Want to look at the stars but don't know where to begin? Celestron LLC, in Torrance, Calif., claims its NexStar 11 GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope will do the work for you. When activated, the telescope fixes its location using triangulation made possible by data from the Global Positioning System. Next it determines which stars and planets could be visible from the viewer's location at that particular moment from a database of some 40 000 such objects stored in the telescope's handheld controller. Select an object with the controller and the telescope automatically points itself in the right direction.
Connecting a laptop computer to the scope makes way for even more features than the controller's two-line liquid-crystal display permits; standard star-charting programs can create maps of the sky on the laptop screen based on the telescope's location. If the user clicks on an object on the star chart, the NexStar 11 points itself right at it.
The telescope has a carbon-fiber optical tube, which should reduce temperature-related expansions and contractions that throw off focus. And for those who want to capture what they see for posterity, the Nexstar 11 has an accessory port for attaching such add-ons as a digital camera.
Celestron NexStar II GPS
Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, US $3000