Vaonis Vespera Pro - First Experiences

Introduction | May 9, 2024: Sun | Initialization | Durations | Sizes | Yellow Color Cast? | Mosaics: Background Grid | Noise | First Conclusions | Links

In progress

On this page, I describe my very first experiences with my electronic 2" refractor telescope Vaonis Vespera Pro 50 mm/250 mm (f/5) (I received my Vespera telescope on May 8, 2024).

Note:

 

Introduction

         

Photo: My Vaonis Vespera Pro (May 8, 2024)

Vespera Pro is an update of the Vespera electronic telescope from the French company Vaonis (in the meantime there appeared a version limited to 222 samples called Passenger and the successor model Vespera II). It has been available for pre-order on the Vaonis Website since mid-June 2023. Delivery of the telescope was promised to take place in May 2024 for the first pre-orders and started in the beginning of May 2024. Later pre-orders are to be delivered from July 2024 on; the price has also been gradually increased.

In the following, I collect my very first experiences with my Vaonis Vespera (partly enriched by the experiences of other owners). These are not only experiences based on the differences to the original Vespera, but also on issues with which the Vespera Pro was plagued at the beginning (or from the beginning on...).

 

May 9, 2024: Sun

My very first attempt with the Vespera Pro was aimed at the sun on May 9, 2024. Initially, however, I had set up the Vespera Pro so that the sun was partially obscured by a small tree. This produced quite nice photos, but not the results that I wanted. I bent the tree to the side and tied it down, and then I was able to capture the sun without any interference.

         

Sun covered by tree...

 

Sun with sun spots, section

 

Comparison photo from the Internet (The Sky Live)

   

Sun with sun spots, section, second series

 

Ditto

 

Ditto

 

Initialization

I had heard in Vaonis Facebook groups that the Vespera Pro, as it was delivered, had initialization problems. These were supposed to be fixed by a software update, which was not promised for iOS until the following week. However, it should help to restart the Vespera Pro (presumably by switching it off and on again). And that is what I experienced with my Vespera Pro:

Hopefully that concludes this issue!

 

Durations...

It has been repeatedly mentioned on the Internet that the observation time with the Vespera is longer than the actual exposure time. This is partly because low-quality images (frames) are skipped and not stored on the image stack, and partly because saving the images takes a certain amount of time. I have to admit that I never really paid attention to this, apart from checking how many images were actually added to the stack. I was able to determine this difference by checking the EXIF data of the JPG files: I compared the filename, which indicates the number of frames, with the number of frames on the stack. However, the EXIF data always shows one image less - a mistake that nobody at Vaonis seems to think needs correcting...

Abbildung: On top is the file name (indicating 296 Frames), at the bottom the number of frames on the stack (293 exp)

With the Vespera Pro, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the image files are significantly larger than with the Vespera (12.5 MP compared to 2.1 MP). And in fact, one Vespera Pro owner found that the Vespera Pro takes longer for the “gross exposure” than the Vespera under the same conditions (in his example it was about 10% difference with the same “net exposure”).

On the other hand, this owner found that the Vespera Pro is significantly faster at mosaics than the original Vespera (see here), which he attributes to the fact that the individual images are significantly larger on the Vespera Pro. I saw this very clear difference in the mosaics that I shot, but did not really "take note" of it. But in "hindsight" I can confirm this effect (especially as suddenly, for example, 10 mosaic passes were displayed, which would have taken "forever" with the original Vespera).

The latter suggests to record only mosaics with the Vespera Pro, but another Vespera Pro owner stated in a Facebook group that mosaics are blurrier than normal photos. So that needs to be clarified first! Also, the Vespera Pro is supposed to "dither" normal shots as well, not just mosaics. Dithering was also put forth as an argument for only recording mosaics with the original Vespera. But I can no longer find any evidence on the Vaonis Website that the Vespera Pro actually uses dithering for normal recordings.

 

Sizes...

The original Vespera has an image size of 1920 x 1080 pixels (2.1 MP, full HD format); in mosaic mode this can be expanded to around 8.2 MP (1.5 times the maximum side length; that is probably around 2880 x 2880 pixels). That is quite a lot!

The image size of the Vespera Pro, on the other hand, amounts to 3536 x 3536 pixels, which corresponds to 12.5 MP. For mosaics, the image size was even increased to 50 MP in mid-May, which corresponds to a a little more than 7000 x 7000 pixels (that is, four times the original image size). This means that the file size of the Vespera Pro photos is already “beyond good and evil” for me and is at best an aid for cropping the photos. Normally, the photographed objects are still quite small even with the Vespera Pro (the linear pixel size of objects is 1.81 times that of objects photographed with the Vespera). In contrast to the Vespera, I will no longer offer the Vespera Pro photos in their original size on my Website in order to save storage space and keep the loading times for the photos short (I decided for 2000 pixels horizontally for the moment).

Here are some examples of the difference in size between the objects in Vespera Pro and Vespera on a pixel basis! I set the Vespera Pro sections to the same size as the Vespera photos (the latter size may vary). In one case I use 1920 instead of 2000 pixels.

Example: M 81 and M 82

    

Vespera Pro: M 81/82 (section), May 10, 2024 - 2000p (360 frames = 3600s)

 

Vespera: M 81/82, Aug 12, 2022 - original (60 frames = 600s)

Example: M 65, M 66, and NGC 3628 (Leo Triplet)

    

Vespera Pro: M 65 and M 66 with NGC 3628 (Leo Triplet) - May 13, 2024, section from mosaic, 3600s, 2000p

 

Vespera: M 65 and M 66 with NGC 3628 (Leo Triplet) - June 6, 2023, HD section from mosaic, 2880s, 1920p

 

Yellow Color Cast?

Among other problems, some Vespera Pro owners have reported a yellow color cast in Vespera Pro photos. Since I do not have enough comparison photos of my own, I do not want to make any comments on this yet, except that the few comparison photos so far (see Sizes...) actually seem to suggest such a color cast.

 

Mosaics: Background Grid

I ha ve read it in Facebook groups about Vespera, but ha've also discovered it in my own photos: the longer you expose a Vespera Pro mosaic, the more clearly an irregular light-dark grid appears in the background. If you brighten up your photos, this grid also becomes more apparent (see the processed versions). I also left my Vespera Pro running overnight several times (while I went to bed...), and the brightened gridded background also showed up. This raises the question of which exposure time (that is, which photo) to choose so that the background is still reasonably uniform...

Here are some examples of gridded/brightened backgrounds in mosaics!

Example: M 81 and M 82

    

M 81/82, May 10, 2024 - 2000p (360 frames = 3600s)

 

M 81/82, May 10, 2024 - 2000p (360 Frames = 3600s), processed

    

M 81/82, May 10, 2024 - 2000p (608 frames = 6080s)

 

M 81/82, May 10, 2024 - 2000p (608 frames = 6080s), processed

Example: M 65, M 66, and NGC 3628 (Leo Triplet)

    

Leo Triplet, May 13, 2024 - 2000p (360 frames = 3600s)

 

Leo Triplett , May 13, 2024 - 2000p (360 frames = 3600s), processed

    

Leo Triplet, May 13, 2024 - 2000p (750 frames = 7500s)

 

Leo Triplet, May 13, 2024 - 2000p (750 frames = 7500s), processed

 

Noise

I am not the only Vespera Pro owner who is surprised by the strong noise in his photos. Of course, the first shots within an observation are always noisy because only a few images were stacked, but with longer exposure times many photos still look very noisy, although this often depends on the subject. In any case, other Vespera Pro owners also complain that there is still a lot of noise in their photos even after an hour or more of exposure time. This can certainly be remedied with appropriate denoising software such as Topaz Denoise AI, but in comparison with the original Vespera, the result is quite disappointing for me.

I will try to find pictures that demonstrate this.

 

Conclusions

In progress

The Vaonis Vespera Pro is indeed “blessed” with a number of problems that have only been addressed by Vaonis in one case that I know of (initialization*), while others have apparently not even been acknowledged by Vaonis (background grids in mosaics, bad star shapes**, yellow color cast of photos, excessive noise even after long exposure times). Vaonis seems to have simply "dived away" instead of commenting on these problems. After all, many problems are reported in the Facebook group that Vaonis initiated and also manages. I would actually expect Vaonis employees to speak up there with respect to the reported issues... Instead, owners of Vaonis devices report a very slow processing of their problem reports... All in all, the whole thing is a huge disappointment and Vaonis is about to lose a lot of credit with its customers (including me).

*) Whether the initialization problems are actually fixed by the newly released software update remains to be seen.
**) I have not noticed any bad star shapes yet on my Vespera Pro photos, but in one case I found "satellite stars" close to very bright stars, the cause of which is unclear to me.

I will wait for further developments and report on them here if there is anything to report...

 

Links

 

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20.05.2024