Star Gazer Planetarium by Educational Insights
This device allows one to place one of several star domes atop a lighted well. A separate half-dome made of white cardboard acts as a curved projection screen. The light shines up from the well through the star dome, casting replicas of different sectors of the night sky onto the screen. The base of the Star Gazer has a cassette player on which one can listen to an enclosed tape that discusses various constellations and other points of interest. A nice bonus is a red filter, which allows one to invert the star domes for outdoor night sky exploration. Otherwise, this is an indoor hobby. An activity guide gives all the details on how to get the most enjoyment and learning from this kit. The key to this toy as an educational tool is an adult willing to help a child make the big move from indoor to outdoor viewing. Indoors, the Star Gazer projects images of the major constellations onto walls and ceilings. Amid a dreamy starscape, with the audiocassette as a guide, an ordinary room takes on the aspect of a field trip, and star clusters grow familiar. Then, on a clear outdoor evening, the inverted dome becomes a map to locate actual glittering constellations. Once a child learns to locate the North Star and the key constellations of Cassiopeia, the Big Dipper, and Orion, then he or she can chart the movements of the visible planets. Planetary locator charts are included, but the patience to spend several evenings orienting to zodiac patterns is a likely prerequisite to successfully locating and following a planet.