It is that time of the year when everyone wants to know what you want as a gift. Perhaps you want to buy a gift for your friend who is an astronomer. Or perhaps you want to buy a gift for your favorite Astrobites author! Either way, we have collected a few of our favorite astronomy-themed gifts. There are plenty of practical ideas (coffee, socks, software licenses, coffee) astronomy graduate students would also love, but we want to focus on fun ideas today. If you are still looking for other ideas, check out Shannon’s post on a list of astronomical books. GradHacker also has a list of gifts for graduate students. Let us know in the comments what great gifts we missed!
Subatomic Particle Plush Toys
The Particle Zoo makes plush toys of all the known subatomic particles from the Standard Model plus a number of other cosmology-themed plush items. All of the plushies are about the size of a hand. Their weight varies according to the property of each particle. The top quark and W boson are the heaviest, all the way down to the lightest tachyon. These are fun gifts for both scientists and kids. I personally think they look great both on desks and around a house or apartment.
Planetary Glass Set
Think Geek has a really cool set of glasses representing the Sun, each planet, and Pluto. The Sun is a bit larger than the others and Pluto is a little smaller. They are currently out of stock, but these are cool enough your favorite astronomer will be willing to wait.
Astronomers love to talk about general relativity and the warping of spacetime. Perhaps a non-Euclidean chalkboard will show them you are listening! Most of the time we draw or write on flat, or Euclidean, surfaces. But it is possible to write on curved, or non-Euclidean, surfaces too! Instructables has instructions on making a Non-Euclidean chalkboard. In short, in involves taking a globe and painting it with chalkboard paint. I guarantee you the first thing drawn on it will be a triangle with angles adding up to more than 180 degrees.
Space Night Lights – Korey Haynes
Etsy has some pretty cool nightlights featuring the Horsehead Nebula and the Crab Nebula. What can be better than being reminded at night of all the beautiful things in the sky? Be warned: if you see these at night it might motivate you to step outside and look up!
There are lots of sites that offer astronomy-themed cases to add some science flair to a phone. Redbubble, Zazzle, and Cafe Press have some I found from a quick search. But I bet there are plenty more options out there. If you thought someone was talking your ear off about astronomy before, think again after you get one of these!
Astronomy-Themed Yarn – Betsy Mills
In addition to helping support your favorite astronomer’s career, don’t forget that we all have lots of hobbies and interests outside of our work (and sometimes even have time to pursue them!). If your favorite astronomer likes to knit or crochet, try some of these cosmically-colored yarns.
Hopefully this will help all the astro-elves out there- happy holidays!