Meet Unistellar, the next evolution in backyard telescopes

Meet Unistellar, the next evolution in backyard telescopes

Why it matters to you

With Unistellar, backyard stargazers can study the sky in more detail and even generate scientific data while doing it.

For centuries, astronomers have explored the cosmos through personal telescopes. And, although these devices have grown stronger over the years, they have remained relatively simple in both form and function.

Now a French startup unveiled a powerful new evolution in personal telescopes that make the act of stargazing brighter, clearer, and more engaging. Dubbed Unistellar, the new telescope enhances the image of objects in the sky by accumulating and amplifying the light that they are emitting, according to its creators. They’re demonstrating the device at IFA 2017 in Berlin.

They’re calling Unistellar an Enhanced Vision Telescope (eVscope), which uses electronics and optics to magnify a cosmic object’s brightness in real time. Distant galaxies go from blurred to crisp and colorful.

“Apart from the four main planets Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, for which they are a great tool, classical telescopes, even high-end [ones], don’t really allow you to really see colors and details of other objects. So even if astronomy is a popular subject among the population, many people tend to be disappointed,” Arnaud Malvache, Unistellar president and co-founder, told Digital Trends. “Our first goal was to solve this problem. As scientists we also wanted to foster more interest about astronomy and science in general, so we also focused on finding other ways to make astronomy easier and more exciting.”

The eVscope feature can be turned on and off for stargazers who would rather use the Unistellar as a traditional telescope, or for those wanting to compare just how powerful the technology is.

The telescope also comes equipped with an automatic field detection algorithm that allows it to identify celestial objects in its field of view.

“This allows for two features,” Malvache said, “it can be used for automated pointing of unprecedented accuracy and can provide overlayed information to the user.”

The Unistellar team also made an effort to engage citizen scientists in generating useful scientific data. This initiative caught the attention of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, who recently partnered with Unistellar in its hunt for alien life.

“They felt a huge potential for research applications for planetary defense, supernovae, and more,” Malvache said, “and they were as excited as we were to transform astronomy in such an interactive and popular science.”

The telescope will be available for pre-order this fall and will retail around $1,000.

Published at Fri, 01 Sep 2017 16:50:54 +0000

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