It’s a fantastic time to be alive if you’re interested in amateur astronomy; high-quality telescopes are more affordable than ever before, and a whole slew of technological improvements have made them fun and easy to use. One of the most useful of those improvements is the motorized telescope mount, which you can use to smoothly scan the sky or, when used in conjunction with your current location, to find a specific celestial body. If you only have the former functionality, this upgrade will let you add advanced control.
Dane Gardner developed this Raspberry Pi Driven Telescope Mount to add computerized control to a Celestron SE telescope. Other, more expensive, Celestron models offer full computer control, the but SE series only has a manually-controlled motorized mount. Otherwise it’s a fantastic series of telescopes, so Gardner decided to upgrade his with an affordable Raspberry Pi Zero W.
This upgrade should work for other telescope models too, and there are instructions available for both RS-232 and USB controllers. After connecting the Raspberry Pi, you can use a separate computer or smartphone to control it via SSH. Gardner’s code replicates the original functionality with an SNES Bluetooth controller, and adds a number of new features: remote control with open source astronomy software, better slew control, automated time updates, and automated location setting via IP address geolocation. GPS location is planned for the future.
If you have a telescope with a motorized mount, this is a very affordable way to add computerized control and step up your astronomy game.