App review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013
Sky Map
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Sky Map

Encourage planetary appreciation with fab free app

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
5–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Science, Critical Thinking

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4 images

Pros: Pocket planetarium empowers kids to search and find -- and know exactly what they're looking at.

Cons: Disappointingly, there aren't any links to further info about the planets and stars seen here.

Bottom Line: A sharp pocket-planetarium tool that can help foster students’ curiosity about the universe.

Though nothing can beat the experience of doing in-person night sky observations, a digital planetarium like this one can be a great time-saving substitute. Kids can simply use the "Time Travel" feature to see the planets and constellations at anytime -- day or night. It could be a wonderful tool for fostering a fresh appreciation of astronomy in kids who haven't explored space before.

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Sky Map is an astronomy app giving users the chance to explore space with smartphones. Kids can see stars, constellations, galaxies, planets, meteor showers, and Messier objects in regular or special night mode, which changes all text and lines to red for easy viewing. The Hubble gallery hits you with astronomical images easily located -- along with any other object -- through a simple ring-and-arrow guidance technique.

Using network (default), GPS, or manual location, kids can either angle and rotate their device to view the celestial sphere in all directions or swipe around any direction they wish using a handy orange horizon line and cardinal directions for orientation. A tap-activated on-screen menu allows users to select layers, toggle between automatic and manual navigation modes, and zoom in or out. The menu offers search, settings, time travel, night mode, a Hubble image gallery, and tight-text help.

Students can learn about astronomy at a basic level with this Google-powered tool, or get motivated to research more advanced concepts such as time as a dimension, why night mode uses red, the Hubble telescope, and the celestial coordinate grid. Students can also gain a basic understanding about orientation, cardinal directions, and horizon lines by seeing them used in context. Also, the time-travel feature could have scientific as well as historical uses.

While Sky Map is a sharp pocket planetarium tool with lots of learning potential, it unfortunately doesn't contain links or reference information about astronomy or the celestial objects on view; kids will have to visit another app for that.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The app is well-designed and easy to use. The Hubble images are a fascinating draw, but the app could use a little fun factor.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Great data is presented well in layers, and the search function empowers kids to search the sky. Some background information about astronomy would be a huge boost.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

While the app is intuitive, it's too bad there aren't any extensions or links to NASA or other great astronomy resources.

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Joanna P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Russellville High School
Russellville, United States
GREAT APP! I use it to show the students the constellations and it is super easy to use. They love it!
I love this APP because it is easy for students to use and can be adapted in different ways. All different levels of students can use this APP. I have ELL and they found it easy to use.
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