Telescopes are old. Like… really old — we’re talking very early 1600s old. So, as you’d imagine, they’ve come on a long way since their inception all those centuries ago.
What were completely manual devices utilizing the power of lenses and light to bring distant objects closer to the eye, are now often computer-assisted mega-scopes that can peer deep into the void of space.
All the bells and whistles that now arrive with any decent telescope make them more functional than ever and help to make astronomy as inspiring and easy as possible, but is there a catch?
Do they need to draw energy from batteries, or is using them as simple as pointing them at the moon and taking a peep? Let’s find out!
Will I Need Batteries For My Telescope?
The answer to this question is of course determined by the telescope in question, but with great power tends to come great big batteries!
So, if you’ve got yourself a fancy telescope for some pristine views of deep space objects such as nebula and our neighbor galaxy, the monstrous Andromeda, in all likelihood, yes, it will require batteries.
On the other hand, if you’re starting small with a nice, affordable scope, or perhaps you’ve bought a very basic telescope for your kid to use, then it may not need any batteries at all.
Why Do Telescopes Need Batteries?
Most of the big names in the modern, consumer-grade telescope industry are eager to assert themselves in the market and beat out all competitors, and they’re doing so by making their products as powerful as possible.
They achieve this the same way every other company in every other industry does this day and age… computerization!
Yep, believe it or not, most telescopes arrive with powerful CPUs, just like your laptop or desktop computer.
These additions give telescopes an almost AI characteristic that helps users to find celestial objects more efficiently to aid in both research and having a fun time during an observation session.
Instead of spending hours on end scouring the blackness of space only to see nothing but Orion’s Belt, now, an integrated CPU will be your guide to the galaxy (and beyond!).
The blending of telescopes and computer technology is by no means a totally new development, as state-of-the-art telescopes, such as the Hubble telescope and those found in professional observatories, have had CPU brains from the get-go.
In fact, the computer systems of these infamous scientist-level telescopes are constantly being upgraded with the latest technology in order to optimize performance, leveling it out with modern computational demands and expectations.
Naturally, with computer technology becoming more and more accessible to the average Joe (us), we too can enjoy some super high power space-spying tech with some seriously beefy CPU muscle — hooray!
However, we need batteries to shock that muscle to life!
Why Can’t I Plug My Telescope Into The Wall Outlet?
You may be wondering if you really need to faff with batteries. Couldn’t you just plug your scope into a wall outlet and enjoy constant grid power?
Well, yeah, as long as your scope has an adapter, you can indeed plug it into a wall outlet, but herein lies a problem.
Unless you have a lovely place out in the country, to escape light pollution, you’ll likely need to leave your home.
Not just that, but you’ll have to go somewhere particularly remote and dark, which means there aren’t going to be any wall outlets to plug your telescope into.
This is where the battery comes in handy. These portable power packs allow you to pick up your telescope and go for a wander in search of the best dark sky locations in and around your area of residence.
Are There Any Other Components That Require Battery Power?
Great question! Again, the answer depends on the type of telescope you’re talking about, but yes, there are a few out there with components other than the CPU that will need battery power to run.
One such component is an electric fan. Some telescopes rely on electric fans to cool the optical mirrors before peering into the depths of space.
This optimizes acuity and takes roughly 30 to 60 minutes of downtime prior to making your first observations.
It’s kind of like how we need to warm up before an exercise to ensure we perform to a certain standard, but for optical mirrors, a warm up is actually a cool down.
Another power hungry component to consider is a motorized base.
The tricky thing about astronomy is that not only are we battling against mind-bendingly large distances to catch a glimpse of the stars, we’re also up against some pretty serious motion.
The Earth is spinning at an insane 1000 miles per hour, which means all those twinkly little things up there in the sky are constantly fidgeting, shifting their way through the night.
Celestial objects will also be moving, orbiting a center of mass.
This means that not only are celestial objects difficult to find, once we’ve found them, they’re tricky to keep in our crosshairs.
A motorized base helps us by offsetting the rotation of the Earth and compensating for cosmic movement, tracking our target automatically so we can get a good eyeful!
Then we have the telescopes that come with integrated astrophotography facilities. These telescopes have cameras built in for snapping a few choice shots of our astral findings, and to do this, they need lots of power.
And finally, there are astronomy accessories to consider.
Things like auto-focusers require plenty of juice to function, so if you really want to enjoy the night sky, the chances are that you’ll have to invest in some decent batteries.
What Batteries Do I Need For My Telescope?
With any luck, your telescope arrived with a battery pack, but if not, don’t sweat it. Your first port of call is to see if the manufacturer sells the correct battery pack separately.
If so, it’s always best to stick within the brand’s ecosystem, as all the tech will enjoy optimized synergy.
Should you not be able to find a branded battery pack, it’s time to consider some 3rd party alternatives. For the best performance, look for a dedicated astronomy power supply.
If you can’t find one, simply look for a non-specialized power pack with a suitable output.
And speaking of suitable output, make sure to check your user manual or the manufacturers’ website for information on the kind of battery required.
The last thing you want is to fork out for a battery that doesn’t fit the bill, leaving you out of pocket and shut off from the cosmos.
This lithium power pack from the folks over at Celestron is one of the best astronomy power supplies currently on the market, and I highly recommend it, so long as it suits the spec of your scope.
For smaller accessories, you’ll probably have to use a discrete battery that’s housed somewhere within the unit itself.
There you have it — a lot of modern telescopes do indeed require batteries, but not all of them. The core premise of a telescope involves only mirrors or lenses, a tube, and light… that’s it!
The only reason batteries come into play is that newer, more expensive scopes are kitted out with CPUs, motorized bases, and sometimes even dedicated astro-cameras.
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