Viewing what’s out there beyond our own world can be complex with a proper telescope, but there’s a new style on the way as Nikon’s glass goes to an electronic eye.
Looking up at the stars is a favourite pastime of many of us, sitting under a blanket of darkness pin-pricked and dotted with spots of light that keep us wondering what else is out there. It’s a pastime that could lead you down a complex road of telescopes and tripods, of spotting scopes and star tracking, and may end up being all too dizzying.
There are lots of different options for folks keen to get stuck into astronomy, from the very cheap to the very expensive, but there are also attempts by the community to bring the hardware to people keen on embracing a more digital style of astronomy.
While you can always capture a decent shot of the moon with a familiar camera and some patience and skills, if you’re keen to venture out beyond that great night light in the sky, you may start looking at new breeds of telescopes, as well.
Earlier in the year, the Vaonis Vespera showed what could happen when a telescope could be made easier, connecting to an app to control the whole thing, and this week we’re hearing of another, and it’ll have the optics of a major camera and glass brand.
Unistellar has announced that it’s launching the eVscope 2, a digital telescope that is app connected and digital at the heart, relying on a 7.7 megapixel Sony sensor with a 50x lens capable of seeing 450mm, while the digital zoom (also known as “cropping”) can capture to a recommended maximum of 150x, but also push it to 400x if you don’t mind seeing the odd pixel.
A collaboration with Nikon has seen Unistellar get Nikon’s glass into the eyepieces, made up of elements from the camera giant’s optical labs to provide something different and potentially better for the eye on top of a micro OLED screen.
That comes alongside something Unistellar calls “Enhanced Vision” which balances the contrast of what you see in the sky and combines the accumulated light of far away stars, potentially improving the views compared with a standard telescope viewfinder. You’re not looking through a conventional telescope in the eVscope 2, with it acting more like a mirrorless camera, and viewing the result through what a sensor sees.
Because of that wholly digital approach, there’s also an app, able to help you point a telescope automatically at happenings in the sky, and even livestream what you’re doing and looking at. The whole thing is motorised on a set of portable tripod legs, comes with around 10 hours of battery life, and the app can help you find what you’re looking for without needing to set the telescope manually with a spotting scope and coordinates.
There’s even a bit of software at play to help folks living in the city, with light pollution reduction technology to cut back on background light to capture astrophotography images from inside of a city.
“Amateur astronomy typically requires a dark sky location, complex gear assembly, time-consuming setup, often hours of image processing – plus the knowledge to bring it all together,” said Laurent Marfisi, CEO of Unistellar.
“With the eVscope 2, anyone can join a quick half-hour observation session and enjoy numerous colorful deep space objects, even from a down-town balcony,” he said. “Our technology is helping astronomy to finally play a role in people’s daily lives.”
The catch for the Unistellar eVscope 2 may come down to price, with the whole thing set for a USD price of $4199, which in turn translates to just under $6K in Australia. Granted, that’s not a cheap bit of kit, and a dollar figure that can get you quite a bit of telescope inside the country from the retailers that sell telescopes locally.
Unistellar already has locals using its hardware in Australia, something you can find on its map of citizen astronomers, but the company has told Pickr that there may not be local availability of the eVscope 2 beyond ordering online and factoring conversion and shipping costs.
If that doesn’t faze you and you’re after an amateur-friendly approach to astrophotography, the Unistellar eVscope 2 may be worth checking out when it starts shipping in November.