If you get to teach Space and the Solar System, consider yourself lucky. That’s right. Give yourself a pat on the back. While other teachers languish in finding exciting and interactive resources online, you can lean back and smile with the knowledge that the World Wide Web has your back. The world of space apps are at your disposal. You can dazzle your students with the best of them.
But wait! How are you going to choose? There’s so many!
Solar System Scope is a fantastic site that has just come out. The Solar System Scope is basically a 3D visualization of the solar system showing the celestial positions of the planets, constellations and other objects in the night sky.
The site gives you a wide variety of ways to manipulate the objects including:
- the ability to see the solar system on certain days in the past, present, and future.
- Three views of the solar system: geocentric, heliocentric and panoramic
- Built in distance meter to measure distances between objects
- View objects close up and from different angles
- Search for specific objects
- Change view depending on your location.
The site is an amazingly easy to use, dynamic way to explore and introduce the solar system to your students. Students can explore the site from home or project it on your smartboard or projector and use it on a larger scale to really get the students into the site. I particularly like the distance meter as it takes a inaccurate model and makes it slightly more accurate with the ability to show students the kinds of distances involved.
All in all, the site is a fantastic way to explore the solar system whether you are just introducing the topic or looking for something for students to use more in depth. The types of activities you can do with it are scalable for any age level, which is important, and the visualizations are beautiful and fun.
While you are there, check out the Season Scope. It’s not free ($10) but does give you a desktop widget that allows you to “ explore information about Sunrises, Sunsets, Day and Night length, Moon Phases and also Seasons, Solstices and Equinoxes. All events are available for your selected location!” This is all located on your desktop for easy access which is nice if you do a daily activity on the seasons.
Check it out at Solar System Scope!