The $2,999 Vaonis Stellina (Source: Vaonis Media Kit)

A Smart Telescope That Puts the Universe in the Palm of Your Hand

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Most telescopes are more pleasing to look through than to look at, but the sleek, $2,999 Stellina from French startup Vaonis revolutionizes on both fronts. Not only does it resemble a prop from 2001, it also comes without the traditional eyepiece. Here, the goal is less searching, more finding: Select, say, the Andromeda Galaxy from one of 150 preloaded options on the app, and the motorized telescope—less than 20 inches tall and powered by a battery good for about 10 hours—focuses itself on the star system and sends a close-up view to your phone or tablet.

The Competition

The ETX 125 Observer ($699) from Meade Instruments Corp. has quality optics coupled with the ability to guide itself to any object in its 30,000-item database. But to save images of your interplanetary wanderings, swap out the eyepiece for its $380 LPI-G advanced-camera module. Unistellar’s eVscope will make its debut this fall, but it’s already gaining traction with devoted stargazers. The $1,999 telescope uses a digital eyepiece and sends back high-quality images by stacking multiple exposures of objects in its view, similar to how high-dynamic-range technology works.

The Bottom Line

The lack of an eyepiece will rankle traditionalists, but the Stellina is built on the premise that even if you don’t know the difference between an azimuth and a zenith, images of heavenly bodies should be easy to see, capture, and share from your phone. There’s even—gasp!—a filter that strips away light pollution so that both urban and suburban backyards can get clear views of the next lunar eclipse. $2,999;

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