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Unistellar Signs Up More Than 1,200 Early-adopters for its Revolutionary eVscope Confirming the Public Interest for Citizen Science Astronomy

November 09, 2017

Unistellar Signs Up More Than 1,200 Early-adopters for its Revolutionary eVscope Confirming the Public Interest for Citizen Science Astronomy

San Francisco & Marseille, November 9, 2017. Unistellar, a startup that’s committed to restore the joy of night-sky viewing to people all over the globe, is off to a strong start thanks to the massive success of its recent Kickstarter campaign.

The campaign gave supporters the opportunity to order an eVscope, a revolutionary, electronics-based telescope that offers unprecedented views of distant objects in the night sky. The device also allows users to make significant contributions to science by joining observing efforts led by prominent astronomers.

“After three years of prototype development, building, and testing, we were proud to bring our compact, intelligent, and powerful telescope to market,” said Arnaud Malvache, President and CTO of Unistellar, located in Marseille. “Our team also demonstrated the prototype at several star parties in Europe and the USA, and these efforts paid off beyond our wildest expectations, with a landslide of backers.”

The campaign went live at 7 a.m. Pacific time on Oct. 25, when the company began taking orders for eVscopes at early-bird prices. In just a few minutes, the first 150 telescopes were gone—which put Unistellar at its fundraising goal, making this one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, and likely the biggest success for an amateur astronomy project on Kickstarter.

Backers continue to pour in. At last check, Unistellar had raised over $1.6 million with more than 1,200 eVscopes pledged.

Each eVscope includes light-accumulating Enhanced Vision Technology that gives the device the light-gathering power of telescopes ten times larger in diameter. For most viewers, this means unprecedented access to colorful nebulae, galaxies millions of light years away, and faraway planets—objects that are far too faint to view through backyard conventional telescopes. And thanks to built-in sensors, GPS, and an internal map of millions of stars, the eVscope can pinpoint and identify any object in the sky, making astronomy easy as well as informative.

The campaign’s success also marks a huge victory for citizen science. Thanks to Unistellar’s partnership with the SETI Institute, eVscope users can join astronomical viewing campaigns led by scientists. These campaigns are expected to produce unprecedented amounts of data generated by a global array of eVscopes. This information will be stored in a database at the SETI Institute, where it will be available to scientists all over the world.

“Our successful crowdfunding campaign confirms the desire of amateur astronomers and space fans to enjoy the night sky while they contribute to scientific investigations and generate new astronomical data. This is step one toward the creation of an active network of citizen-science astronomers who will monitor the sky 24/7 from almost everywhere on our planet,” said Franck Marchis, Chief Scientific Officer at Unistellar and Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute.

The Unistellar team organized several demos in summer 2017 to showcase the eVscope’s capabilities. Starting in July, the Eastbay Astronomical Society (Oakland, CA) got the chance to incorporate the eVscope prototype and the developer team’s expertise into its public outreach events at the Chabot Space & Science Center. The innovative eVscope was seamlessly integrated into EAS activities, together with more traditional and much larger-aperture telescopes.

“The vivid color views in the eVscope were immediate crowd magnets and the Unistellar team had people lining up to enjoy the clusters and nebulae shown in the electronic eyepiece of this new device,” said Gert Gottschalk, board member of the EAS and amateur astronomer. “The Unistellar team and its telescope immediately became integral to outreach activity at EAS.”

“We’re overwhelmed by the success of our campaign and grateful for the many emails, including comments and ideas from our supporters,” added Laurent Marfisi, CEO of Unistellar. “These early adopters will help us make an even-better product, a uniquely powerful, easy-to-use device that gives them back the sense of awe and wonder that the night sky has engendered in humans since our species first appeared on this planet.”
The Kickstarter campaign runs until November 23 at midnight PT.

Link to the Kickstarter campaign.


Comparison between an observation with a classical telescope and with the eVscope


Our Kickstarter video

Leo Tramiel, amateur astronomer & co-inventor of the Commodore PET, witnessed one of our demos.

Demo at Marseille Observatory.

Enhanced vision experience

Previous press releases

SETI Institute partnership press release:

It’s Official! The eVscope from Unistellar Gets Kickstarted

About Unistellar:
Unistellar is reinventing popular astronomy through the development of the Enhanced Vision Telescope™: a smart combination of optics, electronics, and proprietary image-processing technology that aims to make astronomy interactive. Unistellar is completely dedicated to its popular ambition, but its technology has already garnered attention for other applications from established institutions for like the ONERA (the French aerospace agency) and companies focused on Imaging.

Media contact :
Laurent Marfisi
+33 6 77 98 01 20

Franck Marchis
Chief Scientific Officer
Email :
Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute
Email :
+1 510 599 0604

A few more pictures of astronomical targets seen with the eVscope

November 08, 2017

We got a lot of requests for additional pictures of astronomical targets taken with the eVscope. Here some of them taken recently. One nebula, one galaxy, one planet in our solar system and our moon…. Enjoy!

The Omega Nebula (catalogued as Messier 17 or M17) is an H II region in the constellation Sagittarius. Magnification x50


Cigar Galaxy (or M82) is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major . Magnification x100.

Saturn observed from Nairobi, Kenya with a numerical zoom x150 on October 29 2017. Image taken at 20 degrees elevation (poor atmospheric conditions). Exposure time 20 ms. Magnification x150


The moon rising from Aubagne, France near Marseille on November 7 at 20:30 CET with an elevation of 8 degrees C, hence its red color (exposure time 2 ms). Magnification x50







Seeing the long-period Comet C/2017 O1 with the new eVscope

November 03, 2017

You’ve probably heard of C/2017 O1, a long-period comet that’s now paying what may well be its first-ever visit to the inner solar system. Earlier this month we decided to check it out using our eVscope prototype.

Comet C/2017 O1 observed in the eyepiece of the eVscope

The All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) system discovered Comet O1 ASAS-SN (now officially named C/2017 O1) on July 19, 2017, when it was in the constellation Cetus and had only a faint 15.3 magnitude. Even at that dim magnitude, however, an eVscope pointed at this area of the sky could have detected it. A few days later, however, as it came closer to the sun and its activity increased, the comet shot up one hundred fold in brightness to magnitude 10.

Our prototype eVscope spotted the object from Aubagne, France on October 16 as the comet was moving from the Perseus to the Camelopardalis constellations. Using our Automatic Field Detection to identify the FOV, we found the target in just five minutes!

Comet C/2017 O1 detected by the AFD in the eyepiece

Based on data from the JPL Horizons Ephemeris system, we expected the comet’s integrated magnitude to be about 12.1, although several observers reported a magnitude of 9-10.

Quick Astrophotography picture of the comet 2017O1 made by combining images (~8 min) acquired with the eVscope prototype at Aubagne, France.

Interestingly, recent observations of this comet show that it is still active and its brightness has not changed. It’s possible the object was caught in an outburst. If that’s the case, professional and amateur astronomers should continue to monitor this icy body to better understand what’s going on. This is the kind of scientific research that we’ll be able to do far more conveniently and precisely by combining observations from a global array of eVscopes.

As mentioned, this is probably the first visit this long-period comet has ever made to the inner solar system. As more all-sky surveys become available (Pan-STARRS, ASASSN, Black-Gems, to name just three), we can be sure that we’ll detect more comets like this in the future. And that means more targets to study and enjoy with your eVscope!

It’s Official! The eVscope from Unistellar Gets Kickstarted

October 28, 2017

Marseille, France & San Francisco, CA – October 25, 2017 –

Imagine being able to see galaxies, nebulae, and asteroids and discovering the sky from your own backyard while participating in scientific investigations. Unistellar has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its eVscope, a powerful telescope that will give the sky back to all of us.

The Unistellar eVscope was first presented at the CES in 2017 and recently won the Innovation Award in the Tech For a Better World product category for the CES 2018.

During the summer 2017, the Unistellar team has shown the telescope capabilities to thousands of people in Europe and in the United States.  It has since received astonishing reviews and comments.

The Unistellar team has worked for 2 years to perfect their idea, building and testing several prototypes to finally create a compact, intelligent and powerful telescope that can be carried everywhere and which is easy to use.

Using its Enhanced Vision Technology, the eVscope accumulates light, and can reach the light gathering power of telescopes ten times larger in diameter, so you can finally see colorful nebulae, galaxies millions of light years away, and faraway planets, objects that are too faint to be clearly seen through conventional telescopes even large.

Thanks to its sensors, GPS and its internal map of millions of stars, the eVscope can pinpoint and identify any object in the sky, making astronomy easy and informative.

Finally, in partnership with the SETI Institute, the user can contribute to live observation campaigns of astronomical events of special interest to scientists, who, themselves proved to be eager to gain access to an unprecedented amount of data from thousands of eVscopes. Users will thus have the chance to see live transient events like Supernovae and Near Earth Asteroids through their eVscope, all the while actively contributing to cutting edge science.

The eVscopes are available now for pre-order on Kickstarter for the early bird price of $1299.
During the Kickstarter campaign (Oct 25 to Nov 23) the eVscope prototype will be showcased at several upcoming star parties and events in the USA and Europe.

Comets, extra-galactic supernovae, fast near-Earth asteroids, and much more —they are out there every night, just above you in the sky, and they’re inviting you to have a look. Take them up on that invitation and your life will never be the same.

Join us and transform Astronomy forever!

About Unistellar
Unistellar is reinventing popular astronomy through the development of the Enhanced Vision Telescope™: a smart combination of optics, electronics, and proprietary image-processing technology that aims to make astronomy interactive. Unistellar is completely dedicated to its popular ambition, but its technology has already garnered attention from established institutions like ONERA (the French aerospace agency) and Drone Imaging.

For more information about the eVscope, visit: or email

Sidewalk Astronomy at Pier 17 in San Francisco on October 24 2017

October 20, 2017

See the universe from Pier 17 in San Francisco with Unistellar eVscope! SETI Institute astronomer Franck Marchis will be there to demo the prototype.

Join us on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, starting at 7:30 pm at Pier 17 (the building adjacent to Pier 15 the Exploratorium). We will share views through our evScope and other telescopes of nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, double stars, and other objects visible in the night sky (weather permitted of course).

(c) Thierry Cohen

Check our Facebook  and Twitter social media pages for regular updates during the evening.

When: Tuesday, October 24 at 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Where: 17 Pier 17, San Francisco, CA 94111-1419, United States

Free and open to the public! All ages welcome.

Saying Hello to Pluto from San Francisco with the eVscope

September 26, 2017

Observing Report #2 – September 25, 2017

A few days ago we announced the direct imaging of Pluto through the eyepiece of a Unistellar eVscope prototype located in Marseille, France. To make sure that this was not a fluke, I decided to try to observe Pluto from San Francisco— more precisely, from my little backyard in the middle of the city. And we succeeded!

Animation showing two observations of the same area of the sky taken with Unisteller’s eVscope. The dwarf planet Pluto (cyan circles) is moving with respect to the stars. The green circle shows the location of a cosmic ray that hit the detector during the recording of one frame.

I conducted my observations at two different times: on Tuesday, September 19, a semi-clear night, and on Friday, September 22, an exceptionally rare warm night in San Francisco. As I mentioned in my previous post, I used Automatic Field Detection to find Pluto, and started the observations in Enhanced Vision after the eVscope confirmed that Pluto was in the field of view. The picture below, which was taken directly from my eyepiece, shows what Pluto looked like a few tens of seconds after initiating Enhanced Vision. This tiny dot is indeed the dwarf planet.

eVscope users have the option of uploading and reprocessing their observations later if they wish. By comparing observations on two nights, I could see that the dwarf planet (134340) Pluto was moving with respect to background stars by 46 arcmin. I identified this motion with the cyan blue circle in the animation above.

What you see in the eyepiece of the eVScope while observing Pluto. The telescope automatically labeled with a green circle the location of Pluto that is visible in the eyepiece.

While inspecting the observations, I also noticed an interesting bright spot present only on September 22 that I labeled with a green circle in the animation below. A reanalysis of our data quickly showed that this transient astronomical event was not an unknown asteroid (and therefore not a discovery) or the laser signal from an extraterrestrial civilization (very unlikely, to say the least!), but rather a cosmic ray that hit the eVscope’s detector while it was acquiring one of the images. This was a good reminder of the need to carefully analyze data before coming to any conclusions, especially extraordinary ones.

The setup to observe Pluto from my backyard in San Francisco (September 22 2017 PT).

The eVscope allowed us to once again say hello to Pluto, this time not from Marseille, but from a backyard in one the largest cities in the U.S. On a personal level, seeing the tiny planet in the eyepiece of our telescope gave me a thrilling feeling. The eVscope’s technological capabilities are amazing, but more than that I now know where Pluto is the sky. Looking for this tiny speck of light in my garden left me feeling connected to this distant planet and the far vaster universe of which it —and you and I —are a part.

Clear skies

Das Start-up Unistellar greift nach den Sternen

September 21, 2017

Unistellar hat das Design seines neuen Enhanced Vision Telescope (eVscope™) auf der IFA Next in Berlin mit großem Erfolg vorgestellt – Start der Crowdfunding-Kampagne im Oktober
Das Teleskop ermöglicht Amateur-Astronomen dank seiner Technologie zur Lichtverstärkung einen einzigartigen Blick auf die Himmelsobjekte. Durch ein Crowdsourcing-Projekt sind nun „citizen scientists“ aufgerufen, die wissenschaftliche Forschung zu unterstützen.

Bildunterschrift: Laurent Marfisi, CEO von Unistellar präsentiert auf der IFA 2017 sein Teleskop – Video (Bildquelle: Business France)

Kurz vor IFA-Start hat Unistellar die wissenschaftliche Zusammenarbeit mit dem SETI Institute bekanntgegeben, das im Silicon Valley ansässig ist. Im Rahmen dieser Partnerschaft werden für das neue Teleskop viele neue Funktionen entwickelt. Über die Sommermonate hinweg fanden bereits verschiedene Demonstrationen der Unistellar-Technologie statt. Unter den Teilnehmern war zum Beispiel auch Leo Tramiel, Hobby-Astronom und Miterfinder des Commodore PET:

„Als ich das erste Mal durch den Prototyp guckte, wusste ich nicht, was mich erwartet. Da stand ein kompaktes 4,5 Zoll Newton-Teleskop, das auf den Ringnebel gerichtet war, den ich mir schon oft angesehen habe. Ich habe einen kleinen, verschwommenen Ring erwartet. Stattdessen aber sah ich diesen planetarischen Nebel in so kräftigen, lebendigen Farben, wie ich es nur aus Büchern kannte“, erzählt Tramiel.

„Alle anderen, die an diesem Abend die Gelegenheit hatten, das Gerät auszuprobieren, waren nicht weniger beeindruckt“, fügt Tramiel hinzu.

Bildunterschrift: eVscope™ and “finally you’ll see”. (Bildquelle: Unistellar)

Unistellars CEO Laurent Marfisi hat die vielen revolutionären Features des eVscope auf der IFA Next Bühne präsentiert – und hat prompt einen der beiden Awards für den besten Pitch der IoT Battle Night gewonnen. Besonders überzeugend hat er nach Ansicht der Jury darstellen können, wie die Unistellar-Technologie die Grenzen der Forschung, des interaktiven Lernens und der Bürgerwissenschaft neu definiert.

Das eVscope wird die Astronomie spannender, lehrreicher und beliebter machen denn je“, prophezeit Marfisi. „Unser Ziel ist es, Nutzern, egal ob Einsteiger oder Experte, die Chance zu geben, sich aktiv an der Forschung zu beteiligen, während sie die Sterne beobachten. Durch unsere Partnerschaft mit dem SETI Institute können Nutzer von Wissenschaftlern zu Beobachtungskampagnen eingeladen werden. Wenn sie annehmen, erhalten sie die Beobachtungskoordinaten über das Smartphone, die sie wiederum mit einem Knopfdruck auf ihr eVscope übertragen können. Schon können sie zum Beispiel Daten über eine Supernova sammeln, während sie diese durch ihr eVscope betrachten.“ Die durch die Kampagne gesammelten Informationen werden dann automatisch an eine Datenbank des SETI Institute übertragen.

Nächste Schritte & Events:

– Internationale Sternparty: Vorführung des eVscope abends am 22. und 23. September während des Herzberger Teleskoptreffen in Jessnigk, Brandenburg Süd.

– Der Start der  Crowdfunding-Kampagne ist für Oktober vorgesehen. Dann kann das Teleskop zu einem reduzierten Preis von zirka 1000€ gekauft werden. Die Einnahmen, die durch die Crowdfunding-Kampagne erzielt werden, sollen in die Produktion fließen.

Die Features des Enhanced Vision Telescope™ im Überblick:

Lichtverstärkung (Enhanced Vision) – Sogar das Licht von weit entfernten Himmelsobjekten wird gebündelt und in das Okular projiziert. Das Ergebnis sind klare, scharfe Bilder in lebendigen Farben. Das eVscope verwendet dafür die gleiche Funktionsweise wie ein Teleskop mit einer 1 m großen Öffnung, hat aber ein viel kompakteres Format (114 mm / 4,5 Zoll). Damit können Amateur-Astronomen den Nachthimmel völlig neu entdecken.

Autonome Felderkennung (Autonomous Field Detection) – Auf Basis der GPS-Technologie kann das eVscope jeden Himmelskörper finden und identifizieren, ohne dass dafür komplizierte Alignments oder teure äquatoriale Montierungen erforderlich sind. Dank der intelligenten Methode zum Anfahren und Verfolgen von Sternen können sowohl Einsteiger als auch Experten direkt den Blick in den Himmel genießen und wissen dabei immer genau, was sie gerade sehen. Mithilfe einer integrierten Karte, die die Koordinaten von mehreren zehn Millionen Himmelskörpern enthält, kann das System jedes Objekt am Sternenhimmel benennen.

Kampagnen-Modus (Campaign Mode) – Dieser Modus vereint zwei völlig neuartige Technologien, die unter der Führung von Franck Marchis, Senior Astronomer am SETI Institute, entwickelt wurden. „Diese revolutionäre und höchst spannende Funktion ermöglicht es Benutzern weltweit, sich an Beobachtungskampagnen zu beteiligen, mit denen Forscher Bilder und Daten sammeln, die für die Wissenschaft von Interesse sind“, erklärt Marchis.

Im Kampagnen-Modus werden Bilder automatisch an eine Datenbank des SETI Institute im Silicon Valley übertragen. Von dort werden sie der internationalen Wissenschaftsgemeinde zur Verfügung gestellt. Deren Mitglieder können so auf einen Datenpool von noch nie dagewesener Größe zugreifen und finden darin Informationen über Objekte, die von tausenden von Teleskopen in der ganzen Welt an verschiedenen Tagen und zu verschiedenen Uhrzeiten gesammelt wurden. „Daraus können neue Entdeckungen und Erkenntnisse hervorgehen, die uns helfen, das Universum besser zu verstehen“, so Marchis.

Über Unistellar :

Unistellar definiert mit dem Enhanced Vision Telescope™ die Hobby-Astronomie neu. Die smarte Kombination von optischer Leistung, Elektronik und einer firmeneigenen Bildverarbeitungstechnologie ermöglicht den interaktiven Austausch. Unistellar hat sich der Amateur-Astronomie verschrieben, die Technologie des Unternehmens hat jedoch auch das Interesse der französischen Studien- und Forschungseinrichtung für Luft- und Raumfahrt (ONERA) und von Firmen im Bereich bildgebender Verfahren geweckt.

Kontakt in Frankreich 


Laurent Marfisi, Co-Gründer und CEO
Tel. : +33 6 77 98 01 20
E-Mail :


Pressekontakt in Deutschland

Französische Botschaft – Wirtschafts- und Handelsabteilung, Business France

Martin Winder, Leiter Kommunikation
Martin-Luther-Platz 26
D-40212 Düsseldorf
Tel.: +49 (0) 211 300 41 200
Twitter: @BF_DACH


Seeing Pluto With Your Own Eyes From Your Backyard With Unistellar’s eVscope

September 17, 2017

One of the biggest challenges in popular astronomy is finding specific objects in the night sky. Most nebulae, galaxies, and asteroids are invisible to the naked eye, and locating them in the immense vastness of space has frustrated people for centuries.

Picture taken with a cellphone in the eyepiece of the telescope. The green circle labels the position of Pluto, which is visible.

That’s why most amateur astronomers follow a common but frustrating path. They buy a telescope, look at the moon, a few bright stars, and five planets—and then just give up. After only a few months of use, those telescopes go up for sale on eBay or into the basement.

Unistellar is determined to change this. Our new eVscope’s Autonomous Field Detection (AFD) feature will allow novice astronomers to find noteworthy celestial objects without performing complicated alignment procedures. Thanks to AFD’s intelligent pointing and tracking, astronomers can spend more time observing and less time wondering what they’re looking at. You’ll always know exactly what you’re seeing.

You’ll know because the telescope will highlight and an object of interest and show important information about it. Here’s an example. This photo was taken by a smartphone held up to the eyepiece and clearly shows Pluto, identified and labeled using AFD. That little speck of light is indeed the tiny (2,300-km wide) dwarf planet located 4.9 billion km away from Earth. We should mention that this image was taken under far from ideal conditions: from downtown Marseille (a city of about a million people), at a very low elevation (20 degrees), and through a fence.

This is probably the first time anyone has ever used a small commercial telescope to find and identify Pluto. And as impressive as this is, it’s just the beginning. Because of its sensitivity, the eVscope can see more than 4,000 known small bodies in our solar system—everything from near-Earth objects to main-belt asteroids, to Jupiter-Trojan and Centaurs.

Thanks to Unistellar’s technology, amateur astronomers can explore our solar system in all its stupendous diversity, seeing objects as they rotate around the sun and as their brightness varies because of irregularities in their shape and changes in their distance from Earth.

Unistellar also hopes to bring the wonders of astronomy back to city dwellers, most of whom have lost touch with the wonders of the night sky. Many more objects—most far, far more wondrous and beautiful than Pluto—are now well within viewing range of casual astronomers. Comets, extra-galactic supernovae, fast near-Earth asteroids, and much more —they’re out there every night, just above you in the sky, and they’re inviting you to have a look. Take them up on that invitation and your life will never be the same.

Starfest in Central Park: Urban Astronomy for All

September 15, 2017

Last week I traveled from San Francisco to New York City to attend Autumn Starfest, which is sponsored by the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) of New York. This star party’s most amazing feature is its location—right in the middle of Manhattan, in the magnificent Central Park! And after flying 2,600 miles (4,100 km), I was eager to show attendees that the Unistellar eVscope will let them see faint targets in the night sky—even the sky of this immense city, with all of its light and other forms of pollution.

And the great news is that the event, and our telescope, were a huge success.

The setup of Starfest in Central Park. It was obviously not a perfect dark sky for astronomy, but a beautiful summer evening for the public (credits: Ed Rojas,

Observations of M11 (the Wild Duck Cluster), M13 (the Hercules Globular Cluster) and M57 (the Ring Nebula) from Central Park, New York City using the Unistellar eVscope prototype (credits: F. Marchis, Unistellar)

The eVscope was just one of many on display. I counted about forty telescopes of all sizes and shapes—everything from large 50cm Dobson telescopes to simple, smaller Galileoscopes, each operated by an AAA volunteer. The sky was clear, with no clouds and no moon. Yes, there were immense, brightly illuminated buildings all around us, but it was obvious that this would be a great night for star-gazing.

Initially, our telescopes attracted bystanders who entered the park to enjoy one of the last nights of summer, and were wondering what this army of heteroclite telescopes was doing. Soon, they were delighted to have the chance to see the beautiful rings of Saturn, among other things. All around me I heard people saying “I can’t believe I just saw Saturn’s rings.” Even though we can easily find photos of these beautiful objects everywhere on the web, it’s still awe-inspiring to see them for yourself using a small telescope. A lot of us became astronomers the first time we saw this special, unforgettable sight.

Because Unistellar’s eVscope is designed to observe faint targets in the sky, I had to wait for dark to start observing. The number of visitors started growing significantly, as did their impatience, since they were wondering why I was not yet observing anything in this strange new telescope. I must admit that at that point I could see only a handful of stars in the sky and was not certain this would work, since this was definitely the most extreme urban astronomy I had ever done.

Finally, at 8:30 p.m., I pointed the telescope to our first target, M11, the Wild Duck Cluster in the constellation Scutum (The Shield). Despite intense light pollution, the eVscope’s enhanced vision technology allowed visitors to see hundreds of stars in the cluster, which is 6,200 light-years away. Many were struck by its color, which is a function of temperature. People quickly started gathering around the eVscope, asking questions about the technology and what we were observing while waiting patiently for a look. And while M11 impressed most of them, M13, our next target, was definitely the “star” of the show.

This, the Hercules Globular Cluster, is well known and composed of several hundred thousand stars 22,200 light-years away from us. It’s impressive to see its colorful, bright stars in the eyepiece, if only because most people, including most of our visitors, had never seen anything like it. In addition to being awed by its beauty, those stars, which formed almost simultaneously in the same cocoon 12 billion years ago, are the vivid reminder that our galaxy is huge and home to billions of stars. It is very likely that around some of those stars there are hospitable worlds, or planets like ours. We can’t say yet if life, and even simple microbial life, exists there, but as Carl Sagan said “The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.”

We concluded our observing with M57, the Ring Nebula. An invisible star in the constellation Lyra, it has entered in the last phase of its evolution and is dying. The star has ejected its upper envelope, which shines in different colors because of the gas that it is made of. This beautiful object entrances people because it is what our system will look like in several billion years. One day our sun will become a red giant and then a planetary nebula, which makes the Ring Nebulae a dramatic reminder that Earth and our solar system will not be here forever. Because Saturn had dipped below the horizon, several telescopes around us also pointed toward the Ring Nebula, but none of them revealed its true color or the details of its envelope.


Senior Astronomer Franck Marchis setting up the Unistellar eVscope prototype in preparation for the star party (credits: Kevin Dea)

The line around our telescope grew much longer, and I think about 120 people looked through it before the evening came to a close. It was obvious to me that they were delighted to enjoy astronomy so close to home, since living in this huge city had caused most of them to forget all about the stars. Their children were even more impressed, since many did not know that there were so many stars, and so many worlds, out there.

Unfortunately, like all good things, our star party had to end. Visitors left, telescopes were packed away, and the park went dark and silent. My last view was of the towers that ring the park, outshining the stars once again, and serving as both a jewel and a curse of our modern civilization. I went back to everyday, normal, and noisy New York and enjoyed it one more time before taking off for my home and my family in San Francisco.

Thank you New York! It was a joy to see the stars that fill your night sky, and meet many of the wonderful people who call you home.

Franck M.

Unistellar’s eVscope Successfully Finds, Images Asteroid Florence

September 05, 2017

Last week, 5-km asteroid Florence paid Earth a visit—and, using the advanced features of Unistellar’s eVscope, we were able to observe it from a location just outside of San Francisco. This, our first attempt to image an asteroid using the eVscope’s Autonomous Field Detection (ADF) feature, was a huge success, as you can see in the image, which captures what we saw in the telescope’s eyepiece after just three minutes of observing.

Three-min observation of the asteroid (3122) Florence seen in the eyepiece of the eVscope prototype. (Credit: Unistellar)

Asteroid Florence is one of the largest near-earth asteroids (NEAs) yet identified. Shortly after its discovery in 1981 by my colleague Bobby Bus, astronomers realized that this was a very interesting object, roughly 4.4-km across, and with a highly reflective rocky surface.

This large asteroid passed by the Earth-Moon system on September 1. At its closest approach it was 4.4 million miles from Earth, so it presented no danger. But ephemeris predicted a visible magnitude of roughly 8, which is quite bright for an NEA.

Right after finishing an evening eVscope demo at the California Academy of Sciences, my student Clement Chalumeau and I raced over the Golden Gate Bridge to find a fog-free spot to image Florence. We parked close to Mount Tamalpais and set up our equipment near the road. We knew this left us at the mercy of car headlights; what we did not know was that this also put us in the path of smoke from a nearby a bushfire. And we were dealing with a waxing gibbous moon—clearly, not a great site for enjoying the stars, but we were there.

Star chart used to roughly find the location of Florence in the night sky (credit: Tony Dunn)

At 10:50 p.m., we pointed the eVscope in the general direction of constellation Delphinus, using a map provided by amateur astronomer Tony Dunn. For the first time, we activated AFD and, using instructions given in the eyepiece that are based on real-time coordinates of the asteroid and recognition of visible stars, we made our way toward the projected position of the asteroid. Five minutes later, at 10:55 p.m., we started collecting data using the eVscope’s Enhanced Vision capability. And a few seconds after that, I saw a tiny streak of light in the eyepiece and realized we had pinpointed Florence. Success!

Our observing station near Mount Tamalpais, was close to the road and in a smoke of a forest fire. Not perfect for astronomy… (credit: C. Chalumeau & F. Marchis)

We found Florence easily because it’s moving with respect to stars that remain point sources thanks to the tracking of the eVscope and because the asteroid is close to us and moving at a relative speed of ~25 arcmin by hour, after just twenty minutes of observing the dot of light became a line that covered half of the field of view. This left us with no doubt that we had found the fast NEA.

Asteroid Florence seen in the eyepiece after 20 min of observation (credit: F. Marchis)

This was not the first time the eVscope prototype has observed an asteroid. On April 19, asteroid 2014 JO25 was at its closest approach to Earth (which still left it five times farther than the moon). At 11 p.m., our team in Marseille, France, observed the 650m-diameter asteroid crossing Canes Venatici with a magnitude of 10.7. They did this even though AFD was not yet fully implemented in the prototype.

In the future, images of asteroids recorded by owners of Unistellar telescopes will be stored in a SETI Institute database, where they will be available for use by amateur astronomers and scientists. Our goal is to give both experts and laypeople the ability to extract valuable information about asteroids, including their orbit, approximate size, and spin period.

This is crucial because early characterization will help us determine if an asteroid might threaten life on Earth—and give us time to prevent a catastrophe by launching a mission to divert it. This is not just a dream: the Unistellar team attended the Planetary Defense conference in Tokyo, Japan in May 2017 to present our project and meet other scientists involved in this research.

Our dream here is as simple as it is crucial: give eVscope users the ability to observe the night sky as never before—while they contribute to science and to the defense of our planet and every living thing on it.

eVscope users will have the ability to observe the night sky as never before—while they contribute to science and to the defense of our planet and every living thing on it. (credit: C. Chalumeau & F. Marchis)


September 04, 2017

2017年7月19日 – Mountain View, CA & Meyreuil, France: SETI研究所とフランスのスタートアップ企業 Unistellar社は、アマチュア天文学者に比類ない宇宙の展望と、最先端の科学に直接貢献する機会を与える新しい望遠鏡を商品化するための、新しいパートナーシップを締結しました。

Unistellarの新しいsVscope™ は、「Enhanced Vision」技術を採用し、このパートナーシップによりこれまでは提供することができなかった3つのユニークな特徴を持っています。

フランス・Baronnies Provençales からのUnistellar望遠鏡によるダンベル星雲 メシア27, 渦巻き銀河メシア51、鷲星雲メシア16の観測結果。この観測は、ユーザーが直接レンズで見ることも、後日SETI研究所のUnistellarデータベースのストレージから再生することもできます。

Enhanced Visionは、非常に暗い天体の光を蓄積し望遠鏡のアイピースに送り込むことで、極めてシャープでディティールに富む画像を作り出します。Enhanced Visionテクノロジーは、より口径の大きな望遠鏡に匹敵する集光力で、これまでアマチュア天文学者には手が届かなかった天体の、驚異的な光景をお届けします。

自律的視野検出 (AFD)はGPSにより、eVscopeは複雑なアライメントや高価な赤道義システムを必要とせずに、ピンポイントで興味のある天体を導入することができます。AFDのインテリジェントな指向とトラッキングのおかげで、初心者からエキスパートまで天文学者はより多くの時間観測に費やすことが可能になり、また正確に何か見ているかを知ることができます。このシステムはまた、数千万の天体のデータベースによりユーザーが観測しているどんな天体の名前も知らせることができます。


「これまでのハイエンドの望遠鏡は、主な4つの惑星を観測するには素晴らしいツールです。しかしながら、これまではより遠く暗い天体については、アマチュア天文学者には手が届かないものでした。」とUnistellar社CEOのLaurent Marfisi氏は言います。「私たちの望遠鏡は、アマチュア天文学に革命を起こし、これまでは本やオンライン上でしか見れなかった天体を、リアルタイムで見れるようにするものです。このコンパクトな4.5インチ望遠鏡で、冥王星よりも暗い天体を、1メートル望遠鏡に匹敵する感度で観測することができます。」

「私たちは、先進的なイメージング技術をアマチュア天文学にもたらし、グローバルな市民サイエンスによる新しい研究を可能にする、Unistellar社とのパートナーシップに興奮しています」とSETI研究所所長・CEO Bill Diamond氏は言います。「世界的な望遠鏡ネットワークで得られる画像は、自動的に私たちのデータベースにダウンロードされ、研究者による最新のマシンラーニングアルゴリズムを用いた新しい発見と新イベントの検出のための解析に用いられます」


SETI研究所のシニアサイエンティスト・Unistellar社チーフサイエンスオフィサーであるFranck Marchis氏は次のように興奮を共有しています。「Unistellar社のeVscopeは、天文学者が興味を持つ超新星爆発、地球に接近する小惑星や彗星などの、突発イベントの重要なデータを収集する、パワフルな新しい装置です。世界中にある望遠鏡による途切れることのない観測、彗星や超新星などの暗い天体を研究するために、アラートを出したり観測をコーディネートすることにより得られることは計り知れません」とMarchis氏は言います。「キャンペーンモードによるもう一つのエキサイティングな側面は、ユーザーがリアルタイムでデータを収集する現場に立ち会うことができるということなのです」


Unistellar SAS社について

Unistellarは、天文学をインタラクティブなものにするために、Enhanced Vision Telescope™の開発、光学・エレクトロニクス・そして特許のイメージプロセス技術を通してポピュラーな天文学に革命を起こしています。Unistellar社は完全に大衆向けの熱意に特化していますが、その技術は既に有名な研究所であるONERA(フランス宇宙航空機関)や、ドローンイメージングから注目を集めています。



Thanks to Dr. Takayuki Kotani for the translation in Japanese. The original english version is here.

左から右へ:Franck Marchis (CSO・SETI研究所天文学者), Arnaud (Chairman ・ CTO), Laurent (CEO) と、デモ用プロトタイプ (Aix-en-Provence, フランス、2017年6月)


Media Contacts:

SETI Institute

Rebecca McDonald
Director of Communications
Phone: 650-960-4526

Laurent Marfisi
+33 6 77 98 01 20

Science Contact:
Franck Marchis
Senior Astronomy at SETI Institute & CSO at Unistellar
Phone: +1 510 599 0604

SETI Institute-Unistellar parceira promete revolucionar a astronomia amadora

August 03, 2017

19 de julho de 2017 -Mountain View, CA e Meyreuil, França: o Instituto SETI e a startup francesa Unistellar, anunciaram hoje uma parceria para comercializar um novo telescópio que promete oferecer uma visão incomparável do cosmos aos astrônomos amadores e oferecer a oportunidade de contribuir diretamente para ciência de ponta.

O novo eVscope™ da Unistellar aproveita a tecnologia de imagem “Enhanced Vision” e agora oferece três recursos únicos nunca antes oferecidos em um instrumento compacto de mercado de massa graças a esta parceria:

Observações de Dumbbell Nebula Messier 27, Whirlpool galaxy Messier 51 e Eagle Nebula Messier 16 usando um telescópio Unistellar do Observatoire des Baronnies Provençales, na França. Esta observação pode ser vista pelo usuário diretamente na lente e uma imagem pode ser gerada posteriormente para armazenamento na base de dados Unistellar no Instituto SETI.

O Enhanced Vision produz imagens extremamente nitidas e detalhadas de objetos astronômicos até mesmo fracos, acumulando a luz e projetando-a na ocular do telescópio. A tecnologia Enhanced Vision imita a capacidade de coleta de luz de telescópios de refletor significativamente maiores, oferecendo visões sem precedentes de objetos do céu noturno anteriormente inacessíveis aos astrônomos amadores.  

Detecção de campo autônomo (AFD) alimentado por GPS, permite que o eVscope identifique objetos celestiais de interesse sem procedimentos de alinhamento complicados ou montagens equatoriais caras. Graças ao apontar e rastrear inteligentes da AFD, astrônomos de novatos a especialistas, podem passar mais tempo observando e sempre sabendo exatamente o que estão olhando. Este sistema também pode nomear qualquer objeto que o usuário esteja observando, graças a uma base de dados de coordenadas de dezenas de milhões de objetos celestes.

 O modo Campanha , um recurso revolucionário e excitante desenvolvido no Instituto SETI, aproveita a tecnologia de imagem avançada do telescópio e permite que usuários em todo o mundo participem da observação de campanhas de imagem e coletam dados sobre objetos de especial interesse para pesquisadores. No modo Campanha, os dados da imagem são enviados automaticamente para um repositório de dados na sede do Instituto SETI no Vale do Silício. A comunidade científica internacional pode acessar volumes de dados de imagem sem precedentes para objetos específicos, de milhares de telescópios ao redor do mundo, em datas e horários diferentes. Isso, por sua vez, pode permitir novas descobertas e melhorar a nossa compreensão do universo que nos rodeia.

“Os telescópios clássicos de ponta são ferramentas maravilhosas para observar os quatro planetas principais. Mas eles geralmente são decepcionantes por ver objetos mais fracos e distantes, que permanecem inacessíveis aos astrônomos amadores “, disse Laurent Marfisi, CEO da Unistellar. “Nosso telescópio revolucionará a astronomia amadora ao permitir que as pessoas vejam em tempo real, objetos celestes que até agora só estavam disponíveis como imagens em livros ou on-line. Nosso telescópio compacto de 4,5 polegadas permite aos observadores ver objetos mais fracos do que Plutão e alcançar sensibilidade equivalente a um telescópio de um metro! “

 “Estamos extremamente empolgados em parceria com a Unistellar para trazer tecnologia de imagem avançada para astronomia amadora e, assim, permitir uma nova pesquisa impactante através da ciência cidadã global”, disse Bill Diamond, presidente e CEO do Instituto SETI. “As imagens coletadas da rede mundial de telescópios serão automaticamente baixadas em nosso banco de dados e analisadas por pesquisadores que usam os mais recentes algoritmos de aprendizado de máquina para facilitar novas descobertas e detectar novos eventos”.

O telescópio da Unistellar estará disponível no outono de 2017 para sua campanha de crowdsunding de pré-vendas

Franck Marchis, cientista sênior do Instituto SETI e diretor de ciência da Unistellar, compartilha essa emoção: “O eVscope da Unistellar é um novo e poderoso instrumento que pode gerar dados importantes sobre eventos transitórios de interesse para astrônomos, incluindo supernovas, asteróides próximos da Terra e Cometas. Há muito a ganhar com observações contínuas do céu noturno usando telescópios espalhados pelo globo e coordenando observações e enviando alertas aos usuários para estudar objetos fracos como cometas ou supernovas “, disse Marchis. “Outra característica emocionante do nosso modo de campanha, é que nossos usuários serão capazes de testemunhar os fenômenos em que estão coletando dados, em tempo real”, acrescentou Marfisi.

 Um protótipo do telescópio Unistellar foi entregue ao Instituto SETI para testar e desenvolver a rede de dados do Modo Campanha. Os astrônomos amadores terão a chance de ajudar a financiar o desenvolvimento do dispositivo comprando-o por menos de US $ 1000 em uma campanha de crowdfunding que será lançada no outono de 2017.


Sobre Unistellar SAS

A Unistellar está reinventando astronomia popular através do desenvolvimento do Enhanced Vision Telescope ™: uma combinação inteligente de tecnologia óptica, eletrônica e de processamento de imagem proprietária que visa tornar a astronomia interativa. A Unistellar está completamente dedicada à sua ambição popular, mas sua tecnologia já atraiu a atenção de instituições estabelecidas como ONERA (a agência aeroespacial francesa) e Drone Imaging.

 Sobre o Instituto SETI

A missão do Instituto SETI é explorar, compreender e explicar a origem e a natureza da vida no universo e aplicar o conhecimento adquirido para inspirar e orientar as gerações presentes e futuras. Nossos programas de pesquisa, educação e divulgação exploram a maravilha do universo e celebram a excitação da exploração e a alegria da descoberta para toda a humanidade.

Da esquerda para a direita: Franck Marchis (astrônomo CSO e SETI Institute), Arnaud (Presidente e CTO), Laurent (CEO) e o protótipo de demonstração mostrado em Aix-en-Provence, França, em junho de 2017

Translated by Luciana Fontes of EXOSS. Thanks! Obrigado!