Dutch spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey is credited with the invention of binoculars in 1608, a year before Galileo Galilei introduced the first telescope and viewed the moons of Jupiter, Saturn's rings and the stars in the Milky Way. Almost four centuries and countless strained necks later, new discoveries about the make-up of the universe continue unabated and amateur stargazers have access to powerful optical equipment. Comfort solutions like the Starchair are another benefit of living in 2002. The Sky Rover Starchair is a motorised, joystick-controlled portable observation chair offering steady viewing through full 360-degree rotation and tilt from horizon to zenith.

Designed for use with large stereo binoculars and some telescopes, the Starchair supports binoculars from 80mmm up to the huge Fujinon 150mm in front of the seated observer. The unit breaks down into three pieces for portability so it can be dragged along to a remote viewing point in a small car and set-up in only three minutes according to Starchair Engineering. It's also fully adjustable to suit all body shapes and sizes and the gearing system ensures no slippage while traversing so that views remain stable.

The fun part is definitely the motorised horizontal and tilt functions. Driven by a 12volt dc power battery, Starchair features variable speed control at a top speed of eight degrees per second and provides automated slow pans around the area as well the ability to "find" any several thousand celestial objects via optional computer sky vector hardware.

Manufactured by StarChair Engineering in Adelaide, the Sky Rover Starchair is available direct from the manufacturer for US$3,950 plus freight.