If you look at the night sky you can see stars and even a bright planet and of course the moon. You won’t see the galaxies and billions of stars that share the universe with these brighter objects. It’s because Research shows (opens in a new tab) 80% of the world’s population lives under light-polluted skies. At CES 2023, Unistellar unveils a smart telescope that seems to reflect light and reveal the wonders of the universe to everyone.
The new eQuinox 2 is a 400x telescope – an upgrade over the original model with a better photo sensor and a wider field of view – that has no visible knobs or user controls. A gray, sleek optical device caught my eye during the first press night of CES. At about two feet long, it’s obviously a stargazer, but the lack of physical controls can confuse you. Should not.
Unistellar showed me how to use the associated app (on a phone or tablet) to control a motorized telescope. On your tablet, you can select the Orion Nebula and the smart telescope will use your phone’s GPS to know where it is on Earth and where to point the optics. I watched as they tapped the star object on the screen and the eQuinox 2 turned towards the Nebula.
Since we were in the convention hall, Unistellar couldn’t demonstrate their secret sauce live, but they did walk me through the simulation.
I know this Unistellar EQuinox 2 smart telescope with 400x (optical) costs $2500, but I want some of it. It uses a smartphone or iPad app to take all the guesswork out of astronomy and make the invisible visible. #CES2023 pic.twitter.com/OMnZcUZrRMJanuary 6, 2023
On the iPad screen, they chose Vortex Galaxy (opens in a new tab), and the telescope silently rotated to the correct position. After a few moments, I saw an image on the screen, but no galaxy. This is where things get interesting. Due to light pollution, standard telescopes can have a hard time seeing many astronomical objects unless you go to the most remote areas.
eQuinox 2 uses Smart Light Pollution Reduction, an AI and algorithm based system that digitally corrects images to remove the effects of light pollution. The Unistellar representative pressed a button, and then I watched the image on the screen unravel until we could see a beautiful, tiny galaxy swirling millions of miles away.
“It wasn’t that it wasn’t there, but that we had to clean it up with an algorithm to make it available,” a Unistellar representative told me. He added that it was hidden because of light pollution, but also because it is a faint object. It’s not entirely clear how much of what the eQuinox 2 shows via smart light pollution reduction is optical and what is a digital algorithmic concoction based on what the galaxy looks like.
The app comes preloaded with 500 celestial objects and suggestions on how to find more, but you won’t be manually adjusting your telescope to find them. eQuinox 2 is 100% app controlled. This probably makes it a good option for amateur but perhaps not semi-professional astronomers.
The eQuinox 2 is available for pre-order now for $2,499 (€2,499 in Europe) and will ship in early 2023.
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