15 gift ideas for space fans and future astronauts

From anti-gravity pens to cool model kits, these space-themed gifts will make any star gazer very happy.

NASA astronaut taking a selfie in space with Earth in the background
Image Credit: NASA
  • Since the dawn of time humans have been fascinated with the stars and with space.
  • This gift guide will help you shop for the NASA fan on your list.
  • From socks to laser projectors, there is something for space fans of all ages.


Long before we had the technology to go, humans have been dreaming of space and everything beyond our sky. Gazing at the stars, watching astronauts travel to the moon, and seeing machines launched to distant rocks and planets has inspired many to want to learn more about astronomy and to pursue careers in science. Those space fans deserve something special, and we have just the things for them.

This gift guide is specifically for space fans and those who hope to one day enter orbit. From the original space pen to a levitating moon lamp, the items chosen for this list are well-reviewed and available to purchase online. Some are designed to be educational, while others are just cool objects meant to show off how much you love space.

Socks are typically a boring holiday gift, but not these snazzy space-themed pairs.

Everyone needs socks, but only the coolest people deserve these space themed novelty socks. This four-pack features rockets, a diagram of the solar system, a fun math design, and an astronaut posing on the moon. If you have to keep your feet on the ground, you might as well do it in style.

Go retro this with these officially licensed NASA T-shirts.

Switch things up from the classic blue NASA logo and gift someone a new tee with a throwback feel. The graphic on this officially licensed Popfunk tee looks to be inspired by the 1980s, the decade that saw the Space Shuttle Discovery launched into orbit for the first time.

The Fisher Space AG-7 pen was used by NASA astronauts on Apollo missions.

You don't have to go to space to write like a real astronaut. In the mid-1960s, the Fisher Pen Company reportedly spent $1 million developing anti gravity pens with pressurized cartridges inside that meant they were capable of writing upside down, in hot and cold temperatures, and underwater. They offered the pens to NASA and after some testing the space agency ordered hundreds for its Apollo astronauts.

Honor Earth's natural satellite and light up a room with this levitating moon lamp.

Magnetic levitation always looks cool, but the LEVILUNA lamp is able to blend aesthetics with the practicality of a small light source. The small orb is made using 3D printing. The result is a highly detailed replica of Earth's moon that floats between 8-12mm above its wooden base. It can also illuminate a desk or nightstand with a soft glow.

This kinetic toy is like having a tiny galaxy swirling on your desk.

See physics and magnets at work while you stare at this colorful and wonderfully nerdy toy. It requires one 9V battery (not included) and some assembly, but once it gets going it doesn't stop.

Give the gift of the universe with this indoor laser projector.

BlissLight's Sky Lite fills any space with a bright blue nebula cloud pattern and drifting stars. The pattern can be changed to just the cloud, just the stars, a combination of the two, or constant stars with a pulsing cloud effect. There is also a built-in timer that can turn the device off automatically after 6 hours. It's the perfect night light for someone who is obsessed with all things cosmic.

Bill Nye says that this book is great for astronomers of all ages!

Written by a planetary scientist, this best-selling book demonstrates various ways to view the stars and other space objects with or without special equipment. It is also filled with fun facts, explainers, and clear illustrations of planets and constellations.

Elon Musk may have SpaceX, but are his rockets constructed out of LEGO bricks? 

This 837-piece LEGO kit allows builders to be rocket engineers as well as the mission control crew for a miniature launch without ever leaving the comfort of his/her home. There are six minifigures in the set, including astronauts, scientists, a Launch Director, and a ground crew technician, each with a very important job to do. Kids ages 7 and up will be inspired to learn more about what it takes to put a heavy rocket into orbit and about the men and women who make it happen.

Every aspiring astronaut should own a portable telescope like this one.

Advertised as being for entry level astronomers, this portable telescope expands the user's connection with and access to the cosmos. It comes with bonus educational software that star gazers can use to discover more about when and where space objects can be seen in the sky.

Moon craters aren't the only place where you'll find a Rover and a Buggy.

National Geographic's Solar Space Explorers kit comes with sheets of wood that have been laser-cut into small parts. Together the pieces and included gear components form two solar-powered vehicles: the Mars Rover and a Moon Buggy. Whether they're being made to race down the driveway or sitting statically on a shelf, these vehicles are fun to construct and cool to look at. It's basic engineering and moon exploration rolled into one package.

You're never too old to color the stars and planets. 

Using official photos from the NASA archives, this adult coloring book is not your average stay-in-the-lines kind of activity book. It includes 35 NASA-captured images of planets and solar flares for reference and/or inspiration. Space fans can choose to color the images true to life, or they can let their imaginations run free across the pages.

Don't bother me until I've had my first cup of Perseus and Cassopeia.

These mugs use a heat-changing technique that hides constellations among the stars until a hot liquid is poured inside. There are 11 constellations in total, including Andromeda, Scorpius, and Hercules. When you want the figures to go away, just chill the mug and everything but the stars will fade away.

Make texting and one-handed phone use much easier with these grip accessories.

There's life before PopSockets and there's life after PopSockets. Wrapping a finger around this accessory while holding a mobile device provides a more secure grip while texting, watching movies, or reading BigThink.com. The variety of designs lets anyone add their own personal flare, and the top portions are swappable so the owner is allowed to change their mind.

Tell someone that they are your rock with this literal space rock.

The meteorites at the Campo Del Cielo crater field in Argentina are believed to have impacted over 4000 years ago. Actual pieces of the space rock have been modified with a metal loop and a wax cord so that they can be work as a necklace. Each quarter-sized meteorite pendant is unique and only weighs around 7 grams so it is barely noticeable. The necklaces come with certificates of authenticity and tiny chests for storing or displaying when they are not being worn.

Coffee table photography books from Taschen are works of art.

This hefty book is 468 pages of NASA history told through essays and over 400 stunning high resolution images from the agency's archives. Even the biggest NASA nerds will learn something new from this impressive tome as they flip through its pages over and over again.

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From Your Site Articles

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
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