A labelled diagram of a remote telescope set up.  These are the piers that we use at our remote telescope observatories.

Anatomy of a Remote Telescope

A remote telescope is a lot like your telescope at home, with some small changes:

Firstly, consider that a remote telescope is a fully automated system. All of the critical functions of observing are to be done robotically. This means at a basic level you require a computerized telescope mount, an autofocuser, and most likely an autoguider, and a electronic filter wheel.

You know your setup is capable of going remote when you can be asleep, and the telescope completes an imaging run by itself. The good news is that many people already have setups like this, often controlled by ASIAIRs.

All that a remote telescoping setup requires beyond this is:

  • Control computer (both PC and ASIAIRs are possible! See below for more details)
  • Remotely cyclable power outlets (such as a Wifi-capabale Kasa Smart Plug)

By remoting into your control computer, you can do remote astrophotography from anywhere in the world. By using a remote power switch, you can turn on and off your equipment from anywhere as well. This means you can turn on/off, devices, and cycle USB connections by rebooting. You can now telescope from home.

What telescope gear is suitable for remote telescoping?

Almost all common automated telescope setups used today are capable of remote telescoping. If it works in the backyard or in the field automated, there is no reason it will not work out here!

The majority of our customers at Starfront are using short refractor systems, paired with ZWO autofocusers, ZWO/QHY cameras, and AM5/AM3 harmonic mounts.

The one very nice feature to have in remote observing is a mount with a physical home capability. This means after a power out, you can ‘home’ the mount, so it can return to a known location without encoders. It is not totally required, but it is a great luxury.

Some examples of homing mounts: iOptron CEM series, iOptron GEM series, ZWO AM5/AM3,Software Bisque Paramount, 10Micron, Astrophysics, and many others.

If you would have any equipment/setup related questions, don't hesitate to send us an email via our Contact Us section!

How do I connect to my PC and control it?

In general, we recommend customers use a mini PC as it is the most versatile in the sense that you can get a lot more power, and it has the flexibility of being able to use any software package, including NINA. NINA can also automate your flats without a flat panel with a single click, which is super convenient. The tool is called the NINA flat wizard. 

Back to connecting your PC.. You control your remote PC via a remote connection software. Such as:

  • Chrome remote desktop
  • Rustdeck
  • Anydesk
  • Splashtop
  • Teamviewer

Having operated dozens of remote telescopes around the world, the best software BY FAR is Chrome Remote Desktop. Every other remote connection program has permission issues,glitches, and other inconsistencies.

Chrome remote is different, it always works, and requires no fine tuning of permissions. Put it on your PC, and as soon as it has an internet connection, you will have access. Chrome remote requires a gmail account to work, so if you plan to use it, we will hand you temporary anydesk credentials so you can securely log in to your gmail after the initial handoff.

How can I use my ASIAIR?

The ASIAIR is certainly possible to use in a remote context, and we have several customers who are successful with using the ASIAIR. 

In order to connect to your ASIAIR remotely, we need to use a VPN and a VLAN. This will make it so you can connect remotely to the same network that the ASIAIR is hardwired to via ethernet. 

We will give you the necessary config files you need to be able to set up your VPN. Once you have it set up, you can log in to your ASIAIR app remotely just as you would in person! 

In order to operate the ASIAIR from some devices like Apple laptops, one must add the ASIAIR IP address as a DNS server in their network settings. 

If you are able to connect to the ASIAIR via the app, this means you can also connect to the storage of the ASIAIR, since it is attached to the network. This is done by adding a network drive to your desktop or laptop using your ASIAIR IP address. Login as ‘guest’ and you will have access to your ASIAIR files to transfer them locally to begin editing images with them.