Vaonis Vespera II smart telescope captures the cosmos in 4K
It's safe to say that French smart telescope innovator Vaonis took the internet by storm last year with the launch of the book-sized Hestia. Now the company has returned to its Vespera model for a second-generation upgrade.
Yes indeed, the Hestia crowdfunding project attracted nearly 14,000 backers and raised more than US$4 million in production cash. With the shipping process reportedly underway, a few team members recently hopped over the pond to Las Vegas, where the smart telescope nabbed a CES 2024 Innovation Award.
The original Vespera was also launched on Kickstarter, but the Mark II is taking a more direct route to release.
"Embark on a journey through the stars with Vespera II, the next generation of smart telescopes," said the company at launch. "This state-of-the-art device represents a significant advancement in astronomical technology, offering an unparalleled Ultra-HD view of the cosmos."
On the outside, little seems to have changed. It's still a thing of beauty – a curvy white portable pod with a motorized arm that points skyward to bring stargazers closer to the wonders of the cosmos. Rather than look through an eyepiece, the telescope leverages the power of mobile devices to zoom in on targets selected using a companion app called Singularity by Vaonis.
The company promises a five-minute setup, and a library of more than 4,000 objects is available through the app – with the telescope automatically pointing and tracking once selected. The system also benefits from live AF, live stacking (image enhancement), filter detection, observation planning, an expert mode with astrophotography controls, and more.
The new model is built around a 1/1.2-inch-type Sony IMX 585 sensor for up to 8.3-megapixel images (or 24 MP in Live Mosaic mode) and 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) definition. The apochromatic quad lens now sports a "refined field corrector," focal length has been boosted to 250 mm and the focal ratio gets bumped from four to five. The Mark II supports optional solar, dual-band and CLS (city light suppression) filters too.
Onboard storage goes up to 25 GB (from 10 GB), but battery life has taken a hit compared to the first Vespera, with the second-gen model rated for 4 hours per charge over USB-C as opposed to 8 hours.
The Vespera II is priced at US$1,590 – though you'll need to cough up an extra $100 for a standard tripod or $150 for an adjustable flavor, but you could just use your own and save some coin.
Product page: Vaonis Vespera II