As the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, the night sky becomes a new and exciting place to explore. We may not be able to hop on our bikes and ride around the Milky Way, but we can find a dark place out of the city to go on a visual hike.
If you find yourself wondering what is above your head when you look into the starry night, we’ve got a list of apps that will turn the sky into a whole new universe…
This app boasts being a “planetarium in your hand.” There are more than 350,000 stars with 150 galaxies, clusters, and nebulae available for you to research. You can get a close-up of some stars through the “Starmap Share” feature. For a quick glance at the night’s performance, check out Tonight’s Best Selection. There is a lunar calendar, constellation maps, and a listing of the stars right above your head. Find out where the next shooting star is likely to appear, read summaries of asteroids and dwarf planets, and adjust the stars and brightness to reflect your exact location. This app is available for $4.99. There is also a lite version.
When I was little, it seemed like my dad knew everything. I’d ask him who painted that pretty picture of the boy in a blue suit and he’d know. I never thought I’d be as smart as him and thanks to technology I don’t have to be. This app tells you the name of every star, planet, and constellation that you can see in the sky by holding your device up to it. Using your iPhone’s GPS tracking and internal compass, you can view the stars above you with augmented reality. When little Jimmy asks you where the North Star is, you can find it easily with this informative app. This app is available for $0.99.
I’ve always thought of the iPhone, and smartphones in general, as the realization of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I mean, the knowledge of the entire universe in the palm of your hand? Yep. Well, if you have Pocket Universe on your iPhone, you’re that much closer to having the knowledge of the entire universe, at least as we understand it. Not only can you use augmented reality to stare up at the night sky, complete with names and information on each star, but you can also go for a virtual walk on the moon and explore our solar system without leaving the house. This app is available for $2.99.
Star Walk – 5 Stars Astronomy Guide
If Duran Duran says it’s good, than it has to be special. Star Walk was one of the first, and most popular stargazing apps in the App Store and still boasts millions of downloads today. You can see the stars above you with augmented reality, check out the Picture of the Day for a great shot of a star, see the sky as it was a decade ago and will be a decade from now, and see what astronomical events will take place this year. Sky Walk is even AirPlay supported so you can capture the night sky and share it with everyone in the room for a real hands-on astronomy class. This app is available for $2.99.
If you want a simple way to research the stars, then this app is great. Everything you need is right on the screen. Pick a planet and it will automatically zoom in for you. You will get a heads-up display of the name, brightness, and distance of objects in the sky. Plus, you can search for specific stars in the star finder. See changes to the sky with time-lapse animation, check lunar phases, see deep sky objects and learn about constellations, solar systems, and more. The best part of this app is that you don’t need the Internet to use it. This app is available for $3.99.
Who knows the stars better than the National Aeronautics and Space Administration? NASA’s app includes all kinds of fun and interesting facts that will keep you informed of all of the organization’s missions, the latest news, and even videos of interviews with astronauts, educational lectures, and more. You can stream NASA TV live within the app, or find out when the next spacecraft launch is scheduled for. Check out where the ISS and other Earth orbiting satellites are. If you have any interest in the U.S. space program, this is the app to have on hand. This app is available for free.
If you thought the moon was made of cheese, you really need this app. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the glowing object that rotates around us is in this informative app. Not only can you see the lunar phases, you can also find out all of the names of craters and anomalies. You will also find out all about libration of the moon and read up on information about the 26 different spacecraft that have landed on its surface. Spin the virtual globe to view all sides of the moon without worrying about giant machines that turn into cars attacking you. This app is available for $5.99.