French telescope company Unistellar has launched two new tech-infused models at CES 2024 promising to eliminate the tedious parts of backyard astronomy. The new Odyssey and Odyssey Pro smart telescopes use new technology to focus on both nearby objects like Jupiter and distant stars or nebulae. They also feature new Nikon optics and an updated smartphone app that helps you align and focus the telescope, while automatically finding targets to image.
Unistellar's current smart telescopes, the eVscope 2 and eQuinox 2, are primarily designed to image distant galaxies, stars, clusters and the like — they can also image planets, but focus can be tricky. However, the Odyssey and Odyssey Pro use what the company calls Multi-Depth technology to focus equally well on both near and far objects, letting you switch instantly from viewing the Moon to a distant nebula.
It works by using the full sensor resolution to image close-in objects, which are bright but relatively small. For dim, larger objects it combines four pixels into one, much like many smartphone cameras, to boost the light gathering capability, at the cost of some detail. As the company told us at CES, it also "stacks multiple images of the same spot to render a clean output."
They even work in light-polluted areas, thanks to a high-sensitivity sensor and smart image processing. "With the Odyssey, Unistellar is offering a new generation of smart telescopes that are both ultra-powerful and capable of instantly transforming your stargazing evenings into adventures across the cosmos with family or friends, even in the middle of the city," said Laurent Marfisi, Unistellar co-founder and CEO.
The other big update is the Android/iOS app. As before, it automatically points the telescope toward the desired target at the right time, by recognizing groups of stars and calculating exactly where a target should be. However, it can now suggest items to look at on a particular evening, and provide extra context about the body in question.
Both telescopes have new optical tubes using Nikon optics and the company says they're the first that don't need manual adjustments — something that can be difficult for amateur astronomers. That marries with a new autofocus system — much like what you'd see on a digital camera — to deliver consistently sharp images.
The new telescopes are cheaper than past models, though they do have smaller mirrors than the eVscope 2, at 320mm compared to 450mm focal length. The main difference between the two models is that the Odyssey Pro has slightly more resolution (4.1 megapixels compared to 3.4 megapixels), along with a Nikon-made eyepiece. The Odyssey is now shipping for $2,499, while the Odyssey Pro costs $3,999. The company also has a special edition Odyssey Pro Red Edition (above), that costs $4,499.
Engadget's Richard Lai contributed to this report.
We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.
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