Badge Resources - Astronomer - Book Reviews




CD-ROM Review

Nine Worlds hosted by Patrick Stewart

by Mindscape

£29.95 full price

or PC FORMAT Issue 93 March 1999 for £5

I was pleasantly surprised after loading up this CD-ROM from the front cover of a computer mag. Expecting the usual cheap/ outdated 'full' program I found instead a very informative and professional package. Nine worlds consists of several sections;

Solar System - Including a simple orrery this sections allows you to delve into each planet. Every planet has information on its characteristics, movies and pictures, information on its moons and sometimes more. With full speech explanation by Patrick and good (Quicktime) movies this is an enjoyable and rewarding expierence for young and old alike. Information includes clicking on certain areas of that planet to find that sections temp/density etc., information on missions to that planet and fascinating facts unique to each planet. Some planets have a 'vacation planner' - an enjoyable psuedo travel agent section packed full of attractively presented information and interactive items (find out your weight on mars etc.).

Resource Explorer - The resource explorer contains a wealth of related material and further sources of information. With an integrated web connection allowing you to connect to points of interest across the globe, a worldwide map where you can click on a country and gain information (in hypertext form with web connections) to organisations surfing the net for astronomy material becomes easier. There are also publications and organisations information and links. But that's not all. It also includes This day in astronomy (cycle through interesting information on what happened this day in such and such year), Backyard astronomer (a basic run through of how to start the observational aspect including suggested books and further info), Test your knowledge (a multiple choice quiz) and Shareware (a selection of 10 or so astronomy related programs).

Mankinds View - This is presented as a (high quality) scrolling background of points and people of interest in time from ancient civilisations to the future. By clicking on the required section image you are treated to a 'clickbook' type run through of your topic complete with stunning pictures. Some of these sections also include further speech explanations by Patrick and further text explanations.

The whole package is seamlessly presented with a very polished (natural and unobtrusive too) interface. The atmospheric background music, speech and sounds are well presented and clear and most certainly add to the overall experience. Patrick begins the whole expierence by clearly explaining how to navigate the sections, but even if you get stuck he is normally available at a click to guide you through. His explanations and narrations are clear and full of life. On my computer (P233, 64 MB RAM, 20x CDROM) it runs like a dream with no problems whatsoever. Any of the movies can be played full screen at a click (although naturally due to space limitations they will not be any clearer. However they do their job very effectively as it is).

For anyone, of any age, with any level of interest in astronomy, this is a must. I am still sitting here as I type this watching (almost literally) hours of movies and information and enjoying every second of it. If you order a back issue of PC FORMAT, then for just £5 I can only sum up by saying GET THIS!

Astronomy for every kid


Hmm, what can I say. Yes it does have 101 experiments but to be honest some of them are either;

  • Dead Boring (#50. Shine a light on a bicycle reflector. The Moon reflects light from.... Dead interesting!)
  • Pretty Pointless (#96. Eat a spoonful of cereal. If you were in space you would receive a face full of food because.... For me this is not an experiment!).

Don't get me wrong though. Aimed at the 8-12 age range the book illustrates a wide variety of astronomy topics and does introduce and explain many aspects of astronomy, sometimes explaining concepts with clarity. It's just that I feel that a 8-10 year old may find some of the experiments tedious or 'easy' and others above their 'level'. Personally I think that this book may do better alongside a set of 'lessons' on astronomy, rather than a stand alone set of experiments for cubs. However when all is said and done there are plenty of experiments in here that you can try, and I would recommend the book for anyone looking for ideas for that astronomy badge.



Zoomers - The Solar System

Its new! Its amazing! Its a Zoomer!

Just flip it open for a fun voyage of discovery!"

a Reader's Digest Children's Book

Victoria House Publishing Ltd

King's Court, Parsonage Lane

Bath BA1 1ER

£1.99 from WH-Smiths

A strange one this. A zoomer is basically an origami masterpiece from card. As you fold the zoomer in different directions new facts and information 'pops up'. As a novelty it may hold the interest of children for a short period of time allowing some of the information to sink in. Written to the level of younger children (8-10) it contains information and 'number facts' on the sun and planets without going into tremendous detail. I can see this used as a useful source for simple information when they come to section 4 of the astronomers badge.For £1.99 it may be a worthy addition to your 'astronomy box'.