Cosmic Diary Marchis

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Updated: 6 days 19 hours ago

Intriguing pair of satellites caught with the eVscope

November 23, 2017

If you often look at the evening dark sky in a clear area far away from the city, you have probably seen a speck of light which moves with respect to the star, that’s probably a distant satellite that shines because it reflects the light of the sun at high altitude. According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program office, there are an  about 21,000 large debris (>10 cm) and satellites orbiting around Earth right now, so much more than you can see with your naked eye.

The eVscope is designed to pinpoint and image Deep Sky Objects (nebulae, galaxies), but we have already shown its potential to observe dwarf planet like Pluto, as well as asteroid like Florence. Because the telescope can image targets as faint as those astronomical bodies, we thought that it will also be able to image small satellites and debris as well passing serendipitously in the field of view. This is what happened a few days ago.

Animation made of 8 frames recorded with the eVscope showing the detection of two satellites

Our team observed from Pourrieres, 50 km from Marseille on November 15 2017. The goal was to test the eVscope on faint winter-sky objects, which including the iconic Horsehead Nebula. At 22:48 UT, the observer pointed toward the target and saw briefly during the acquisition in the eyepiece a small moving target crossing the field of view.

The SETI Institute team inspected the individual raw frames and tried to identify the target. We quickly realized that this bright target (V~10) was not an asteroid but probably an artificial satellite.

Analysis of one of the frame of the EVscope using Aladin software.

More interestingly when we looked at the data more carefully, we saw a second satellite, 8-10 times fainter, which was moving together with the bright one at 9.8 arcmin and 5’o clock. The motion for both satellites with respect to the star is 1 min per min, so that’s probably a geostationary pair of satellites, even though we noticed that they are both inclined by ~4 deg with respect to the equator.

Mysteriously, we could not identify yet the satellites despite a search in the NORAD database and other tools available on the web. That’s probably something that we will do in the future and I will post regular updates here. If you have an idea, please let us know!

The followup and the characterization of space satellites and debris in orbit around Earth is another possible use of the eVscope. We had mentioned this several times in the past and nature gave us the bit of luck that we needed to show it.

Clear Skies

Franck M.

 

 

1,500th telescope on our Kickstarter. Thank you!

November 21, 2017

We have just passed the pledge of our 1,500th telescope on our Kickstarter campaign. With such an amazing number of eVscopes soon to be in operation around the planet, our Campaign Mode and Citizen Science applications will be extraordinary exciting and revolutionary! Your support has brought us to this truly amazing moment, and all we can say is thank you.

After so many questions about planets and requests for additional photos, we felt the need to conduct new observations—and despite bad weather in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, we managed to do it! As you check out these pictures, please keep in mind that what you see through the eVscope’s eyepiece is far more beautiful and mind blowing. The image quality and observing experience there are definitely superior to what you see in these photos.

The eVscope provides truly amazing astronomical views when pointed at nebulae and galaxies. As you can imagine, the Unistellar team has seen lots of targets over the past three months, but we were delighted to see new ones with our eVscope because they are so beautiful and awe-inspiring.

Spiral Galaxy NGC891, for example, is an unforgettable sight in the eyepiece of an eVscope. It’s similar to our Milky Way, but because we see it edge-on, the structures made by the dust and gas are particularly striking.

Picture of the galaxy NGC891 taken with the eVscope from Pourrieres, France. (magnification x100)

Of course, we also observed one of the most iconic objects in the night sky, the Orion Nebula (M42). This object is a stellar nursery and contains a very young open cluster known as the Trapezium. Its coloration is caused by the excitation of gas that surrounds these young stars.

Picture of the Orion Nebula observed with the eVscope from Pourrière, South of France (magnification x 50).

Many of you asked about planets. Keep in mind that they are smaller and brighter than deep-sky objects. We designed the eVscope to view deep-sky objects that are faint and extended, and that’s why our device is not optimal for viewing planets. But as you can see in the following picture, Saturn and its rings are clearly visible in an eVscope, despite their current low elevation in the sky.

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

We will continue to post pictures of targets on our blog and in our newsletter and our social media. Join us there!

Clear Skies

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

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unistellar/evscope-100-times-more-powerful-than-a-classical-t

Link to the Kickstarter campaign.

Images

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

Videos 

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq_VLOn8ckc

Previous press releases

SETI Institute partnership press release:

http://cosmicdiary.org/fmarchis/2017/07/22/seti-institute-unistellar-partnership-promises-to-revolutionize-amateur-astronomy/

It’s Official! The eVscope from Unistellar Gets Kickstarted

http://cosmicdiary.org/fmarchis/2017/10/28/its-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. http://unistellaroptics.com/http://unistellaroptics.com/

Media contact :
Laurent Marfisi
CEO
Email: laurent.marfisi@unistellaroptics.com
+33 6 77 98 01 20

Franck Marchis
Chief Scientific Officer
Email : franck.marchis@unistellaroptics.com
Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute
Email : fmarchis@seti.org
+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: http://unistellaroptics.com or email contact@unistellaroptics.com