Celestron SkyScout Review

Article written: 23 Apr , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

My initial reaction to the Celestron SkyScout was why in heaven – and on Earth – would someone want a personal planetarium when they have the real deal at their disposal? Like most folks my age, I can’t resist new technology and the more I read and heard about what the Celestron Sky Scout could do, the more I wanted to examine one. Could a little piece of equipment provide as much information, knowledge and entertainment as a live astronomer? Could an electronic box take the place of a book? But most of all… What can the Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium really do?

When I saw the Celestron SkyScout in person, the young man who let me examine it told me, “Ma’am? You’d be much better off getting a book of star charts or finding someone to teach you about the stars.” Ultimately, I love it when someone doesn’t recognize me or simply sees the blond hair and doesn’t think there’s much going on underneath it. Although a secret part of me agreed with him, I simply flashed him my best vacant smile and gave him the line that all of us techno geeks use when we’re caught out buying a new toy… “It’s a present.”

Grinning wickedly, I snatched the box from him and hurried off where I could examine the SkyScout in private. On the way, I picked up a jumbo package of batteries and sat down to see how much of its operation was intuitive and how often I’d have to refer to the instructions. Surprisingly enough, anyone who has mastered an iPod and has at least a passing knowledge of the written English language would be well on their way to using a Celestron SkyScout. My second point of curiosity was its resemblance to a digital camcorder… Another techno-gadget I’m familiar with. After a quick consultation with the instructions, all I needed was dark.

Personal Planetarium? Snort. Show me what you can do…

Turn it on and GPS technology takes over. Within minutes, the Celestron Sky Scout had pinpointed my location on Earth and was aware of every movement in right ascension and declination of the unit. It knew where I was at, and it knew where it was pointed. Aiming the Celestron SkyScout is precisely like using a camcorder. Inside of its viewfinder you’ll see a red “bullseye” that’s adjustable in brightness so it doesn’t overpower dimmer stars. When you get the object you’re aiming at centered, you just push a button on top and it fixes the position and displays a screen of options as to what you’re looking at. Well, duh! I know it’s Mars… But when the soothing, melodic female voice started whispering stories in my ear? I knew I was hooked.

Needless to say, I took off on my own tour of the heavens with the Celestron SkyScout, happily eating up all of the information it gave me. Not all things have audio to accompany them, only 200. But, for many of us having RA, Dec, magnitudes and more at the push of a button is simply the cat’s asteroid. While you’ll never visually see all 6000 objects the Celestron SkyScout is capable of, what matters most is that it’s in there… And just waiting on you to release it.

Next up? Show me tonight’s “Must See” list. With the cool, calculated precision that only a data base could deliver, the Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium gave me a tour that even I would have been proud of. It virtually walked me star by star through constellation lessons that impressed even me. What’s best? I know that it can also tell me when the ISS is passing by or where the latest comet is located. How many friends can you carry around in a backpack that can tell you that? True. These are all things I know, things I present in astronomy outreach programs, but the Celestron SkyScout is much more than that.

For seasoned astronomers? Don’t laugh the Celestron SkyScout off. Instead, tell me how many times you’ve had difficulty distinguishing Pi and Xi Draconis from background stars. If you’re a star hopper, what would you give if you could just point a little box at the star in question and have it immediately tell you that it is indeed Delta Librae you’re aimed at and you’re ready to head to your charts? Ah… You’re getting the real picture now, aren’t you?!

But, I told you these Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium thingies were a lot more didn’t I? Yes. And I meant it. My teenage son once enjoyed telescoping with me, but there came an age when it simply wasn’t “cool” to be seen with Mom, and I understood. Yet, when I handed him the SkyScout, he and his girlfriend took off in the dark together and had a wonderful astronomy experience alone that I couldn’t give them. At star parties, I’ve handed the Celestron SkyScout to people that I knew were too afraid to ask questions… and hours later they’d hand it back with the most wonderful smiles on their faces. They’d tell me how much they enjoyed using it and how much they learned. Even the most hard-core astronomers I know have found something undeniably “cool” about this gadget.

So why the Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium and not the competitor model with its “stunning” full color images? Reality check. I use the astronomy equipment I buy and I use it hard. I buy the brands I want and I put them to the test. Over the years I’ve dropped, I’ve kicked, I’ve banged, I’ve slammed, I’ve traveled, I’ve shared, I’ve abused and I have absolutely loved and appreciated the long term durability and quality of Celestron products. Why should the Celestron SkyScout be any different? Eight months and countless hands later…

It’s still on the original batteries.

The Celestron SkyScout has the ability to have a green laser attached to it and external speakers so it can do a “show and tell” program for large groups. But the most awesome feature of all is the Celestron SkyScout really will put the Universe in your hands.



20 Responses

  1. Timber says

    Hi Tammy,

    Nice review. I, and maybe others, have wondered about the Sky Scout and the “competitor model”, this review helps.

    It would be nice if you could do an objective comparison with the “competitor model”, since you have given a positive review of the Celestron unit they may be willing to loan you one of theirs. Who knows they might even donate one to the observatory if asked, they seem to be quite generous in their support of serious organizations and users

    Thanks again

  2. Member

    I’ll see if I can get a competitor model into Tammy’s hands for a comparison.

  3. Anthony Ramirez says

    Tammy, thanks for the review.
    I have a Orion 8″ Dob but I didn’t get the one with encoders so I have been thinking of getting a SkyScout.
    I used the SkyScout at a Star Party and the portability and it’s interactivity is what impresses me the most. No more looking at charts or the laptop and still not be sure you have found it.

    It doesn’t hurt that Celestron is having a $100 rebate:
    http://www.celestron.com/c2/promos_view.php?ID=27

    Muchas gracias, Tammy.

  4. Tim says

    Awesome. I’ve been wanting something like this for ages, and I love it when a product is so good it has the reviewer gushing – especially if that reviewer is an expert in the particular field. Can’t wait to get my hands on one!

  5. Steve says

    Is this thing actually a telescope to, or specifically a database?

  6. Member

    Make no mistakes, the Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium is not a telescope unto itself. It presents a non-magnified view through its “window” and only what’s visible to the unaided eye is visible in the SkyScout.

    However, with the proper connections, it can be added to Celestron GoTo controllers (NexStar) or used with a bracket on any type of telescope as an aiming device – similar to a Telrad.

    I would also be delighted to pace the competitor model because – believe it or not – I am very impartial to manufacturers. You will find equipment from A to Z in my toy box. When I choose to make a new (and substantial) investment that exists as similiar products between two leading manfacturers, I base my decision on which company’s products have performed consistently for me over the years… Because I know it’s going to get left in my car, stored improperly, dropped, mishandled and.. well… used! If I have things from company A which have withstood this test of time and things from company Z that have failed somewhere along the line in some major respect, I’ll pass over the bells and whistles of company Z for A’s durability.

    (No offense to company Z, for I have major purchases from you as well that I enjoy, but have discovered a few critical flaws in the long run for what I use them for.)

    If I had anything bad to say, it would be that I wish the SkyScout were a little bit more ergonomic… But at the same time I will also give the designers 100% credit for making something that can be dropped on the concrete by a 10 year-old and not even lose its GPS fix. Maybe functionality is better than form?

    And yes, Anthony! You will like the fact that it can tell you precisely what star you’ve centered it on without encoders or blinding laptops. It’s a wonderful starhopping aid for those of us who endure long periods of clouds and short term memory loss, eh? It sure is nice to be able to say: “Is that star Iota Cygni or Kappa Cygni? Cuz’ they both look alike from down here!”

    πŸ˜‰

  7. Timber says

    Thanks to both Tammy and Fraser for all the followups.

    It will be interesting to see an unbiased comparison. I really don’t disbelive the major publications reviews, but they do have the major manufacturers as biiig advertisers.

    A bit of clarification Tammy, you said you had been using the Sky Scout for eight months, if my memory is still working I think that was before the competitors unit had been released for sale, so you only had the Celestron unit to choose from, is that correct?

    Thanks again to both

  8. njacres says

    Sold! Have had this in the shopping cart more than once and then backed out. Your review closed the deal. Ordered, along with laser mount and NexStar connector to connect to CPC1100XLT. Thanks for pushing me over the edge!

  9. David says

    Thanks for this excellent review…
    I’m looking forward to get one of these… unfortunately i don’t live in the US, so it seems to be very difficult to have one… or at least not too expensive!

  10. Brent says

    This is a great device – my neighbor bought me one for Christmas lat year – and its a great tool to help other understand th heavens.

    ow I just wished for darker skys…

    Highly reccomended – initially the software seemed a bit slow in aquiring satalites – now with the updates it is much better..

  11. Member

    david? get in touch with me… i have some good news for UK purchasers. πŸ˜‰

    OK! so ya’ wanna’ know more about the Meade MySky, huh? believe me, i haven’t forgotten… and i had a chance to look one over very carefully just this past weekend.

    a review will be coming in the near future… πŸ˜‰

  12. Robert says

    I’ve had a SkySCout for about tow years now. I bought it to help me locate objects using my Skymaster 15 X 70 binoculars. It performed magnificantly, except when nearby to any large metal object, which apparently interferes with the GPS reception.

    Last year, I bit the bullet and bought a Celestron NexStar 6se and put the SkyScout on the shelf temporarily because the GoTo mount works so well. Now that they’re coming out with the SkyScout Connect cable to ysnchronize location and time, I’m looking forward to gettign one of these. The list proce is much cheaper than the GPS plug in for the NexStar series, plus I’m told by a Celestron dealer that it will allow the scope to do more that just update location & time.

  13. Member

    For readers that have been asking, thanks to the good folks at Oceanside Photo and Telescope, I’ve been given an opportunity to use both!

    Look for an upcoming review featuring the Celestron Sky Scout and a “shootout” with the competing brand!

  14. michael browne says

    Hi,

    I’m looking forward to a real comparison of the two models – i own them both. Although the mysky broke the same day and I am awaiting a replacement. Meade do not provide support on the mysky to anyone who doesn’t have US address. There tech department said they couldn’t help. This is just unacceptable.

  15. Member

    Ha!! (not laughing at you, bubby…. just exactly the same thing happened to me!)

    “Midnight At The OPT Corral: Shootout Between The Celestron SkyScout and Meade MySKY” will appear here on UT on October 18 with no holds barred.

    Whether you like the Clantons and McClaury’s or preferred the stylings of the Earp’s and Doc Holiday – you’re going to get an honest answer as to how both of these pieces of equipment work for an average person, what can happen when you really use them…

    And just who might still be around when the smoke clears.

  16. Larry McAdams says

    Can you tell us the difference between the Celestron model S93970 and the (newer? and more expensive) S93976 SkyScout? And, is the S93976 worth the extra $$$?
    Thanks

  17. Fred says

    Sky Scout: Junk right out of the box. GPS unit not working. Have to send it in at my expense and wait two or more weeks. What a disappointment. Should have bought the Meade. Not at all happy with the unit.

    Very poor quality control … that is if it even works when I get it back.

  18. Lee says

    Why is it theres mixed negative comments on skscout and the competitor, just when i thought yes il go and buy one i get to Freds post above…

  19. Dabert says

    Do you guys have a recommendation section, i’d like to suggest some stuff

  20. Iain says

    Can the sky scout be used for initial alignment of a telescope mount?

    When using the optional USB connect dock, I understand that it provides the GPS location to the mount/handset.

    If the sky scout is fixed onto the OTA using a piggyback adapter, does the USB connection mean a quick-align can be done using just the sky scout data?

    i.e. the SS obviously knows which way the OTA is pointed, so should have no need to for the user to manually align an alt-az mount.

Comments are closed.