Unistellar’s telescope turns your smartphone into a stargazer

Humans are eternally curious about the night sky, but figuring out how to use a telescope is non-trivial. At CES in Las Vegas, Unistellar believes it has the perfect solution with its Equinox 2 Smart Telescope.

“When I was a young teenager, I had a telescope that I used during the long summer nights. Fast forward to being an adult – I didn’t have any more time to do astronomy. With a friend of mine, we started to think about what we can do to bring astronomy back to our busy daily lives,” says Laurent Marfisi, co-founder and CEO of Unistellar in an interview with TechCrunch. “We thought up a telescope that is easy to use, that is powerful enough to see through the light pollution, and that has the possibility to reveal galaxies and nebulae, all those things that we could not see even when we were teenagers. The aim is to bring a lot of the power that professionals have in astronomy into the daily lives of consumers who just want to have fun, spend good quality time with their children and their friends around astronomy.”

Now there’s a good-looking piece of kit. Image Credit: Unistellar

The telescope doesn’t have an eyepiece, so you’ll need to use the app both to control and to capture the magic of the night sky. The app knows about more than 5,000 celestial objects you can explore, and uses the phone’s GPS to know where in the world it is. It then looks around and recognizes certain stars to pin point exactly where it’s looking.

The eQuinox 2 smart telescope will retail for $2,499, with pre-sales available now, and it’s globally available next month.

Read more about CES 2023 on TechCrunch

Unistellar’s telescope turns your smartphone into a stargazer by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

SpaceX launches a NASA telescope that will observe black holes

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has blasted off with NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite. First announced in 2017, the IXPE is the first satellite capable of measuring the polarization of X-rays that come from cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars.

The fridge-sized satellite has three telescopes that can track and measure the direction, arrival time, energy, and polarization of light. When data from all those telescopes is combined, NASA can form images that could give us more insight into how mysterious celestial objects — those that emit X-ray — work. For instance, they’re hoping it can give us a more thorough look at the structure of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant with a neutron star rapidly spinning in its center.

By observing black holes, the IXPE will help scientists gain more insight and broaden humanity’s knowledge on the regions of space we still barely know. It could provide clues on why they spin and how they gobble up cosmic materials, though it could also lead to new discoveries. Martin Weisskopf, the mission’s principal investigator, said during a briefing: “IXPE will help us test and refine our current theories of how the universe works. We may even discover more exciting theories about these exotic objects than what we’ve hypothesized.”

SpaceX used a Falcon 9 rocket from a previous mission for this launch. If all goes well, the rocket’s first stage will land on the company’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” after ferrying IXPE to space.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.

NASA launches a new Earth-like planet hunting telescope using a giant balloon

A new telescope will seek out planets that resemble Earth from a height of around 125,000 feet, suing special optical technology that will filter out light from the stars they orbit to provide a better view. The telescope is the product of UMass Lowell, and took off on Tuesday morning from Fort Sumner, New Mexico aboard a helium balloon roughly the size of an entire football field.

The balloon had to be that big to carry the telescope, which itself weighs around 1,500 lbs, and measures 14 feet long by 3 feet wide. The so-called ‘PICTURE-C’ telescope will operate at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere for a clear view, and it’s a reusable piece of equipment that will stay aloft for several hours at at time before being decoupled and making its way back via parachute-assisted descent.

NASA is funding the project via a $5.6 million five-year grant for the university, and it’ll return for a follow-up trip next year to capture more images to assist their research team in their search. The project could result in the discovery of other objects in space beyond Earth-like planets, since it’s a novel approach to taking a look at bodies in space that were previously washed out by ambient light from stars.

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Photo credit: NASA