Vaonis Vespera Smart Telescope review: See the stars with the help of your iPhone

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2023

The Vaonis Vespera smart telescope makes it easier than ever to observe the night sky with your iPhone, but at a steep cost.




The Vaonis Vespera telescope brings a sense of automation to astrophotography as an app-controlled and easy-to-carry telescope that people can use without prior telescope experience. With sign-offs from Terry Virts and Scott Kelly, we can see that even astronauts are seeing how the future of astrophotography is being shaped by software and robotics.

Out of the box, the telescope comes with a short adjustable tripod, a USB-C cable, and an adapter. The tripod legs can be screwed on, and the magnetic charger makes it easy to power the Vespera on the go with a power bank.




The Vespera weighs around 11 pounds and is small enough to fit in most backpacks and even a smaller crossbody bag. This makes carrying it out to a park or on a hike to observe the night sky easier than most other telescopes.

The Vespera is a snug fit in a medium-sized Jansport crossbody.
The Vespera is a snug fit in a medium-sized Jansport crossbody.



The Stellaris app uses GPS to set where you're observing, taking into account the Earth's rotation and adjusting its autofocusing features to eliminate manual adjustments for the user. All you have to do is set up the Vespera with its tripod legs, open the app, and select what you want to observe.

The Vespera will open its telescope arm, swiveling and adjusting its angle for where to look in the sky.

Vaonis Vespera Smart Telescope - App and Use



Starting up the Vespera involves connecting to it via WiFi, and the initialization process can take around five to ten minutes to scan the sky for viable objects to observe.

With that said, we recommend you set up the Vespera in a large, open environment. A small yard with many trees is not ideal, while an open field can maximize the range of motion the telescope provides.

The Singularity app will tell you how long it'll take to observe a certain object, and the estimate holds up well within five to ten minutes.

Depending on your surroundings, the initialization or observation can fail if there's something blocking the telescope's view, so some trial and error is needed to get a successful picture. Patience is required when using the Vespera since it can take a while to re-initialize and set up an observation again.

The battery is powerful enough to take on a long night of star-watching with a claimed eight hours of automation. On average, a thirty-minute observation consumed 5% of the battery, making the eight to ten-hour range plausible.

In our limited astrophotography experience, the Vespera captured crisp and satisfying images. Depending on the closeness of the celestial object, the brightness and clarity can vary.

For example, we found that the Ring Nebula was much clearer to capture than the Whirlpool Galaxy. Of course, quality may depend on the user's environment as well.

The Ring Nebula captured on Vespera
The Ring Nebula captured on Vespera



Images can be exported in a variety of formats in a 1920x1080 resolution, including JPG, TIFF, and FITS. Being able to easily save your results to your phone is appealing if you want to share them with others.

Two modes on the Vespera especially take advantage of its ability to tirelessly take photos: mosaic mode and "Plan my Night." Mosaic mode captures multiple snapshots of the sky and assembles them, which can take longer than a usual observation.

"Plan my Night", however, allows the user to use Vespera to observe different objects throughout the night ahead of time. This makes it possible to study the stars in your sleep if you leave the telescope on your lawn or during a camping trip.

The
The "Plan my Night" feature shown on iPad.



Since it has features for automation and to be outdoors for long periods of time, the Vespera has an IP43 water resistance rating, so light splashes and rain are permissible.

We'd avoid too much exposure though, and keep watch of the weather in case you leave it outside overnight.

A step in the right direction for accessibility



The Vespera telescope has a lot of potential as a tool to make astrophotography more accessible. With applications in education and with space enthusiasts, the Vespera introduces the complexities of capturing celestial objects in an easy-to-digest way.

Following along using the Singularity app, users can learn and engage with the night sky to their heart's content. The Vespera offers a wonderful way to embark on a personal hobby or share the experience with others.

Comparatively, a beginner telescope can start range from $100 to $500, which is a fraction of the $1,499 cost of the Vespera. The main features to pay for are the automation and ease of use, as well as the small size and portability.

Still, it's a worthwhile investment if you want to take the leap and lack experience in handling telescopes.


Vaonis Vespera Smart Telescope Pros

  • Highly portable

  • Stellaris app simplifies setup and observation

  • Good battery life and water resistant

  • Different features to take advantage of automation

Vaonis Vespera Smart Telescope Cons

  • High cost may be a deterrent

  • Brightness and clarity of captured images can vary

  • Initialization and observation can fail suddenly depending on surroundings

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Where to buy the Vaonis Vespera Smart Telescope



The Vaonis Vespera Smart Telescope is available on the Vaonis store for $1,499 (plus $90 US shipping).

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    Interesting.  Making a mental note for possible future inclusion in a future bucket list.  Until then, will likely watch/invest in some DVD based and online courses on astronomy, as time allows.  Perhaps price will come down over the next decade.  
    Meteorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    Let me be very blunt:
    This is a device for stupid people.
    Anyone with a fraction of knowledge about telescopes or photography will realize this is a giant hoodwink scheme.

    You’ll get faaaar superior results using a cheap digital camera, a good long digital lens and possibly an inexpensive star tracker for the same price.

    Even just a good long achromatic scope and aiming your iPhone carefully into the eyepiece will be leagues ahead of this PoS.

    In fact aiming a standard pair of binoculars towards the sky, and using an app like NightSky is a much better and more educational astronomical experience for the novice.

    If it cost, say $300, like it looks like it should, it would still be a waste of money, but at least it would be a fun toy for a little while.
    edited July 2023
  • Reply 3 of 6
    XedXed Posts: 2,703member
    Let me be very blunt:
    This is a device for stupid people.
    Anyone with a fraction of knowledge about telescopes or photography will realize this is a giant hoodwink scheme.

    You’ll get faaaar superior results using a cheap digital camera, a good long digital lens and possibly an inexpensive star tracker for the same price.

    Even just a good long achromatic scope and aiming your iPhone carefully into the eyepiece will be leagues ahead of this PoS.

    In fact aiming a standard pair of binoculars towards the sky, and using an app like NightSky is a much better and more educational astronomical experience for the novice.

    If it cost, say $300, like it looks like it should, it would still be a waste of money, but at least it would be a fun toy for a little while.
    This is not a scheme, a scam, snake oil, or any other kind of skullduggery. This is about ease of use.

    I have several decades experiences with telescopes and stargazing. Several of my own large (for a home) telescopes, and a lot of experience with astronomy clubs (which usually include a lot of very large home made telescopes—which I've never gotten into).

    I put down a deposit for the Vespera when it was first announced, which I later got back, but not because I think Vaoinis is a fraudulent company. I just decided I didn't want it right now. So why did I want it in the first place? Because having to locate, focus, and then continually track a heavenly body is tedious.

    I have basic, single axis motors on my most powerful telescopes, which helps, but it also takes some finagling. I also have a mount for my iPhone to take photos, but it’s not a great solution. Having a more advanced option that works from my iPhone to get good shots with ease doesn’t mean I’m a stupid person, or do  you also think macOS is for stupid people while all smart people use a command line-only Unix she’ll for their computing needs.

    Celestron, who makes most of my telescopes, now has an option that uses an iPhone to track, which does bridge the gap a bit between Vaonis’ full package and no auto tracking, but it’s more cumbersome in all regards from the looks of it, but it is a lot less expensive.
    edited July 2023 watto_cobrahydrogenMeteorFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 6
    I wonder if Pixar is going to complain about the look of this thing - Eve from Wall-E was my first thought.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    waveparticlewaveparticle Posts: 1,497member
    Can you use it to see Jupiter's moons clearly? 
  • Reply 6 of 6
    XedXed Posts: 2,703member
    Can you use it to see Jupiter's moons clearly? 
    That's a good question but it can be tough to answer as there's a lot of variables to consider when it comes to getting a clear look. A common suggestion to see Jupiter's moons is a starting range of 60mm to 90mm aperture—Vespera is 50mm with a 200mm focal length. Vaonis Stellina, their first smart telescope at an even higher price a even less portable, was 80mm with a 400mm focal length. Of course, there are many other factors outside of the telescope that affect your ability to view well... like light pollution.


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