Although this has absolutely nothing to do with Pentax, since Larry brought up 
astro-imaging, I can’t resist showing the initial results of something that has 
really reenergized my passion for astronomy. Although I’ve owned a couple of 
really nice telescopes since the early 90s (which were great for visual 
observation when I lived on top of a not-too-light-polluted hill and could just 
roll the scopes out to the driveway to observe), since we moved to the 
Sacramento area, the combination of light pollution (around Bortle 7 for anyone 
who knows what that means), and the increasing difficulty of lugging them out 
to set up had pretty much ended observation for me (and I was never 
particularly interested in the intricacies of astrophotography). 

Then, a few months ago, I acquired a small, inexpensive, “robotic” scope for 
what is called EAA (electronically assisted astronomy) that promises the 
ability to visually observe in light-polluted areas (albeit on the screen of a 
phone or tablet) as well as offer much simplified photography. Here are a few 
of my first results:

M33 Galaxy in Triangulum:

NGC 7635 Bubble Nebula in Cassiopeia:

NGC 1499 California Nebula in Perseus:

This little gizmo has only a 50mm (~2 in) objective (which is tiny for deep sky 
objects) and has the ability, controlled by a phone or tablet, to automatically 
find and slew to whatever object you tell it to and begin taking a series of 10 
second exposures. Let it keep doing this as long as you want and watch the 
object appear on the phone or tablet with more and more detail as the 
successive exposures are stacked and processed. I did do some post-processing 
on these, but as I have exactly zero experience with astrophotography, it’s 
pretty primitive compared to what’s possible. 
So, a telescope with a built-in computer-controlled alt/az mount, a digital 
astro-camera, auto-focuser, dew heater, multiple filters, small carbon-fiber 
tripod and a fairly nice case, for about $500. 

We truly live in the future.
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