It's no secret: I'm a space nerd. A rocket fetishist. I'm not ashamed. At least I don't wear space underpants when I watch The Right Stuff. Know someone like me? I can help you get them an awesome present.
1. Lego Space Shuttle I'm a space nerd and I'm a Lego nerd too. And chances are that your beloved space nerd is one too. And if they are not, they will really like this Lego Space Shuttle model anyway. It's $300, but worth the price tag. The cheaper alternative is the smaller $99 version, which you can get at the Lego store. Very cute.
2. Astronomy apps. If you have an iPad—or iPhone, although these are perfect on Apple's tablet—you should definitely gift Distant Suns. For just $10, this iOS app has the most complete star catalog, and is perfect to locate the best sky events of the day. The cheaper alternative—but also equally awesome—is Star Walk, which is really fun to use: Point to the sky to locate stars automagically. Better yet: Get them both as gifts at the App Store. They are worth every cent.
3. The Pale Blue Dot. I spent my vacation on the beach reading this book and it blew me away. It's not new, but that doesn't matter. Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot is a fascinating look at our planet, ourselves, and the ultimate meaning of space exploration. The hard cover is $20, but you can get the cheaper alternative: The paperback for $11. Everyone should read this book and watch this video.
4. NASA Flight Jacket. I have an old flight jacket from the US Navy. It's one of my favorites, but good ones are hard to come by at military stores. Also, not everyone has one of these shops near to check their quality and state. But fear not, because you can get a new one for $115, like this NASA MA-1 Flight Jacket. I recently checked these at the Kennedy Space Center store, and the quality is great, which is no surprise because it's manufactured by the same company who does the ones that pilots wear. The cheaper alternative is to hunt a used one down. I got mine for $20.
5. Telescope. This is an obvious one, but nothing brings more joy to astronomer wannabes than a good telescope, a camping tent, and peanut and jelly sandwiches. They can go for more than $10,000 or as low as $300. A nice option is the Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope for $1,100, which you can easily control with a digital pad (if you have the iPad with one of the astronomy apps, you are all set). The cheaper alternative: Get a $10 gift certificate at Slooh, so your beloved amateur astronomer can explore the skies from any computer, controlling a big honkin professional telescope in some mountain in Hawaii.
6. Space suit. If money is no object, definitely get an Apollo 11 astronaut suit replica. It's $9500, but it comes with every single detail from the original suit. Add some gray dust to it, and you can re-enact the lunar landing in your living room. The even more insane alternative: Honey, if you want to make me really happy, get me the Omega Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Special Edition. It's just one hundred thousand dollars. Put it on the credit card. Thanks.
The burning sensation that comes from holiday shopping isn't from rubbing against the unwashed masses at malls: It's trying to pick out presents for everybody on your list. Gizmodo's daily gift guides and best gadgets list are the all-natural, non-smelly cure.