Computers and Astronomy Perhaps every generation of astronomers believes that their telescopes are the best that have ever been. They are surely all correct! The great leap of our time is that computer-designed and machined parts have led to more accurately made com- nents that give the astronomer ever better views. The manual skills of the craftsman mirror grinder have been transformed into the new-age skills of the programmer and the machine maker. (The new products did not end the work of craftsman te- scope makers, though. Many highly skilled amateur/professional opticians cont- ued to produce good-quality mirrors that are still seen today. ) Amateur-priced telescopes are now capable of highly accurate tracking and computer control that were once only the province of professionals. This has greatly increased the p- sibilities of serious astronomy projects for which tailor-made software has been developed. Add a CCD camera to these improved telescopes (see Chap. 3), and you bring a whole new dimension to your astronomy (see Fig. 1. 1). Look Before You Leap! But first, a word of caution. Unless you are already familiar with astronomy and basic telescopes, it is not wise to start spending large amounts of money on a we- featured telescope. Such an instrument might otherwise be subsequently abandoned due to a perceived overcomplexity coupled with a waning interest.