Have you ever gazed up at the starry night sky and wished you could remember more from high school astronomy than just the Big Dipper? With the Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium, you just point, shoot, and learn. The SkyScout uses GPS technology, calculation positioning software, and gravity and directional sensors to identify celestial objects and tell you all about them.
You just look through the camcorder-like lens, point at a star, planet, cluster, or constellation that interests you, and click the “target” button — the SkyScout then provides textual descriptions of the object, including history, mythology, and trivia. It can also deliver the descriptions via audio, but reviewers say it drains the batteries.
According to the SkyScout website, the device offers a number of cool features:
- Locates over 6,000 stars, planets, and constellations from built-in celestial database and provides scientific information for each object
- Provides comprehensive text and audio descriptions providing history, mythology, and other entertaining information for the most popular objects
- Tonight’s Highlights: A customized list of the 20 best objects to view for your exact date, time, and location anywhere in the world
- Constellation Lessons: if the star you identify or locate is part of a constellation or an asterism like the Big Dipper, you can actually take a guided tour through all the stars in that constellation and even see an onscreen map of the constellation
With the SkyScout’s USB port you can update its database, using the downloadable Skylink interface, as new objects (such as comets) are discovered. An SD card slot takes expansion cards containing more audio information, and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack and earbuds are included.
The SkyScout measures 7.4 by 4 inches and weighs 15.2 ounces sans AA batteries — light and compact enough to carry around your favorite dark site. Street pricing starts at $300 but can run as high as $400, depending on where you shop. This gadget looks like it may well be worth it — especially for backyard astronomers, campers, or kids learning about constellations.