QUOTE(dcatranis @ Apr 11 2010, 02:46 AM)
I am looking for an educational planetarium for my niece's 6th birthday. I've been poking around the web looking for some good insight into what would be appropriate and this forum seems like a great resource for information and hand's on experience. I'm an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer but don't have any experience with home planetarium hardware.
My niece is fascinated with the night sky and seems to enjoy the constellations and there associated mythology, I don't think she is very interested in the science part of astronomy yet.
Here is some basic info on what I think my requirements are (my main goal is to dive her a good mental map of the night sky and for it to be fun):
1. I don't have a dome so this will be projected on her bedroom ceiling and walls (textured knockdown painted white)
2. The device must have the option to project connect the dots type constellation images with labels and geographically\seasonally accurate surrounding starmaps
3. It would be nice to have a device that would project the occasional meteor and show planet\nebula images
4. She would love to be able to select an object and hear an auditory blurb about it's history and the mythology of the constellations
5. My budget is up to $300 but I'm willing to buy a lower quality item if it is more suitable for her needs
Devices I'm looking at:
Einstein Talking Planetarium
Discovery Ultimate Star Planetarium (this looks cool because it is interactive but I imagine the display is quite poor)
Sega Toys Homestar Home Planetarium (I think these come with the connect the dots constellation slides but I'm not sure if the constellation's are actually labeled and there is no option for North America)
Segatoys HomeStar Pro 21st Century Home Planetarium ( same concerns as the other Homestar)
Oh and her birthday is this Friday....DOH
Any advice would really be appreciated
Hi and welcome to OCP.
Not at all sure what you mean by "and there is no option for North America".
The Spitz Jr. is by far the classic projector and if complete, comes with a book that describes the constellations for the various seasons. Literally thousands have learned much under its simple sky. It works best (as do all planetarium projectors) under a dome, but works well in a square room. One must be interested as self motivation is useful with this type of projector. However, if motivated, a projector like this will continue to inspire a lot longer then one that "talks at you" and soon becomes boring.
The HomeStar projects a most spectacular sky. I love the look but it might be too much for someone just starting out. It projects some 10K stars which are many more then one can see under the best conditions which is about 4.5 to 5K stars. There is a "stick" outline star disc for constellations but I'll need to check it tonight to see if the names are listed as well.
I'm not totally familiar with the other projectors you have mentioned but from what I've read about them they are easily dismissed.
Reviews are under the review section.
Hope this helps.