Simulation app that renders the Earth, the solar system and the stars in realtime.

App of the Week
Formats: app for iOS and Android devices


Here is a captivating app for any age. Learn about the motion of the sky, how it rotates around us every day, and how the sun, moon and planets move over time. Teach about concepts like: celestial sphere, ecliptic, the seasons, equinox and solstice, horizon, zenith, meridian, geocentric point of view, retrograde motion of the planets, circumpolar stars, and more.

Is this core/supplemental/special needs/extracurricular/professional development or what?
It’s both a core tool for educators to explain the cycles of Earth, and it’s also a supplemental tool to engage students in exploring the sky around them and understand their position in the solar system.

What subject, topic, what standards is it mapped to?
Basic astronomy and timekeeping. Natural science, geography and history.

What lesson time does it use?
It’s flexible. A teacher could use it as a quick orientation to the celestial sphere and the night sky or they could assign students to use it as a foundation for a research project.
Once logged in to the app you gain a vast amount of astronomical information.

The App is $5. (There are no in-app purchases and no in-app advertising.)

Are there services around it?
There is an extensive website with instructions on how to use the tool. It also offers tutorials, information about the history of astronomical instruments, links to images of the Earth from space and other educational resources about our planet.

What makes Cosmic Watch unique?
It’s the only app we’ve seen that shows the concept of the celestial sphere: a simplified model of the sky used since ancient times to understand its motion and its necessity for early navigators. It has the advantage of showing an overview of the whole sky. To grasp the motion of the sky is not easy. There are different rotations with different axis at different speeds going on. This makes it a challenge to visualize and understand. That’s the value of this tool.

Beyond that, it’s the first interactive 3D astronomical clock.

A description of the characteristics--how is it designed for user interface, user experience? What instructional design principles are at work here?
The Cosmic Watch has a modern and intuitive interface for a playful learning experience. Rotate around the 3D globe, zoom in to explore the details. See time and the sky on different locations. The most important feature is the time travel function to experience the dynamics of the celestial bodies. Watch the geocentric solar system to understand the apparent motions of the planets and sun. There is also many layers to blend in and out to give additional information and enhance the visual experience.

It gives the users the freedom to explore and discover while its stunning visuals provide imagination and inspiration to go looking for more.

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