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You should know that Stellarium isn’t designed to introduce kids to astronomy; they’ll need to have some knowledge of the night sky to fully appreciate the app. Once you've given an overview of the stars/space, however, it's totally possible to work the app into your curriculum.Continue reading Show less
Stellarium Mobile Sky Map is a mobile astronomy app featuring touch-screen navigation and GPS positioning to view the night sky. Kids can open the app and immediately see which constellations, stars, and planets are in the sky above them. In sensor mode, they can point the device directly at the areas they’re curious about and see the names of planets, constellations, major stars, and nebulae. An interesting feature: the ability to customize the names based upon different star lore. Kids can choose to view the names of stars, planets, and constellations from Western (default), Aztec, Chinese, Egyptian, Inuit, Korean, Lakota, or Maori traditions.
Kids can choose in the options menu which items to display and which to name. The amount of information contained in this mobile planetarium is nearly as vast as the sky, so kids will need to restrain themselves from labeling every option at once, lest nothing be discernible. They can view the constellations, with grid lines and artistic renderings and names, and then add in one of the navigational grid lines, or choose another of the many options.
The renderings are realistic and beautiful, but even more features set this mobile planetarium apart from the crowd. First, the app was developed by the same team that developed the well-respected desktop software Stellarium. This mobile version includes the extensive database of more than 600,000 stars, as well as illustrations and line drawings for the constellations.
Second, kids with an interest in programming may be especially drawn to Stellarium in either version because it uses open-source code. Last, kids can read about constellation names from 12 different cultures as well as a bit of history of astronomy in each of the cultures. So informative, so cool. Just a note: If kids use the search function, they need to know that the search uses Android-predictive text rather than a traditional type and search.
Key Standards Supported
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.
Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.
Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.
Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.
Use mathematical or computational representations to predict the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system.
Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.
Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.