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If you’ve ever attempted to capture the grandeur of a full moon with your smartphone’s camera, you’ve likely been left underwhelmed by the results. However, fear not, for French smart telescope innovator Vaonis has a solution that will bring you closer to the celestial marvels above. Enter Hestia, a book-sized telescope that harnesses the power of your smartphone’s sensor to capture breathtaking images of the stars and celestial events like never before.
Vaonis, renowned for its successful Stellina and Vespera smart telescopes, is once again pushing the boundaries of miniaturization with its latest groundbreaking innovation, Hestia. Designed to be accessible to all and to reduce costs, Vaonis has ingeniously integrated the capabilities of your smartphone into this compact telescope.
Founder of Vaonis, Cyril Dupuy, explains the company’s inspiration behind Hestia: “The Stellina and Vespera smart telescopes have been worldwide successes since their launch. This year, we are pushing back the limits of miniaturization with a new innovation: Hestia. To reduce costs and offer a telescope that is truly accessible to all, we have relied on the most powerful and widely adopted technology: your smartphone.“
Currently seeking production funding on Kickstarter, the Hestia is a mere 17 x 25 x 5.5 cm (6.7 x 9.5 x 2.2 in) in size, making it backpack-friendly for easy transportation during your stargazing adventures. Weighing in at just over a pound (500g), the telescope features 30-mm optics, consisting of six lenses arranged in three groups to deliver exceptional image clarity.
The magic of Hestia lies in its ingenious design. The telescope routes light entering the system through prisms, directing it upwards toward the camera array on the back of your smartphone. With the help of removable magnets, users can easily align their smartphone’s main camera to rest precisely on Hestia’s eyepiece, ensuring a seamless and captivating stargazing experience.
As for specifications like sensor size and image definition, they depend on the smartphone used in conjunction with the telescope. Nonetheless, users can achieve an impressive 25x magnification. The Hestia’s companion mobile app complements the setup by utilizing proprietary processing algorithms, which cleverly combine numerous short-exposure images to create a single enhanced view of the mesmerizing night sky captured through the lens.
In addition to its imaging capabilities, the app offers an interactive sky map to help users locate intriguing celestial targets, as well as optimize the telescope’s positioning for the best results. Furthermore, for those seeking to expand their astronomical knowledge, the app provides a library of valuable astronomical information, making stargazing an inviting experience for novices and enthusiasts alike.
The Hestia’s versatility extends beyond stars and moonlit nights. With the option to equip the telescope with a solar filter, users can safely observe sunspots and delve into understanding the Sun’s behavior, its influence on space weather, and its impact on our planet.
Kickstarter backers can secure their Hestia at a special early bird price, starting at just US$149. However, for those wanting additional accessories like the adjustable tripod, solar filter, and hard case bundles, extra contributions will be required.
As with any crowdfunding campaign, it’s essential to exercise caution. Nevertheless, if all goes according to plan, the fully funded Hestia campaign aims to begin shipping in December 2023. This timing allows ample preparation for the spectacular total solar eclipse expected in April 2024, visible to over 80% of people in the US—an astronomical event that promises to be an unforgettable experience for all skygazers.