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He’s studied the universe for decades, but now Stephen Hawking can finally observe distant galaxies firsthand. In early 2015, Celestron staff traveled to the physicist’s home in Cambridge to install a custom telescope complete with a remote connection to Hawking’s computer.

Hawking, who studies black holes and the origin of the universe, is unable to observe through a traditional telescope eyepiece due to ALS, a neuron disorder that restricts his movement and keeps him confined to a wheelchair. But Hawking can control his new telescope 100% remotely via his PC.

Once the object is centered, Hawking uses two Celestron astronomical cameras to capture images, which are then relayed back to his PC. During his first few nights observing, Hawking captured craters on the Moon, the Orion Nebula, and a pair of galaxies in the constellation Ursa Major. The Cambridge University professor created a wish list for future objects to observe, which included Mars, the Pleiades Star Cluster, the Andromeda Galaxy, and erstwhile planet Pluto. The CPC Deluxe HD telescope’s 11-inch primary mirror is large enough to observe faint detail in objects millions of light years away.

Although he conducts advanced research into the nature of space-time, Hawking never had much experience with a telescope, even as a child. At a conference of scientific minds in the Canary Islands, Hawking’s team approached Celestron to see if the manufacturer had a telescope that was compatible with his computer. Once the installation was complete, Hawking was delighted to embark on his new journey as an amateur astronomer.

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