Celeste SE

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
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Planets come to life through your smartphone's camera view.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about astronomy by viewing the planets, the moon, and other celestial bodies in "augmented" images that show them as if they were visible to the naked eye. Kids can also learn investigation skills by choosing which part of the sky and which celestial body to focus on, reading the related facts, asking questions, and making inferences. This may lead kids to investigate another planet or celestial body, building the concept of part-whole relationships as they relate to objects in space. Celeste SE is an amazing way for kids to learn about the objects in our solar system.

Ease of Play

The app crashed a few times (screen message: "stopped unexpectedly"), but otherwise very intuitive and worked well.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids who can read will get much more out of Celeste SE than younger kids because of the trivia and educational information that accompanies each planet. But it's still easy enough to point the Android's camera view to the sky that many pre-readers will use it just to enjoy the virtual view of the planets, moon, and sun (no other stars on this app). This app also has a compass feature, which is fun for kids learning directions.

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What's it about?

Simply point your smartphone to the sky to view the augmented reality images of celestial bodies (that may or may not be visible to the naked eye). Choose the one you want to know more about and move the phone to align it with the circle on your smartphone's screen. Tap the button in the popup window and you'll see the path the object takes through the sky and more information about it.

Is it any good?

CELESTE SE is an "augmented reality" app, which means users can see images of the sun, moon, and planets (not the planets in real time a la telescope) and their pathways and time of arrival through the sky in your phone's camera view, day or night. It's more fun to use outdoors because whether you're looking at the moon from outside or in your house, it will appear the same -- it just looks like the moon is sitting below your ceiling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Take your kid outside to use this app at first. The concept is easier to grasp there, rather than indoors.

  • Use the app to track the sun's path throughout a day. Talk to your kid about how people have always been interested in celestial movements and used other pre-technology tools like sundials and monuments to track them.

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