What if you could look into space and see an awful lot more than you’re used to? What if you could do large amounts of science at the same time? The eVscope, a telescope being funded on Kickstarter, aims to do that without you needing to build an observatory in your back yard.
If you’ve ever used a telescope you probably know that what you can see through a tube and some ground glass (or a mirror, or a combination of the two) looks nothing like the images of space floating around on the internet. Which has a lot to do with the limitations of the human eye and the difficulties of peering through our atmosphere, among a whole host of other variables (like light pollution, aperture, having bought a crappy scope…) that mean that the view isn’t the way it actually looks from space.
Those gorgeously detailed images are the results of astrophotography, a practise whereby people spend all night being extremely meticulous about pointing and shooting long exposures and then all day editing the images. But the eVscope basically does all that on the fly, amplifying light and transmitting it to the telescope eyepiece with a claimed 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
It does this using its Enhanced Vision system, which basically replaces some of the components in what looks to be a cross between a reflector and a backpack-sized Maksutov-Cassegrain, turning it into more of a video camera than a telescope. Light is gathered, amplified by the sensor, translated by an onboard PC and then sent to the eyepiece to give users a live look at the heavens which rivals far larger astronomy setups. Except that the eVscope breaks down into a backpack.
It’s got some serious other smarts too, like the ability to recognise the stars and transmit information about your view to the included app — a feature known as Autonomous Field Detection — while also taking the hassle out of aligning the telescope. If it knows what it’s looking at then it knows where it is, after all so the alignment process is automatic.
And then there’s the science aspect. Creator eVscope has partnered with SETI to create something called Campaign Mode. This is something eVscope users can sign up for where SETI send out an alert to the telescope’s app, users can drop co-ordinates into the scope and then track whichever object is being studied — effectively gathering data from all over the world from a range of different points of view. Basically? Just looking at stars can turn into scientific discovery.
The eVscope has been funded, hauling in nearly $1.7million, well over its $150,000 goal, with over two weeks of the campaign to run, but there’s still time to back the scope and get your early model. Though… this kind of tech is going to cost you, $1,500 (about R21,500), plus $100 (R1,500) for shipping. Which might sound like a lot to spend but then you’ve never been tempted by the R62,000 Williams Optics FLT-132 Apo Triplet, have you? R23,000 is pocket change, in amateur astronomy terms, and what the eVscope is offering goes beyond what traditional scopes can offer.
Source: Unistellar (Kickstarter)