By now, there’s probably a handful of astronomy apps for kids on the App Store already exploring our solar system in slightly-different ways. Nevertheless, considering the great amount of facts and information regarding our solar system that haven’t been explored, I feel that there’s always room for more astronomy apps for kids.
Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System is one of the most recently-released apps in this category. It introduces information such as the Astronomical Unit (AU) for measuring distances among celestial objects, the different planet types (terrestrial vs gas giants), and details about how spacecrafts work.
Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System
After you create a user profile, the first thing you’d see is the Sun in the middle of our solar system. You can swipe left to see the nearest planet, Mercury, or tap the Sun to learn more information about the Sun. You can also pinch-to-zoom-out to see a zoom-out view of our solar system. You can continue zooming out until you see all the eight planets in our solar system. To return to the zoom-in view, simply pinch-to-zoom-in or tap on the [-] button on the bottom right corner of the screen.
Tapping on a celestial object will allow you to learn more about it. For example, if you’re tapping on the Sun, you will learn fun and interesting facts about the Sun. You can swipe down to unzip the Sun and see more information. You can also tap on the special knowledge section — dedicated for each object — to learn more about specific info regarding that object.
When you swipe left to see the next planet, you will see how far that planet is from the Sun. You can see the planets in order, from the nearest to the farthest. And, in addition to the planets, you can also explore the details of our moon and the spacecrafts that the astronauts use to explore our solar system.
Parents Need to Know
The app uses a five-step system to encourage kids to keep playing and learning with the app. First, you can swipe left/right to travel from one celestial object to the next. Then, when you want to explore an object, you can discover the details of that object.
Once you’re comfortable with your knowledge of that celestial object, you can test yourself with the Jetpack Challenge. In this challenge, you will face 10 true/false question regarding a particular object. If you succeed with the challenge, you will earn medals and rocket parts that you need to build your own rocket.
Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System works great without any Internet connection. It doesn’t have any third-party ads, in-app purchases, nor links to social networks. And, it also supports multiple user profiles for family/classroom sharing.
Fun Facts I Learned
Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System is an app that’s heavy on facts and information. From the home screen of each planet, and then followed up by the Discover section, the unzipped view of each celestial object, and the special section created for that object; there are plenty of facts that you can learn. Here are some of them that I learned from this app:
- It takes 8 mins for the Sun’s light to reach Earth
- A day on Mercury is longer than a year on Mercury (176 > 88)
- Venus spins in the opposite direction to the other planets, and its axis is very straight
- The surface of the Moon is only about the size of Africa
- The Moon has no magnetic field so you wouldn’t be able to use a compass
- If you were to jump on the Moon, you would jump 20ft in the air
- Because there’s no atmosphere on the Moon, you can’t hear anything
- In 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first person to travel to Space, aboard the Vostok
- Laika, a Russian dog, was the first animal to orbit Earth
- It took 3 days for Apollo 11 to reach the Moon’s orbit
- NASA have sent 12 astronauts to the Moon’s surface
- The Apollo spacecraft uses a three-stage rocket to produce enough power to leave Earth’s gravity into space
- Mars has the largest mountain in the solar system: Olympus Mars (about 16 miles high)
- A year on Mars is about twice as long as a year on Earth
- If you added all the other planets, moons, and asteroids of the solar system, they wouldn't even make up half Jupiter's mass
- There are over 60 moons orbiting Jupiter
- The Cassini-Huygens probe that orbits Saturn sends images back to Earth at the speed of 80 minutes per image
- Scientists think there are lots of diamonds on Uranus
- It takes 165 Earth years for Neptune to revolve around the sun
Things I Like
The Discover feature of the app has a lot of information. Some of them are nicely displayed in a graphical format that’s easy to digest, and others are shown as an animation or interactive content. My two favorites are the Apollo 11 animation where you can see how the three stages of rockets are able to launch it from the Earth’s orbit into the moon’s orbit, and the moon phases animation where you can drag the moon around the Earth to see how it would change phases/faces.
Another fun thing that I like is how the app shows the difference in the time it takes for the Earth and Mercury to orbit the sun by allowing you to calculate your Mercury age in a supercomputer. You type in your current (Earthly) age, and the supercomputer will show you your current Mercury age.
And, to make it easy for us to imagine just how big one planet compared to the others, the app includes a Food Analogy section where each planet is modeled by a fruit, based on its relative size. It’s hilarious and informative at the same time.
Our solar system has plenty of interesting facts waiting to be explored. If your kids love astronomy, they’d love facts-heavy apps like Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System. No matter how many other astronomy apps for kids out there that have offered their approach to understanding our solar system, there’s always room for one more.
App was provided for our honest review.