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May 29, 2024

Unistellar Launches Revolutionary Odyssey Smart Telescope for Backyard Astronomers

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Jan 8, 2024

Unistellar, the French startup known for making astronomy more accessible, has just announced their latest product – the Odyssey Smart Telescope. Unveiled at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Odyssey aims to open up the wonders of the night sky to even more people by making observation incredibly simple.

Odyssey Builds on the Success of the eVscope

The Odyssey is Unistellar’s second generation smart telescope, building on the success of their first product, the eVscope launched in 2019. The eVscope featured an innovative digital eyepiece that could enhance faint objects and track their movement across the night sky. It also automatically pointed itself at interesting celestial objects at the touch of a button.

The Odyssey takes things even further, as outlined by Unistellar CEO and co-founder Laurent Marfisi at CES:

“We created Unistellar with the mission of spreading the love of astronomy and scientific observation. The eVscope was our first step towards that goal by making digital observation accessible for novice astronomers. With the Odyssey, we are going even bigger – this smart telescope will reveal the wonders of the universe to people everywhere, whether they live in light-polluted cities or under dark rural skies.”

Revolutionary Optics and Imaging Pipeline

So what exactly sets the Odyssey apart? At the heart of the Odyssey is Unistellar’s new Enhanced Vision system, which features a 4.5 inch (114mm) mirror coupled with a low light sensor and powerful onboard computer.

The onboard computer runs Unistellar’s proprietary algorithms to digitally process and enhance astronomical images in real time before presenting them to the user through the Odyssey’s touchscreen or mobile app.

According to Unistellar chief astrophotography adviser Dr. Médéric Boquien, the Odyssey can boost faint signals up to 756 times, revealing nebulae, galaxies and star clusters normally only visible with much larger telescopes.

Object Visibility with Naked Eye Visibility with Odyssey
Andromeda Galaxy Not visible Clear oval glow
Orion Nebula Faint smudge Fiery swirls of gas & dust
Beehive Cluster Not visible Hundreds of stars

In addition, the Odyssey can integrate the light gathered over long periods to produce images rivalling those from orbital observatories. This allows anyone, from beginners to experienced astrophotographers, to easily capture beautiful space images that tell a story.

“We are effectively miniaturizing the power of a professional observatory and making it available in your own backyard,” said Dr Boquien.

Autonomous Observation Across the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Odyssey’s Enhanced Vision does not stop at visible light – the onboard software includes narrowband filters to allow observation in near infrared, hydrogen alpha red, oxygen green and sulfur red wavelengths.

This allows nebulae to be viewed in exotic hues and also enables analysis of their chemical composition. Dual polarization filters even permit study of the magnetic fields of Sunspots and solar prominences.

Observing our Solar System is facilitated through Odyssey’s advanced motorization featuring ultra precise pointing accuracy and tracking. This enables long exposure images of planets like Jupiter to reveal the ever changing cloud bands and Great Red Spot in rich detail.

What’s more, Odyssey’s autonomous observation capabilities have been upgraded – users can now schedule mounts to automatically slew to different targets through the night. The progress can be monitored remotely via the mobile app.

Odyssey Pro – A Telescope for Astrophotography

In a move that is generating lots of buzz, Unistellar have also announced the Odyssey Pro. This variant, aimed at astrophotographers, features a bigger 5.1 inch mirror and mechanical shutter to enable capture of extremely faint Deep Sky Objects.

Early samples shared by Unistellar reveal images of famed DSOs like the Horsehead and Flame Nebulas that showcase Odyssey Pro’s light gathering power. Respected astrophotographer Dylan O’Donnell is impressed:

“This could be a game changer for astrophotography. Sensitive full spectrum cameras coupled with real time enhancement algorithms finally make it realistic for amateur astronomers to image faint nebulae and galaxies in a matter of minutes right from the city.”

Odyssey Pro will likely accelerate the growth of astrophotography as the special filters and software do most of the heavy lifting that previously required multiple accessories and hours of manual frame calibration.

Bringing Astronomy to Everyone, Everywhere

Perhaps most revolutionary is Unistellar’s commitment to make Odyssey globally accessible. Astronomy gear is usually expensive but the Odyssey starts at the comparatively affordable $1899 USD with the Odyssey Pro priced from $3899 USD.

Unistellar are also expanding the Enhanced Vision Network (EVN) which allows Odyssey owners to directly share live views in real time with other members around the world. The EVN creates events like international star parties that make astronomy a truly collaborative and immersive experience.

Even users of the original eVscope can participate in the EVN – a testament to Unistellar’s focus on building an inclusive astronomy community.

What Does the Future Hold?

The early success of the eVscope kickstarter campaign that raised over $1.9 million USD suggests strong demand for Odyssey’s improved capabilities amongst novice stargazers and astrophotographers alike. Unistellar have opened pre-orders on their website with shipping expected to commence in April 2024.

This launch is perfectly timed to tap into the current rekindled interest in astronomy as humanity pushes forward with crewed Mars missions and private space stations like Orbital Reef. There also seems to be an increasing longing to look out and up towards the endless promise of space as environmental and sociopolitical crises overwhelm our Earth bound lives.

In perhaps the most profound way, Odyssey fulfils the primal urge felt by all people to understand our origins written in the stars above and realise that our Earth is but a Pale Blue Dot suspended in the cosmic ocean. Just maybe, making space accessible can lift our souls out of myopia and remind us that we all share under one sky.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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