Aeon is a smart entry level telescope, which is used in combination with a connected device. It helps beginners to get started in the field of astronomy.
Observing the stars with a telescope is difficult, and comes along with a lot of effort and planning, which is quiet frustrating especially for beginners. Instead of an ocular for observing with your eyes, Aeon telescope uses a camera to record the observation and sends it to all devices, which are connected with the telescope. That means several people can observe with Aeon simultaneously.
Due to its small size the transport of the compact telescope is easy. You can set it up fast and the handling is self explaining. Just connect your smartphone or tablet with Aeon and point it towards the target. Observing the stars without any knowledge is possible with the Aeon telescope. It scans the observing conditions (time, location, weather and profile information of the connected users) and offers a collection of attractive objects in the sky to watch.
The users can observe on their devices what the telescope is looking at and the Aeon App navigates them towards the target they desire. When the object is in range users can learn more about their observation with context information and pictures of the object.
The telescope combines the original experience in the nature with all the benefits and functions an astronomy app can offer you.
Intention behind the project
Consumer telescopes have remained basically the same for many years. Development has been happening mostly in performance aspects and more innovative products targeting only expert users. I recognized this opportunity and started my thesis project rethinking the classical consumer telescope. Since my childhood I was interested in astronomy and the cosmos around this topic, but despite owning a telescope I have never been really hooked. Talking to other people about my project I found out that astronomy got the potential to attract way more people than it does nowadays. I recognized that finding real access to this hobby is an issue many beginners are struggling with.
The task: Easy Access to astronomy
There are several reasons for this: Affordable entry level telescopes are often hard to observe with (due to cheap parts and poor performance) and require at least some basic knowledge to operate them. Amateurs also need orientation in the nightsky and an idea about what to observe up there to really have fun. Telescopes for beginners often don't match with the requirements and abilities of their audience. So it was clear that there is a need for a different kind of entry level product, which offers an easy way to get into the topic of astronomy for everyone.
Telescopes often have a high level of optical magnification and are hard to operate. But of course there are alternatives. For example astronomic binoculars which have a lower magnification and a bigger field of view. You can't see as deep into the nightsky by using them, but you get a decent picture what's visible up there and they are cheaper, more compact and way better to handle than comparable telescopes. Astronomy apps offer another alternative for amateurs. They can be downloaded for free in every appstore and they include a lot of helpful features like for example information about objects in the sky, high quality picture material, augmented features or the ISS finder. On the other hand the apps are often very limited and they don't provide you the authentic experience a telescope offers you.
During my research I found out some key aspects, which I had to implement in my concept:
Influenced by glossy astronomy pictures on the web amateurs are often disapointed with the view a real telescope offers. In contrast to this an entry level product should raise enthusiasm for astronomy and the use should be motivating. To guarantee a great experience it should be possible to see more than the visible and you should have fun and learn at the same time. The use of telescopes also depends a lot on the weather conditions, an observation tour must be planned and prepared. I looked out for a possibility for spontanious and effortless observing. Furthermore the observation as a group activity was another aspect. Sharing your hobby with your friends or other people is more fun and motivates you to keep going. New users should also be able to work with an entry level product, even if they've got no backround knowledge or have never touched a telescope in their life before.
My approach to the topic
All in all the main goal of my concept was to create the best astronomy experience, with as little effort for the user as possible. My approach was to combine the authentic experience of a classic telescope (a real adventure under the nightsky) with all benefits an astronomy app can offer. Combining both aspects in a compact and easy to handle device connected to your phone or tablet you are able to experience the stars in a new way.
As mentioned above Aeon is a smart entry level telescope, which is used in combination with a connected device. The telescope sends visual content to all connected phones or tablets and the user can observe on the screen what the telescope is looking at. For beginners Aeon offers an innovative and compact alternative to regular telescopes.
The bigger optical instruments like telescopes are, the more is possible to see with them. To still keep a quite compact and manageable product I implemented the way smaller and less powerful optics from astronomic binoculars supported by augmented features in the observation app. This combination offers a good compromise because low enlargement is easier to handle for beginners and for high quality images the app delivers enough material from the database. Due to the small size Aeon is also easy to transport and quickly set up. Rather than struggling with a heavy telescope just connect your phone or tablet to Aeon and observe the nightsky together with a good introduction and helping features in the app. This way Aeon can offer an authentic and enhanced telescope experience and also outsource technical parts (in smartphones or tablets).
Next to this my goal was to achieve a product which perfectly fits the users needs. Together with the app a self-explaining ball mount makes finding new targets really easy. The adjustment is user friendly and comfortable, thanks to directionless aiming, magnetic stabilisation and a big observation angle. Next to the observation interface on screen a feedback light on the products body leads you to your desired target. The telescope is also equipped with a battery inside, which allows several hours of observation without charging and to resist the outdoor environment Aeon includes a safety transportation mode and comes with a fitting outdoor security bag.
To use the Aeon telescope, you need to run the app on your connected device. But it offers much more than the pure observation interface, there are lots of features included to improve the telescope experience. Observing the stars without any background knowledge is possible by using the Aeon telescope. It gives you a collection of target suggestions (based on GPS, weather conditions, calendar and user history). Aeon knows what's the best thing to observe in the sky in this particular moment and it navigates you into the right direction using a self explaining interface. Once you have found the desired target, there is a lot to explore. If you are interested in learning more about it reading background information, watch high quality picture material or rewatch historical events like the moon landing, there are endless possibilities. The app is also designed to have a minimal effect on retinal adaption of the eyes using mostly red and dark colours. So you can observe the stars without been blinded by your screen. Next to that the app sends a notification in case of perfect weather conditions or when some special object is visible tonight. That makes it possible to go out for not planned and spontanious observations.
The Aeon telescope brings an alternative to the astronomy market and addresses a whole new target group combining outdoor experience and technology. Of course there would be a lot of development necessary to bring this to market, but the concept shows a vision how a new product could make astronomy as a hobby attractive for everybody. The Aeon telescope makes astronomy easier accessible for beginners and could be a nice little addition to the equipment of your next camping trip.