Automation has taken stargazing to a whole new level.
With the help of a Crestron control system, one particular astronomy buff can zoom in on distant galaxies, star clusters and planets in just a few easy steps from the comfort of his home-based observatory.
“Before we put in the system, getting the telescope into the right position was at least a 30-step process,” says project designer Dan Quigley of About Audio & Video of Franklin, NC.
Now, the homeowner goes to his portable Crestron TMPC8X Wi-Fi touchpanel, touches a button labeled with the name of the object he wants to view (“Make Telescope Go To This Object”), and the telescope sets up.
Quigley says he spent at least 500 hours programming the coordinates of some 300 celestial bodies, and continues to add more as his client learns of new areas to explore.
After an object has been selected, the program automatically checks to see if and when that object is viewable, and pulls up a page of information about it. The homeowner also uses the Internet-enabled touchpanel to check the weather conditions, turn off the exterior light fixtures and open the motorized hatch of the dome ceiling.
Once the telescope has an object is in view, the homeowner can snap a photograph or have the Crestron system route the image to the screen of any computer or TV.
“It’s one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever experienced,” says Quigley. “It’s right up there with watching movies on a big screen.”
Quigley says the homeowner was even more emphatic about his delight over the system. “My client commented that, ‘You don’t have to know a damn thing about astronomy as long as you own the easiest to use telescope in our galaxy.’ I agreed.”
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.