Like many of us who grew up watching astronauts blast off into space, I’ve always been intrigued by astronomy. In fact, I invested in a fairly expensive telescope several years ago, which truth be told is now encrusted in a thick layer of dust. What happened? Other than craters on the moon, I just couldn’t find the celestial objects I was searching for in the night sky. I should have held out for a SkyProdigy from Celestron. These new motorized telescopes come equipped with a built-in guide that automatically points itself to the stars and planets—with no smarts required on your part.
The secret is in the built-in digital camera and Celestron’s StarSense software. You take the telescope out on a clear night, press the align button, and stand back. No need to enter any information about where you are or what time it is—the telescope looks at the night sky in three spots, compares what it sees to an internal database, and figures out your location automatically, in three minutes or less.
At that point you’re ready for chauffeur-driven stargazing. Want to see the rings of Saturn? Enter the request using the handheld controller and the SkyProdigy aims in the right direction. With 4,000 object locations stored, there’s always something interesting to oooh and aaah over—and little chance that you’ll be looking for something that the telescope doesn’t already know about. The moons of Jupiter? Check. The Orion nebula? No problem. What are your neighbors up to in the apartment across the street? Um…you’ll have to handle that one yourself.
There are three SkyProdigy models with different optics, ranging in price from $699-$799.