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Vaonis Vespera: The crowdfunding campaign science fans should support

About a year or so ago, I first heard about a French company called Vaonis and its signature product — a “smart telescope” called Stellina ($3,999). Now the company is preparing a less expensive smart scope with many of the same features of Stellina called Vespera ($999 – $1,999 depending on options and when you back the project) and has gone to Kickstarter to get the product off the ground, raising over $800,000 in five days.

Why is this campaign so incredibly hot right now? I’ll give you my answer — people are fascinated by space and astronomy, but have been continually frustrated at the difference between those beautiful photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and their expensive backyard telescopes.

I used to do a lot of astronomy, owning several telescopes over the years. These were in the days before digital photography, and my images were always really bad. The telescopes were large and heavy in order to collect as much light as possible, they were difficult to set up, and aligning them so that the scope tracked the target (stars, nebulae, galaxies, planets, etc…) was a tedious process that I never mastered.

Both Stellina and Vespera do away with the difficulties involved in setup and doing photography. Stellina weighs about 25 lbs. in total, and takes astrophotos with a 3096 x 2080 resolution with the aid of a smartphone app. Select your target, and the telescope does the rest. Vespera weighs just 11 lbs., has 1920 x 1080 (1080p) resolution, and is missing some of the niceties of its bigger brother like dew control and a light pollution filter (which will be options)..

With the tap of a button and the aid of the app, Stellina and Vespera both start tracking the selected target and taking numerous exposures. Through the aid of a Vaonis-developed algorithm, those images are automatically stacked to create a sharp and bright photo that you can easily share. This isn’t the type of telescope that you’ll look through — think of it more as a dark sky camera.

Vespera has some big names behind it including astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly, and the company’s success with Stellina shows that it can indeed ship. However, don’t expect to order Vespera today and have it sitting under the Christmas tree, unless you’re planning to give it as a gift for Christmas 2021.

I always recommend caution with crowdfunding campaigns, having lost $500 on a campaign that started hot and never delivered. In this case, at least the company has a stellar history (pun intended).

We’re still trying to get our hands on Stellina for a test-drive, so keep your eyes open for this ultimate accessory for your Apple devices.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!