For as long as humans have populated the Earth, our eyes have been fixed on the universe beyond. Our earliest cultures based their deities on celestial bodies; stars and suns are woven through our oldest mythologies. As early as 35,000 BCE, civilizations in Africa and Europe used bone sticks to record and track the phases of the moon. Archeological digs have uncovered monuments and objects that served as humankind’s first calendars, used to measure time via observations of the vast heavens above.
Fast forward to 1608, when a Dutch eyeglass maker named Hans Lippershey applied for a patent for a device that could magnify an object to three times its size. This rudimentary apparatus, consisting of a concave eyepiece and convex objective lens, would prove to be one of the most important inventions of all time. The next year, once Galileo got wind of the device, he set about to create his own version — one with the capacity to magnify an object by twenty. The telescope was born.
Fast forward yet again to the year 2019, which marks another significant advancement in the world of astronomy. This year will see the upcoming release, in the words of its makers, of the “first all in one smart telescope in the world to photograph the universe.”
The device is Stellina, designed by a French company called Vaonis. Company founder Cyril Dupuy became fascinated with astronomy as a teenager upon visiting an observatory for the first time. As an adult, he studied optics and aerospace and went on to became president of an astronomy association.
After years of experience in astronomical instrumentation development, he found himself consistently disappointed in his search for the perfect telescope. And so he assembled a team of astronomy and new technology enthusiasts in order to create Stellina. Three years of research and development culminated in a user-friendly, portable, smart telescope that debuted at CES 2018, where it walked away with an award for innovation.
The Stellina is a sleek, monoblock telescope that sits on a compact tripod. Weighing only 24 pounds, the lightweight Stellina is diminutive enough for a backpack or luggage; take it camping, hiking, to the cottage, or even abroad. The telescope has a running time of ten hours and uses a 20,000mAh powerstation.
The device connects to an app, allowing the user to control Stellina via a smart phone; a motor and built-in geolocalization enable the lens to move and focus. The mobile app will guide you through the hundreds of celestial locations, automatically finding and tracking objects and making it easy to capture whichever slice of the night sky you desire. A 6.4 megapixel CMOS sensor makes for clear observation and photography of deep sky objects — the moon, sun, planets, asteroids, and comets are all within reach. An embedded computer within the telescope allows for more than this simple, automated setup; Stellina can also manage image processing, and uses image live stacking technology — that is, a combination of multiple exposures in real time — to magnify subjects and reduce noise. This makes for clear, high quality images that seemingly place distant extraterrestrial bodies at our fingertips.
Snap the shot, and within seconds the image is transferred to a mobile device, making it easy and fast to share images with family, friends, or online communities of fellow astronomy enthusiasts.
One need only look at the images the Stellina is capable of producing to grasp just how advanced this device truly is:
With its minimalist design, user-friendly functionality, and high-quality imaging capabilities, Stellina is poised to change the way we interact with the night sky — and each other. Its fast online platform is a promising advancement in crowd-sourced science, and we’ll be keeping an eye on the exciting rollout of the Stellina. Pre-orders are officially closed, but the first deliveries are set to occur in April. Want to add this to your 2019 wish list? Follow the space odyssey here.
Photos via Vaonis.