‘There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky…’ – Starman – David Bowie
Ever since the time NASA sent a man to the moon, we have all been obsessed with the space. The stars, the planets and the moon, oh the moon. Ever present, they have been the great unknown in our lives. To top it all, shows and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars have only fueled our imagination. To top it all, this influence was reflected in the pop music of the 70s. David Bowie and his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust came up with classics like ‘Space Oddity’ and ‘Starman’ to name a few. Such influences are so ingrained in us that back in February ‘18, when Elon Musk launched his Falcon heavy space flight, he named the dummy driver ‘Starman’. All of us back on earth who are amateur stargazers and wannabe astronomers, there is still hope of being our own ‘Major Tom’. Mentioned below is a list of the best astronomy apps for Android and iOS users.
Best Astronomy Apps for Android and iOS
1. NASA App
How can an article talking about the space and the stars not start with NASA? This government aided agency is officially named the National Aeronautics and Space Administration but, its moniker ‘NASA’ is more famously used. They have been luminaries in the field of all things space and their distinction is par none. They have released free for use apps on Android and iOS platforms to help kids, teens and want to be astronomers and stargazing romantics know more about space. The application has images, and live telecast from one of their satellites orbiting in space. The other key features of these applications are:
- Library of over space 14,000 videos.
- It has a 3D planet model of our solar system. This helps one know more about planets and their respective moons.
- Has a huge on growing collection of images from space.
- Provides access to Third Rock Radio. It is NASA’s own radio station which has interviews, rock music and chat shows on air.
- It has regular updates of launch schedules and astronomy related news.
- The application requires Android version 5.0 (Lollipop) and iOS 9.3 or later.
One of the most highly endorsed application on astronomy is SkySafari. While it has applications on both Android and iOS platforms, the versions of the same are different. The iOS version has been recently updated but, both app work equally fine. Up on use, this application feels like a planetarium in one’s palms. One can get all the information in regard to planets, stars, constellations and the many satellites that are currently orbiting our planet. Its key features are:
- The application offers voice command on a variety of options. So, if one wants to search and know more about a particular planet like Venus, all they need to say is “Search Venus”.
- Has information about a variety of Comets and Asteroids.
- Merging real time camera movements, it captures the night sky and displays all the stars, planets and satellite information on screen.
- With its feature ‘SkySafari’s Time Flow’ one can know all about eclipses. Not merely general information but one can also know about the past, or future upcoming solar and lunar eclipses.
- Offers spectacular graphics with animated meteor showers videos.
- Has night vision for better detection and quality.
- The app requires Android version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and iOS 8.0 or later.
3. Deluxe Moon HD
The moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the men in the Apollo 11 mission. That first step on the moon by Neil Armstrong was telecasted all over the world live. In fact, many speculate that 80% of the world’s population tuned in for the event’s telecast. The application Deluxe Moon HD, hence manages to take us on an individual journey to the moon. It has loads of information on our lunar neighbor, e.g. its phase and even further description along with HD quality images. Its other key features are:
- Provides zodiac assistance and has a moon compass for further study
- Has sun rise, sun set, moon rise and moon set timing according to one’s location.
- Technical information such as the longitude, latitude, and even the total illuminated surface area.
- An easy to install application, it requires basic Android 1.6 (Donut) and iOS 7.0 or later
4. Star Chart
One of the above-mentioned application, gave one freedom of simply raising their cameras in the sky and getting information of all things in and about space. But, what if one wants to know what the sky looks like from the opposite side of the planet. What if, while living in the USA, one wonders what the night sky looks like in the Sultanate of Oman? Well, in that case, one can use the best stargazing app, Sky Chart. This application helps one know and experience these scenarios with the help of their advanced real-time features. An augmented reality enabled astronomy app, its key features are:
- Using a combination of technologies such as GPS and 3D stimulation amongst other things, it accurately predicts the location of all cosmic bodies in real time. It manages to pull this feat in day light too!
- Has stored information of stars visible in both the hemispheres.
- Has the complete Messier catalogue (works of the French astronomer Charles Messier)
- The application requirements for Android version vary with devices but the iOS version required is 7.0 or later.
5. Cosmic Watch
This application prompts the question, ‘what is time?’ We sure could do with the Time Lord or Dr Stephen Strange at our disposal to answer this question for us. But, with the help of Cosmic Watch, one can know and study a lot of details in regard to time and the millions of cosmic entities that come to play in its creation. That’s right, according to the creators of this app, “Time is the cosmic rhythm”. The other key features of this app are:
- Uses Augmented Reality and 3D technology to compose the entire night sky onto our screens
- With the help of a digital compass, it offers the users Geocentric and Heliocentric views of the solar system.
- Shows information of upcoming cosmic events so that one doesn’t miss them
- An easy to install application, its requirement for Android varies with devices and for iOS 8.0 or later is required.
6. Stellarium Mobile
This app studies the night sky by merely pointing one’s device camera towards the sky. Within a matter of seconds, the complete details is displayed of the stars, planets and other cosmic bodies. One of the best stargazing app in the market, it’s key features are:
- Offers users a catalogue of 600,000+ stars.
- Has a zoomable map that also works as a viewfinder and star, planet, satellite identifier.
- Realistic depiction of the Milky Way.
- Has information of far flung nebulae and galaxies that are not visible with the naked eye. This information is even supported by realistic images that have been captured by satellites.
- The application requirements for Android version vary with devices but the iOS version required is 8.0 or later.
7. Pocket Universe
- Download: iOS
- Cost: $ 2.99
Last but not the least on our list is Pocket Universe. This application is perfectly named as it offers just that. An educational app, it literally puts the entire universe in one’s pocket. From stars, planets, to constellations, it has information on all. With the help of virtual reality, one can even experience a stimulated walk on the surface of mars and the moon. The key features of this amazing application are:
- Has information about 80,000 cosmic bodies
- Offers a variety of quizzes and games to make learning fun
- Its augmented reality mode makes the usage of this application fun and interactive.
- Its iOS requirements are version 11.0 or later
There you have it folks! The best stargazing apps for all those who love space. Space travel in real life may take quite some time to become a reality, but for amateur astronomers, the above mentioned best astronomy apps will have to suffice.