploring planets, star clusters, or bright deep sky objects, the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF’s advanced mount and stability features guarantee an enjoyable and stable observing experience, making it a standout choice in the world of astronomy.

Included Accessories

By purchasing the NT114CF telescope, you would also get:

  • Pan-tilt alt-azimuth mount
  • Focus wheel
  • Full size Tripod with accessory tray
  • 2x Barlow Lens
  • Two 1.25” Plössl eyepieces (9.7mm & 26mm)
  • Red dot viewfinder
  • Smartphone adapter

Performance

This telescope lives up to its reputation as one of the best budget telescopes, offering excellent performance for its lower price. The fast focal ratio and the interchangeable Plössl eyepieces provide magnifications ranging from moon gazing to deep sky photography, allowing observers to explore the wonders of the solar system and beyond in just a few minutes.

How To Use the National Geographic NT114CF Telescope

Setup and Assembly

This National Geographic series telescope comes almost completely assembled, so setting it up is incredibly easy. Begin by setting up the NT114CF on a stable surface.

Image of the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF included tripod assembly

Step 1: set up the full size 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 4b1 + 4b2: 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.

Aligning and Navigating

Use a red flashlight to preserve your night vision while assembling and aligning the telescope. The pan and tilt control on the alt-azimuth mount provides smooth movements, allowing you to easily locate observing targets in the night sky.

The red dot viewfinder assists in precisely aligning the telescope with celestial objects, making it incredibly easy for both beginners and experienced stargazers.

What Can You Expect to See or Do with this Telescope?

Image showing star clusters at night.

With the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF, you can anticipate a captivating journey through the cosmos, exploring various celestial objects with its impressive features. Here’s what you can expect to see.

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.

Lunar Observation

Utilize the two interchangeable Plössl eyepieces (20mm and 10mm) to achieve different magnifications and witness the moon’s craters, mountains, and valleys in excellent definition. Enhance your lunar observations with the included moon filter, providing clear and detailed views of Earth’s celestial companion.

Planet Exploration

Focus on planets like Saturn and its stunning rings, taking advantage of the telescope’s high-quality optics and impressive light-gathering capability. Explore Jupiter and its moons, revealing intricate details and atmospheric features with the NT114CF’s good optics.

Deep Sky Observation

Navigate through the night sky to locate star clusters and bright deep sky objects. The telescope’s ability to capture faint objects ensures a mesmerizing view of distant nebulae and galaxies. Capture these celestial wonders through the eyepieces or use the smartphone camera adapter to share images with friends and family.

Stellarium Software Enhancement

Download the Stellarium computer software to enhance your stargazing experience. This tool aids in locating and tracking various celestial targets, making it incredibly easy to identify and observe objects in the night sky.

Astrophotography Opportunities

Experiment with deep sky photography using the fast focal ratio of the NT114CF. The telescope’s inclusion of a smartphone adapter and the ability to produce images of bright deep sky objects make it an excellent tool for capturing the beauty of the cosmos.

Educational and Family-Friendly

The telescope’s user-friendly design and comprehensive features make it suitable for stargazers of all levels, including beginners and families. Engage in educational astronomy journeys with the whole family, sharing the beauty of the night sky through the NT114CF’s accessible pan and tilt control and smooth movements.

How Do I Connect a Phone to this Telescope?

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 smartphone camera adapter so you can attach your phone 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.

How Do I Collimate this Telescope?

Since this is a Newtonian reflector telescope, you will need to collimate it every now and then. Collimating a telescope is a crucial process to ensure its optical components are properly aligned for optimal performance.

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.

Here are the steps to collimate your telescope:

Step 1: Choose a well-lit and stable location for collimating your telescope. Avoid windy conditions that may affect the collimation process.

Step 2: Replace the standard eyepiece with a collimation cap or collimation eyepiece. This specialized eyepiece aids in aligning the telescope’s optical components.

Step 3: Look through the collimation cap or eyepiece and center the secondary mirror in the field of view. Use the flathead screwdriver to adjust the secondary mirror’s tilt screws until it appears centered.

Step 4: While still looking through the collimation tool, adjust the primary mirror’s collimation screws to center the reflection of the secondary mirror. Ensure the reflections align precisely in the center of the field of view.

Step 5: Rotate the collimation cap or eyepiece and check that the reflections remain centered throughout the rotation. Adjust the primary mirror collimation screws as needed to maintain alignment.

Step 6: Refine the collimation by examining the concentric rings of the reflected light. Make small adjustments to the tilt and collimation screws until the rings are symmetrical and concentric.

Step 7: Look through the collimation cap or eyepiece again to confirm that the reflections remain centered. Repeat the process if necessary until the collimation is precise.

Step 8: Once satisfied with the collimation, tighten any locking screws on the secondary mirror holder and primary mirror cell to secure the adjustments.

How Do I Clean this Telescope?

Cleaning your National Geographic Telescope NT114CF is essential to maintain its optical components and ensure optimal performance. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your telescope:

Materials Needed

  1. Lens Cleaning Solution: A mild solution designed for optical surfaces.
  2. Lens Tissue or Microfiber Cloth: Use a soft and lint-free material to avoid scratching the lenses.
  3. Blower Bulb or Compressed Air: To remove loose particles without touching the lens.
  4. Lens Cleaning Brush: A small brush with soft bristles for gently removing dust.

Cleaning Steps

Step 1: Find a clean, dust-free environment to work on your telescope. Ensure that the area is well-lit for better visibility.

Step 2: Gently use a blower bulb or compressed air to remove loose dust and particles from the telescope’s lenses. Hold the telescope in a position that prevents dust from falling back onto the optics.

Step 3: If there are stubborn particles remaining, use a lens cleaning brush with soft bristles to gently sweep away any remaining dust. Avoid applying pressure and use light strokes.

Step 4: Dampen a portion of lens tissue or a microfiber cloth with a small amount of the recommended lens cleaning solution. Do not spray the cleaning solution directly on the telescope; instead, apply it to the cleaning material.

Step 5: Gently wipe the telescope’s lenses in a circular motion, starting from the center and moving outward. Use a fresh section of the lens tissue or cloth for each wipe to avoid redistributing dirt.

Step 6: If your telescope has additional optical surfaces, such as mirrors, follow the same cleaning process for those components.

Step 7: Inspect the lenses for any residue or streaks. If present, repeat the cleaning process with a fresh lens tissue or cloth.

Step 8: If you’re cleaning eyepieces, follow a similar process, being cautious not to damage delicate lens coatings.

Step 9: Once satisfied with the cleaning, reassemble the telescope components carefully.

Step 10: When not in use, store the telescope in a protective case or cover to prevent dust accumulation.

Additional Cleaning Tips

Avoid Excessive Pressure: Never press too hard on the optics, as this can lead to scratches and damage.

Regular Maintenance: Clean the telescope lenses and optical surfaces regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt and grime.

Professional Cleaning: If you’re unsure or uncomfortable cleaning the telescope yourself, consider consulting a professional or contacting the manufacturer for guidance.

By following these steps and exercising care, you can keep your National Geographic Telescope NT114CF in optimal condition, ensuring clear and crisp views during your celestial observations.

Should I Buy the National Geographic Telescope?

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Explorer 114mm Reflecting Telescope

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This a great beginner telescope. Considering the it is a Newtonian reflector with a pretty large aperture (114mm), it is one of the best telescopes for the price.

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.
  • Filter: we recommend at the very least a moon filter. Also, you might want to check out our previous guide on telescope filters here.
  • Red Flashlight: preserve your night vision with a red flashlight.
  • Scope cloak: protect your telescope during storage, very important to keep it clean, dry, and protected. We’d recommend the Orion 15188 cloak.

Conclusion

In summary, the National Geographic Telescope NT114CF stands out as a high-quality telescope that offers a significant amount of features for its price range. Whether you are capturing detailed views of the moon, exploring bright deep sky objects, or venturing into deep sky photography, this telescope is a versatile and easily portable tool that caters to various celestial observation needs.

National Geographic’s commitment to exploration and education shines through in this excellent addition to their series, making it an ideal choice for those looking to begin their astronomy journey or expand their celestial exploration.