Wireless telescope control

Controlling a computerized telescope from a computer is not new; it usually requires compatible desktop planetarium software and a serial cable to connect the computer to the telescope mount. The only wireless option I was previously aware of was to use Starry Night Pro with a Bluetooth adapter — though it appears that that adapter is no longer available.

Carina Software SkyFi Wireless Telescope Controller Enter Carina Software’s SkyFi Wireless Telescope Controller, which adds WiFi to a computerized telescope. It connects to most telescope mounts with serial (RS-232) interfaces, including the two I own (the Celestron NexStar 5 SE and the Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro). Ironically, it isn’t compatible with newer mounts with USB ports, though they’re working on that. As you might have guessed from their name, Carina Software also makes software, including SkyVoyager, a planetarium app for the iPhone and iPod touch. I’ve been using it for a while; it’s a nice app. SkyVoyager, by the by, includes telescope control. Until this gizmo, that meant connecting via WiFi to a computer running Voyager, Carina’s desktop application, that was plugged into the telescope mount in the usual manner. Now you can control a computerized telescope wirelessly from an iPhone or iPod touch — directly. Contemplate that for a moment: controlling a computerized telescope from a phone or an iPod.

This made a big splash at Macworld this month: see coverage at MacRumors and MacNN.

SkyFi costs $150; SkyVoyager costs $15; Voyager runs between $100 and $180.