Robot lawn mover Vespera, a smart telescope to make astrophotography easier, nabs CES 2021 Innovation Award

Robot lawn mover Vespera, a smart telescope to make astrophotography easier, nabs CES 2021 Innovation Award

Robot lawn mover

A new smart telescope from Vaonis is about to make astrophotography more accessible than ever. 

Vaonis, a French startup that raised eyebrows in 2018 when it debuted the pricey, sci-fi robot-looking Stellina smart telescope, has revealed its latest newbie-friendly astrophotography invention: Vespera, a smaller, lighter and more affordable version of Stellina.  This week, Vespera received the CES 2021 Best of Innovation Award for digital imaging and photography at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

“Vespera is an amazing next step for Vaonis. It will take their amazing technology that allows anyone to observe deep-sky objects like galaxies and nebulas and make it accessible and affordable for everyone,” former NASA Astronaut and Vaonis ambassador Terry Virts said in a statement emailed to Space.com.

Best telescopes 2021: Top picks for beginners, viewing planets and more

Image 1 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

The Vespera smart telescope by Vaonis offers an easy and portable method of photographing the night sky. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 2 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

The Vespera smart telescope by Vaonis offers an easy and portable method of photographing the night sky. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 3 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

The Vespera smart telescope is operated by a mobile app. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 4 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

Browse a catalog of galaxies, nebulas, star clusters and more in the mobile app. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 5 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

Vespera is extremely easy to set up and use. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 6 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

Vespera comes with a magnetic charging cable so you don’t have to fumble around to plug it in in the dark. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 7 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

With a built-in light pollution filter, Vespera can be used to observe the night sky almost anywhere. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 8 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

When not in use, Vespera folds up into a compact and portable telescope for on-the-go stargazing. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 9 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

Vespera comes with a removable tripod that has adjustable legs. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 10 of 10

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

Vespera is small enough to fit in a backpack. (Image credit: Vaonis)

In lieu of an eyepiece, both Vespera and Stellina display images on a mobile device, and the telescopes are controlled via a mobile app. Because they use your smartphone’s GPS to calibrate themselves, these telescopes require virtually no setup at all, making them easy to use for casual stargazers looking for a hassle-free way to see deep-space objects like nebulas, galaxies and star clusters. 

Vespera (a name that means “evening” in Latin) has the same sleek, futuristic design as its larger counterpart, but it’s more compact and less than half the weight. It stands 15 inches (40 centimeters) tall, just 4 inches (9 cm) shorter than Stellina. 

robot lawn mover Stellina, the

Stellina, the “big brother” to Vespera, was the first smart telescope that Vaonis developed.  (Image credit: Vaonis)

Both Vespera and Stellina use refractor lenses, but Vespera has a smaller aperture of 3 inches (50 mm) and focal ratio of f/4, compared to Stellina’s 3-inch (80 mm) f/5 aperture. The image resolution is also slightly reduced, with 2 megapixels as opposed to Stellina’s 6.4 megapixels.

Related: Stellina smart telescope makes astrophotography a breeze: review

VesperaStellina
Price$1,499$3,999
Weight11 lbs. (5 kg)24.7 lbs. (11.2 kg)
Height15 inches (40 cm)19 inches (49 cm)
Aperture2 inches (50 mm)3 inches (80 mm)
Focal length8 inches (200 mm)16 inches (400 mm)
Focal ratiof/4f/5
Field of view1.6 × 0.9 degrees1.0 × 0.7 degrees
Resolution1,920 × 1,080 (2 megapixels)3,072 × 2,080 (6.4 megapixels)
Battery life4 hours5 hours

While Vespera does compromise some of its capabilities for the smaller, more affordable design, the image quality is still pretty decent compared to Stellina’s images. While it may not be suited for professional astrophotography, Vespera offers pretty nice views of the night sky.

Image 1 of 6

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

A photo of the Orion Nebula (M42), taken by a Vespera smart telescope. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 2 of 6

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

A photo of the moon, taken by a Vespera smart telescope. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 3 of 6

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

A photo of the Andromeda galaxy (M31), taken by a Vespera smart telescope. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 4 of 6

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

A photo of the Veil Nebula (NGC 6992), taken by a Vespera smart telescope. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 5 of 6

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

A photo of the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), taken by a Vespera smart telescope. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Image 6 of 6

robot lawn mover The Vespera smart telescope from the French startup Vaonis.

A photo of M13, the great globular cluster of Hercules, taken by a Vespera smart telescope. (Image credit: Vaonis)

Vespera is currently available for preorder at $1,499, or about one-third the hefty price of Stellina, which costs $4,999. Vaonis expects to start shipping Vesperas in the spring of 2022. The smart telescope raised more than $2.5 million on Kickstarter in 2020.

Email Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: [email protected]

Read More