See the stars

  • Updated: June 30, 2008 - 5:06 PM

Summer means stargazing. You could do it the old-fashioned way -- you know, just staring -- but Celestron's SkyScout and Meade's mySKY make it a whole lot more fun.

Both high-tech devices use GPS technology to identify objects in the night sky from where you're standing. Point the unit at a star and a readout tells you which one it is. Audio narration fills in the details. You can also enter the name of a star and have the devices steer you to its location, or they can give you a tour of that night's celestial highlights.

The newer mySKY is better in some ways:

• Its color LCD screen shows video and graphics, unlike the SkyScout's text-only readouts.

• It displays a real-time star map as you scan the sky.

• It is cheaper -- $280 vs. $300 at Amazon.com.

• Its gun-style sighting offers a less obscured view of the sky, while the SkyScout requires looking through a viewer.

But not everything is good:

• MySKY's lightweight construction feels cheap.

• Its automatic GPS setup takes too long and often doesn't work.

• Its sighting lights distract from seeing the stars.

• Its find-a-star targeting is less accurate.

I prefer the SkyScout, but I'd be happy with either device on a star-filled summer night.

RANDY A. SALAS

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