Stellina smart telescope: a good option for beginners?

We got the chance to tinker with the new Stellina telescope. But is it a suitable option for astrophotography newcomers?

Stellina smart telescope. Credit: BBC Sky at Night Magazine

Astrophotography is quite often considered a ‘dark art’. Indeed, if you like tinkering and setting up lots of equipment to make it work together so you can capture that precious astro image, then you are indeed a dedicated astrophotographer, and that’s fine.

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But it can be quite involved and – dare I say – tedious if you just want to capture a deep-sky target with little fuss and without the paraphernalia required to get all that equipment to work (not to mention the fact that most setups need a laptop in the field to control and capture the images).

So, what about beginners’ astrophotography through a telescope?

If you are looking to get started, I would suggest an easy system. One for beginners to delve into astrophotography should be intuitive, light and easy to set up, be controllable to operate using a smart device and not involve any form of polar alignment.

Cue the Stellina Observation station that I was allowed to ‘play with’ and review for our February 2020 issue. I was a sceptic, but was equally inquisitive to see whether something you just put down, level, then control with an app to take deep-sky images could really do exactly that.

The answer is yes, it can. With the Stellina you don’t have any control over how the image is framed, nor any adjustment of ISO and exposure but then, if you are patient and happy to let it work on its own, you will get results.

However, the Stellina isn’t cheap, so unless the price comes down dramatically it won’t be replacing all that wonderful astrophotography equipment – yet!

But it could be the future. In many ways controlling it is like robotic astronomy, and plenty are doing that nowadays with more systems being set up around the world, so I and many others I’m sure, will be watching further developments with interest.

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Paul Money is BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s Reviews Editor.