What Is a Digital Telescope?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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A digital telescope is typically a type of telescope that utilizes digital features to grant the user of the telescope greater precision and control or more options for viewing images. There are typically two types of digital controls for telescopes: systems that use digital setting circles to provide more accuracy to a user controlling a telescope and “GoTo” systems that grant control of the telescope to a digital system. A digital telescope can also allow for more ways to view images through the telescope, such as a computer connection that allows captured images to be sent to and stored on a computer.

In general, a digital telescope can refer to any kind of telescope that utilizes digital technology along with standard analog features. This technology is often used to make telescopes easier to control or to allow telescope users to more easily pinpoint certain locations in the night sky. Most telescopes are controlled using setting circles that let the user control how that telescope is positioned along the four directions of north and south, declination, and east and west, right ascension. A digital telescope with digital setting circle control allows the user to change these settings more precisely using a digital input display.


There are also certain models of digital telescope that feature a more elaborate control system often referred to as a “GoTo” system. This type of telescope not only allows for digital control over the system, but also gives the user the ability to indicate a particular location or object in the night sky and have the telescope automatically move to focus on that location. A digital telescope with a “GoTo” system usually has a database of numerous objects found in the night sky, allowing the user to choose what to view from an updateable list. These types of telescopes can be more convenient for beginning or amateur astronomers who prefer to spend less time navigating the sky and simply want to view a variety of objects.

A digital telescope can also use digital technology to provide greater viewing functionality for its user. This usually consists of a wire that can be connected to a computer, often through a universal serial bus (USB) port, to send images received by the telescope to the computer. In this way, a single digital telescope can be used simultaneously by a group of people, and pictures and video can be saved on the computer for later use. There are also digital eyepieces that can be purchased and installed onto a standard telescope, which then allows that telescope to connect to a computer.


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