WorldWide Telescope



Virtual planetarium takes kids on a tour of the universe.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

There are no characters.

Ease of play

While there are some standard help guides and technical support as well as tours that provide some highlights, WorldWide Telescope can be a bit intimidating and is designed more like software than an interactive experience.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Minor privacy and safety concerns. KIds can create tours that they share with others, but this isn't required.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that WorldWide Telescope provides an interactive and deeply complex window into 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 users' fingertips and a less than ideal interface, it's easy to get overwhelmed. So plan on spending time helping younger kids get oriented to using the tool.

What kids can learn



  • astronomy


Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • asking questions

Engagement, Approach, Support


The content is absorbing, but it's accessed through a less than ideal interface.

Learning Approach

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


There's a basic FAQ and online help guide, a selection of tours to guide exploration, and curriculum for middle and high school teachers. Still, it'll take some fiddling to get used to the tool.

What kids can learn



  • astronomy


Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • asking questions

With basic curiosity in hand, kids can learn about planets, view stars, and get a sense of the scale of the universe via real scientific data from telescopes and observatories worldwide. By watching the guided tours, kids can get the vast offerings of WorldWide Telescope in more 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 the Earth to the Moon. While it's more of a reference work than an interactive simulation, the 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 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 into the infinite expanses in the sky and getting unprecedented access to astronomical imagery and information from top scientists.

Is it any good?


As a tool, WorldWide Telescope is nothing short of awe inspiring -- although it might overwhelm initially. 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 provides a wealth of data that illuminates the glittering objects we see in the sky. Kids can wrestle with the almost incomprehensible distances that make up the universe or just 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 the planet Earth.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can use the Earth viewer to find their home towns, streets and even houses!

  • Families can follow up exploration of WorldWide Telescope with a trip to the planetarium to see the stars on the big screen.



  • Fly over the topography of Mars, and then explore NASA's Mars rover site to see the latest images and news from the planet's surface.

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows
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 NA (Mac, Windows)

This review of WorldWide Telescope was written by

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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
age 2+

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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