Although it has been out since last year, I couldn't help but marvel at the SkyScout, a product from Celestron that the company is showing at the Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas. When you point SkyScout at a star, constellation, or planet, not only can it use GPS technology and its internal calendar to identify those celestial bodies, it also can remotely tell one of Celestron's telescopes (via a technology called Celestron Connect) where to point itself so you can get a better look (this post includes a still image and video).You can't help but have mixed emotions about a product like the SkyScout (pictured left). When I think about what it does, it seems to take all the romance out of constellation spotting. Magellan would have probably hurled the thing into the ocean.
Oh, well. Sooner or later, technology wins out over anything renaissance.
For example, if you're not sure where to point the SkyScout in the sky, its small display will tell you what the highlights are in any given night's sky. Using its built-in Global Positioning System technology and its understanding of what any given day's date is, the SkyScout knows what to expect in the sky. Probably the most extraordinary aspect of the SkyScout is its price. It just looks like the sort of precision instrument that would cost around $1,000. According to Celestron spokesperson William Ostedt, though, it only costs about $399 on Amazon.com (confirmed).
Here's the video of my interview with Ostedt: