Sky Scout: Invention of the Century?

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spacester

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I got the opportunity to play with my buddy's brand new toy last night. I find the capability to be quite mind-blowing.<br /><br />This thing is a hand-held planetarium! Think about that for a second! It is essentially an electronic telescope, without advanced optics. It has the potential to create thousands or millions of new casual astronomers.<br /><br />I was in Portland Oregon on a mostly cloudy night, with a nearly full moon high in the sky, scads of light pollution, at least two nearby bright streetlights, and yet I was stargazing and learning astronomy! Think about that.<br /><br />It occurred to me that for the first time in history, it made sense for a person located near the 45th parallel in the Northern Hemisphere to wonder in what direction Crux and Alpha Centauri were at the moment. Yes, it was below the horizon, but no matter. This device will still literally point the way to that unseen star for me! ROTFL, I was pointing DOWN but still pointing at a star! I may have been the first person in the history of the world to do that, LOL!<br /><br />Is it just me, or is this the coolest thing ever? I mean EVER? I am still giggling about the experience last night, it just blows my mind how lucky I am to live in this day and age.<br /><br />I am curious though, if anyone sees it as a bad thing somehow. I never know about these things unless I ask. I mean, it used to require years of effort to learn the night sky, and many of you have put in that work, yet here is a device which can basically turn anyone into an amateur astronomer in just a few weeks if they are so inclined. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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spacester:<br />I mean, it used to require years of effort to learn the night sky, and many of you have put in that work,<br /><br />Me:<br />There are probably those, especially of the older generation who might say it should take years to really know astronomy. But I'm not one of them although I'm certainly aging. Anything that makes it fun and easy to learn something like astronomy is a good bet to me.<br /><br />In fact, something like that could make people who are otherwise not interested in astronomy, interested. Even if for only a few nights. Wish I had one but my budgets too tight. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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spacester,<br />I have read about this doohickey, but haven't seen one yet, so really can't judge it.<br />There's a lot to be said for learning the night sky the old fashioned way. I guess I'm a Luddite. I'm not a fan of go-to scopes for the same reason, sticking to my 8" dob, and figuring out where I want to point it.<br />As you said, such handy devices do make it easier, especially for today's "short attention span theatre" youth. I'm just not sure it's better. At our public nights, I try and tteach the constellations as a road map, then follow that map to what we are showing.<br />I stand there like a nutcase, point my head at the north star, and swing my arms around to show where the ecliptic is. "That's where all the planets, the sun and the moon will be all the time". So once folks understand that, if they see something bright that is on that arc, they can suspect it is a planet. I say, look at the color difference between Jupiter and Saturn; see how Saturn is kind of a creamy color. Over here is where the Andromeda Galaxy is, see follow the Y from the square of Pegasus, and above those two stars is something you can see that is millions of light years away.<br /><br />I guess it comes from many hours under the sky watching meteors that I look at the firmament as a whole, not discete objects.<br /><br />Lady next door got a birthday scope a few years ago. I gave her the first lesson last night, and we only actually used the scope for 15 minutes of the hour. Instead I taught her where the north star was and how to find it with the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia. I showed her where comet Swan is now (sky still too bright to see) and where it will be in two weeks when we'll look at it.<br />I taught her Cygnus the Swan, too, and Aquila. Vega (where Jody Foster went), Altair (Forbidden Planet), "follow the arc to" Arcturus.<br />I showed her Sagittarius the Archer and Sagittarius the teapot. See the teaspoon, too? And over there in Sagittarius is the center of the galaxy. THE <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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spacester

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Good answer, thanks. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> I detected no ranting, just passion, and I will NEVER get on anyone's case for passion about space.<br /><br />I especially like the 'firmament as a whole' perspective. Seemingly this device will not be able to provide the experiences needed to look at things that way. Although the narratives provided do talk about the relationship of stars to their neighbors, I am sure there is no substitute for years of experience.<br /><br />Back in the day, I was in the first freshman class at my college to use calculators - the previous year's students were taught slide rules. This strikes me as a similar transition. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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green_meklar

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While the century is only six years old at the moment, I must agree that that is quite the device! I wonder what optical zoom capabilities it has. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>________________</p><p>Repent! Repent! The technological singularity is coming!</p> </div>
 
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spacester

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Optical zoom . . . NONE!<br /><br />That's one of the mind-blowing things: it's a thing that you look at the stars with but it has no optics to speak of. No one is used to thinking in terms of such a thing.<br /><br />Optics? We don't need no stinking optics! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> (J/K)<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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I still have a slide rule, but it's a trophy piece.<br />When in doubt I use a calculator or my Intel brain in here <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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green_meklar

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Optical zoom . . . NONE! <br /><br />That's one of the mind-blowing things: it's a thing that you look at the stars with but it has no optics to speak of. No one is used to thinking in terms of such a thing.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Well then I hope its resolution is good enough to do some digital zooming without messing up the image... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>________________</p><p>Repent! Repent! The technological singularity is coming!</p> </div>
 
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tfwthom

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It's a 0x finder. No zoom of any type, naked eye objects only. The only deep space objects in the database are the Messier objects.<br /><br />Save your money buy a book and some star charts.<br /><br />Nov Sky and Telescope has a review on it. <br /><br />PS it also has a 3 degree error (that's about 6 full Moons) so it can't be used as a finder for a telescope. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1" color="#3366ff">www.siriuslookers.org</font> </div>
 
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spacester

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I sure hope I haven't given any impression that this device is going to, or that I desire it to, replace telescopes and binoculars.<br /><br />I was under the impression that it would be useful as a star finder, so it is good to know the facts on that. 3 degrees is consistent with my initial observations as I recall.<br /><br />You know, if one stops to think what you would get for $400 in terms of books and charts, you make an excellent point.<br /><br />I'm unclear on the database statement. I was learning about stars, not Messier objects. Horrible viewing conditions and I was learning about Orion's belt. The database no doubt is less than complete <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> but . . .<br /><br />it has a usb port and the firmware can be upgraded easily over the web. <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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toothferry

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The next thing they need to do is add a little telescope looking eyepiece that views into a small LCD monitor which appears to be a dark night sky. <br /><br />It would have the ability to switch eyepieces electronically. An internal memory storage would have images at various resolutions.. including Hubble Quality. You set it up on a tripod outside or in. <br /><br />This would be a godsend to astronomers everywhere.. they could view everything literally everywhere, even during a thunderstorm.. just plug into a little gps antenna on top of the house.. and look at deep sky objects only visible from the southern hemisphere and through the Earth too.. that's the next "telescope" revolution. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" />
 
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rfoshaug

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This little device would be a great thing to attach to the side of a telescope and use instead (or in addition to) the normal finder scope. A lot cheaper than buying a full-package computerized telescope mount. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff9900">----------------------------------</font></p><p><font color="#ff9900">My minds have many opinions</font></p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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With the listed accuracy of 3 degrees, it wouldn't do much good as a finder scope. That's more than 3 times the size of the moon. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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tfwthom

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"Hand-y" measuring scale <br /><br />1 degree = width of index finger @ arm's length<br />10 degrees = width of closed fist @ arm's length<br />20 degrees = distance thumb to little finger on outstretched hand @ arm's length<br /><br />The Sun and Moon are each ½-degree wide.<br />The bowl of the "Big Dipper" is ~ 10 degrees long.<br />[~ = "approximately"]<br />The Big Dipper is 25-degrees long. <br />From the horizon to the point straight overhead (the zenith) is 90 degrees.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1" color="#3366ff">www.siriuslookers.org</font> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Thanks, I meant 6 but typed 3 <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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spacester

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Yes! ding ding ding<br /><br />We have a winner!<br /><br />A surprise winner at that, I must say <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />Congrats, steve, I was wondering who would be first to mention the educational angle. I alluded to it in the first post. <br /><br /><font color="yellow">It's a teaching tool, but . . .</font><br /><br />That is the actual reason I think this thing is the best development since sliced bread.<br /><br />After the initial backorder is fulfilled, they are going to be producing these puppies at high volume. <br /><br />I would love to see some foundation get these into schools in massive numbers. I alluded to it in the first post. I predict it will happen. What will the future be like if all of a sudden a few million kids become stargazers?<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Wouldn't a telescope be as good a teaching tool, as suggested above?<br />That's what I bring to school events. in fact intend to do that for the transit of Mercury on Nov 8th.<br />SKy scout ain't gonna help much with that <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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spacester

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I need to get one of these puppies in your hands and then see if you still think that way.<br /><br />What I'm talking about is combining the expertise of guys like you, with the incredible accessibility this device provides.<br /><br />Until then, please keep up the excellent work! There is no substitute for what guys like you do. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Yeah, I look forward to seeing one for myself to examine how it fits into my view of the sky.<br />Since our astro club has over 300 members, someone will bring one in soon.<br />In fact, I'll send a message to our e-mail list and see if anyone has one already. Since I'm on duty this Saturday night, perhaps I can induce one to appear <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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toothferry

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eventually I'd bet they create the skyscout findershop... better than a telrad or ezfinder ..but perhaps too easy <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" />
 
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MeteorWayne

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There's a lot to be said for reading and learning about the sky, rather than having something point for you <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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