Science is something that, if our kids show an interest in, most parents want to support. And next to dinosaurs and maybe the Bermuda Triangle, there isn’t any science thing much cooler than astronomy. But getting your kid a telescope is an investment that, after a few nights of use, all too often sits in a closet somewhere. Not to mention the fact that we (as average non-astronomer parents) have no real idea how to find much of anything in the night sky. The genius of the SkyProdigy series from Celestron is that you don’t have to know anything about astronomy to find really cool stuff to look at.
In fact, the SkyProdigy is exactly what people expect when they think of a “computerized” telescope. And it doesn’t work through GPS or your iPhone or some other device (like so many of the things at CES) – all it uses is its own database and three quick pictures. When you get it out into the night, you set it up and the telescope takes three pictures of what it can see in the night sky. It then uses those pictures to calculate exactly where it is and what it can see. When it’s ready, all you have to do is look up on the attached keypad for something cool to look at (a planet, a nebula, a star — whatever) and the telescope automatically aligns itself with that object.
It will be available sometime in July of 2011 in three models (depending on what kind of refractor you want) and will cost between $699 and $799. It’s not cheap, but for something that pretty much guarantees an awesome astronomy experience every time, it’s definitely worth checking out.
– Christopher Ford