Saturday, May 1, 2010

MySky, Your Sky

Sheva Apelbuam-Copernicus   

According to urban legend, when my mom and dad first met, they used to go star gazing.  My dad would point out a star and say something like “this is Alpha Centauri, it a binary system approximately 4.4  light years away from our sun,” and my mom would be so impressed. She would answer saying “Wow! It’s so beautiful!” but now, so many years later, she admits that she never knew exactly where he was pointing to.

Several times when I was little, we went to watch the Meteor shower. We would bring a warm blanket, hot chocolate and cookies and spend hours late into the night watching the sky and counting the white streaks. 

The problem with star gazing is that on a clear night, there zillions of stars out there.  If you have a good memory, you may be able to memorize a few.  Even if you have a person to show you what’s where, you still end up wasting a lot of viewing time trying to identify the objects and locate them in the star guide.

I have been complaining for a while that it’s really hard learning the sky with just a field guide, so finally, on my last birthday, my parents surprised me with the ultimate personal astronomy guide.  His name is MySky and he is an automated star finder. This device is the ultimate in coolness. 

The MySky guide has a database which contains over 30,000 objects and to locate anyone of these, you just  Sheva Apelbaum-Mysky Viewpoint it at the object and press the trigger.  Within  a few seconds a friendly voice comes up and tells you all about it.  It gives you basic information (object description, size, distance, etc.) and historical information (such as association with Greek or Roman mythology). Plus, it shows a high quality image (taken from the Hubble telescope) and it even plays movies.   Another great feature is the automated sky tour.  As you are taking the guide, the device will automatically guide you and tell you where to move it and describe the objects or constellation.

I have found that Sheva Apelbaum-Mysky the best time to watch the sky is in the spring and summer on a clear night (winter and fall in NY is just to cold).  Another neat thing is that with Mysky, you don’t have to travel to areas free from light pollution. You can just spread a blanket out in your back yard, or at the park and you’re good to go.  The MySky doesn't have a built-in speaker, so you will need either headphones or a portable speaker (which is great for a group viewing).

MySky-Sheva Apelbaum Setting the device up is very simple, you just turn it on, enter the date and time, your location, place it on a level surface for calibration, and you’re set.  Operating it is also a cinch. All the commands are in menus and are easily accessed.

Don’t forget to bring along your favorite hot drink and yummy snacks. 

Now that I got a better view of the night sky, I think I’m ready to move on to the real thing. “Mom and Dad, whenever you’re ready, can I please, please, please have a LX200-ACF?”


  1. Would anyone please give that girl a nice smart intelligent comment full of star wisdom - because I am at loss for words and except of identifying the Big Wagon I have not much knowledge of what is going on up there - BUT I surely do appreciate the marvelous beauty of a clear night sky with the gorgeous glittering orchestrated show.

    Brava Sheva, you will go far in life!

  2. Thank you much Yael! I agree the sky a beautiful glittering orchestrated show…and the best part is that it’s FREE! (that is after you get the proper equipment…)

  3. Can you say that your parents were 'starry-eyed' when they first met?


    I would love to have one of those instruments...and I think you could start with celestial navigation, next!

  4. Great post Sheva! ! !
    Thank you:)