It’s that crazy time of year again, with dark nights, frosty roads, and late night shopping, to accommodate our frantic Christmas shopping sprees. So for anyone stumped for what to get that amateur astronomer or sci-fi fan friend or loved one, look no further. I have been searching the internet for some unusual, fun, educational, presents with these types of people in mind.
So check out my list of gift ideas.
Star Theatre Planetarium – £119.99
Here in Northern Ireland we are often challenged by our weather when attempting to stargaze. Here is a comfortable alternative to freezing your fingers off trying to set up a telescope. The Star Theatre Planetarium uses the same technology as full sized planetariums, to show a simulated night sky and constellations in fantastic detail. All you need is a dark room to relax in as 10 000 stars are projected onto the walls and ceiling. It also comes with additional discs allowing you to look at the constellations in different ways.
Alien Abduction Lamp – £49.99
The aliens are coming! Well in this limited edition lamp it does feel like it. Among its crazy features are glowing windows, curious aliens, flying saucer-shaped antenna ON/OFF switch and a pulsing abduction beam with removable bovine abductee. Even if you don’t believe in little green men, you’re bound to enjoy the fun and imagination of this gift.
Space Food – under £5.00
Ever wonder what food astronauts eat while on the space station? The added complication of life in micro –gravity means that food has to be frozen to -40 degrees C, vacuum dried and sealed in foil pouches. This Space Food is designed by the same folks who arrange the meals for the astronauts currently living on the space station. So how does it taste? You can get different kinds of ice cream, neapolitan, mint choc chip, ice cream sandwich, and cookies and cream and they basically taste the same as usual. The texture is a little weird to begin with, kind of like biting into piece of chalk, (not recommended) but once it’s in your mouth, it just tastes creamy and sweet. You can also get freeze dried strawberries and cinnamon apple wedges, however I can’t tell you from experience what they taste like.
Space Invaders T-Shirt – £ 24.99
This is the ultimate geeky space t-shirt with a twist. This shirt contains a pulsating electro-luminescent panel with a Space Invaders character (four to choose from) that will light up and be an instant ice-breaker for the nerdish friend we all have who likes retro t-shirts (otherwise known as me). Just be aware it is powered by four discrete AAA batteries in the hem of the shirt.
Motorised Solar System and Planetarium – £21.95
This model is two products in one. A motorised model demonstrates the workings of our Solar System by combining light from the model Sun and movement of the planets in the small orrery. By placing a dome over the ligh tto form the Sun, we can also create a planetarium which projects the stars onto the walls and ceiling and helps you learn the constellations. A perfect gift for the kid obsessed with discovering space and the planets.
Pocket Universe Apple Ipod/Ipad/Iphone Application £1.79
Apple have recently made it possible for you to “gift” one of their applications to someone as a present, and how amazing would it be for you astronomy loving friend to be able to use their ipod or ipad as a personal star chart to identify everything you see in the sky at any given time? Astronomy at your finger tips! If you love the idea of this for yourself, but are feeling the pinch with Christmas coming, there are also the free apps Pocket Sky and Space Brains.
Celestron SkyScout GPS Star Locator – £169.99
This handheld scope allows you to look directly at an object in the night sky, and have it identified for you. Or vice versa, select and object and have the SkyScout direct you to it using directional arrows. Once you have found a celestial object, SkyScout can tell you facts, trivia and history about it. It’s an amazing resource.
Alternatively, check out the Planetarium’s range of calendars, models, toys, books and DVD’s available for mail order at www.astrosales.biz. Last orders for Christmas need to be in by Friday 13 December 2010.
(By Tracy McConnell, Education Support Officer)