I have dabbled in astronomy before, and even a little astrophotography. I have a decent 4.5″ Orion telescope in the garage, that I keep planning to get out and see if the mirror has survived.
Astronomy is something I have been thinking about playing with again, especially as my time is now my own, and early mornings are not necessary.
A while back I came across a device called the Vaonis Vespera. It is a fairly sophisticated mini-observation station, combining digital telescope and computer all in one. You access it via a tablet, tell it what you want to take, how many exposures and over how long. It does that for you, and automatically stacks the images for you.
(Stacking is a process by which successive images are combined to make objects brighter than they might be from a single image of a modest telescope.)
You can also download the raw images, and stack them yourself, using PC software. Depending on your experience and skill, you may make a better or worse job than the automated system. But it means there is plenty to play with – although this can be used as “point and shoot”, a lot more can be done.
And now for the big BUT. The Vespera is currently *discounted* to £1750. Additional filters for the Vespera (and it can only use its own bespoke filters) start at £109 and go up to over £300.
Not a cheap hobby.
At the same time, there are devices like the Dwarf 2 and the not-yet-released SeeStar S50. These are smaller devices – the Dwarf 2 has a 25mm lens as opposed to the Vespera’s 50mm, and is perhaps not quite so elegant on the computing front. Although, it is all software, and has the capability to improve.
What the Dwarf has over the Vespera is:
1. Size and weight – much smaller, much lighter – 1.2kg vs 5kg.
2. Versatile – the Dwarf has dual optics, Tele and Wide, and is designed as both an electronic telescope and a day-time auto-tracking camera.
3. Price – the basic Dwarf 2 package is £369. Only slightly more expensive than a single Vespera filter. The Dwarf 2 deluxe is £479, and includes a spare battery, a filter holder and 3 filters. Furthermore, the filter holder takes standard 1.25″ filters, from anywhere.
Both packages also include a mini-tripod (it will also fit any standard tripod) a 64Gb SD Card and a nice kit bag.
For me, that comes under the category “worth a punt”. I’m pretty certain I am going to have fun with it, and it might just motivate me into getting my existing telescope out and functioning again.