Vaonis VESPERA smart telescope review

I was able to test the Vaonis VESPERA digital telescope. This is a lens telescope-astrograph in a single block form factor on a single-fork motorized alt-azimuth mount with GoTo system. Aperture – 50 mm, focal length – 200 mm (four-element apochromat-quadruplet), sensor – Sony IMX462 (color), built-in IR-UV cut-off filter.

Vaonis VESPERA
Vaonis VESPERA

SPECIFICATIONS

Weight 5 kg (11lbs)
Height 40cm (15 in)
Width 20 cm (8 in)
Depth 9 cm (3.5 in)
Battery life 4 hours
Aperture 50 mm
Focal length 200 mm
Resolution 1920 x 1080 (2MP)
Lens Apochromatic Quadruplet
Lens special features Extra low dispersion

S-FPL52 equivalent (ULD) with lanthanum glass

Focal ratio F/4
Image sensor Sony IMX462
Sensoz size 1/2.8″
File formats JPEG, TIFF, FITS
Fiel of view 1.6° x 0.9°
Mount Alt-azimutale
Focus Auto
Pointing Automated and Manual
Image Processing Adapted to each object

Real time imge stacking

Light pollution filter Optional
Dew control Optional
Field derotator Not included
Temperature/humidity sensor Not included
Battery type Integrated
Water Resistance IP43
Multi user mode Up to 5 users
Control Smartphone / Tablet
Application Deep-sky objects (galaxies, nebulae, star clusters), the sun & Moon
USB port Only Wifi

 

APPEARANCE, EQUIPMENT, ACCESSORIES
The telescope is supplied in a cardboard box. Inside the box: a telescope in a case, a collapsible mini-tripod, a charger and instructions. The outside of the telescope body is plastic, glossy, white. The bottom of the case has a 3/8″ thread for a photo tripod. On the side of the case there is a single touch button with bright backlight. One of the halves of the telescope can be rotated – this is an optoelectronic unit containing a lens, a camera and a focusing mechanism. At the front of the lens there is a removable plastic ring for installing additional accessories (filters or humidity sensor).

ABOUT THE LIGHT INDICATION OF THE BUTTON
If the button does not light up, charge the device for a few minutes.
If the button flashes red once, the battery level is low.
If the button flashes red twice, the battery level is very low, set the telescope to charge.
If the button flashes four times, there is a problem, contact technical support.

Vaonis VESPERA на треноге. Видна единственная кнопка.
Vaonis VESPERA on tripod
Vaonis VESPERA на треноге в сложенном состоянии.
Vaonis VESPERA folded
Vaonis VESPERA на треноге в рабочем состоянии. На объектив установлен светофильтр против засветки.
Vaonis VESPERA at tripod on working mode. Light pollution filter installed.
Объектив
Lens

POSSIBILITIES
Vaonis VESPERA is an automated astrograph telescope without an eyepiece. The resulting images are viewed on the screen, including in real time. Usually, when photographing deep space objects, it is also necessary to take calibration frames (darks, flats, flat-darks, biases, etc.), but with the Vaonis VESPERA telescope this is not necessary thanks to the built-in processing algorithms. The addition of captured images is performed automatically, but you can activate the saving of source files in FITS format for manual addition in third-party programs (DeepSkyStacker, Fitswork, SIRIL, etc.)

The telescope mount is alt-azimuth, that is, it rotates in altitude and azimuth. With mounts of this type, when shooting with long exposures, field rotation begins to appear – the stars at the edges of the field of view seem to rotate around the center and look like tiny arcs. To avoid this, you need either a hardware derotator that rotates the camera following the torsion of the field, or a transition to an equatorial wedge, or simply a limitation on the exposure time. The standard single-frame shutter speed for the Vaonis VESPERA telescope is 10 seconds. In Expert Mode, you can manually adjust shutter speed and gain.

To use the Vaonis VESPERA telescope, a smartphone or tablet is required. The telescope is controlled via the Singularity application; iOS and Android operating systems are supported.

The algorithm for working with the telescope is as follows:
– Download the Singularity application, register, providing all the necessary data.
– Assemble the telescope and place it on a flat surface.
– Turn on the telescope by touching the button on the body.
– Turn on Wi-Fi on your smartphone, find a Wi-Fi network with the format name “Vespera 2-XXXXX”, connect to it.
– Launch the Singularity application.
– Create an “observatory” in the application, indicating the coordinates of the observation location.
– Perform initialization (INITIALIZE button in the application)
– Select an object to photograph, the telescope will point at it automatically.
– Start shooting and observing the object on the screen.

Интерфейс приложения
User interface
Интерфейс приложения
User interface

Once you start shooting, you don’t have to keep your phone on all the time – inside the telescope there is a built-in autonomous microcomputer that, through the application, provides access to the functions and settings of the telescope. Therefore, you can start shooting and safely go about your business – the telescope will photograph everything, fold it and save it.

Also in the application you can create an observation plan for the night, having previously selected objects for shooting.

In addition, up to 8 users can simultaneously connect to Vaonis VESPERA. One of the users is an administrator, the rest can view photographs taken using the telescope. If necessary, access rights can be quickly transferred to another device.

In expert mode (EXPERT MODE), you can specify the name of the saved files, the number of frames to save, the exposure time of a single frame (up to 30 seconds), and the camera gain value (from 0 to 27).

Unfortunately, Windows and MacOS are not supported for controlling the telescope, but by connecting to the telescope via Wi-Fi using a laptop, you can access the telescope’s file system through the FTP protocol and download the captured frames without adding them.

Доступ к телескопу через Проводник
Accessing the telescope through Explorer

The focusing of the telescope is automatic and motorized. It is carried out by the telescope independently before each observation session. The telescope has a built-in temperature sensor – if there is a sudden change in ambient temperature, a warning will appear in the application with a recommendation to re-autofocus. If necessary, autofocus can be forced.

As for the optoelectronic component, everything is excellent here – the four-element system provides an even field, and the use of ED glass eliminates colored halos around the stars compared to conventional achromatic lenses. I have long been well acquainted with the Sony IMX462 color sensor used in the telescope – it is a low-noise, highly sensitive sensor with back illumination (BSI) and a very weak intrinsic glow of the matrix.

After telescope view is 1.6° x 0.9°. For comparison, the angular size of the Moon is 0.5°. Thus, most of the Messier catalog fits comfortably within the telescope’s field of view. For large objects there is a mosaic mode (CovalENS), which allows you to shoot objects that do not fit entirely into the field of view by shooting a panorama.

TEST

The Vaonis VESPERA telescope is charged using a special magnetic cable (included), try not to lose it.
The stated operating time on a single battery charge is about 8 hours. Do not allow the battery to completely discharge, as this may impair battery performance. There is also no need to “sway” the battery by charging and discharging it several cycles – just use the device. If necessary, charge the telescope at any time, but preferably to 100%. In cold weather, battery life may decrease. It supports simultaneous charging and use of the telescope for shooting both from the power supply and from an external battery (PowerBank) with a Type-C port and the PD (Power Delivery) protocol.

When viewed with a thermal imager, heating is noticeable in some parts of the device. In addition, there is a lens heating function to prevent lens fogging, however, to activate it, you must purchase and install a humidity sensor (purchased separately).


Three full-aperture light filters can be purchased for the Vaonis VESPERA telescope – solar (Solar), a broadband Light Pollution Filter (CLS) against light pollution, as well as a narrow-band Dual Band Filter against light pollution. Through a solar filter you can safely photograph the solar photosphere, sunspots, solar eclipses, sunsets, etc. In this case, the image of the Sun turns yellow. The CLS filter is suitable for photographing gas nebulae in medium to moderate light conditions. I note that the CLS filter is very wide, so it is conditionally suitable for shooting galaxies and star clusters, but color distortion is possible. The Dual Band filter is suitable only for photographing gas nebulae in conditions of medium and strong illumination. When using the telescope in a dark sky, anti-light filters are not required.

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/908562-vaonis-filters/#entry13231357
Vaonis filters bandwidth

RESULTS

Visualization of bright Messier objects usually occurs almost immediately, but as the signal accumulates, the visibility of faint details improves significantly. In addition, the darker the sky, the more contrast and detail the image becomes. For photographing gas nebulae in urban light conditions, an anti-light filter will help, but for successful photography of galaxies and dust nebulae, traveling under a dark sky is still preferable. Before shooting an object, the application informs you about the recommended duration of shooting the object – usually about 30-40 minutes.

Some images taken with the Vaonis VESPERA telescope with automatic stacking.

Галактика М51
M51 galaxy, 10 minutes
Туманность NGC 6992 - накопление 1 час
NGC 6992, 1 hour
Туманность М16
M16, 26 minutes
Галактика М104
M104, 37 minutes
Туманность М97
M97, 3.5 minutes
Галактики М81 и М82 - накопление 11 минут
M81, M82 galaxies – 11 minutes
Туманность М57
M57 Ring nebula, 6 minutes
Туманность М17
M17 nebula – 1 minute
Шаровое скопление М13 - накопление 1 минута
M13 star cluster – 1 minute
Галактика М101 - накопление 3.5 минуты
M101 galaxy – 3.5 minutes
Туманность М8
M8 Lagoon nebula – 2 minutes
Туманность М27
M27 planetary nebula – 3 minutes
Двойное скопление в Персее - накопление 100 секунд
Double cluster at Perseus, 1.5 minutes
Туманность NGC 6888
NGC 6888 nebula , 8 minutes
Рассеянное звёздное скопление NGC 457
NGC 457, 50 seconds
Туманность NGC 7635
NGC 7635 Bubble nebula – 9.5 minutes
Триплет Льва - накопление 7.5 минут
Leo triplet – 7.5 minutes
Галактика NGC 4565
NGC 4565 “Needle” galaxy – 6.5 minutes
Луна, одиночный кадр
The Moon, single frame
Солнце, одиночный кадр (с апертурным защитным светофильтром)
The Sun, single image, with solar filter

EXAMPLES OF SINGLE FRAMES AND WITH MANUAL PROCESSING

A single frame with a shutter speed of 10 seconds, obtained from a fits file with conversion to ASIFITSVIEW (automatic histogram stretching). A typical image from a Sony imx462 sensor at high gain. “Hot” pixels (red, green, blue) are noticeable – perhaps they are eliminated using software at the addition stage (a special algorithm or dark frame subtraction).
 

The telescope stacks 99 frames for 10 seconds, saves the result of the addition in tiff, then automatically stretches the histogram in the GraXpert program. By stacking the frame, the image became less noisy and more detailed. Due to field rotation and slight shifts of the subject when shooting, the edges of the image will inevitably deteriorate (this is normal), so it is advisable to crop the frame.

Crop:

Another example – part of the NGC6992 nebula with a shutter speed of 10 seconds, single frame, conversion from a fits file in the ASIFITSVIEW program:

Addition of 456 frames for 10 seconds, autohistogram in GraXpert. It is advisable to trim the edges of the frame.

With manual processing, you can extract more weak details from the result of the addition and use more effective noise reduction, but for fast and undemanding entry-level shooting, automatic addition and calibration will be enough. There is still chromatism in the telescope, but it is small, and when using an anti-light filter it should be completely cut off. The field is level, the adjustment is normal. The rotation of the field at short shutter speeds (10 seconds) does not appear in the stars, however, when adding frames, dark circles of noise may appear (noticeable in some images above). To eliminate them, I had to remove the stars from the image, apply noise reduction to the background without stars, then add the stars back. Ideally, it is generally necessary to make “shifts” when shooting, that is, the frames should be with a slight “shift” of the object in each of the pictures. Judging by the fact that this rotational noise still exists, there is no progress. However, some users report that rotation noise is significantly reduced in mosaic shooting mode.

Снимок туманности М20 без устранения шума
Image of the M20 nebula without noise removal
После применения шумоподавления
After noise reduction

Source images here.

SUMMARY
Having tested the Vaonis VESPERA telescope, I was convinced that the functions and technologies declared by the manufacturer were fully operational. The optics, sensor, mechanics, electronics and software are well coordinated, and Vaonis has created a smart telescope that is fast, reliable and easy to use. Among my wishes, I would still like to have adjustments when shooting objects to eliminate rotational noise, a Russified application interface, the ability to adjust the color and brightness of the button in shooting mode, as well as easier access to the telescope for additional users without the need for mandatory registration. I recommend!

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