By Leslie Crenna,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Excellent tool encourages appreciation of the universe.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn about astronomy at a basic level -- like which one is Venus? -- or get motivated to research more advanced concepts like Messier objects, time as a dimension, why night mode uses red, the Hubble telescope, and the celestial coordinate grid. Kids can also gain basic understandings about orientation, cardinal directions, and horizon lines by seeing them used in context. It would be nice to see more reference information about astronomy or celestial objects. Sky Map is a sharp pocket-planetarium tool that can help foster kids' curiosity about the universe.
Ease of Play
Great menus, clean graphics, and quick response are pluses. The gallery's layout could be better.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sky Map is wonderful tool for fostering an appreciation of astronomy that makes planned or impromptu family sky observation nights easy. This Google-powered app features layers accessible through the device and on-screen menus, easy search and find, manual or automatic orientation, a gallery of Hubble images, night mode, and time travel. The only thing you need to provide is comfortable reclining chairs, cozy blankets, hot chocolate, a beautiful night sky, and a dash of curiosity.
Where to Download
Videos and Photos
Based on 1 parent review
Report this review
What’s It About?
Using network (default), GPS, or manual location, kids can either angle and rotate their device to view the celestial sphere in all directions or swipe around any direction they wish using a handy orange horizon line and cardinal directions for orientation. A tap-activated on-screen menu allows users to select layers, toggle between automatic and manual navigation modes, and zoom in or out. The menu offers search, settings, time travel, night mode, a Hubble image gallery, and tight-text help.
Is It Any Good?
Sky Map is a versatile, easy-to-use planetarium in the palm of your hand -- now that's power. It even does something traditional planetariums could never do: Hold your device at the floor, and you'll see the southern hemisphere just where it ought to be (for all you northern hemispherites out there). Kids can see stars, constellations, galaxies, planets, meteor showers, and Messier objects (learning opportunity here) in regular or special night mode, which changes all text and lines to red for easy viewing. The Hubble gallery hits you with those surreal but real astronomical images easily located -- along with any other object -- through a simple ring and arrow guidance technique. The time travel feature could have scientific as well as historical uses.
The only items missing are constellation images, for instance, a Swan around Cygnus, like those provided by the similar iOS app Star Chart, perhaps a slightly better layout for help text, and some background information about the study of the stars for blossoming observers. Still, it's a fantastic app.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Schedule a family sky watch night. Encourage the whole family to set up a viewing area -- and prepare goodies.
Research good days, times, or objects to view.
- Devices: Android, Windows app
- Subjects: Science: astronomy
- Skills: Self-Direction: academic development, initiative, Thinking & Reasoning: asking questions, part-whole relationships, thinking critically, Tech Skills: using and applying technology, Emotional Development: perspective taking
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: August 31, 2011
- Category: Reference
- Topics: Science and Nature
- Publisher: Sky Map Devs
- Version: 1.6.4
- Minimum software requirements: Android 1.5 and up
- Last updated: September 16, 2021
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Download
Our Editors Recommend
STEM: Apps, TV, and More for Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate