Is The Unistellar eVscope A Hit Or Hype?

Is The Unistellar eVscope A Hit Or Hype? The makers make a lot of promises about the capabilities of the eVscope, and they all seem fairly feasible. But is there any real practicality to the eVscope? I talk about what this telescope should and should not be able to do, and ultimately answer the questions of who should buy it, and is it all just hype?

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Dilip Sharan says:

Totally agree with the comments in this piece. I own an Altair Astro GPCAM2 with an IMX224C sensor and can get reasonable images of deep sky objects with 10 second exposures using the SharpCap software live stacking video mode and my cheap and cheerful Star Travel 120 mm refractor.

Garnett Leary says:

It automatically aligns itself. SETI cooperatives are very useful. To avid scientists the data collection thru citizen science is essentially donation. It’s a contribution you cannot make readily in the field with immediacy. It serves a higher purpose for that reason alone. This telescope should be in classrooms. It just may bring a new found interest in astronomy that standard visual telescopes don’t. You can also remove the imager and use it in its native form. It’s interesting to hear someones opinion of it that’s not interested in owning it tho. Clear skies.

George Ouimet says:

I think you all miss the point of this telescope. It’s NOT MADE FOR YOU! The average father isn’t going to say to his kid, let’s spend some time looking at the stars tonight… then grab his 45lb AVX, 20lb refractor, tote a bunch of eyepieces, a powertank, a dslr, some adapters, drive out of town and spend 30 minutes aligning in the freezing cold… Jesus.. By the time they get out there and setup, the kid is passed out.

Take this as an example: I would never purchase a console for myself (xBox, playstation, nintendo, etc). Because I like being able to build my own PC, mod it, overclock it, liquid cool it and get quality that no console could wish to attempt. But that doesn’t make consoles garbage. They still play quality games for the masses and they’re easy as hell to setup. You just need to know where to stick a single wire in the back of the TV you already own. No instructions required.

This telescope is a console for the masses. Sure V1 is more expensive than it should be, but that’s fairly normal for launching new technology products – the price will probably come down over time. Perhaps Celestron, Orion, ES etc will hop on board with similar products and these things will be sold in Costco’s by 2020 (Heck, they carry the 6SE, why not this?).

Then dad will say to his daughter – “It’s a clear night, let’s go out the back yard and look at the stars for a bit”. 5 minutes later they’re both looking at and learning about Pleiades, Orion’s Nebula and sharing photos of what they’re looking at on Facebook. It’s great. I think it’s freaking fantastic.

And while I already have a nice big powerful scope with an EQ, I’m still going to buy this so that I can plop it out in the backyard on a moments notice and spend random evenings with my daughter looking at the whirlpool galaxy without setups and alignments and computers and stacking. With this thing, perhaps even my wife will take an interest and learn a little more about our place in the universe. I can image this being much like the night she saw Saturn for the first time with her own eyes – there was an audible gasp – as though Saturn wasn’t a real thing until her eyes saw it live.

Anyhow, I’m rambling. I do that.

schermination says:

Alt-Azimuth is unsuited for astro-photography.
It’s basically a camera which is stacking images on the fly
Can’t see any advantage for astro-photography, it might provide ‘views’ that show more than you can see with your eye, but so can your camera attached to a telescope.
Might as well just look at images on your computer ..

Mitchell Tubbs says:

Sound off below: Have you been seeing this advertised online lately? Is it a telescope you’ve been curious about, and maybe even considered buying later? Let’s get a conversation going on here! Maybe the guys from Unistellar will chime in!

John Gleason says:

You might want to read the latest FAQ’s and comments on the Kickstarter site for this product. You are absolutely correct, you are not the customer for this telescope. Engaging the general public and beginners with an all in one instrument where you can actually see something seems to be their goal. You don’t need to buy all those extra eyepieces and accessories. So what if it’s $2000? They will sell a shipload of them and you can bet that retailers will be clamoring to get it into their stores.

Ali Sadiq says:

Thank you for this review… I would ask is the earth flat or sphere… I believe its sphere but many scientist prove that its flat.

Agustin Machuca says:

Thanks you, I was freaking out when I saw this telescope because I was wondering what they did to get so much power from such tiny telescope. Maybe some black magic with optics but that didn’t seems to add up that well. Thanks you for clarifying everything.

fnersch says:

When I read this I was convinced that this will be a great addition to my collection of telescopes:  “I have seen a prototype in action.  It works spectacularly well.  The colors in planetary nebulas are superior to scopes 150X larger area!” -Gene Cross (he saw a demo in SF).  Gene is a high level professional optical engineer that I personally know.  I can trust his judgment.  I’ve been collecting and using telescopes for nearly 60 years. This will be a nice addition.  BTW,  the Sony IMX224LQR (NIR) is well matched to the optics and has good sensitivity. On reproductions I’ve spotted stars down to 15.6 mag. Not bad for a 4.5″ system (and OLED).

fnersch says:

This thing does more than you think:  Unistellar’s App, currently under development, enables you to wirelessly control the eVscope (Bluetooth or Wifi). It runs on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac or Linux. You can choose between beginner and expert mode. In beginner mode, everything is done automatically: after the automatic alignment procedure completes itself, simply choose an object and the telescope will point to it, you can then save pictures, record videos, or add contextual information. In expert mode everything can be set manually: choose the sky region for alignment, point manually anywhere in the sky, set the sensor sensitivity and exposure time, adjust noise reduction and gamma curve.

Jeff Lucas says:

I will buy it and mount as my finder scope on my OTAs. I wonder if I can take the image view and port to my 4K.

zaicevnn says:

Ребята успехов вам!
Это революционная идея!
Это переворот в любительских астронаблюдениях!

Daniel Fischer says:

What a bizarre idea to talk for 10+ minutes about a product one has neither seen and tried out nor talked over with the inventors. Nor having read carefully what its specs are and what others have found out …

– There *are* working prototypes of the eVscope since almost a year now, they have been demonstrated at trade shows and – more importantly – public observing events in several countries. I have tested such an instrument myself in September – here is the detailled report:

– There will be two observing modes, a pretty automated one for beginners and a different one for advanced users which gives you control over everything and thus maximum flexibility. This is a powerful science instrument, and the “campaign mode” is thus a valid add-on, turning scores of eVscopes – active at a given time – into citizen science instruments if you allow it.

– The stacking software takes care of the field rotation with math, allowing many minutes of integrated exposure time. It works as advertised, I’ve seen it perform on the sky. That’s all the more impressive as the final product will deduce the telescope’s spatial orientation (and find the pole axis) completely on its own by just analyzing brief images of a few star fields.

Yes, I have problems with certain aspects of the eVscope, predominantly its fixed image scale (which is 1.7 arcsec/pixel) and FOV (about Moon-sized). But the high integration of optics, electronics and mechanics realized here is unique. The main use initially will probably be in public astronomy, in that we agree – but the possibilities beyond can’t even be fathomed.

archerychampion says:

Comments from a visual astronomer, based on approximate locations of the video.

0:22 If you’re “not sure what is is that they’re claiming it can do”, then take another close look at their videos, and examine their scope’s specs again in detail.  It is not touted as revolutionizing astrophotography or astroimaging. The sensor is way too small to even THINK about competing with current CCD sensors designed for astrophotography, or even DSLR camera astrophotography.  It will, I believe, broaden the general public’s interest in amateur astronomy (visual astronomy), for sure.  

2:10 In addition to taking the unit camping, this will be an ideal scope to use when performing “Sidewalk Astronomy” (à la John Dobson). Set it up in a suburban location at a mall or city center, and invite the public to view M13 or M57!

2:28 There are working models “out there” that they’ve been using in announced demos in the US and abroad.  In 2018, I’m sure there will be many “beta testers” putting the scope through its paces before they ramp up final production.

3:05. Objects don’t “just materialize out of nowhere”, as you can see stars through the instrument even when the stacking feature is not activated.

3:46 This IS indeed a single task device.  I am a visual astronomer, and the eVscope looks like it will be a great addition to the market of other, “unitasker” telescopes already being purchased by amateur astronomers today. I get the sense that you prefer that it should be an astrograph, but it is not.  If you want to take photos, do NOT purchase this telescope.  The images it DOES save are much too small for anything other than low-res imaging on a computer screen or cell pone.  The manufacturers are not claiming this to be anything competitive to today’s large-chip CCD or DSLR-compatible telescopes. Our club has a 5″ Apochromat for photography and a 20″ Newtonian for visual work.  The eVscope might compete with the 20″, since users can’t see the central star in M57, or see anything in color for that matter on the big scope.  Or it might just be a solid addition to the 20″ scope when we do our scheduled public viewing nights. The line for the big scope stretches far from the building; with the addition of the eVscope, we’ll be able to have more people look through telescopes in the same unit of time.

4:18 The manufacturer states that there is field rotation correction built in to the software.  Again, this is a visual scope, not an astrograph, and the outputted image size is very small, so I can’t see how anyone would buy this to perform “real astrophotography”.

4:35. Regarding coma, I’ll bet that the size of the image chip is smaller than the virtual image by a large enough factor, so that coma correction becomes a non-issue.  

5:00 This is NOT a narrow-band imager. It is not an instrument for astrophotography in the normal sense of the word.  It is a visual telescope that can take some low res pics to share with your friends on a mobile device.

6:13. Regarding Campaign mode, it is my understanding that in campaign mode, your phone receives a request to view a specific view of the sky, and is sent coordinates.  Once you are by your scope, and only at your discretion, you transmit the coordinates to the telescope and it does its business. There is no need for the scope to be available 24 hrs a day as some kind of remotely attended/operated instrument.  It’s all about the user deciding to participate at a time and location convenient to them. The “campaign version” is a purchase option, as well.  You don’t even need to buy it with that capability.

8:30 The eVscope IS a lousy imaging scope.  The eVscope is NOT for people who want to do imaging! It will be a great addition for amateur astronomy clubs and those members who particularly enjoy public outreach.  Personally, I don’t see bringing it to star parties; I’d be worried that the OLED screen brightness would ruin dark-adapted eyes. Color or not, there will likely NEVER be an eVscope that will provide the thrill of looking through a 15″ Obsession with Televue Ethos eyepieces.  THAT’s what I’d bring to the party!

10:15 The case against planetary viewing is not in the magnification, as Saturn at 100x is a beautiful sight, but it is in the bright albedo of planets, in general and the blooming effect such a bright object has on the small sensor. With our club’s AstroVid CCD camera, you need to dial back the shutter to 1/1000 of a second to bring the light levels down in order to see any detail. The eVscope doesn’t seem to have that ability. I foresee building an aperture mask to bring the f/ ratio down to f/11 or so, and maybe that might permit viewing of Jupiter’s cloud bands for example.  Of course, I won’t know until I try, but maybe such a mask might permit planetary viewing.  Maybe a small enough mask would “force” the system to actually accumulate frames, in order to easily see detail on Jupiter or Saturn.  Maybe an f/128 mask?  I can’t wait to try!

Keep the videos coming (I’ve subscribed). This one offers great commentary on a new device.

Johnathan Welsh says:

Am I right in saying that when you look through the eye piece you’re looking at a stacked digital photograph rather than the object itself in real time?

Michael Cannizzo says:

I think everyone is being a little harsh here. Traditional telescopes do a great job of looking at the sun, moon, and planets. Great! But visually even with even the best make the Orion nebula and Andromeda Galaxy look like whisps of smoke. If i I just want to go out and look visually at deep sky objects this is the ticket. It’s not trying to replace your current telescope, it’s not trying to replace your DSLR, CCD, or Photoshop mayhem you may want to subject yourself through, but if you want something that you can plop on the ground, take on a plane, and just see stuff that requires a DSLR and ton of photo equipment and post processing, then this is it. I think everyone that spent hundreds and thousands of dollars (I spent the same) are put off because it doesn’t replace all that equipment for you. But for someone who wanted a first telescope and didn’t want to be disappointed this may be a problem solver.

ken kressler says:

I wouldn’t waste any money on this piece of joke. Not worth investment as you mentioned not for deep space photography. So I cut it off prematurely.

Tommyr says:

I’m a backer of this scope. Field rotation is NOT a problem. It’s dealt with according to the makers. I also understand that exposure times can be adjusted by the users via their app IIRC. To what extent I’m not sure yet. They are now considering making filter use possible as well at the eypiece. Read the comment section of their kickstarter page, a lot of questions have been answered so far.

Yes, you can build a better system that’s more versatile but unless you’re a seasoned amateur there is also a steep learning curve in USING all that gear. As well as setting it all up, polar aligning, etc. Not to mention learning how to process the images. This scope is more for newcomers, not seasoned amateurs. I’m a season amateur however not with astrophotography.

Good video but since this was done in early November I’m sure you know more info by now about this scope.

WideOpenChange says:

Not being able to look at the nearby planets or moon killed it for me.

Stefan Blomskog says:

Thanks for the info, very helpful!

cyc996863 says:

If you don’t need to impress anyone nor you are not a scientist, you don’t need this?

James Hunsucker says:

Fair overview. Now to see what the actual product will be like…

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