Even in medium-power astronomical telescopes, a small “finderscope” is often mounted parallel to the main optics to help get large instruments to the target. The low magnification of the Finderscope provides a much wider field than the primary telescope, which makes it much easier to find small objects in the sky. Even if your target is too small or obscure to look at with a finder, your primary telescope is a huge help in being able to point around in the right sky.
But [Dilshan Jayakody] Still thought he could improve on something. Instead of a small optical scope, its starpoiner is an electronic device that can determine the orientation of the telescope to which it is mounted. Because of the ADXL345 accelerometer and HMC5883L magnetometer speed detection inside the STM32F103C8 powered gadget, angle data is sent Stellarium – An open source planetarium program. Combined with a known latitude and longitude, it allows the software to show where the telescope is currently pointing in the night sky.
As shown in the video after the break, it provides real-time feedback that is easy for even beginners to understand: all you have to do is spread the scope around until you get the object you want to see under the crosshair. Although we do not recommend looking at a bright computer screen before attempting to pick up the blurred objects on your telescope’s IPS, we can certainly see the application of this “virtual” finder.
Then again … who says this strategy should be limited to optical observation? Since StarPointer is an open hardware project, you can always integrate the technology into the DIY radio telescope that you have always dreamed of building in the backyard.