Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2013
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SkySafari

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Cool features enhance this powerful mobile planetarium

Common Sense says
Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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6 images

Pros: Quality photos plus tightly packed information that's accessible to kid users.

Cons: Mastering the compass and controls can be tricky..

Bottom Line: This professional-grade tool with beautiful, instructive images is an excellent resource for classrooms.

The Plus and Pro versions do not offer features that would be helpful for most middle or high school classrooms. Their main feature is the ability to manipulate certain telescopes wirelessly, setting them to the right coordinates to view certain objects, which is great if your school is equipped with a planetarium, but not super helpful otherwise. That said, letting kids explore space with this app could be an excellent use of classroom time. Put kids in groups and assign them a planet or star, then see how much research they can put together in a class period to present at the end.

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SkySafari is a point-and-identify sky map that includes the major planets and moons; tens of thousands of stars; 220 of the best-known star clusters; and nebulae, galaxies, asteroids, comets, and more. Kids need to enable the compass on their device (which is on the bottom of the screen when the app is open) and point the device at the sky. They can also view the night sky for any time up to 100 years in the past or future. Using the search function, kids can find specific objects in the night sky, guided by arrows showing them where to point the device.

Standout feature: Tonight's Best, which lists the objects in the night sky that are best for viewing that evening.

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Students can learn about astronomy by viewing planets, stars, and celestial bodies; searching for specific objects of interest; or looking at noteworthy astronomical sightings in that night's sky. If kids want a detailed picture of the movement of objects in the sky over time, they can view them by year, month, day, hour, minute, or second for 100 years into the past and future. Even the surliest teen would have to admit that's pretty darn cool.

The images -- from NASA space missions, the Hubble Space Telescope, and astro-photographers –- are beautiful. In addition to viewing the night sky –- past, present, and future –- students can read details about each planet, galaxy, star, and object.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The beautiful images draw stargazers in. Kids control most of their own experience with the app, adding to the engagement factor.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids are in the driver's seat for what they learn and how they discover it; motivated students will feel empowered to explore to their hearts' content. Info about our solar system and beyond is relevant and deep.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Controls require some maturity to master, but the help information offers a quality explanation of terms and features.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Craig M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Big Sky High School
Missoula, MT
4
Sky Safari puts the sky at your fingertips

I've been using planetarium software for display of Earth's sky for at least 12 years. I started with RedShift, then went to Starry Night, and now I'm at Sky Safari. It's got all the features I need at a great price, and is available for iOS. Overall it seems to be less processor intensive and faster, and it seems geared toward the touch-screen generation. Everything pops and is very smooth, from lines to objects to illustrations. I immediately took to the interface with no problems, having had lots of experience with other apps. I don't think the new user would have much trouble.

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