Utah Skies: Telescopes And The Future

Feb 24, 2021

Credit Bruce Horrocks

In the summer of 1968, my father and I went to a neighbor’s house to look through a new telescope he had just purchased. I was eight-years-old and with the United States in the heat of the space race, I was fascinated with both rockets and telescopes. I remember that night looking though this new telescope and seeing the planet Saturn with it rings for the first time in my life. I was hooked, and I knew right then what I wanted for Christmas that year and thankfully Santa placed a new Sears telescope under the tree for me and my father to enjoy for many years to come.

Since that time there have been tremendous changes in the technology and advancements in the products used for astronomy. Computerized mounts that not only find but track the objects you are looking at have made astronomy a hobby for everyone. Improvements in cameras that allow almost anyone to capture amazing images of space objects are more affordable than in the past.

A few years ago, I saw an article about a telescope that was being developed that incorporated a small like video display to greatly enhance and give better live viewing to deep space objects. Currently there are now two manufactures producing and selling such telescopes. Some models of these telescopes transfer the image to cell phones or tablets so that all those standing around the telescope can see a live image on their phone of what the telescope is looking at.

While I still enjoy actually looking through the lens of my telescope and observing the fascinating space objects, I believe the astronomers of the near future will look more to their cell phones for observing and less through the lens on their telescope.