I’ve spent the better part of my teen years taking astronomy classes, tracking a bunch of celestial objects and exploring the planets of our Solar system using my amateur telescope. Later on, I decided I liked computers better. But as old passions die hard, I’ve never gotten around to quitting astronomy altogether.
Nowadays, my iPhone is the closest approximation to the telescope I once owned and you can imagine I keep a folder full of dedicated apps for stargazers.
For those wondering, SkyView, Star Walk, Sky Guide and Night Sky are my go-to astronomy guides for the iPhone and iPad. The Night Sky app by iCandi Apps has received a substantial update and is now available on the App Store, re-released as Night Sky 2.
There’s no comparing Night Sky and its successor, really: Night Sky 2 features rich and lush visuals, super smooth sky tracking, weather information, push notifications, detailed database and advanced community features available via optional in-app upgrades.
I’ve include more tidbits and a nice promotional video after the jump…
Wondering about that flashing object overhead? Fire up the app and point the device up to it.
Interested in moon phases? Night Sky 2 has you covered.
Not sue whether that constellation right above your chimney is Sagittarius or Casiopea? It knows the answer.
And when little Adam asks you where the North Star is, Night Sky 2 will find it easily.
Similar to a plethora of astronomy guides on the App Store, Night Sky 2 accomplishes its magic by tapping GPS to figure out your exact location. It also uses accelerometer and compass sensors to determine your device’s precise orientation, running the location data against its vast catalog of celestial objects to smoothly render informative overlays on top of live video (you can turn live camera feed off in settings).
Check out the promo video.
Point the device up to the Moon and up pops the augmented-reality information. Or, choose Venus from the in-app menu and handy arrows will navigate you in 3D space until your device is pointed straight up to the the planet.
You can also track satellites orbiting the Earth, locate any constellation, planet, star or satellite, check out moon phases, sun rise/set times, daylight duration or sun elevation and pull underlying information for just about any sky object. There’s also a handy 3D globe view with live information about satellite locations.
Pro astronomers will appreciate community support for sharing ideal stargazing locations with like-minded fellow astronomers from across the world. For some sites the app provides useful information such as directions, reviews and pollution maps.
And to keep you informed about stargazing conditions, Night Sky 2 can push an alert when the weather conditions for the night ahead are perfect. Speaking of weather, Night Sky 2 can tell you about cloud cover, temperature, wind speeds and visibility (above).
Of course, the experience of using Night Sky 2 on an iPhone or iPod touch (above) is quite different from pointing nearly ten inches of aluminum slab up to the sky (below).
Oh, and you can “share your sky” through social media and email.
Keep in mind that pro Community features require a paid tier, starting at $2.99 and going all the way up to $20.99 via in-app purchases.
Hera are the headline features, as seen on iTunes:
• Beautiful New Sky View with Original Art Work Constellations: All new high quality imagery and super smooth sky tracking, with the ability to ‘share your sky’ through social media and email.
• Search and Locate: Simply type in the constellation, planet, star or satellite you’re looking for in the sky above and Night Sky 2 will navigate you to your chosen object!
• Night Sky Community: A new community has been created! Night Sky Community allows users to share ideal stargazing locations across the world! Using advanced light pollution mapping technology all integral information including directions and reviews about some sites are included. This feature is set to be a huge hit with avid astronomers, and those looking to enhance their night sky explorations.
• Stargazing Weather: Detailing cloud cover, temperature, wind speeds and visibility, categorised into simple icons informing you of whether stargazing conditions are good, fair or poor for the night ahead.
• Push notifications: An optional feature in which a notification is sent directly to the user’s device informing them of the stargazing conditions for the night ahead. Ensuring users can stargaze with ease and optimise their experience!
• Education: Select a constellation, planet, star or satellite and Night Sky 2 will provide you a wealth of information on all of the celestial bodies it identifies.
• Sky Info: Including accurate weekly live data on moon phases, sun rise and sun set times, daylight duration and sun elevation, ensuring users are both fully equipped and well-informed in their stargazing.
Everyone should check out this app, pro/casual astronomers or not.
It’s one of those pieces of software that are pure fun to use and really hard to put down.
If you ask me, there’s something magical about being able to track the satellites orbiting our planet, check out star names, pick up constellations and get information about any sky object, simply by holding your device up to the skies.
This is exactly what educational apps should be all about, in my view.