Tutorial to become a Night Watcher

First time observing a cosmic cataclysm? Read this page to master your Unistellar telescope and join our team of Night Watchers.


1. Select your mission

To get started, you have to select a mission suitable for your location. Go to our Missions page, which will show you how to access the Cosmic Cataclysms Alerts Page and select an event you want to observe. This page is updated as we receive alerts from professional telescope facilities. You can observe an event for as long as it remains in the Alerts table, and you can observe it at any point of the night when the target is visible to you. Your ability to participate in the scientific mission may depend on which hemisphere you are observing from!

2. Read the mission details

Once you have selected a scientific mission based on your location, you need to access the observation details, including the coordinates of the star and the recording parameters of the telescope. You will need them to observe the explosion.

Based on the example above : 

Event: ZTF22abyelas

  • Coordinate RA:  02h 07m 19s
  • Coordinate Dec: -25° 26 26’’
  • Recording parameters: Exposure = 3970ms, Cadence = 3970ms, and Gain = 30dB
  • Duration: 00h20min00s (1200s)

All these parameters are also saved in a Deep Link that you can use from your phone or tablet. It is the first icon of the row, illustrated by a phone. The other columns give you details about the type of explosion (Class), its brightness (Vmag), and its surroundings (Finder).


Once your Unistellar telescope is set to observe the night sky, you can use the Cosmic Cataclysms scientific mode of the Unistellar App. You can observe the explosion at any point of the night when the target is visible to you.

1. 10 minutes before the mission

It is time to point to your target. Two options:

A. Deep Link method: The quickest way to find your target is to use your smartphone to click on the Deep Link associated with your event. It will automatically open the Cosmic Cataclysms tab of your Unistellar App and fill in the coordinates of the target and its recording parameters. When the Right Ascension and Declination boxes are filled with the correct coordinates, click on Goto to point to your target. Once Goto is done, if the Record duration, Exposure time, and Gain are correct, click on Save.


B. Manual method: Open your Unistellar App, click on the Science menu and select the Cosmic Cataclysms tab. Enter the Right Ascension and Declination and click on Goto to point to your target. Once Goto is done, enter the Record duration, Exposure time, and Gain and click on Save.

2. Launch observation

When you are ready, click on the Record button to start the observation. You can observe the explosion at any point of the night when the target is visible to you.  During the observation, you may not be able to see the target on your screen since it may be quite dim. 

3. Complete observation

Once the recording is over, click on Continue to calibrate your sensor. This calibration step gathers Dark Frames, which will help us better analyze your observation. You must put the dust cap on your telescope before recording the calibration.

After this step, a final message appears: “Recording complete”. The mission is over.


1. Share your data

Once you are at home, please upload your data to our server. Our team of scientists will analyze your observation to check if you detected the cosmic cataclysm. If you need help, please read these guidelines on “how to upload my data”.

2. Tell Unistellar you participated

To make sure your contribution is properly processed and you are credited for the result, always fill out this Cosmic Cataclysm Observation Report. It asks for your name, the serial number of your telescope, and the name of the scientific mission you just accomplished. 

We will send you the result of your scientific mission through our Slack communication platform within 24 hours.

Great Work, Citizen Astronomer.