Computerizing a CAT
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What could possibly make it worthwhile to haul an expensive laptop computer onto a dark and damp observing field? At the most basic level, a PC (or Macintosh) can fill-in the details lacking in a telescope’s hand controller. Sure, the HC contains the locations of tens of thousands of deep sky objects, but what are they and where are they, exactly? The hand controller will probably display some basic information about an object: that it’s a galaxy in Pegasus, for example. It might even know that the faint fuzzy in question has a magnitude of 11 and is umpteen gazillion light-years distant from our comfortable rock. But that’s not much to go on when trying to decide whether the object in question is a showpiece or a barely discernable lint ball. And what else of interest is close to this particular DSO? Where is it in relationship to other sky objects?
A laptop hooked to a go-to scope makes these “what and where” questions easy to answer. With a PC interfaced to the CAT there’ll be a...