It’s not often we get to see cool gadgets for amateur astronomers; most beginners grab themselves a simple star chart, wait until night falls, then look up.
That works well enough for identifying the most basic constellations – the Dippers, Cassiopeia, Orion, and so on – but once you’ve mastered the very basics, it’s hard to go further without finding maps that perfectly suit your latitude and the exact time of year. And that is precisely where the Stargazer’s Identifying Scope comes in.
The Stargazer’s Scope will help you identify the 70 major constellations and 42 brightest stars in the night sky – no matter where in the world you live. To use the scope, you manually adjust the settings around the device according to the date, time, and latitude – there are only 4 choices for latitude, so don’t worry about it being difficult to set up. When you peer into the scope you’ll be able to see the night sky with a clear microfiche star map overlaying it.
This scope provides a fun way of learning the names and locations of the various constellations, as each formation’s name is displayed directly beside it on the transparent map. I assume that once you get the scope lined up properly to the night sky, other nearby stars will also line up with their overlays, but I wonder if that can be accurately conveyed.
I don’t imagine you’d be able to see the entire night sky through the scope; the sky is an awfully big area, and it seems impossible to get a view of everything from a fixed angle. Since the map is stationary, this problem seems like it would’ve been quite tricky for the designers to address – assuming it’s addressed at all.
At $44.95, the Stargazer’s Identifying Scope makes a good stepping stone between looking up at the sky with a star chart in hand and investing in a pricey telescope.
Ready for something a bit bigger? Try the Celestrong CGE Pro 1400 Aplantic Telescope – and if that’s a bit too much of a mouthful (and expense-ful) for you, check out the Star Theater Pro Home Planetarium.