Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.
If you're like me, constellations and planets are fun to look at, but hard to pick out of a lineup. Those silly identification wheels and flash cards just make things worse.
An expensive - but fun - alternative is Celestron's SkyScout: a hand-held planetarium that takes the guesswork out of stargazing. Just point the global positioning system-based unit at the sky and press the button. The device both identifies and locates more than 6,000 heavenly bodies, and has online software updates that make adjustments for, say, the downgrading of Pluto.
The unit weighs less than a pound and runs on two AA batteries, so you can tuck it in a daypack and take it to a nice, dark hillside or quiet beach. It's listed at $500, but online stores are offering it for $400. www.celestron.com/skyscout.