Can the Vaonis Hestia Turn Your Phone into a Smart Telescope?

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vaonis hestia review

The Vaonis Hestia is a new product from Vaonis, who specialize in top-of-the-range smart telescopes like the Stellina and Vespera.

But what is the Hestia and who is it for? Here we’ll give all you need to know and the pros and cons to help you decide if this is a good product for you.

Key Points

  1. The Vaonis Hestia is scheduled to be released in the first half of 2024. It is available for pre-order now for $299 including a tripod
  2. It is not a smart telescope. It does not have an in-built camera, instead it uses your smartphone camera
  3. It will not track objects in the sky like a smart telescope (or regular telescope with a GOTO mount). This is a barrier to deep sky astrophotography but Vaonis say the app can guide manual tracking and an accompanying tracking mount will eventually be released
  4. How it differs from a regular telescope (or monocular or spotting scope) is that it works with the dedicated app to guide you for astrophotography and capture and process the images
  5. It is compact, easy to use, relatively cheap (compared to a smart telescope), and (to an extent) future-proof as it can improve as your smartphone camera improves
  6. However it has a small aperture and the lack of tracking will mostly limit it to photographing the Sun and Moon. This should be fixed with the tracking mount but this will add cost.
Vaonis Hestia Review

What is the Vaonis Hestia?

The Vaonis Hestia is a device that enables you to enhance your smartphone as a tool for astrophotography. It does this in two ways:

  1. It provides a small telescope/lens that directs light to your smartphone camera
  2. The accompanying app will guide you and process the images for you

Despite being a product of Vaonis, it is not a smart telescope:

“Hestia, alone, does not qualify as a smart telescope since it lacks an embedded computer, camera, mechanical components, or electronics. However, when paired with a smartphone, Hestia transforms into a smart telescope.”

Cyril Dupuy, Vaonis founder & CEO

Is the Hestia a telescope at all?

It’s hard to know whether calling it a telescope is correct, or whether lens or monocular is more appropriate. Vaonis call it:

“An optical system equipped with lenses and prisms that direct the collected light onto the phone’s sensor”

Vaonis Customer Support

We know the aperture is 30 mm / 1.2 inch. This is pretty small for a telescope, but this is a pretty compact device, so it’s not really fair to compare that way.

In addition, the Dwarf 2 smart telescope has an aperture of just 24 mm and that can perform really well due to its capacity to track astronomical objects for long periods and thereby gather enough light to create the image.

A telescope usually has a focal length stated, but the Hestia does not. Instead they list 25X magnification as the key specification. The fact that they specify magnification like this is why the Hestia might be better compared to a monocular or possibly a spotting scope.

The difference with these is that the Hestia comes with the dedicated Gravity app specifically for the purpose of guiding you to take astrophotography images:

hestia app
vaonis gravity app
vaonis hestia app

It will stack and process the images as demonstrated in this short video:

“With the Hestia telescope, all you need to do is to place your smartphone on the device. And then align the phone’s camera with Hestia’s ocular. Using the Gravity app, you can pick the object of interest that you want to see and follow the guide to point Hestia in the right direction.”

Cyril Dupuy, Vaonis founder & CEO

Hestia Images

There are a number of images that Hestia have shared on their website taken with the Hestia and iPhone 14 Pro, and the lunar and solar images do look good:

Hestia images
vaonis hestia images

There are also a number of deep sky images that they’ve shared also taken with an iPhone 14 Pro.

These do look ok given that they are smartphone images, but the lack of tracking is going to have an impact here:

Hestia astrophotography image
Hestia deep sky photography
Hestia photos

Vaonis do say:

“Hestia will not be able to track objects. The Gravity by Vaonis app will guide the user to do the tracking manually.”

Vaonis Customer Support

I guess this means it can take you through manually taking a number of images by nudging the device along each time to ensure the object is centered and then the app will stack them.

This is not a terrible workaround for a relatively budget device and presumably that is what has been done in the above images.

hestia smartphone

Vaonis Hestia: Pros and Cons

Vaonis Hestia Advantages

  • Relatively cheap compared to a smart telescope. The Hestia is sub-$300 and the cheapest smart telescopes are the Dwarf 2 and Seestar S50, which are in the $500 region.
  • It is very compact and easy to travel with. The shape is convenient for packing and storing, in contrast to most telescopes.
  • Extremely easy to use. Just attach your smartphone and allow the app to guide you to capturing and processing the image.
  • It has the capacity to improve over time with the addition of a tracking mount and is compatible with any smartphone and so will improve as you upgrade your smartphone in the future to one with a better camera

“Hestia is also future-proof. Thanks to a system of removable magnets, the telescope accommodates all sizes of current and future smartphones.”

Cyril Dupuy, Vaonis founder & CEO

Vaonis Hestia Disadvantages

  • The lack of tracking will definitely impact your capacity to capture astrophotography images. When you photograph deep sky images you need to take long exposures to capture enough light and this is usually done by tracking it as it moves across the night sky (or rather the earth rotates). With no tracking this will not be possible and so the Hestia will be limited to photographing the Sun and Moon, and maybe other planets in the right conditions.
  • The aperture is pretty small and the specs are below that of some good Celestron monoculars and spotting scopes that are cheaper and also smaller. These do not have an accompanying app though to guide you for astrophotography and process the images.
  • To use it, it occupies your phone, so you cannot operate it remotely and you have to stay close as you are unlikely to want to leave your smartphone in anywhere unoccupied.
  • It’s not that cheap, especially if you factor in that you will probably want to add the tracking mount for deep sky astrophotography in the future. The price of this is unknown, but since Vaonis tripods range from $100 to $399, it is likely to be in this ballpark at least.
vaonis hestia tripod

Vaonis Hestia Alternatives

There is currently no direct competitor to the Hestia as it is the first of its kind.

The main alternatives would be the more budget and/or compact smart telescopes:

See our overview of the Best Smart Telescopes to see how they all compare.

Vaonis Hestia Specifications

  • Aperture: 30 mm (3.3 inch)
  • Magnification: 25x
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs (0.85 kg)
  • Size: 7 x 24 x 5.5 cm
  • Year of release: 2024
hestia review

Our Verdict

The Hestia is a brilliant idea – it takes advantage of the fact that we are all walking around with amazing smartphone cameras in our pocket to create a compact and easy to use device for astrophotography.

What Vaonis have shown themselves to be great at with the Stellina and Vespera smart telescopes is a brilliant user experience that is tailored for people with no astrophotography experience.

It’s worth noting the limitations of the device, but as smartphone camera’s improve every year and with the addition of a tracking mount, you have a powerfult in your hands that could easily compete with the budget smart telescopes like the Dwarf 2 and Seestar S50 and even exceed them with a better camera sensor.

We will wait and see for the release and feedback of users to learn how seamlessly it all works together but Vaonis’s track record is great and so this a device to be excited about in 2024.

Order Now
Vaonis Hestia

Transform Your Smartphone Into A Smart Telescope

Pros:
  • Extremely easy to use - just attach your smartphone and allow the app to guide you to capture and process astrophotography images
  • Compact and portable
  • Future-proof with all smartphones compatible
Cons:
  • No tracking will limit capacity to capture deep sky images
  • Small aperture for a telescope
Buy at Agena Astro Buy at High Point Scientific

Sources and further information

Submit Your Review of the Vaonis Hestia

If you own (or have used) a Vaonis Hestia, you can submit your review and ratings to us via this form to be incorporated in this review:

Vaonis Hestia

Astrophotography Smartphone Device

Product SKU: VAO-HE30-STD

Product Brand: Vaonis

Pros

  • Extremely easy to use - just attach your smartphone and allow the app to guide you to capture and process astrophotography images
  • Compact and portable
  • Future-proof with all smartphones compatible

Cons

  • No tracking will limit capacity to capture deep sky images
  • Small aperture for a telescope

About the Author

Anthony Robinson is the founder and owner of Skies & Scopes, a publication and community focused on amateur astronomy and astrophotography. His work has been featured in publications such as Amateur Astrophotography, Forbes, the Guardian, DIY Photography, PetaPixel, and Digital Camera World - read more.

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2 thoughts on “Can the Vaonis Hestia Turn Your Phone into a Smart Telescope?”

  1. Your advertisement doesn’t really give enough information to make an informed opinion. Is this a simple telescope using an Afocal process, with a small objective lens and providing automatic image processing?

    Reply
    • Hi William, apologies if this is not clear – I was worried I provided too much information!

      It was also hard for me to work out initially exactly what the Hestia was and how it works, but I think your description is correct.

      I write it above as:
      1 – It provides a small telescope/lens that directs light to your smartphone camera
      2 – The accompanying app will guide you and process the images for you

      Reply

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