With an Amazon Fire Tablet, on which I placed SkySafari Pro ($15), we can now get the OnStep mount at Hopewell Observatory to go to any target we want, without any wire connection needed at all. The ‘Smart’ Hand Controller is no longer a necessity, which is good, because it’s always been rather a PITA.

The SkySafari Pro interface is really nice and much more user-friendly than any other planetarium software I’ve tried so far. Among other things, you can use your fingers to pan around and zoom into the sky map display, and double tap on a target of interest. Once you’ve located your target on your screen, you can then press ‘GoTo’, and the scope will begin slewing to that target. While it’s doing so, you can watch where the telescope is currently pointing to on the screen’s display, kind of like those airplane icons on maps on some airline flights – only a lot more accurate and zoomable. BTW the connection is via WiFi. 

Once the scope thinks it has arrived at the proper location, you can look through the eyepiece (or at a display screen) to see if it is properly centered. If not, then in order to center it, you simply tilt the tablet in the direction you want the scope to go! And changing the speed of such movement is really easy!

I have thanked Arlen for showing me this on his cell phone. I myself could never get it to work properly with my iphone, but after some time downloading the proper software onto the tablet and making the proper wifi connections with the proper IP address and port number, in a nice warm location here in town with at least a halfway decent WiFi connection, with a spare OnStep setup on the bench in front of me, then it was easy.

I demonstrate this with the following clumsy video.

BTW, SkySafari Pro works on Android and other tablets, on MacOS, Windows, and supposedly even on iPhones. You do need to pay for the Pro version, because the free version does not have telescope control capabilities.

So, for very little money, but a whole lot of work, we have 21st-century Wi-Fi control over a very fine telescope mount!