Astrophotography is a tech-heavy hobby. Now is a fantastic time to take the plunge, even with little or no experience in the field. This is now possible with the rapid technological advances that make automation a realistic goal. One of the biggest challenges is to pair components that work well together and also fit into your budget. Smart telescopes eliminate the need to choose individual components since they are an all-in-one package.
What is the Origin Smart Telescope?
Celestron is well-known in the amateur astronomy community. It has been producing excellent and innovative equipment for decades. The Celestron Origin Smart Telescope takes the integrated all-in-one concept to a whole new level. For starters, the aperture is a very respectable 6 inches, or 152 mm. This makes the database of “do-able” objects much broader because of its light-gathering ability. The optical design is the innovative Rowe-Ackerman Schmidt Astrograph (RASA), which places the imaging camera at the front of the telescope instead of the more typical rear, which results in an ultra-fast focal ratio of 2.2. The lower the focal ratio, the more rapidly light is gathered. This makes it possible to take much shorter exposures and makes stacking the images much quicker.
Not only is it a fast optical design, but it also produces pinpoint star images across the entire imaging sensor, the Sony IMX178 color CMOS sensor. This back-illuminated 6.4 MP sensor has pixels of 2.4 µm, which pairs nicely with the focal length of 335 mm. An onboard Raspberry Pi 4 Model B computer handles all of the image capture and stacking routines, which are controlled by your smartphone.
Setup is easy using Celestron’s StarSense technology. Using GPS and by taking images, and auto-focusing, the unit can determine its exact pointing position by comparing the image with known images. Once setup is complete, the software allows the selection of the object either from a database or from a list of recommended objects. The telescope then points to the object and begins taking a series of short exposures and uses AI algorithms to stack each subsequent image, resulting in progressively better detail emerging. Once complete, the image is ready to share on social media or downloaded in raw format for further enhancements by other image processing software. You can even schedule imaging sessions for later at night if you need to go to bed and the object is not yet high enough in the sky to image. You can even stream the live images to your television!
The unit is powered by a lithium phosphate battery with an included AC charger. One charge can handle over 6 hours of imaging. Additional features include an internal focusing mirror, a dew heater, a dew shield, and cooling fans. For those who are interested in teasing out color detail, the telescope has an integrated filter tray for 1.25” or 2” filters. The Origin can be disassembled into 3 pieces for easy transport to a dark sky site.
Other Smart Telescope Options
Another smart telescope option is the SeeStar S50, an excellent way to get your feet wet. It is one of the first all-in-one units that is also very affordable. But its aperture is only 50 mm, so its ability is limited to reasonably bright celestial objects.
Verdict 5/5 Stars
Celestron has hit a home run with the Origin Telescope system. It has taken the guesswork out of putting together components that work together. This all-in-one system integrates all of the necessary pieces, resulting in what could be best described as a plug-and-play system to capture stunning nighttime images with the push of a button, even if you have absolutely no experience. If you have a reasonable budget, this is a no-brainer to get started with this amazing hobby.
Celestron Origin Telescope Specs
|Sony IMX178LQJ, color, back-illuminated
|2.4μm x 2.4μm
|Number of Pixels
|6.44M (3096 x 2080)
|Field of View
|1.27° x 0.85°
|Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph (RASA)
|Effective Focal Ratio
|Integrated, accepts 1.25" or 2" astroimaging filters
|USB-A: Two (2) on optical tube for accessing raw image files for external processing, one (1) on mount for mobile device charging only
|Ethernet: One (1) on optical tube
|Auxiliary Ports: Two (2) on optical tube, four (4) on mount