Monday, March 13, 2006

Star Gazing Accessory - SkyScout

The Celestron SkyScout falls into the category of Good Gifts for Geeks. This device, which Celestron markets as your "Personal Planetarium", integrates a small finderscope, GPS (doesn't everything, these days?), LCD display, headphone jack, and database into a neat accessory for star gazing. You are supposed to be able to just point it at a celestial object and it will identify it. The SkyScout will also tell you something about it and its fellow stars, if it is part of a constellation. The SkyScout can also help you locate a celestial object by allowing you to choose from a list and then follow the arrows on the LCD to turn the viewfinder in the correct direction. The list even includes 'Tonight's Highlights'.

The LCD's color looks to be reddish-orangish, so it shouldn't kill your low-light vision. It has a USB port for updating the software and database, as well as an SD card port for inserting audio lesson recordings from Celestron.

I can see how the SkyScout would be particularly useful for urban skywatching (where constellations can be hard to identify due to the dimmer stars being washed out by light pollution) and for adults trying to get their children interested in the stars.

It seems pretty well thought out based on the specifications on Celestron's website and the reviews I've read. I haven't seen one yet myself but I'm looking forward to it. Speaking of which, the Celestron website says it will start shipping in May.

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