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What Are Computerized Telescopes?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Computerized telescopes are similar to conventional telescopes, except the computerized version is controlled and guided by a computer, while a conventional one is moved by a person. Having computerized controls means computerized telescopes are afforded many advantages that can help both new and seasoned astronomers and stargazers. These telescopes have no chance of human error when looking at specific coordinates, because the user just types in navigational numbers and the telescope will turn in the correct direction and angle. Most computer telescopes also have saved coordinates so users can see planets and nebulae without needing to aimlessly search for them, or question whether he or she is looking at the right star. There also are recording and touring features that allow users to record space phenomena or save certain coordinates.

With computerized telescopes, the computer controls all movements, so everything is precise down to the exact degree. Conventional telescopes force users to check direction, adjust the axis to move the telescope and measure degrees to ensure the user is looking in the right area. Computerized versions do all this work; the user just types in the navigational information and the telescope aims itself.

Planets, nebulae and other celestial bodies follow a designated track that has been calculated by astronomers with high levels of accuracy. This allows most computerized telescopes to come with a program or function that allows users to quickly find these bodies without having to search for minutes or hours. The user types in the date and what celestial body he or she wants to see, and the telescope will aim itself. Many stars and celestial features look similar, so this also helps astronomers differentiate the bodies without having to question their own judgment.

While most of the space that computerized telescopes can see is already known, there may be an odd celestial body or occurrence that is outside the norm. Most computer telescopes are able to record these instances onto the computer’s hard drive. This means the user will have proof of anything strange, whereas conventional telescope users would be unable to record images or video.

Star and planet touring also is possible with computerized telescopes. Either from a pre-made path or a path the user makes manually, the telescope can tour from one celestial body to another. This helps the user search through various bodies with accuracy and speed, and allows him or her to see only celestial bodies of interest.

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Discussion Comments
By David09 — On Dec 29, 2011

@Charred - Well, all the big telescopes that bring us scientific discoveries are computerized, I believe. Certainly I think the Hubble telescope is that way, and we’ve seen amazing births of galaxies and stars using the Hubble telescope.

What I think is really cool is that you can type in a date and the telescope will aim at the right location. That’s not something you can do with a manual telescope – or at least it’s not something most people would have patience for.

By Charred — On Dec 28, 2011

@hamje32 - I’m with you. The only downside to some of those telescopes is that they are expensive. I’ve seen the Celestron computerized telescope listed online and it was in the hundreds of dollars. I’m not that desperate to see the craters on the moon.

But I do believe that this is the best way to see the stars and not waste your time. I also think that weather conditions could affect your ability to stargaze using a traditional telescope.

I believe that a computerized telescope will give you a bit of an edge. At least you will know you are pointing at the right location and can determine if weather is making it impossible to see, as opposed to thinking you’ve got the wrong coordinates.

By hamje32 — On Dec 27, 2011

If I ever get into stargazing, it will only be through the use of computerized telescopes. Frankly, I don’t have time to figure out all those degrees and coordinates myself using a manual telescope.

If anything I’d probably buy a computerized telescope for beginners, punch in the numbers, and have it point the way.

I like the other benefits from computerized telescopes. You could program that thing to look all night and provide hours of footage that you can exam later. Also, it could pick up a shooting star or a UFO that crosses your horizon, while you sleep away.

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