Using a smartphone camera to capture pictures of the stars is a bit like trying to cross the ocean in a small boat – you’ll make some progress, but soon you’ll realize the limitations of your equipment. However, imagine placing your boat in a large swimming pool on a cruise ship – that’s similar to the idea behind the Vaonis Hestia which starts at 249 USD.
The Hestia, which is about the size and weight of a big hardcover book, offers an impressive 25x magnification. It achieves this by guiding light through a series of lenses and prisms, directly into your phone’s camera sensor. With the help of an augmented-reality app, you can find constellations, galaxies, nebulas, or any other celestial objects you want to photograph. The app uses a light-based guide to assist you in aiming, then it captures multiple images and blends them into a single photo using its clever processing method.
You’ll need a relatively new phone with better cameras to capture these’re deep sky’ subjects. Even older phones will be able to capture the moon more effectively than before. You can also use the Hestia to photograph the sun. Thanks to its removable magnets, it might even work with your future phone during the next total solar eclipse in 2090. By then, who knows, we might be living among the stars.
Vaonis has already introduced several smart telescopes, but they turned to Kickstarter to fund the development of the Hestia. Their goal was to raise $10,000, but they exceeded expectations and collected over $4.1 million. The Kickstarter campaign recently ended, and Vaonis plans to begin shipping the Hestia in December.