Three Things to Know Before Buying a Computerized Telescope

It’s basically a robot that shows you outer space.

Person using a telescope beneath the stars
The sky’s the limit.Getty Images

When astronomers estimate all the celestial objects out there to be explored, they only account for the observable universe. That’s the swath of space whose light has had time to reach our itty bitty planet Earth in the 13.8 billion years since its birth. Experts think the observable universe contains around 100 billion galaxies—and somewhere around 70 billion trillion stars. Unless you’re a professional astronomer, your best bet at locating and tracking any specific celestial objects is a computerized telescope.

Celestron - NexStar 8SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000+ Celestial Objects - 8-Inch Primary Mirror

Great for Newbies

This option boasts a whopping 203.2 mm aperture for viewing at high magnifications.Celestron

When most people talk about computerized telescopes, they mean GoTo technology. This is an automated equatorial mount with software that lets you input known coordinates or select from a huge database of celestial objects—and then the computer does all the work to find and point the telescope. It’s like an astronomy prof who lives inside your telescope.

Celestron - NexStar 5SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000+ Celestial Objects - 5-Inch Primary Mirror

Accessories Included

This instrument includes a comprehensive database for educated viewing.Celestron

As with any telescope, the aperture—the diameter of the objective lens or main light-gathering mirror—plays a key role in the functional magnification of the telescope. For sharp images, look for an aperture of at least 125 mm aperture to view planets and star clusters. You’ll want at least 200 mm to see distant galaxies in crisp detail.

Meade Instruments Lx65 5" Maksutov-Cassegrain Computerized Telescope with AudioStar

Portable Design

This option has a super portable single-arm mount that can hold a second stargazing device.Meade Instruments

Those larger apertures mean wider telescopes, so it’s important that the mount is sturdy and also disassembles for easy transport. Some computerized mounts include extra attachments for linking up a second telescope assembly (for going back and forth between magnifications) or even your cell phone.

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