The Discovery Channel people were kind enough to let me and my family try out a cool toy from the Discovery Store: Discovery Ultimate Star Planetarium. Oh my gosh is this amazing! If you program where you are on the earth, it will show you your night sky, in the comfort of your home. This is perfect for us, because we live way too close to Chicago to be able to see very many stars (not to mention the pollution and numerous cloudy days we have). It will also show you any night sky, from anywhere around the globe at any given time. There are tons of other things to do. You can look at the planets, the moon, and the constellations. You can use the night sky as a night light for relaxing or sleeping. The machine will automatically go off after an hour if you want it to, leaving the time aglow for when you awaken and need to glance at a clock.
Forget about the kids, Gadget Man and I were fighting over which thing to view first. He wanted to look at all the planets, while I wanted to see some of the constellations. He had it programmed and up and running in a few minutes and we could view the night sky all over the world.
Ok, now for the kids. We will be using this for years and years as they learn about space in science class and here at home (Gadget Man loves to look at the stars).
I would say the the one problem we have has to do with our own home, not the toy itself. It has to be very, very dark to get a crisp picture and the only really dark place we have is our basement. The basement has a few problems that are not “ideal” according to the instruction manual. First, it is not a dome or a square, it is an irregularly shaped room. Also, it is full of furniture, shelves, and knick knacks on the wall. Finally, our ceiling is that yucky porous (asbestos?) stuff of the drop down ceilings of decades ago, so it makes for a blurry picture. For our home, our new toy works best when the sun is down and we project on our bedroom ceiling. Sweet dreams, and thanks Discovery!