Stephen Hawking Captures the Universe with Customized Celestron Telescope

The acclaimed theoretical physicist views celestial objects with a Celestron CPC Deluxe 1100HD telescope

Cambridge, UK (February 20, 2015) – He’s studied the universe for decades, but now Stephen Hawking can finally observe distant galaxies firsthand. Earlier this month, 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.

“Stephen enters the object name or coordinates and the telescope automatically moves to that position in the sky,” Product Manager Bryan Cogdell explained. “A few years ago, a setup like this would have been difficult to accomplish, but Celestron has really been advancing its telescope technologies.”

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.

“Stephen Hawking has changed the way humanity looks at the universe,” said Dave Anderson, CEO of Celestron. “We at Celestron are honored that such an accomplished thinker is using our products to enhance his own understanding and appreciation of the cosmos.” 

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.

“You opened the universe up to me,” Hawking told Celestron staff during their visit.