13 Best Computerized Telescopes – 50 PushTos/GoTos Compared

Before the computerization of home telescopes, the most common method of finding targets was called star hopping. This method, still used by many home astronomers, involves examining a star chart, finding a suitable bright star as a starting point, and then trying to identify other stars or star patterns along the path to guide you to the deep sky object that you want to see.

However, with the growing level of light pollution, many home astronomers find the process frustrating as they fail to find the deep-sky objects they would like to see. Here is where computerization comes to the rescue, by helping to find deep-sky objects by entering their name into a handset, tablet, smartphone, or computer. 

The Top 13 Best Computer Controlled Telescopes

There are two types of computer-controlled telescope systems; semi-automated PushTo systems and the fully automated GoTo systems, both of which are discussed in detail further down in the article. For now, here are our picks if you’re in a hurry.

Best PushTos

  1. Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ – PushTo Choice In ~$200 Range
  2. Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ – PushTo Choice In ~$400 Range
  3. Orion SkyQuest XT Intelliscope Series (XT8i, XT10i and XT12i) – PushTo Choice In ~$600, $900, $1250 Range
  4. Orion SkyQuest XX12i Intelliscope – Our PushTo Choice In ~$1600 Range

Best GoTos

  1. Celestron Astro Fi 130 – Our GoTo Pick in ~$300 range
  2. Celestron Nexstar 127SLT – Our GoTo Pick in ~$400 range
  3. Celestron Nexstar 5SE – Our GoTo Pick in ~$600 range
  4. Celestron Nexstar 6SE – Our GoTo Pick in ~$750 range
  5. Celestron Advanced VX Series 6″ Newtonian – Our GoTo Pick in ~$900 range
  6. Sky-Watcher 8″ Flextube SynScan GoTo Collapsible – Our GoTo Pick in ~$1000 range
  7. Sky-Watcher 10″ Flextube SynScan GoTo Collapsible – Our GoTo Pick in ~$1250 range
  8. Celestron 8″ NexStar Evolution – Our GoTo Pick in ~$1500 range
  9. Sky-Watcher 12″ Flextube SynScan GoTo Collapsible – Our GoTo Pick in ~$2000 range

How Does PushTo System Works? 

With PushTo systems you push the optical tube while the computer guides you. This system is similar to the GPS in your car. You enter the target into the handset, tablet, smartphone, or computer and hit enter. The system tells you where to point the optical tube. Once you have the target in the eyepiece, you take over keeping the target in view as the Earth rotates.

Some systems use a pair of numbers that eventually go to 0:0 as you turn the optical tube. When you hit 0:0 the planet or deep-sky object should be in the low power eyepiece.

Other, more graphically oriented systems, may display a star chart with arrows pointing in the direction you want to go to get to the object you want to see. You follow the arrows as you turn the optical tube until you have your target in the eyepiece. Both approaches are quite effective and easy to use.

Most PushTo systems will allow you to use the computer assistance or leave the computer turned off and use other, manual methods to find your targets. Again, like the GPS in your car, when you wish to see a target you know how to find you don’t need the computer’s help. 

If you already have a telescope that does not benefit from computerization, there are aftermarket PushTo systems that can be added to certain types of telescope mounts to add this PushTo capability.

GoTo – The Fully Automated System

Beyond the PushTo system is the fully robotic GoTo system. Here you enter your target into the handset, tablet, smartphone, or computer and hit the GoTo button, which is where the system gets its name. Some GoTo systems can be operated by WiFi so you can control a telescope using your smartphone, tablet, or your computer while standing next to it or from inside your house. Some will let you control a remote telescope over the internet so you can live in a light-polluted city but have you telescope housed in an automated observatory in a dark location.

The computerised system controls motors in the telescope mount that turn the optical tube to the location of the target and then continuously make tiny adjustments to the optical tube so that the object remains in the field of view of the eyepiece as the Earth rotates. This can be a great convenience when viewing at high power. Tracking is almost mandatory if you wish to enter into the area of electronically assisted astronomy, EAA, where the eyepiece is replaced by a video camera. 

Some GoTo mounts track accurately enough to be used for astrophotography where long exposures require very accurate tracking. You can take amazing photos from your home telescope that will look a lot like the ones in the magazines.

Which is Better, PushTo or GoTo?

Like everything else, each system has its advantages.

PushTo systems are generally less expensive and add very little weight to the mount. As there are no motors involved they require very little power, often operated by a battery in the handset. And since there are no motors there is no concern about motor failures.

Since PushTo systems are based on manual mounts they also give you great flexibility as to whether you use the computer assist or not for any given observing session. While a PushTo could be integrated into any type of mount, they are extremely popular on the Dobsonian type telescope mounts. There are many kits available that allow you to add PushTo to your Dobsonian telescope, some for as little as $100 that use your smartphone as the computer.

GoTo systems are typically more expensive and are usually factory integrated, based on mounts that are specifically designed for a GoTo system. They require more power and so use larger battery packs or AC adapters. If your battery runs down or if you have a motor failure the scope cannot be pointed.

But some GoTo mounts have clutches that can be released so that you can turn the scope manually. While this adds flexibility, many GoTo mounts are not well suited for manual use, but it can be done.

The biggest advantage of the GoTo over the PushTo is tracking. Many manual and PushTo mounts have integrated slow-motion controls to help make manual tracking easier, but you still have to do the tracking yourself. With computerized GoTo mounts, tracking is automatic. When you have a line of people who want to look, or kids who grow impatient as you try to center a target that has moved out of the field of view, a computer controlled tracking telescopes can be a great asset.

How Hard is the Alignment Process of PushTo/GoTo Systems

As with all computerized systems, the early ones were hard to use and unreliable. Today they are simple, menu-driven systems. Most require an initial alignment when you first set up the telescope so the mount knows where you are on Earth.

A typical alignment process would involve setting the mount level with the optical tube level to the ground pointed in a certain compass direction or pointed straight up. This is called setting the starting position or the home position. The name varies by system.

A typical next step for PushTo or GoTo systems involves picking out two bright stars in the sky. With some GoTo systems, the computer will pick the stars for you. You now center them in the eyepiece and hit the enter key. Once the system knows where those two alignment stars are located it can guide you to anything in its database with amazing accuracy. The alignment procedure usually takes only a few minutes at the start of your observing session.

The newest systems are self-aligning. You set up the telescope, turn on the system, and the computer figures out the alignment all by itself. This may involve using a built-in GPS or it may use a process called plate-solving where a camera takes a picture of the sky and matches it to an internal star map. Several of the GoTo systems offer this as an add-on option.

The auto-alignment process can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on the system. The self-aligning systems take the alignment burden off of you. While the telescope is aligning itself you can set up your chair, eyepieces, and other accessories that you will use during the night. 

Ranking Computerized Telescopes Based On Costs

PushTo and GoTo mounted telescopes run the full range of prices. Usually, a mount is used with a variety of optical tube sizes and styles to create a family of offerings based on that computerized mount. Prices will vary largely based on the aperture and type of optical tube that is included with the package. While there are GoTo mounts that are sold separately from the optical tube, we won’t be covering those here.

What follows are recommended PushTo and GoTo telescope packages that are organized by price range. Many of the recommended computer controlled telescopes are part of a series that include larger and smaller aperture optical tubes.

7 PushTo Computerized Telescopes Ranked

In ~$200 Range

1. Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ

Latest Amazon Price – Price not available

  • AstronomySource rating

3.5/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Celestron is a top name in consumer telescopes. This is a self-aligning PushTo system based on an 80 mm refractor optical tube. It uses your smartphone as the computer and the pointing device. It automatically aligns and is very easy to use. The StarSense Explorer line includes optical tubes from this 80 mm to 130 mm. It includes 2 eyepieces, a Barlow lens, and finder scope as well as the StarSense Explorer software license. It has all you need to get started.

PushTo In ~$400 Range

2. Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ

Latest Amazon Price – Price not available

  • AstronomySource rating

4/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



This is a self-aligning PushTo system based on a 102 mm refractor optical tube. It gathers 1.6X as much light as the smaller 80 mm version listed earlier. The larger aperture will allow you to see more detail on planets and deep-sky objects as well as dimmer objects. It uses your smartphone as the computer and the pointing device. It automatically aligns and is very easy to use. It includes 2 eyepieces, a Barlow lens, and a finder scope as well as the StarSense Explorer software license. The mount on the larger 102 mm includes slow-motion controls to help you track your targets more smoothly. It has all you need to get started. If you have the budget, this would be preferred over the 80 mm.

PushTo In $600, $900, $1250 Range

3. Orion SkyQuest XT Intelliscope Series

Orion SkyQuest XT8i IntelliScope

~In $600 Range

4.8/5

Orion SkyQuest XT10i IntelliScope

~In $900 Range

4.8/5

Orion SkyQuest XT12i IntelliScope

~In $1250 Range

4.6/5

Orion is a very popular name in telescopes for the home observer. All three of the Skyquest XT Intelliscope series are Dobsonians, which are the best value manual telescope set up ever. The package also has an AC adapter so you can run the scope without batteries when you are near a power source. Unlike many GoTo systems, after alignment, this one will allow you to move the optical tube by pushing it without losing your alignment. This can save battery power and time. Unlike many Newtonian reflectors, the optical tube is permanently aligned at the factory so it requires very little maintenance.

PushTo In ~$1600 Range

4. Orion SkyQuest XX12i Intelliscope

Latest Amazon Price – Price not available

  • AstronomySource rating

4.5/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



43 Popular GoTo Telescopes Rated

In each price category, one telescope is chosen and other telescopes in the same category are rated just below each choice.  Prices are updated daily.

Last price update on 2020-09-28 using Amazon API

Best GoTo In ~$300 Range

1. Celestron Astro Fi 130

Latest Amazon Price – $676.86

  • AstronomySource rating

4.2/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Celestron 80 LCM

~In $300 Range ($329.95)

3.5/5

Celestron 114 LCM

~In $300 Range ($349.95)

3/5

Meade Starnavigator NG 90 Refractor

~In $300 Range ($349.95)

3.5/5

Meade Starnavigator NG 90 Mak

~In $300 Range ($529.98)

3.6/5

Celestron Astro Fi 90

~In $300 Range ($1,253.99)

3.8/5

Meade ETX80 Observer

~In $300 Range (Price not available)

3.7/5

Meade StarNavigator NG 114

~In $300 Range (Price not available)

3/5

Celestron Nexstar 90SLT

~In $300 Range ($649.99)

3.7/5

Celestron Astro Fi 102

~In $300 Range ($495.00)

3.8/5

Best GoTo In ~$400 Range

2. Celestron Nexstar 127SLT

Latest Amazon Price – $549.95

  • AstronomySource rating

4/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Celestron Nexstar 130SLT

~In $400 Range ($499.95)

3.9/5

Meade Starnavigator NG 130 Reflector

~In $400Range ($574.91)

3.5/5

Celestron Nexstar 102SLT

~In $400 Range ($499.95)

3.7/5

Meade Starnavigator NG 102 Refractor

~In $400 Range ($590.92)

3.6/5

Meade StarNavigator NG 125 Maksutov

~In $400 Range ($605.61)

3.6/5

Meade ETX90 Observer

~In $400 Range ($656.87)

3.7/5

Celestron Nexstar 4SE

~In $400 Range ($499.00)

3.9/5

Best GoTo In ~$600 Range

3. Celestron Nexstar 5SE

Latest Amazon Price – $699.00

  • AstronomySource rating

3.9/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Celestron SkyProdigy 130 Reflector

~In $600 Range ($697.99)

3.6/5

Meade ETX125 Observer

~In $600 Range ($1,010.38)

3.9/5

Best GoTo In ~$750 Range

4. Celestron Nexstar 6SE

Latest Amazon Price – $1,234.98

  • AstronomySource rating

4.2/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



This very popular GoTo telescope package is based on 6 inch/150 mm Schmidt-Cassegrain (SCT) optical tube. The SCT design, while more expensive than the Newtonian alternative, offers a folded light path that makes the optical tube smaller, lighter, and more portable. The package includes a red dot finder and an eyepiece as well as the NexStar handset.

Meade 5" LX65 Maksutov

~In $750 Range ($827.22)

4/5

Best GoTo In ~$900 Range

5. Celestron Advanced VX Series 6" Newtonian

Latest Amazon Price – Price not available

  • AstronomySource rating

4.2/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Meade 6" LX65 Maksutov

~In $900 Range ($2,034.99)

4/5

Meade 6" Lx65 ACF

~In $900 Range ($1,419.58)

4.2/5

Orion StarSeeker IV 150mm

~In $900 Range (Price not available)

3.8/5

Best GoTo In ~$1000 Range

6. Sky-Watcher 8" Flextube SynScan GoTo Collapsible

Latest Amazon Price – $1,100.00

  • AstronomySource rating

4.8/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Orion SkyQuest XT8g

~In $1000 Range ($1,099.99)

4.8/5

Celestron Nexstar 8SE

~In $1000 Range ($1,199.00)

4.1/5

Celestron Advanced VX Series 8" Newtonian

~In $1000 Range (Price not available)

4/5

Best GoTo In ~$1250 Range

7. Sky-Watcher 10" Flextube SynScan GoTo Collapsible

Latest Amazon Price – $1,335.00

  • AstronomySource rating

4.8/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Celestron NexStar Evolution 6

~In $1250 Range (Price not available)

4.3/5

Celestron Advanced VX Series 6" Refractor

~In $1250 Range ($1,439.00)

4/5

Orion SkyQuest XT10g

~In $1250 Range (Price not available)

4.7/5

Best GoTo In ~$1500 Range

8. Celestron 8" NexStar Evolution

Latest Amazon Price – Price not available

  • AstronomySource rating

4.5/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G GoTo

~In $1500 Range ($1,649.99)

4.2/5

Celestron Advanced VX Series 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain

~In $1500 Range (Price not available)

4.3/5

Best GoTo In ~$2000 Range

9. Sky-Watcher 12" Flextube SynScan

Latest Amazon Price – $3,704.80

  • AstronomySource rating

4.6/5

  • Best For

[table “” not found /]



Celestron Advanced VX 700 Maksutov-Cassegrain

~In $2000 Range ($1,999.00)

4.2/5

Orion SkyQuest XX12g GoTo

~In $2000 Range (Price not available)

4.5/5

Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo 180mm Maksutov

~In $2000 Range (Price not available)

4.3/5

Celestron 9.25" NexStar Evolution

~In $2000 Range ($2,199.00)

4/5