It may look similar to the NexStar 4 SE, but the iOptron might just be the most user-friendly telescope on your list. Apart from being hands-free in most respects, the 80mm iOptron, in particular, is a similarly advanced telescope with a unique way of looking at the stars. While some astronomers might enjoy the classical method of hand-held maneuvering, the iOptron circumvents the trouble and time this process might take you.
The iOptron mount utilizes an equatorial mount, a rare but flexible mounting system. It is different from other mounts, like the altazimuth, in that it accounts for the Earth’s spin. You won’t notice it when you’re standing on solid ground, but our planet rotates on an axis. This rotation provides viewing problems for amateur astronomers who are searching for objects in the sky. No object will always be in the same position twice.
The iOptron’s equatorial mount compensates for this problem and provides a range of viewing anywhere above the horizon. That’s right, anywhere. Most telescopes with altazimuth mounts can only move along the horizontal and vertical axis and take the time to get to their desired position.
A computerized GPS system eliminates the need for manual maneuvering of the telescope. All you have to do is tell the telescope where you want to look (according to its 80,000 object database), and it will move in that direction.
For being very user-friendly while sporting two state-of-the-art systems, the 80mm iOptron is a little less than five-hundred dollars. It’s almost unbelievable to think that you can have this type of telescope, with its ease of assembly, for that price.
It comes equipped with a 25mm and a 10mm (1.25″ diameter) interchangeable eyepieces for increased or lesser magnification. The iOptron would be nothing without its light gathering power. With a focal length to aperture ratio of (f/5), the iOptron is one of the fastest snapshooters among modern telescopes, ensuring that you receive the best quality view in the shortest amount of time.
It was difficult for us to find much to slander in the iOptron. While it is almost ready to go right out of the box, its computer systems will take some getting used. It is still a complex machine to operate and requires some careful read through of the instructions.
8 AA batteries power the mount as opposed to a dedicated plug-in source, enabling you to take it beyond the confines of your home. This just means that you will have to gauge the power carefully and always carry spares, lest they die on you right when night falls.