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