Oct. 9, 2014

James Parr, founder of the Open Space Agency, had his dream about going to space when he was 10 years old. Now, thirty years later, Parr founded Open Space Agency (OSA) to develop a range of open source automated robotic observatories (ARO) that are capable of capturing pro-level images of celestial objects.

Teamed up with Microsoft and the biggest names in space exploration, Parr has crafted the first affordable 3D Printed telescope called 'Ultrascope'. This kit-set telescope is designed to allow amateur astronomers to contribute for a radically reduced cost. The completed telescope is 1m tall when pointed vertically and 65cm wide at the base. It supports devices such as the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 and allows users to take pictures of stars millions of miles away. And the device can be created with 3D printers for a fraction of the cost of a normal telescope.

"This dream would have been almost impossible just 24 months ago." Parr states. "The levels of precision required for a maker-made scientific quality scope would have resulted in compounding errors conspiring to make observations frustrating for aspiring citizen scientists. However the emergence of low-cost 3D printers and Laser-cutting, paired with microcontroller platforms such as Arduino and Lumia 1020- with its 41 Megapixel CCD - mean that a project such as this is now eminently possible."

Parr believes that anyone can get involved in such a project. "Keen amateur astronomers can now download this design and software, 3D print and assemble their own hardware, which is an amazing development." he said. "It opens up opportunities for people who have been gazing at the stars their whole lives, but haven't, until now, been able to get involved. Powered by Lumia smartphones, our hope is that hundreds of Ultrascopes will be assembled, enabling a large number of people to contribute to new discoveries as they explore the night sky."

Juha Alakarhu, Head of Imaging Technologies at Microsoft, said:

"To be able to look deep in to space with the Lumia 1020 is a remarkable example of this consumer innovation. It's great to see that the efforts of James Parr and the OSA with the Ultrascope, and I look forward to seeing the images as they continue to shape this exciting project. It's wonderful to think this could be available to the masses in the near future."

OSA is currently looking for Beta Testers around the world to test the current scope design and suggest improvements. The 3D plans will be downloadable from the OSA website, which can be 3D printed, laser-cut and assembled in the home.

Over the next 12-18 months more advanced models will be released, enabling enthusiasts to peer ever deeper into the stars. Microsoft Lumia Design team is helping OSA developing an application which will enable the Lumia 1020 to be connected with the telescope.

ULTRASCOPE: How it works

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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