The Celestron SkyScout – Planetarium-on-Demand

Celestron Sky Scout Personal PlanetariumThis little item is not yet available in stores, but has garnered universal attention from all corners of the web. points out that it was chosen as Best of Innovations at CES 2006, Editor’s Choice by Popular Mechanics and Last Gadget Standing by PC Magazine.

Robert Scoble, Microsoft’s Chief Humanising Officer and cult-status blogger, played with the SkyScout at CES and had this to say:

It wins my award for the single coolest thing I saw at the show. By far. I’m not alone, either.

So what is it? The Amazon Product Description reads like a piece of modern sci-fi:

SkyScout utilizes patented technology that combines measurements of both the magnetic and gravitational fields of the Earth, along with data from an internal GPS and a substantial celestial database. A “locate” feature allows you to select any object you wish to view–Mars, for instance–and with the help of illuminated arrows in the viewfinder, the SkyScout will actually point to the object. And when you point to an object and click the “Target” button, SkyScout instantly displays the name of the object along with a treasure trove of fascinating scientific and historical information about the object. Another feature includes SkyScout’s unique “Tonight’s Must-See List.” When the SkyScout is turned on, it will tell you the 10 coolest things to look at in the sky and will even use it’s internal GPS to tell you where each object is located. But that’s not all. Once you identify or locate an object, you can add an optional SkyTour SD card (sold separately), plug the included earbuds into SkyScout, and listen to an interactive audio presentation that describes the history and mythology of what you’re observing.

Did I mention it connects to your computer via USB, for firmware upgrades and updating new discoveries? I’m still jaded from promises of flying cars and robot maids, but I’d be willing to set all of that aside if they just had a better demo. I know this thing costs less than a video ipod, but I’m going to wait and see if it can truly live up to all this hype before making a commitment.

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