by Staff Writers
Marseilles, France (SPX) Nov 09, 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 10 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 conventional backyard 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 and 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."
+ Visit Unistellar eVscope Kickstarter campaign here
Pasadena CA (SPX) Nov 08, 2017
The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) has announced that it has initiated the casting of the fifth of seven mirrors that will form the heart of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The mirror is being cast at the University of Arizona's Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory, the facility known for creating the world's largest mirrors for astronomy. The 25-meter-diameter GMT will be sited ... read more
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It
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