Use Stellarium to control and connect your telescope to a computer. This free program is very easy to install and use. The software can be controlled by your computer once the telescope has been connected. The software supports many different computerized mounts.
Telescopes can be connected to computers in two different ways. A telescope mount can be connected via USB and aimed at anything you wish with the software.
In addition, a camera can be inserted into the eyepiece and connected to a computer. With this connection, you can transfer the live image to your monitor, but you cannot control the telescope.
In the combination of these two methods, the telescope can be controlled by the computer. Remotely controlling a device from your computer screen will allow you to view everything on that screen. Astrophotography and video astronomy often use this type of illumination. Astrophotography and live viewing with a webcam has been described here.
We will only cover how to control your mount with a computer in this article.
What are you looking for?
In order to use the telescope outside with the computer, it is preferable that you use a laptop computer. A powerful computer is not necessary for this, but a faster laptop will make your work more enjoyable. We don’t want you to have a very frustrating experience with an old laptop, which can slow down the entire process.
The next step is to download Stellarium, a free program. Despite its ease of use, it is made well and is durable. It displays a realistic 3D view of the sky, just as you would see with a telescope or binoculars. Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows are all supported by this program.
We need a telescope as well, but that is definitely the last thing we need. But not a regular telescope. There must be a computerized mount on which we can mount the telescope. A GoTo telescope and a spotting scope are my recommendations. Please feel free to read my reviews of the NexStar 130 SLT and the SkyWatcher 130P. You must connect the hand controller to your computer in order to operate the mount. Now you may encounter some difficulties.
Connecting a computer to a telescope
A problem with this is that the telescope package does not usually include cables for connecting your computer to the hand controller. It must be purchased separately. Furthermore, you can find two different types of connections.
In addition to the RS-232 port (landline connector), older models have only the serial port. My experience has shown that the telescope cable comes packaged with your hand controller if you have this type of port. Nevertheless, the cable provided does not connect the USB port to the computer, but rather RS-232. The type of controller and cable shipped with some telescopes leaves me puzzled. There is probably no computer in your house with a serial port anymore, since it is 90’s technology.
Therefore, the best solution is to purchase a Serial to USB reduction cable (click here to order online). You can find them easily and they’re cheap. Your hand controller will be able to be connected to your computer via USB with this setup. I have found that not all serial-to-USB cables work every time since some are not compatible and won’t operate.
It is highly recommended that you purchase a new hand controller in this case. You will need a USB AB cable to connect the newer version to your computer. These types of connections are commonly found on printers. There are probably a few of these cables lying around in your home.
However, telescope manufacturers took too long to make the upgraded hand controllers. You just need to upgrade the hand controller if your old one has an RS-232 port. Your life will be a lot more relaxed if you do this.
Getting Your Telescope Connected To Your Computer
You must first set up the telescope before you can connect it to your laptop. The telescope needs to be properly star-aligned to achieve proper results. There is no point in connecting it before then because it will not work. First, you need to set up the telescope and then align the stars with the hand controller. You can connect your laptop and cable after that is working and tracking correctly.
Using Stellarium to connect to a telescope
We will connect you within minutes, and the process is straightforward. Plugins can be found through the configuration window in Stellarium. In order to use the plugin, we must first load it. The Telescope Control option can be found by scrolling down and searching for it on the left side of the window.
The Configure button will appear gray, and it will not be clickable when you click on it. Plugins aren’t loaded, hence the error. Load the Stellarium at startup by checking the box then restart the program.
Now that you have loaded the plugin, you can now find it again, click Configure, and the plugin will be ready. Upon opening the telescope window, it will be blank. You will now see a new window with settings after you press the “Add” button.
Go to the Telescope properties and leave everything as is. In the drop-down menu, you can change a device name and pick a model. Select the telescope’s manufacturer. There are many manufacturers of astronomy equipment, from celestron nexstar 8se to Sky-Watcher to Meade.
Once you click OK, your telescope will appear in the list. Click Start/Connect to begin the connection. The sky map will display a rectangle. The position of your telescope on the sky at present is shown here. To move the telescope, click the left mouse button on the object you wish to view. The telescope will automatically be steered to the object’s position after selecting it with Control+1 (Windows) or Command+1 (Mac OS X). While the telescope is slewing to the position you selected in Stellarium, you will also see the rectangle moving across the map.
It is very convenient to use your computer to control your telescope. With the hand controller, I don’t have to type the object name in order to point it at the object in the sky. As a result, I can see what I can see in real-time from my position and plan my session accordingly. On freezing nights, it is also a great option, as I can sit inside and be nice and warm, whilst my telescope is out in the cold. That is awesome since it is -15°C outside and you wouldn’t want to sit there in that weather.
My sincerest wish is that your telescope will be able to be connected to a computer successfully, and I wish you the best of luck!