Astronomy

Vaonis Introduces Limited Edition Vespera Passengers Smartscope

A top name in smartscope technology releases an exciting new limited edition unit.

A great product just got better. France-based telescope maker Vaonis announced this week the release of an upgraded version of their Vespera smartscope telescope. Dubbed Vespera: Passengers, the telescope promises users will “embark on a cosmic odyssey, unveiling the Universe’s best kept secrets.” But you have to act soon to reserve yours, as only 70 of the 222 limited edition units are left.

Vaonis made waves in 2020 with the release of the Stellina smartscope. We’ve reviewed both the Stellina and the smaller Vespera units in the past, as well as Unistellar’s eVscope. Smartscopes are the latest trend in astronomy: simply set the ‘scope on its tripod, power it on, download the control app, and you’re ready to go… no alignment, focusing or tinkering required. In fact, the Vaonis line of ‘scopes don’t even have an eyepiece… you simply see the image build up right before you on your phone’s screen.

Enter Vespera Passengers

The Vespera Passengers unit versus the classic features better resolution, better field of view, better storage, and a better tripod.

Field of view of Vespera, versus Vespera Passengers. Credit: Vaonis.

The field of view is a generous 2.4 by 1.8 degrees, almost five times wider than the Full Moon and ideal for wide-field, deep sky imaging. Like the Vespera classic, the Passengers sports a 50mm (2’) apochromatic quadruplet primary objective lens, yielding an f/4 focal ratio. Unlike the classic however, Passengers has an upgraded 6.2 megapixel resolution, 25 gigabytes of storage, and an upgraded Gitzo high-profile tripod.

Used in the company’s Covalens mode, Passengers can reach an impressive 24 megapixel resolution, pretty incredible considering the small size of the instrument.

A wide-field capture of the Carina Nebula Complex, captured with Vespera in Covalens mode. Credit: Vaonis.

The cost of the Vaonis Vespera Passengers smartscope is 1,950$ USD. Optional accessories available include solar, dual band, and light pollution filters.

A screenshot of the Wild Duck Cluster Messier 11, taken with Vespera. Credit: Dave Dickinson

Why Smartscopes?

Is it worth it? Ironically, though you can use a smartscope to view the Moon or planets, they actually are built for wide field, deep sky imaging. Like with any traditional, rich field of view refractor, planets tend to look like little more than dots to Vespera; ironically, a low cost 6-inch Newtonian can easily surpass the view when it comes to planets or the Moon. But I think that the prime benefit of smartscopes is how you can do deep sky imaging, even under bright urban skies. I find that Vespera and its ilk puts fainter clusters, nebulae and comets in reach, objects I probably otherwise would never try for under suburban and urban skies.

The Trifid Nebula, captured with Vespera from downtown Norfolk, Virgina. Credit: Dave Dickinson

Not bad, for a highly transportable unit weighing in at only 11 pounds (5 kilograms)… in fact, you can even purchase a customized backpack for the unit from the company. Kudos to the company for ‘re-thinking the telescope’ with a truly unique-looking aesthetic. Like nearly everyone else I know, I said “that’s a telescope?” the very first time I saw the Stellina. Also, the units are great for groups to gather around and watch the view on the target object build up on the screen, rather than have viewers queue up one by one at the eyepiece… just think, no more neck-craning, re-focusing, eyepiece bumping, etc.

Vespera: Passengers, on its new and improved tripod.

Vespera Passengers is definitely a unique unit, sure to turn heads at the next star party… and it’s out just before ‘Black Friday’ and Xmas, too. Be sure to reserve yours now.

David Dickinson

David Dickinson is an Earth science teacher, freelance science writer, retired USAF veteran & backyard astronomer. He currently writes and ponders the universe as he travels the world with his wife.

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