SkyScout, a gizmo for celestial navigators?

Celestron SkyScout

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.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

4 Responses

  1. Bob says:

    I can’t help but comment that this device is much more complicated (and probably much more expensive) than a GPS. It even includes a GPS. There are some very low tech star finders available that don’t use any electricity.
    I carry a sextant on Acacia ( ) as backup to the electronics, but this seems way overkill.

  2. Greg says:

    I recognize Celestron as a brand name for telescope manufacture. Looking at the description of this device makes me think it’s geared more towards the home astronomer, rather than a mariner. The press release also seems to have that in mind with the way it’s worded. A seasoned mariner capable of plotting with a sextant would have little use of this guy, but for those of us less adept, there might be some usefulness to it.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I wasn’t being very serious here, guys, but have you ever tried to nail 4 or 5 stars while you still have a visible enough horizon? It’s hard, even with precalculated bearings and altitudes of the bodies.

  4. Megan says:

    The Celestron SkyScout is now available for pre-order $399

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *