SkyScout, a gizmo for celestial navigators?
The 2006 CES (consumer electronics) Innovations Honorees are up, and among them is this darned interesting “personal planetarium”. Apparently you can point the SkyScout at any of 6,000 celestial objects, press a button and it will deliver audio “commentary on the object and its history”. Or it can locate heavenly bodies using illuminated arrows in the viewfinder. How? “SkyScout utilizes patented technology that combines data from sensors measuring both the magnetic and gravitational fields of the Earth, along with internal GPS and a substantial celestial database.” There’s more info at Celestron, but no pricing so far.
Now, maybe a celestial navigator could use this gizmo to help with the tricky job of identifying stars at twilight, but there aren’t many active celestial navigators left and they tend to frown on gadgets. Which is all too bad. I think that one of the fabulous side benefits of being at sea or in a remote anchorage at night is an uncluttered view of the heavens. And a fabulous side benefit of learning to use a sextant is an understanding of celestial mechanics. It makes you feel very small…in a good way.