Whether you and the kids are glued to nighttime constellations or you can’t tell the Big Dipper from a slotted spoon, it’s prime time to get cosmic. This is Astronomy Week, after all (running April 23-29, with Astronomy Day proper falling on Saturday, April 28). Here in southeast Michigan and beyond, local astronomical clubs, planetariums, museums and other groups are turning their attention and telescopes to the starry skies. The idea is to boost public awareness of our big, awesome universe. So for this week’s Gimme Gimme, it seemed only fitting to go on our own little space mission – for the coolest, space-themed toys in the galaxy (or at least on Google). These galactic goods definitely sent us over the moon!
Whatever the weather, get a perfect view of the galaxy with this nifty, ceiling-mount version by astronomy-loving company Uncle Milton – that no-joke orbits, thanks to the included remote control. Eight full-color detailed planets (sorry, Pluto) orbit around a light-up sun. To boot, kids can ID planets and – and create their own meteor shower – with a light pointer (built right into the remote). About $32-$40.
Five basic shapes. Twenty different combinations. All to boldly go where few building blocks have gone before: Moveable creations kids can actually play with. Infinitoy’s award-winning invention channels Mars with Z.A.C. The 200 pieces snap together to form aliens, UFOs, a radio telescope and oodles more. Bonus: 12 pieces glow-in-the-dark, and you can even give Z-boy a pair of light-up eyes. About $40 ($25 on Amazon).
The USSR woulda had nothing on this slick fleet. Ever-hip and creative Threadless Ts offers this rocket-ship studded shirt (and is that a UFO in there, too?) perfect for kids with enough energy to blast out of the stratosphere. Nab a child’s size (all are available as of this writing) for just $10 (also at the moment).
Finding a great beginner’s telescope for kids that doesn’t break the bank can be tougher than spotting Mercury (trust us, we looked!). But FirstScope fits the bill. Lightweight and portable, this ‘scope is a throwback to Galileo’s 1609 original, featuring a high-quality Dobsonian-style stand and 76 mm reflector optical tube. That means it’s easy to maneuver and, based on the user pix, the quality is out of this world. Ditto the price: Just $49.95.
Edmund Scientifics knows a thing or two about home-based space exploration. Here, the maker of the iconic Astroscan Plus Telescope serves up a cool kit packed with hands-on outer-space experiments that delve into the moon, planets, stars, suns, rockets and more, perfectly primed for budding star gazers. Make a solar system model, chemically powered rocket and telescope? Check, check and check! Runs $34.95.
The Force is right in your kid’s room with this geek-tastic grab. Shaped like the evil Galactic Empire’s notorious moon-sized space station, this tabletop planetarium is a must for any young Padawan. Junior Jedis get one of two choices: the Star Wars galaxy, complete with the planets of Alderaan and Dagobah, or our own humble solar system. About $30.