Photographing the Cosmos with the Vaonis Vespera

Vaonis is a French company based in Montpellier, France. They design and manufacture smart telescopes, and are the company that brought us the Vaonis Stellina. Vaonis manufacture smart telescopes and associated accessories, making astrophotography accessible to a broader audience.

Orion Nebula photographed with Vaonis Vespera

The Stellina is a huge success for the company, but its price, whilst equivalent to a high-end DSLR or Mirrorless and a prime lens, meant the audience was predominatly enthusiast astrophotographers.

Vaonis wanted to release a more affordable smart telescope, but still utilising the same technology they used in the STELLINA. On the 1st of October 2020, this dream became reality, with the release of the new Vespera.

Vaonis Vespera

The first retail units of the Vaonis Vespera will not hit the high-street late 2021, and if you want to be one of the first to receive one, you need to head over to their Kickstarter campaign from their website. The Vespera costs around the same as a high-end smart-phone, and if you sign up to the Kickstarter, you get a discount on the retail price.

Smart Telescopes

So, why have Vaonis referred to the Vespera & Stellina as Smart telescopes? Before Vaonis, if you wanted to reliably take pictures of deep space, you needed specialised equipment, knowledge & software. Let me explain.

Before Vaonis

To photograph deep space, You firstly need an astronomy tripod with an equatorial mount, so that you can align the axes with Earths rotation. Add to that a device to track the polar movement, a telescope, an imaging camera or two (UV & IR) and a bunch of filters. Once you have your equipment set up, and after focusing you need to collimate the telescope; to align the mirrors as perfectly as possible to avoid image distortion in your captured image. You then need to connect everything to image capture software & stacking software.

With luck, you capture some images, which need to be post-processed. To cut a long story short, the learning curve to set up and use all of this equipment is very steep, and you need quite deep pockets. For these reasons, astrophotography has always been the domain of the enthusiasts and specialists in the field. Or at least that is until now!

Enter Vaonis Smart Telescopes

Setting up and using Vaonis smart telescopes is really simple. Rather than looking through a telescope, the human interface is through an app on your phone or tablet. You firstly set up the tripod where you want to observe the cosmos from and level it. After levelling you mount the tripod, you initiate the device by switching it on. Initiation takes about 10 minutes, and you then choose a target that you are interested in the app. The smart telescope then takes care of everything including pointing, tracking, focussing. You can then view the object on your device live, or share it.

The transition to Vaonis Smart Telescopes is revolutionary. Thanks to telescopes like Vespera and the new Stellina you can explore and observe the night sky, capture your own photos of celestial objects, learn about the Cosmos, and share your discoveries all in one place. The whole process is simplicity itself.

Vaonis Vespera

Standing at just 40cm and weighing a mere 4.5kg, the Vespera will (at time of writing) be the smallest and lightest telescope on the market. Small enough to fit in a compact backpack, portability is at the heart of the Vespera concept.

Vaonis Vespera

Here is what we can expect from the Vespera versus the Stellina feature wise:

Feature Comparison

Feature

Aperture

Focal Length

Battery Life

Resolution

Lens

Sensor

Light Pollution Filter

Anti Fog Heater

Field De-Rotator

VESPERA

50mm

200mm

4 Hours

1920x1080px

Quadruplet Refractor

Sony STARVIS

Optional Accessory

Optional Accessory

No

STELLINA

80mm

400mm

5 Hours

3096x2080px

Doublet Refractor

Sony STARVIS

Included

Included

Yes

Thoughts on Stellina vs Vespera

Firstly, Stellina has a better resolution, larger aperture and focal length than Vespera. Stellina notably also includes a light pollution filter, an anti-fog system, a field rotator, and a USB port for raw file access. So what does this mean?

As a comparison, lets take a look at an image of the M27 Dumbbell Nebula captured with both the Vespera & Stellina.

Stellina
Stellina
Stellina
Vespera
Vespera

Image Comparison between Stellina & Vespera

As you would expect, Stellina has a greater reach, and the larger resolution gives more bandwidth for cropping during post-processing. That said, the quality of the result from the Vespera is perfectly usable.

The lack of a light filter means that out of the box, you will need to go to a non-light-polluted area to get shots of the cosmos. However, Vaonis are offering a light filter for the Vespera as an optional accessory. So, if you live in a town or city, this is probably a wise investment unless you want to travel all the time to get shots.

Likewise, an anti fog system is another costed option for Vespera. If you are a casual user in terms of astrophotography, then this is probably not a problem. But, if you intend to use the unit over extended periods; you may want to consider this accessory.

If you are an avid astrophotographer, then the omission of a Field De-Rotator on Vespera; might have you scratching your head. A field de-rotator allows for long exposures to be taken and compensates for the rotation of the planet. According to Vaonis, the Vespera uses exposures of just 10 seconds so that field rotation is not visible in the final RAW images. The system also uses software algorithms to stack images and does this without any limit on the number of shots, or with any field loss.

One final notable difference with the Vespera over the Stellina is Vespera has a Quadruplet Refractor and is claimed by Vaonis to offer you sharp pictures with zero distortion, aberration or astigmatism.

Vespera Images

Let’s take a look at some more example images from the Vespera to see what it can do.

Hecules Cluster

Hercules Cluster photographed with Vaonis Vespera

The Hercules Cluster or sometimes called the great globular cluster is a global cluster of several hundred thousand stars in the constellation of Hercules.


Andromeda Galaxy

Andromeda Galaxy photographed with Vaonis Vespera

The Andromeda Galaxy also is known as Messier 31 is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth.


The Moon

Moon photographed with Vaonis Vespera

The Earths only natural satellite, and the fifth largest satellite in the Solar System.


Conclusions

For people looking for a more powerful astrophotography instrument, Stellina will offer more possibilities than Vespera because its features and modes are more advanced. However, for people looking for an entry into the astrophotography market, or enthusiasts looking for the ultimate in portability, then the Vespera is a great option to go for.

Vaonis Vespera

Learn more about the Vespera on Vaonis website.

Vaonis Stellina

Learn more about the Stellina on Vaonis website.

You may also be interested in our article on the Vaonis Stellina


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Vaonis – The company that brought us the STELLINA, and revolutionised astronomy, making it accessible to a broad audience from anywhere in the world, even in the heart of the city.


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