SkyScout Use Tests
Of course you need to be outside to use SkyScout; the GPS doesn’t work inside. SkyScout doesn’t know if it is day or night, so during the day, you could find out where the stars should be if you could see them!
Depending on the object located, SkyScout displays options to play an audio file, display a text description, or show scientific data. A four-way navigate and select button speeds menu selection, while the Identify function is activated via a separate top mounted button. The menu and help buttons are below the selection star. Additional Identify, Locate, and GPS shortcut buttons are below the multi-line display. Volume and Brightness are controlled by dedicated buttons above the on/off switch.
The SkyScout with illumination on, showing the top menu
The menu, which is very intuitive, guides you through selecting objects to locate. You don’t have to scroll through a very long star list, since star choice is first broken up into sections of the alphabet. I would have preferred to use the Identify button as a short cut, rather than having to first select that choice on the menu, and then have to push Identify when centered on the object in question. Also, the unit-power finder (no magnification) seems to dim objects somewhat, so locating dim stars takes some patience.
Looking through the SkyScout finder, which dims objects slightly.
Mostly, I would take my eye away from the viewfinder, and double check the object, because the apparent magnitude would change.
Main Menu choices include:
- Field Guide
Under Locate, there are these choices:
- Tonight’s Highlights
- Deep Sky
- Asterisms (a star pattern, not a constellation)
Under Stars, there are the following, similar (as appropriate) to choices under other items above:
- Brightest 20
- By common Name
- Double Stars
- Variable Stars
- SAO Catalog Number
- Hipparcus Catalog Number
I used SkyScout in a very urban environment, but was able to spot multiple stars and objects to identify. My first mistake was attempting to use SkyScout near some telephone and cable wires, though. My attempt displayed the ubiquitous “Acquiring satellites for GPS fix” message, and then “Please relocate and try again.” After moving away from the overhead obstructions and acquiring the satellites-a progress bar in the nice, red backlit display informs you of status-I was good to go, but I kept getting the flashing magnetic icon, indicating that I was near a large metal object, such as a car chassis. D’oh. The perils of using SkyScout in a dark Santa Monica alley!
Even in light polluted Santa Monica, though, with SkyScout, I was able to find the summer triangle through which the Milky Way appears to pass. This consists of the stars Vega, Deneb and Altair. I found Mars, then I located Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins, and the following bright stars:
- Sirius, in Canis Major, the brightest star
- Rigel, in Orion, the sixth brightest star
- Betelguese, in Orion, the ninth brightest star
- Procyon, in Canis Minor, the seventh brightest star, and vertex of the winter triangle
- Mirfak, the brightest star in Perseus. I used the locate function for this, trying to find comet Holmes. I verified all these sightings with the evening sky map .
Later, I tried to use the SkyScout to ID an object I was pretty sure was Venus, but the SkyScout identified that object as either 99 Vir, 100 Vir, or another catalog entry. Apparently these objects were very close to Venus at the time I sighted the planet. When I examined Venus with the NexStar 6 SE, I saw two other stars in the same field. Using the SkyScout, which has no magnification, is not without risk-I was also near many parked cars, on the sidewalk, near a streetlight. All of these items would either influence the magnetic sensor, or affect my vision. By moving away from the streetlight and cars, I was able to get SkyScout to agree that the early morning object was indeed Venus!