GoTo control, the smartphone way

Apps like SkySafari Pro are becoming an increasingly common option for GoTo users
Credit: Paul Money

How do you control your GoTo mount? Since GoTo systems became popular there have been two options: either using a handset or controlling it via a serial port, connecting a PC to the mount and using software to send commands. Handsets are pretty sophisticated today, but serious astroimagers do tend to prefer the PC route via EQMOD and similar systems. Those with permanent observatories generally like to automate their whole setup.

However, there is another option that is becoming popular, and that is to use a smart phone or tablet to connect to the mount and download astro apps through which you can control it. In the April issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine I take a look at the latest version of SkySafari Pro, of which version 5 has just recently been released. It is a fully featured planetarium and telescope control app currently for iOS, but soon for Android users too. Once you purchase the wire adapter or wireless box, it allows you to hook up to most major brands of GoTo mount, be they alt az or EQ in design. I had great fun whizzing around the sky doing a tour. Today's technology is truly bringing control of telescopes to our fingertips (and phones!).
Meanwhile, short focal length apo refractors are very popular items of kit for those who love to travel but don't want to miss out on capturing the night sky whilst on holiday. Tim Jardine takes a look at the latest offering from Altair Astro in the shape of their Starwave 70mm EDT-R refractor, while I review the basic and affordable 6-inch reflector, the Bresser Messier NT-150S OTA.
See how we got on in the April issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, out 17 March.



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