Trying to use a smartphone camera to take pictures of the cosmos is a bit like attempting to cross the Atlantic ocean in a pedalo – you’ll get some of the way there but before too long the limitations of your apparatus will become very apparent. Put your pedalo in the pool on a cruise liner, however, and you’re in business, which is a bit like what happens when you dock your phone with the Vaonis Hestia (from $249).
About the size and weight of a large hardback book, the Hestia offers a whopping 25x magnification by directing the light through a system of lenses and prisms and directly into your phone’s camera sensor. An augmented-reality app then uses a light-based guidance system to help you to find the constellation, galaxy, nebula or whatever other celestial subject you want to take a snap of, before capturing multiple images and combining them into one photo with its nifty processing algorithm.
You’ll need a relatively recent phone with more capable cameras to capture these ‘deep sky’ subjects, but older ones will still be able to shoot the moon far better than before. You can also use it to photograph the sun – and thanks to the system of removable magnets it may even still work with whatever new-fangled phone you’re using when the next total solar eclipse comes around in 2090. By then we’ll probably all be living up there among the stars anyway.
Vaonis has released a number of smart telescopes already, but it used Kickstarter to fund the creation of the Hestia, raising over $4.1m after setting a $10,000 goal. The campaign ended earlier today and Vaonis expects to start shipping in December.