Artline Starship Earth II Globe
Before you head out, use this three-dimensional sky map to see what's up. Align your location and the hour of the day by turning the knobs that rotate the earth and position the sun—and note the constellations as they appear from your vantage point. Bonus: this hand-screened globe is beyond educational—it's stunning.
Celestron ExploraScope 80
Unlike the elaborate lens system used inside refractors (those long tubular telescopes), this reflecting telescope's simple mirror setup allows for a compact construction—and portability. Spot-on for kids.
Zhumell Tachyon 25 x 100 Binoculars
True, you get less magnification than you would with a telescope, but the two-eyed approach adds clarity and an awesome field of view to the cosmic experience.
Replogle Inflatable Star Globe
A beach ball that carries almost as much information as its far, far pricier celestial-globe siblings. Perfect for star parties: it glows in the dark.
Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium
Aim this GPS-guided finder into the heavens and it identifies exactly what you're seeing. Or choose from a menu of 6,000 astronomical objects (including a Top 20 list of the evening's highlights) and follow the flashing arrows in the viewer until you've scored a bull's-eye.
For Your Viewing Pleasure
Arizona's Sonoran Desert, Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island, and Bryce Canyon in Utah offer some of the country's most brilliant night skies. Want a lookout a little closer to home?Locate a site that is:
High The greater the altitude, the clearer the air.
Dry An arid setting has blessedly few clouds.
Dark Your goal is to get as far from civilization's light pollution as possible.
Extra-Dark The moon itself is guilty of stealing the spotlight—stargazing is best under a new (i.e., nearly invisible) moon.