12 Space-Related Products for Astronomy Lovers

LEGO/The Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon
LEGO/The Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

Have a few friends who are always looking up at the sky? Here are some gift ideas that celebrate the celestial bodies they know and love.

1. Moon Light Ball; $12


The whole moon can be lassoed out of space and brought near you. Give this 4-inch lunar light to anyone who needs a little illumination on their desk or in their closet.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Saturn Crystal Puzzle; $11

Take puzzles to another dimension with a 3D crystal model of Saturn. The jigsaw is made of 39 interlocking pieces that come together to form the shape of the ringed planet.

Buy It: Amazon

3. Glow in the Dark Constellation Map; $25


Skip the travel poster and go for something really out of this world. With the lights on, this nearly 29-inch poster shows the stars and constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. When you flip off the lights, the lines fade and the stars and Milky Way shine vibrantly.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Chart of Space Exploration; $40


This all-inclusive map from Pop Chart details the history of cosmic exploration by highlighting every orbiter, lander, rover, flyby, and impactor to ever enter space. In total, the chart features 100 exploratory instruments.

Buy It: Amazon

5. Ceramic Constellation Mugs; $16

The Unemployed Philosophers Guild Heat Changing Constellation Mug
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

At first glance, this ceramic mug looks like a simple sketch of the night sky. But fill it up with a hot beverage and watch constellations like Cassiopeia, Perseus, Sagittarius, Andromeda, and more come to life in an array of colors. Alongside being microwave-safe, this mug allows anyone to go stargazing no matter the time of day.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Space Plates; $40


A great addition to any space-themed kitchen, the melamine plates feature watercolor designs of the eight planets (Sorry, Pluto!) that will make any entrée seem otherworldly.

Buy It: Amazon

7. NASA Lunch tin; $20

Best gifts for space geeks.
The Coop/Amazon

Just because you can’t travel to space doesn’t mean you still can’t feel like an astronaut. This NASA-approved lunchbox is modeled on the canisters used during the Apollo missions to transport film reels from the command module back to Houston. It comes with three stackable tins, which hold up to three cups of food, and a foldable handle for easy storage. It's the easiest way to bring some NASA charm to your office kitchen.

Buy It: Amazon

8. Finders Keepers Shirt; $20


BustedTees/Amazon

Here's a humorous shirt for patriotic friends and family. It features an astronaut on the moon with the triumphant words, "FINDERS KEEPERS." Obnoxious? Maybe. Funny? Always.

Buy It: Amazon

9. Virtual Reality Planetarium; $50


Give your loved one the gift of a planetarium that they can hold in their hands. The device has eight different modes and three hours of educational audio and is compatible with images of 150 different celestial objects, all taken by the Hubble Telescope.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA; $28

Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA
Chronicle Books/Amazon

With a preface written by Bill Nye the Science Guy, this book is perfect for any astronomy, science, and photography fan. Full of breathtaking photos from NASA’s archives, Earth and Space allows you to explore stars, the Jellyfish Nebula, Pandora's Cluster, and more from the comfort of your couch.

Buy It: Amazon

11. Solar System Bubble Bib Necklace; $55

Solar System necklace.
UncommonGoods

Scientists may have said that Pluto is no longer a planet, but this bib-style necklace featuring the planets in our solar system (along with the Sun) says otherwise. Handmade and full of color, this piece of jewelry allows you to carry the solar system around no matter where you go.

Buy It: UncommonGoods

12. LEGO Women of NASA; $25

LEGO Women of NASA Set.
LEGO/Amazon

Not only does this LEGO set include minifigures of Nancy Grace Roman (with the Hubble Space Telescope), Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, and Mae Jemison (with the Challenger), but it also comes with a booklet to educate users on these four pioneering women who helped make NASA what it is today. At 231 pieces, it's not too overbearing of a build, but it might be the most enlightening. 

Buy It: Amazon

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"World's Largest Puzzle" From Kodak Is 28 Feet Long With 51,300 Pieces

Kodak, Amazon
Kodak, Amazon

After more than a month in quarantine, you may start to find that the jigsaw puzzles in your house don't quite meet your needs now that you have a seemingly unlimited amount of time to spend inside. But as Insider reports, this 51,300-piece jigsaw puzzle from Kodak might fit the bill.

At 28.5-feet wide and 6 feet tall, the "world's largest puzzle," as Kodak calls it, requires its own decent-sized room. Instead of one scene, it consists of 27 distinct photographs of landmarks from around the world, including the Great Wall of China, the Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal. The 27 components are individually packaged as 1900-piece puzzles, so you can focus on one image at time before stitching them together.

"World's Largest Puzzle" from Kodak.
Kodak, Amazon

According to the photography company, "Each photo was initially taken by a professional photographer, then digitally enhanced and printed in high quality. You'll see the quality in every piece."

There are many puzzles out there that go beyond the classic format. You can find clear puzzles, solid-color puzzles, and edgeless puzzles that will tease your brain for hours. But if you're looking for something to eat up all the extra time you have at home, this 51,300-piece behemoth definitely can't be finished in an afternoon. You can purchase it for $410 on Amazon, but supplies are low. If you want a somewhat comparable 40,000-plus piece Disney puzzle to try your hand at, this one is in stock.

[h/t Insider]

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

9 Surprising Things You Can Make in Your Instant Pot

There might be fresh bread in there. Or wine.
There might be fresh bread in there. Or wine.
Instant Pot, YouTube

For years now, Instant Pot enthusiasts have been spreading the word about the magical kitchen appliance that seems to be able to cook just about anything. If you’ve mainly been using yours for stews, soups, and other traditional pot-related meals, there’s no time like the present to branch out into uncharted territory. From fresh bread to DIY lip balm, here are nine surprising things that you can make right in your Instant Pot ($79).

1. Bread

Everyone seems to be jumping on the bread-baking bandwagon these days, but many have yet to discover the wonders of making it in an Instant Pot. This recipe on the I Don’t Have Time For That! blog calls for just five ingredients—water, yeast, flour, sugar, and salt—and you’ll also need a 6- to 8-inch cake pan (as well as an Instant Pot large enough to fit a cake pan of that size). From start to finish, the process takes about three hours—two to let the dough rise, 45 minutes to bake, and 15 minutes for the Instant Pot to naturally release the pressure—but you can cut the rise time to 45 minutes if your pot has a “yogurt” setting. No yeast? Find out how to grow your own sourdough starter here, as long as you have lots of flour and a little patience.

2. Jam

Since you’ll need something delicious to spread on your fresh bread, here’s Tastes Better From Scratch’s recipe for strawberry jam, which requires strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, corn starch, and water. If your jam looks like runny soup before you pour the cornstarch in, don’t worry—it’s supposed to. And if you’re trying to satisfy your sweet tooth without indulging in too much processed sugar, here’s a similar recipe for blueberry jam with directions for substituting honey instead.

3. Dog food

Meal-prepping for your fluffy best friend is as easy as tossing all the ingredients in your pot, cooking for a little over an hour, and ladling the stew into containers. You can, of course, come up with your own recipes based on what you have in your pantry and what nutrition your dog needs in its diet, but feel free to try this chicken-and-vegetable mixture from Rover.com.

4. Vanilla Extract

Normally, making your own vanilla extract entails soaking vanilla beans in vodka for weeks—if not months—but your magical pressure cooker can accomplish the same thing in less than an hour. For this classic recipe from Tidbits, all you’ll need are vanilla beans, vodka, and a Mason jar. It will smell pretty strongly of alcohol right when it’s finished, but that will gradually lessen as it ages, and the vanilla aroma will get stronger.

5. Hard-Boiled Eggs

Boiling eggs on the stove is rarely as straightforward as it seems, but your Instant Pot can make it an exact science. With the 5-5-5 method, as seen in the video above, you cook on high pressure for five minutes, let your Instant Pot naturally release for five minutes, and then give your eggs a five-minute ice bath. If you’re partial to soft-boiled eggs, here’s a recipe for those from A Mind “Full” Mom.

6. Wine

While concocting wine in an Instant Pot definitely takes some time, it’s a lot quicker than founding a winery—and you’ll still get the satisfaction of having turned water into wine, so to speak. This recipe calls for grape juice, sugar, and wine yeast (as The Manual explains, you can technically use regular yeast, but the alcohol content and flavor of your wine will be pretty subpar). It will take 48 hours to cook and at least 10 days to finish the fermentation process. After that, be sure to raise a glass to your incredible Instant Pot.

7. Lip balm

Making your own lip balm gives you the opportunity to customize it with essential oils, vitamin drops, and flavors of your choice, and making it in an Instant Pot turns it into a kid-friendly DIY project that doesn’t involve a child standing on a chair near the stove. The Awe Filled Homemaker blog, run by a licensed cosmetologist, uses beeswax, mango butter, coconut oil, and more in this recipe.

8. Cheesecake

For anyone who has (or is willing to purchase) a 7-inch spring-form pan, Amy in the Kitchen’s Instant Pot cheesecake could be your new go-to crowd-pleaser. To prevent lumps in your filling, make sure you let your ingredients warm to room temperature before you start mixing them, and to prevent cracks, avoid over-mixing. If the center still looks jiggly after it’s cooled on the counter, you’ve done it right—it’ll solidify more once it’s been refrigerated.

9. Humidity

There’s a reason (or rather, reasons) why humidifiers have been a mainstay product on the market for years—a little humid air goes a long way for people with dry skin, allergies, congestion, and more. (And even if you don’t have a chronic issue, a humidifier can help you breathe and ease your dry cough if you happen to catch a cold or other respiratory virus).

According to Ginger Casa, you can use your Instant Pot to add humidity to the air by heating water on the “sauté” setting and then flipping it to “warm” for a while. Just don’t leave it unattended, and make sure you don’t let the water level drop beneath about halfway full, to be safe. If you like the humidifying effect and want to invest in something a little more self-sufficient, check out this humidifier from Amazon—it costs $70, lasts for 50 hours, shuts off automatically when it runs out of water, and even includes a tray for essential oils.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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