Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Starry Night® Constellation Adventure

Starry Night® Constellation Adventure

Spring 2006 Software
Ages: 9 & Up
Price: $29.95
Platform: Windows XP/ MAC 10.3.9
The sky's the limit with this software that turns your home computer screen into a private interactive planetarium. Think of this as an intro to the night sky where you can learn about searching the real thing for constellations and clusters and other galaxies.

This Starry Night title connects the dots with 30 guided tours of the stars (though a voice guide would've been nice so we could've kept our eyes on the prize). Among the tours are major upcoming events (mostly lunar and solar eclipses showing what you'll likely be able to see from your location), comets and asteroid happenings and the planets, etc. And, of course, there are the constellations, all located and mapped out in relation to each other and other heavenly guideposts.

What makes this particular title an “adventure” when the other Starry Night titles are not isn't nearly as clear as the North Star on a cloudless winter night. Our fear, based on the cover graphic of a guy with sunglasses riding a rocket ship, was that Imaginova had succumbed to peer-group pressure and created a kid's game with animated cartoon heroes and mini-puzzles out its starry content. Fortunately that's not the case. But there is a wealth of astronomical information here that can be viewed every which way in real time, from your specific location, even from the “space ship” perspective that takes you viewpoint miles above the Earth.

And there's some off-screen elements as well, including a pocket-sized red LED light for reading star maps in the dark, a 48-page illustrated field guild to the stars, glow-in-the-dark stars for sticking to your bedroom ceiling and a spin-wheel Big Dipper Clock for telling your local time the location of the dippers.

For armchair astronomy, this educational and wonderfully orienting program has its head in the stars—which is exactly where you'd want it to be.

Don Oldenburg   ©2006 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Starry Night
Orion Telescopes
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

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