I was delighted to review the new Celestron NexYZ smartphone adaptor and put it through its paces under varying conditions and contexts. My approach was to consider the smartphone adaptor from its packaging, instructions and construction through to its performance on a couple of telescopes with photos to illustrate what can be achieved with the adaptor and a decent smartphone. I did the review over a few nights in October and November 2018
Packaging, Instructions and Construction
The NexYZ arrived in a colourful box with everything I needed to know about it captured in sufficient detail on the exterior of the box. The presentation of the device was appealing and I couldn’t wait to unpack the adaptor and start using it. There are additional instructions inside but the adaptor is so simple to use one can figure it out within minutes of unpacking it. That being said it is worth noting that the adaptor can also be used on anything with an eyepiece including telescopes, spotting scopes, binoculars and microscopes essentially turning them into a digital device (making it incredibly useful in the school/research/hobbyist context). In this regard the NexYZ is equipped with additional pieces in the box to fit it to other optical devices.
The adaptor itself is well constructed and engineered taking less than 30 seconds to attach it to the eyepiece of a telescope. I used the adaptor on my Celestron SE8 optical tube assembly (mounted on a CGEM) and my Celestron Mak 90SLT goto telescope. Within minutes of setting the telescopes up I was attempting my first astrophotography session with the adaptor and my Iphone X.
Performance of NexYZ adaptor
I quite ambitiously decided to attempt a planetary imaging session as my first effort to test the adaptor with my smartphone and telescope combination. Noting that the seeing conditions on the night in question were very poor due to haze and clouds, I still managed to capture a relatively clear video of Saturn through my 9mm eyepiece and SE8 OTA. After putting the video through Registax, FITS liberator and finally CC2017, I arrived at a decent image of Saturn.
Throughout the data capture the NexYZ was easy to use, made locating the planet through the eyepiece simple and there was no movement or slippage of the adaptor. The entire process of videoing the planet took me less than 10 minutes from locating it with the CGEM, to positioning the smartphone correctly over the eyepiece with the NexYZ and finally recording a few minutes of data. The processing of the data afterwards took me about 20 minutes.
I then proceeded over the course of a few nights to capture a few moon images using my little Celestron Mak90 (3.5”) goto scope. In total it took me 10 minutes per setup to start tracking the moon with the telescope and then capturing images using the NexYZ adaptor and my smartphone. Note: I used different eyepieces and the zoom feature on my smartphone to capture the images.
I was duly impressed with the performance of the adaptor and how it makes astrophotography so incredibly simple and accessible to everyone with even the most basic telescope. Admittedly I only focused my efforts on planetary and lunar objects but with some practice I have no doubt that some of the brighter deep sky objects such as Eta Carina and the Orion Nebula will be able to be photographed using the adaptor and a smartphone with a good photographic app on it.
As a side note I witnessed the NexYZ adaptor being applied practically at a school function where various Celestron telescopes were being used to show learners the wonders of our moon and other celestial objects. The look on their faces when they were able to attach their smartphone to the telescope using the NexYZ and then produce a good image of the moon was priceless. The inspirational, learning and enrichment value of an adaptor such as the NexYZ is thus beyond question.
The NexYZ smartphone adaptor is a cleverly engineered, highly adaptable accessory that is, in my opinion essential for anyone wanting to share what they see through the eyepiece of their telescope (or other optical device) with others. It is durably constructed, easy to use and has wide application for those wanting to embark on astrophotography with a smartphone as a starting point. It can accommodate any smartphone and telescope eyepiece from 1.25”-2” and can, as already mentioned fit onto other optical instrument eyepieces. Another factor to consider is that the adaptor is very well priced retailing for just over R1000 at the time of this review. My advice? Get one now and start sharing your experiences of our solar system, universe and natural environment far and wide!