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Starry Night Deluxe 2.0
by Sienna Software

For grades 6 to 12

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Science Software programs, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of this Mac only title.


Reviewed on:
Starry Night Screen Shot PowerMac 6100/60 with 24MB and 2XCD

Content
Starry Night Deluxe is billed as a "solar system simulator and planetarium." It's that, and more.

This astronomy program is based on data on over 19 million celestial objects from the Hubble Guide Star catalog. Using a very simple search engine, the user can find objects by name or catalog number. Once found in the database, a Star Trek-style, computer-generated voice states, "affirmative - object found." The screen then pans from the current sky location, to the location of the object sought, and zooms in for a closer look. When a closer look is achieved, the voice says, "lock." Young users found this humorous - older testers grew tired of it (the voice can be turned off).

In addition to the standard planetarium-type show of the night sky, Starry Night allows the user to view the cosmos from virtually any point in the solar system, at any point in time, and with the passage of time. This feature, combined with 'movie capture' capability, allows the user to record interesting celestial events for later playback and sharing.

Other features include the ability to create and alter orbits of objects, and control certain telescopes with the use of a plug-in software tool included with the program.

Ease of Install / Use
Starry Night installed without difficulty on our Mac test machine - in fact, no installation was required! We chose the option to run directly from the CD, and found the performance excellent.

SuperKids' reviewers found the user interface for Starry Night somewhat less intuitive than that in SkyGazer. Many of its features remain hidden in pull-down menus with confusingly similar names, like: settings, preferences, and options. Nonetheless, it is a relatively easy program to use. For example, panning can be accomplished using a hand shaped cursor, that 'grabs' when the mouse button is held down.

Methodology
Starry Night is a combination reference source, object locator, and educational tool. It is not an activity program with a predetermined plot or path - the user defines how the program will be used.

Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids' measure of how well a program captures and holds the intended user's interest. Starry Night is not a game or edutainment program, although some of the voice synthesis is amusing. Rather, it is an educational resource tool that will provide extensive value to a user with an interest in astronomy.

Best for...
Starry night is best suited for a student interested in or studying astronomy.

Bottom-Line
This is a neat program for an astronomy lover/student.

Educational Value = 4/5, Kid Appeal = 3/5, Ease of use = 3/5
Ratings key

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Science Software programs, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of this Mac only title.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System n/a System 7.0 or later
CPU Type and Speed any color Mac
Hard Drive Space none required
Memory (RAM) 8 MB
Graphics color monitor
CD-ROM Speed 2X
Audio
Other Needs

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