Children are bound to experience a field trip to a planetarium at some point in their school career. Planetariums are indoor models of the solar system which provide an education about the universe using projections of stars, planets and constellations, usually accompanied by a narrative. Bedroom planetariums make it possible to see the same celestial objects from the comfort of home. Planetariums are ideal learning tools for anyone with an interest in space.
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Electronic planetariums are dome-shaped and project the same types of images onto walls and ceilings as would be seen at larger planetariums. While some of the models can be pricey, this type is perhaps the best option if an accurate bedroom planetarium is desired for educational purposes. There are various companies that produce different styles of bedroom planetariums, including the LiveStar, Homestar Pro, Uncle Milton Star Theater Pro, National Geographic and American Museum of Natural History Space Theater Planetarium. These products can be found in most stores where toys are sold, but a better selection might be found at an educational or science-themed store, such as the National Geographic Store. Another product by Uncle Milton, Moon In My Room, is an ideal addition to a bedroom planetarium; this round, mountable moon changes with the phases of the moon.
There is no rule stating that a bedroom planetarium must be entirely educational or entirely accurate with the night sky. The Uncle Milton Death Star Planetarium is similar to other electronic planetariums, but it features two interchangeable projection domes. One of the domes projects accurate images of Earth's night sky, while the other dome projects the galaxy and planet names from the Star Wars movie series. The entire planetarium is designed to look like the Death Star, the spaceship of Star Wars nemesis, Darth Vader. The learning guide makes this planetarium suitable for educating children, but it would also be an ideal gift for an adult Star Wars fan.
Kids can achieve a similar projected night sky effect in bedrooms without the expense of an electronic planetarium. Although accuracy is less likely with a homemade planetarium, kids get the benefit of creating their own planetarium. Try this craft to accompany a lesson on astronomy and challenge kids to recreate the night sky with as much accuracy as possible. An empty oatmeal canister or even a paper lantern, painted black, can be used for this craft. Mark the constellations with a white crayon or chalk and then pierce through the container with a pin or needle. Place the canister or lantern over a flashlight or electric candle to project the constellations onto the walls and ceiling.
Glow-in-the-dark plastic and foam stickers allow kids to design their own bedroom planetariums that illuminate the walls and ceiling when the lights are turned off. The glowing ability in most of these stickers is recharged each time they are exposed to light. Older kids can follow a chart of Earth's night sky to make an accurate representation in the bedroom. Younger children can create their own universes with these stickers, which is ideal for imaginative play. These stickers can be purchased in small packages to large kits with hundreds of pieces in various sizes. This type of planetarium may be the ideal investment for budget-minded families with children who change interests frequently.
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