Technology has truly brought advancements to many products and tools that we use today, and one of these items is the telescope. The computerized telescope is, as its name already suggests, a telescope that has a built-in computer, which has plenty of features that can help stargazers in viewing objects in space.
Typically, a computerized telescope is much more expensive than a standard one mainly because of the components found inside its computer. However, the price for each computerized telescope varies, so there are some that are much more expensive, while there are some that are cheaper and are great for those who are on a tight budget that wanted to experience the telescope’s high-tech features.
For this guide, we will be focusing on the cheapest computerized telescopes and enumerate their advantages and disadvantages for you to see if they are worth the money. To make the explanation for the pros and cons much simpler, we will be using the Celestron 114LCM Computerized Newtonian Telescope as a reference since it is the best-selling computerized Celestron model and the telescope is also one of the cheapest.
The main advantage of the computer built in the telescope is that it automatically tracks an object in space for you, although you would have to set it up to track specific objects like the moon or the planets near the Earth. The telescope’s robotic movements are all made possible with the GoTo mount, which feels slightly heavier than a regular telescope mount because of the parts inside it. In order for the GoTo mount to work, make sure that you have pressed the red power button at its side.
For the Celestron 114LCM telescope, it comes with a hand controller that has buttons indicating which space object you would like the telescope to track. The number 1 button is for the solar system, the number 2 is for stars, and the number 3 button is for the deep sky.
In addition, the hand controller has an Identify button that you can press if you want the telescope to identify an unknown object in space that you are currently viewing through the eyepiece, and it also has a Sky Tour button, which lets the telescope guide you to see heavenly bodies in space if you aren’t sure what to view.
If the object you are viewing isn’t centered on the telescope’s field of view, you can press the align button at the top left corner of the controller so that the telescope will move its center mark right on the viewed object.
Keep in mind that you should stand a few feet away from the telescope while it is tracking so that you won’t get hit by its main tube if it is rotating. If you don’t want to utilize the automatic tracker, then you can still track objects manually by using the red-dot finder scope at the top of the telescope.
The average time at night for the best viewing experience with clear skies and no light pollution is roughly two to three hours, and you would usually spend a third or even half of that time tracking objects in space. By using a computerized telescope, you will be able to save plenty of time in tracking since the computer will already pinpoint the location of several heavenly bodies.
The most glaring disadvantage that a computerized telescope has is that it has a very steep learning curve, as you would have to get used to controlling the telescope using the included hand controller. Kids who are younger than 12 may have a difficult time controlling it, and they would have to memorize what each button does before they can use the telescope properly.
A computerized telescope is better as a second telescope for beginners because they would have to learn how to track objects manually first before moving on to an advanced tool. If you have bought a computerized version as your first telescope, then you would find it challenging to use a standard telescope in the future since you have already gotten used to the controls of the built-in computer.
As the standard telescopes are much more abundant in the market than computerized ones, it is recommended that you should try to learn how to use a standard first as it is the most common type of home telescope. Interestingly, some veteran stargazers may even say that tracking heavenly bodies is part of the fun in using a telescope.
Another disadvantage of a cheap computerized telescope is that it won’t focus the optics on the focuser, so you would have to use the knobs on the focuser to magnify objects manually like a standard telescope. The computerized telescope also won’t change the eyepieces for you, but this disadvantage allows you to customize the magnifying power of the eyepieces and the focuser to suit your viewing preference.
There are some of the most common pros and cons of the computerized telescope, and some models may not have most of the disadvantages mentioned, but they may also not possess some of the advantages stated in this guide. If you are currently interested in buying your first telescope, we recommend that you purchase a regular telescope first because it is much cheaper and easier to use, then you can go with a computerized version as your second or third telescope.