Meade mySKY: the personal, point-and-shoot, multimedia guide to the heavens

June 5, 2007 The US$400 Meade mySKY is a remarkable mash up of technologies that creates a very cool educational toy and the first of a new breed of augmented reality informational products. It is NOT a telescope! mySKY is an interactive, hand-held, point-and-identify multimedia guide to the heavens. It locates, identifies, and describes 30,000 celestial objects in the night sky – every object visible to your unaided eye, as well as many you’ll need a separate telescope to see. If you like this new “browse function for the heavens” ability, it has the added ability to control a Meade computerized telescope. No knowledge is needed - just turn it on and mySKY does the rest. It incorporates full GPS Auto Alignment using a 12-channel GPS receiver which aligns itself on the sky without any input from you.

Point it at a celestial object and pull the trigger to identify planets, stars, nebulas, galaxies, constellations, or select an object and it will lead you right to it.

mySKY even takes you on guided tours of the best objects visible in your sky to your unaided eye – tours that are tailored to your time, date, and location. Program information is stored on a supplied 256 megabyte SD storage card. Updated object information databases, tours, and program improvements are downloadable from the internet. Since it uses non-magnifying red-illuminated rifle-type aiming sights that do not restrict your field of view, finding your target is easy.

Real-time, full color SkyMaps guide you to the objects you want to locate. Once you’re on an object, mySKY gives you information about it in a true multimedia format, using full-color video, audio, still images, sky maps, and text. You’ll see images, watch video, and hear audio descriptions of more than 500 objects. The audio descriptions are provided through the headphone jack and supplied high fidelity ear buds by Sandy Wood, the familiar voice of StarDate – a syndicated daily radio program from the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. The multimedia presentations include stunning astrophotography, entertaining audio descriptions, videos, mythology, folklore, scientific fun facts, and more.

The Meade mySKY lets you identify and find 30,000 objects in the sky – planets, stars, nebulas, galaxies, and more. It lets you view sky maps, object images, video, and text using a built-in 480 x 234 pixel full color LCD screen conveniently located so you can see it while you are looking over the sights at the object in the sky. Photographic images of many of the objects are displayed on the screen in full color. To see the objects close up and live, of course, you’ll need a telescope, as mySKY is an illustrated electronic travel guide, not a telescope.

mySKY shows you real-time sky maps of the areas you are pointed at. It finds and displays constellations and traces the constellation figures. Constellation maps are oriented to the way you are looking at the sky, not some arbitrary orientation that may not be correct for the time of the year when you are observing. mySKY will even let you find satellites like the International Space Station, using simple controls that are intuitive and easy to use. On-screen labels above the control buttons change as you move from screen to screen, to reflect what functions the buttons control as the screen presents different program features.

mySky is ergonomically designed to be comfortable to hold and easy to point. mySky is powered by four AA batteries (not included). Advanced power saving features extend the battery life to up to six hours of normal springtime/summertime use (cold temperatures will reduce battery life). mySKY connects to Meade AutoStar-equipped computerized telescopes using optional cables so you can point mySKY at an object, push a button, and have your scope slew to the object you’ve selected. No more scrolling through menus to find the Messier number of that globular cluster you can see overhead so you can get your scope to move to it. Just point mySKY at the object and your scope will go right to it. And mySKY even adds GPS functions to Meade non-GPS computerized telescopes.

As seen on Ohgizmo.

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