Planetarium for a little girl
November 26, 2005 4:33 PM   Subscribe

I need to buy a good projecting planetarium for a little girl whose family does not have much money for Christmas. [MI]

So, I'm in the mall looking for gifts for the family and there is one of those trees with children's wished for presents written on cards on the tree. I walk up to the tree and choose a card. The card lets me know about a six year old girl who wants a planetarium that will project the stars on the "sky" of her little room.

This is too cute and breaks my heart.

I researched as I could and went to Amazon to look at the reviews. They're just terrible.

Since this is pretty much an anonymous gift, I won't be able to fix it if the gift turns out to be cruddy. Please help me find one that will make her happy about astronomy and Christmas.
posted by dabradfo to Science & Nature (12 answers total)
This one from the National Geographic store looks decent. It might be the same one from the Discovery Store.
posted by fionab at 4:45 PM on November 26, 2005

both those seem to be "black stars/white sky".

i've done projection shows for kids (as you might imagine, i was pretty useless at it) and we used a projector that was bright stars/black sky, but it was a semi-professional kind of thing, not something you'd find in a shop (and not suitable for a child to operate anyway). it used a mylar drum with pin-pricks for holes that must have been expensive to produce - so i'm wondering if it's just not possible to cheaply mass-produce bright star/black sky projectors (for example, maybe you need so much ink to make it black that when you print the sky, the holes for the stars tend to fill up with ink).

if that's the case, maybe a compromise is to buy those glow-in-the dark sticky stars and a map of the night sky. but that means relying on the child's parent/guardian to do what you intended...
posted by andrew cooke at 4:57 PM on November 26, 2005

Here's a white stars/black sky home planetarium.
posted by deafweatherman at 5:13 PM on November 26, 2005

The Exploratorium store has one
posted by riffola at 5:16 PM on November 26, 2005

hurray - never been happier to be wrong!
posted by andrew cooke at 5:16 PM on November 26, 2005

How about this one?

Just make sure to include batteries with whichever you choose, it would be really sad to get a cool gift you can't play with right away.
posted by blackkar at 5:24 PM on November 26, 2005

As a kid (not that long ago) I had one of the ones deafweatherman shows. It was really pretty good in a really dark room. It had a little bit of a problem with light leaking out the side seams but it was a toy after all.
posted by shanevsevil at 5:25 PM on November 26, 2005

I don't have any practical suggestions, but just wanted to share my admiration for anyone who participates in these programs. I'm usually very "bah, humbug!" about the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas, but this is Damn Good Stuff. Kudos to dabradfo, and to others who donate.
posted by planetthoughtful at 6:38 PM on November 26, 2005

It would be great if there was a retailer that provided discounts for people buying toy drive gifts. Otherwise, the retailer profits from your goodwill.
posted by acoutu at 8:56 PM on November 26, 2005

You mean, the same way retailers profit when I buy a present for my brother out of sheer goodwill? For shame! Bad business!
posted by chrismear at 3:00 AM on November 27, 2005

That tree you are talking about...where was this? I'm quite happy to make some child's wish come true, if I can.

FWIW, I saw a black-stars, blue sky projectory in the discount store called Winners yesterday for $30 Canadian. It looked crappy.
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:25 PM on November 27, 2005

Seconding Kickstart - do you recall the name of the organisation behind the tree, or some other detail that could allow us to find something similar locally? (Most seem to be toy drives or other similar-but-not-quite-the-same affairs). BTW, top points for taking the time to research the gift.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:30 AM on November 29, 2005

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