Unistellar is a start-up building the most powerful digital telescopes that allow the average user to not only enjoy the beauty of the night sky but also contribute to scientific research and discoveries using nothing but the iPhone or iPad. We reviewed Unistellar’s eVscope a few months back, and today the company announced its new digital telescope tailored towards the scientific community: the eQuinox.
Unistellar’s goal is to spread the joy of space with the creation of telescopes that don’t force the user to learn complex skills and tools that could take years to master. Unistellar’s new eQuinox telescope allows for longer viewing sessions thanks to a new 12-hour battery. It also includes the ability to connect up to 10 devices for viewing and control. eQuinox also supports streaming directly to an Apple TV for viewing the night sky on the big screen.
- Price: $2,999 (€2,799)
- Catalog of 5,400 objects from which to choose
- Mirror Diameter: 4.5in
- Focal: 450mm
- Weight: 19.8 lbs. (9kg) including tripod
- 12 hour battery life
- No eyepiece, experience is fully through mobile phones and tables
There is a great possibility for amazing science to be conducted with the growth of Unistellar’s user base. A big use case for this network of telescopes is discovering asteroids by observing occultations. This is when a body in our solar system passes in front of a distant star, dimming the light from the star and allowing astronomers to determine the size and even shape of the asteroid. This can be extended to near-Earth asteroids as well as exoplanets around completely different stars. The smart telescope makes this all accessible from iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.
A large network of telescopes allows for eQuinox to be used similar to an array of telescopes all pointed at the same position to gain even more data and produce a better potential image. Professional astronomers do this all the time to magnify what they can see across telescopes around the world, but large institution-ran telescopes can be hard to schedule time with often.
Space Explored spoke with Unistellar CEO Laurent Marfisi who expressed his vision of growing what is possible to be seen using the uniqueness of having a network of small telescopes. A goal for the future use of scientific research with the eQuinox is the ability to capture something called first light from supernovas. This is extremely difficult due to the short amount of time between the first warning of one happening to the first light reaching Earth. Large telescopes might not be able to spin up in time, but a network of citizen telescope users could all contribute data quickly.
The importance of the app
A key difference between Unistellar and other telescope companies is the importance the company puts on their app. Both on iOS and Android, the app allows users to get started right away with viewing suggested objects based on their location and time of day. Telescopes with viewfinders typically treat their app if offered as an afterthought.
The app is very important with eQuinox because it is the only way to control the telescope and view what it sees. This makes it as important a part of the experience as the telescope itself.
Marfisi says that “people at Apple and Google have been working to make as seamless an experience as they can with these devices. We feel that it was the best way to provide an excellent user experience.”
You can pre-order Unistellar’s new eQuinox telescope today at their website with the company saying the first units will become available in May of this year.
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