For centuries, astronomers have explored the cosmos through personal telescopes. Yet, despite the fact that these devices have grown considerably stronger over the years, amateur telescopes have remained relatively simple in both form and function .
Now a French startup called Unistellar has developed a powerful new evolution in personal telescopes — one that makes the act of stargazing brighter, clearer, and more engaging. Dubbed Unistellar eVscope, 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. The company unveiled the device at IFA 2017 in Berlin, and has now launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to jumpstart production.
Unistellar calls its product an Enhanced Vision Telescope (eVscope), which uses both electronics and optics to magnify a cosmic object’s brightness in real time. Flip on the enhanced mode, and distant galaxies suddenly go from faint and blurry 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 eVscope 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.”
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