At the core of every PlaneWave Instruments product is uncompromising quality and craftsmanship. While working as telescope engineers, our team spent decades in the hobby of astrophotography perfecting their craft. During that time, they noticed a gap in the quality of equipment available and thusly PlaneWave Instruments was formed in 2006. To this day, our company continues the tradition of innovating and pushing the boundaries for astrophotographers around the world.

PlaneWave CDK1000 installed in Utah for astrophotography and outreach education.

Citizens Science

One of the many uses of our telescope systems in astronomy is citizen science.  A great deal of users contribute to collecting data for actual science and also their data published in scientific papers.  To do serious scientific data collection you need telescopes that can operate remotely and/or robotically and can work at great cadence collecting data night after night without having mechanical or optical issues.  Groups like the Society for Astronomical Sciences (SAS), American Association for Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), The Astronomical League’s Citizens Science Programs, and Institute for Student Astronomical Research (INSTAR) all are actively involved in promoting citizen science projects through meetings, conferences, and actual data collection and processing.  Publications like Sky and Telescope Magazine and Astronomy magazine are also promoters of citizens science and a wealth of information and articles in the field.


With the introduction of the CDK700 Observatory Telescope system, we were the first telescope manufacturer to offer a serial-production 70cm telescope and brought the market an entirely new price to value ratio for systems of this size. Not surprisingly, a majority of our CDK700 owners are educators and researchers. MINERVA, the Miniature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array, chose CDK700 systems as their platform for spectrographic studies to discover and document Earth-like exoplanets, and has made significant contributions to the scientific community since the project’s 2015 commissioning.

In 2016, PlaneWave Instruments applied the same approach to design and manufacture of the PW1000, and began delivering high-performance, meter-class systems that offered users incredible value. Using a 60% light-weighted primary mirror, in house designed and manufactured direct-drive motors, a modern Alt-Az mount configuration, and PlaneWave telescope control software; these systems not only allow a fractional budget compared to older technology, but are also a fraction of the size and weight of older 1M telescopes. This allows additional savings related to observatory size and site-preparation, further adding to the value of the PW1000.

In 2018, we released the L-Series line of tracking mounts, incorporating the direct-drive motor-control technology developed for the CDK700 and PW1000 mountings within a much smaller and telescope-agnostic package. With sealed bearings and PlaneWave manufactured brushless motors, these systems are ideal for remote astronomical research and education applications, including remote learning. The L-350, L-500, and L-600 were designed to service at least 1,000,000 slews/year for 10 years without need for mechanical maintenance. There are virtually no on-site maintenance needs: no need to re-lubricate, no need to adjust gear-meshing, just years of operation. Combined with our CDK12.5, CDK14, CDK17, CDK20, CDK24, and RC telescope offerings, the L-Series mounts become systems that offer many of the capabilities found in our larger, integrated systems, but in a smaller size, weight and price.

Whether for photometry, spectroscopy, polarimetry, exo-planet discovery, supernova hunting, or sky-surveys; whether for visible-spectrum, UV, IR, or a combination thereof; if you or your organization have need for high-quality, high-performance, economical telescope systems for research and education, we at PlaneWave look forward to working with you.

PlaneWave CDK600 installed at Brigham Young University in Utah.