Sky Map App Poster Image

Sky Map



Excellent tool encourages appreciation of the universe.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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.

App details

Devices:Android, Apps for Windows
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
Topics:Science and nature
Size:2.20 MB
Publisher:Sky Map Devs
Minimum software requirements:Android 1.5 and up

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Parent Written byMURUP July 5, 2013