WorldWide Telescope




Virtual planetarium takes kids on a tour of the universe.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Kids are encouraged to explore, understand the universe, put humans, Earth in a broader perspective.

Positive role models

There are no characters.

Ease of play

Though there are some standard help guides, technical support, tours that provide some highlights, they can be a bit intimidating; the game is designed more like software than an interactive experience.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that WorldWide Telescope is a downloadable science game/experience that provides an interactive and deeply complex window onto the universe. It's basically a curated collection of the best astronomical data and imagery from telescopes, observatories, and scientists all over the globe. With so much information at the user's fingertips yet a less-than-ideal interface, it's easy to get overwhelmed. So plan on spending time helping younger kids get oriented.

What kids can learn



  • astronomy


Thinking & Reasoning

  • asking questions
  • collecting data

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support


The content is gorgeous and incredibly absorbing, but it's accessed through a less-than-ideal interface that's hard to navigate.

Learning Approach

With tours that walk you through the stars and access to hard data with images, this resource is a treasure trove for learning.


There's a basic FAQ and an online help guide, a selection of tours to guide exploration, and lesson plans for middle and high school teachers. Still, it takes practice to learn how to use the tool.

What kids can learn



  • astronomy


Thinking & Reasoning

  • asking questions
  • collecting data

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn about planets, view stars, and get a sense of the scale of the universe through real scientific data from telescopes and observatories worldwide. By watching guided tours, kids can get the vast offerings of WorldWide Telescope in more digestible chunks. For instance, kids can take tours of the Sombrero Galaxy or follow in the footsteps of an Apollo astronaut as they fly from Earth to the Moon. Older kids can create their own tours and share them with others. Though it's more of a reference work than an interactive simulation, WorldWide Telescope can open doors for the exploring mind.

This Learning Rating review was written by David Thomas

Kids say

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What's it about?

WORLDWIDE TELESCOPE provides an atlas of the known universe by drawing on stunning data from telescopes, observatories, and research labs all over the world. Prerecorded tours fly the viewer through the cosmos, acting as a tour guide to the universe's greatest hits and highlights. Outside of the tours, kids can use WorldWide Telescope as an interactive desktop planetarium, journeying to the infinite expanses in the sky while getting unprecedented access to astronomical imagery and information from top scientists.

Is it any good?


As a tool, this is nothing short of awe-inspiring -- although it might initially overwhelm users due to the sheer amount of data it provides. The ability to zoom down to the street level on Earth (and then blast millions of light years through space to view a spinning nebula) makes it a powerful resource for understanding astronomy and our place in the universe. With a click of the mouse, images of celestial bodies provide a wealth of data that illuminate the glittering objects we see in the sky. Kids can wrestle with the almost incomprehensible distances that make up the universe or simply admire the beauty of distant star systems; either way, WorldWide Telescope provides a resource perfect for anyone who desires a better understanding of life beyond planet Earth.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how accurate telescopes are in pinpointing items on Earth or in space. If you use the Earth viewer, can you find your hometown, street, and even your house? How do you think this translates to looking at celestial objects?

  • If you had access to an observatory, what would be the first planet or galaxy you'd observe? Why?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows, iPhone
Pricing structure:Free
Available online?Available online
Developer:Microsoft Research
Release date:November 4, 2013
Topics:Science and nature, Space and aliens
ESRB rating:NR for No Descriptions

This review of WorldWide Telescope was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byijustreviewstuff December 25, 2013

a family fun time

AWESOME, you can do everything. Look at alot of stuff. Its an awesome game/app to use


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