The May 2024 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Stargazing Made Easy

This telescope searches the sky for you

1 min read

Want to look at the stars but don't know where to begin? Celestron LLC, in Torrance, Calif., claims its NexStar 11 GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope will do the work for you. When activated, the telescope fixes its location using triangulation made possible by data from the Global Positioning System. Next it determines which stars and planets could be visible from the viewer's location at that particular moment from a database of some 40 000 such objects stored in the telescope's handheld controller. Select an object with the controller and the telescope automatically points itself in the right direction.

Connecting a laptop computer to the scope makes way for even more features than the controller's two-line liquid-crystal display permits; standard star-charting programs can create maps of the sky on the laptop screen based on the telescope's location. If the user clicks on an object on the star chart, the NexStar 11 points itself right at it.

The telescope has a carbon-fiber optical tube, which should reduce temperature-related expansions and contractions that throw off focus. And for those who want to capture what they see for posterity, the Nexstar 11 has an accessory port for attaching such add-ons as a digital camera.

Celestron NexStar II GPS

Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, US $3000

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions