The $3,000 eVscope makes stargazing easy and fun

If you work with the world’s best space reporter, it’s onerous to not be caught up in his enthusiasm for the starry skies. Sadly for me, gentle air pollution in my Chicago suburb makes stargazing, watching the Perseid meteor showers, and trying out different cool astronomical phenomena a dicey proposition. Even when we get a transparent evening, the sky is shiny sufficient that watching the nighttime skies is an train in frustration.

So once I obtained an e-mail touting the Unistellar eVscope and its means to chop by gentle air pollution and provides a transparent view of the heavens regardless of the place you might be, I used to be intrigued. Even higher, I had the best check setup: my residence in suburban Chicago and my household’s place just a few miles exterior of Shelbyville, Illinois (about 70 miles from Springfield). I may stargaze from a suburban yard and the sting of a cornfield to see if the eVscope lived as much as the hype.

An accumulation of sunshine

The eVscope emerged from a Kickstarter marketing campaign launched in late 2017. In an try to “give the sky again to all of us,” Unistellar promised a “compact, clever, and highly effective telescope” that was not solely easy to make use of however may additionally allow metropolis dwellers to see objects like galaxies and nebulae that couldn’t be seen by conventional telescopes.

Unistellar claims that the eVscope’s “Enhanced Imaginative and prescient” is 100 occasions extra highly effective than a “common” telescope. On the {hardware} aspect, that is completed with 50x optical magnification and 400x digital magnification. The eVscope has a 450mm focal size, a 4.5-inch (11.43mm) mirror, and a focal ratio of f/4. For my testing, I used to be completely happy to seek out it to be simply transportable: together with the tripod, it weighs in at 19.8lb (9kg) and measures 25.6in by 9in (63cm by 23cm). Unistellar claims a battery lifetime of 10 hours. Whereas I didn’t measure that straight, I had the telescope for eight weeks, used it a number of occasions, and solely needed to cost it as soon as.

Watching the sky

Contained in the eVscope field is a USB-C charger, tripod, and instruction guide, together with the telescope. You’ll have to obtain the Android or iOS app, relying on what sort of smartphone you may have, because the telescope is operated solely by way of the app. Setting the eVscope up may be very straightforward—all you actually need is a comparatively flat floor. The tripod has a built-in degree—it’s vital to set it up as degree as potential, as being even barely off-kilter will have an effect on the eVscope’s accuracy while you inform it to zoom in on a celestial object. Upon getting the tripod in place, line up the bottom of the telescope mount with the tripod, tighten the screws to carry it in place, and also you’re all set. It’s ridiculously straightforward.

There may be not a lot in the best way of controls on the telescope itself, only a energy button, standing gentle, and adjustable stay projection system (an eyepiece with a small show inside). That’s the place the app is available in. As soon as the telescope powers on, a brand new Wi-Fi community will present up in your telephone. Hook up with it, launch the Unistellar app, and also you’re able to stare on the evening skies.

The very first thing the eVscope must do is determine the place it’s. That occurs by way of a mixture of a built-in compass, GPS out of your smartphone, and a transparent view of the heavens. Utilizing the digital joystick on the app, level the telescope in a path with a wide-open view—not an issue in central Illinois; more durable in suburban Chicago. Then regulate the main target by way of the large focus wheel on the base of the telescope (for those who’re so inclined, you may also use the Bahtinov mask embedded within the lens cap for additional tweaking). Let it know for those who’re in an city, suburban, or rural setting, then press the auto-alignment button, and the eVscope will take as much as a few minutes to orient itself with its patent-pending autonomous area detection. As soon as that’s achieved, you’re prepared to have a look at cool stuff.

Guide or computerized

The very first thing I wished to have a look at was Mars. I may see it within the jap sky the primary evening I used the eVscope, so I used the app to manually swing the telescope round. The motorized altitude-azimuth mount made a quiet whirr as I maneuvered the scope, watching the celebrities blur by on my iPhone display screen because it homed in on Mars. I used to be rewarded by the sight of a dusky-red, barely blurry dot. Zooming out and in is carried out with the two-finger pinch acquainted to anybody who has ever used a smartphone.

It’s loads simpler—and extra rewarding—to make use of the built-in navigation options of the eVscope. Head over to the Discover tab on the backside of the app and also you’ll see an extended record of celestial objects viewable out of your location. They’re grouped by class: galaxies, nebulae, planets, clusters, and so forth. The Unistellar app helpfully recommends objects that supply the very best viewing expertise, an inventory that modifications primarily based on the calendar, your location, time of evening, and different situations.

That first evening, the Omega Nebula popped up within the really useful objects, so I touched its icon and the telescope started its motion. Because the telescope situated and homed in on the Omega Nebula, a course of that took round 90 seconds, I learn an outline of the nebula the app helpfully confirmed me. Omega got here into view, nevertheless it was off middle, so I fiddled with the digital joystick till it was centered after which hit the Enhanced Imaginative and prescient button. With EV activated, the eVscope “collects” gentle, so the celestial object will get brighter and clearer over time. The result’s nearly jaw-dropping—the type of element that’s simply not part of on a regular basis expertise.

And it’s straightforward to share the superb views. In contrast to a standard telescope, the place everybody takes turns trying by the eyepiece, the eVscope helps as much as eight customers directly. One particular person is designated because the operator and everybody else can watch the celebrities on their smartphones in observer mode. Whereas I did examine issues out within the eyepiece, I discovered the Unistellar app was actually the best way to go. You’re seeing basically the identical factor in each locations. And there is no want for a digital camera adapter, as it can save you photos on to your telephone’s photograph library from inside the app.

Enhanced Imaginative and prescient will not be the most suitable choice while you wish to take a look at different planets, as they’ll look blown out. Along with the purple planet, I checked out Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. By manually adjusting the distinction and brightness, I used to be in a position to get the intense blobs to resolve into dimmer and barely blurry planets. I might’ve appreciated a clearer view of the planets, however the eVscope does not do something {that a} typical telescope cannot do on the subject of our neighbors inside the Photo voltaic System. The place the eVscope actually shines is trying on the far-away stuff.

Past looking and gazing on the skies, you may also do some citizen science. Unistellar has partnered with the SETI Institute so customers can hook up with a community of citizen astronomers and take part in worldwide viewing occasions.

Suburban skies

It’s straightforward to stargaze out within the nation, however what about within the suburbs? The hardest a part of establishing the eVscope in my yard was discovering a degree sufficient place that had a comparatively open view of the sky. I finally settled on a bit of sidewalk about midway between our home and indifferent storage. Wanting on the gentle air pollution and the paucity of stars, I used to be not optimistic as I powered up the eVscope and informed it to do its factor. I used to be stunned on the outcome.

Andromeda confirmed up on the Discover tab, and inside seconds of locking in on the far-off galaxy, its options started to resolve on my iPhone XS Max. I left the scope locked in on Andromeda for seven minutes, and the picture turned clearer and brighter on my telephone as Unistellar’s Enhanced Imaginative and prescient did its factor. Other than the restricted area of view because of bushes and homes, utilizing the eVscope in suburban Chicago was simply as rewarding as in central Illinois.


That is an costly piece of substances, little question about it. In spite of everything, you will get a extra fundamental telescope for lower than one-tenth the value of the eVscope. There are additionally cheaper telescopes with built-in GoTo performance, with some retailing for as little as $500.

The place the eVscope shines is in its ease of use. The time from opening the field to gazing at some stunning nebula may be minimal. The smartphone app is properly thought-out. One evening in Shelbyville, my spouse, two youngsters, my dad and mom, and our neighbor had been in a position to marvel at sights we’d by no means seen earlier than exterior of a planetarium or documentary—all on the similar time on our personal smartphones. We had been in a position to have an analogous expertise in our suburban yard.

Extra importantly, with its digital sensor and onboard picture processing, the eVscope makes it potential to see sights that stay hidden from a lot of the lesser-priced competitors. And the benefit of use can’t be overstated—Unistellar’s tag line about enabling citizen astronomy rings true, particularly for novices. Is all of that value $3,000? That’s as much as you.

The Good

  • Properly-designed, informative, and easy-to-use smartphone app
  • Getting the eVscope up and working is a snap
  • Celestial object database makes discovering and viewing celestial our bodies straightforward
  • As much as 9 folks can stargaze on the similar time
  • Works about as properly in light-polluted areas because it does within the nation
  • App updates convey extra options.

The Dangerous

  • GoTo operate is barely off if telescope isn’t degree
  • Focusing by way of the Bahtinov masks is fussy.

The Ugly

  • The $2,999 price ticket—however for those who’ve obtained the money for this form of buy and an curiosity in astronomy, you received’t remorse it.

The Lovely

  • Seeing the majesty of the evening skies in a method I had by no means skilled earlier than.

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