Love astronomy? Get your smartphone in on your love for the stars. While we used to turn to astronomy books and home telescopes to observe constellations and planetary bodies, now we have apps for that, scratch that, we have 10 apps for your iOS or Android device to help find the locations of stars, planets, satellites and space stations.
Many of these apps use augmented reality combined the device’s camera to show you exactly where the stars are. You can point your device’s camera towards the sky and find the position of stars and constellations.
You can then use these apps to find out more educational information about a celestial body, or to plan ahead for your stargazing activities.
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1. Star Chart
Apart from the augmented reality apps like Star Chart affords users, this app goes the extra mile when it comes to time travel, about 10,000 years forward or backward in time. You can also change your location to view the night sky from other points on Earth, and in-app purchases unlock enhanced star catalogues, meteor showers, comets etc.
2. NASA App
Love to catch up on what NASA the space agency is working on? This NASA app keeps you in the loop about the latest NASA missions plus images (updated daily), news, features, tweets, satellite trackers and even live stream from NASA TV. It also has launch information, a countdown clock and it tracks the ISS sighting opportunities.
3. Night Sky Lite
Despite the information you can get from these stargazing apps, at the end of the night, all we want is to gaze at stars. This app comes with a community that suggests great stargazing locations across the world. On top of that, it also checks weather conditions for the coming night so you know if it is a night worth staying up for stargazing.
4. SkyView Free
SkyView uses the back camera to give you information like the paths of objects in the sky and names of the bright lights you see. You can also search for and locate specific stars or space stations. Like something you see and want to share it with the world? Sharing is enabled on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
5. GoSkyWatch Planetarium
This app is available exclusively for the iPad. With its big screen, and 180 degrees view, it shows you information about any star or planet that you can view with the naked eye. Planets are shown in relative brightness. Touch any celestial object for a pop up that shows you the information about the object.
6. ISS Detector
Did you know that you can see the International Space Station (ISS) with the naked eye? This ISS Detector app can notify you with an alarm 5 minutes ahead of time before the ISS flies by. With in-app purchase, it also lets you track the Tiangong space station, the Hubble space telescope, satellites and comets too.
7. Sky Map
With Google Sky Map uses compass data and GPS to accurately identify the celestial object you are pointing your phone at. It can direct you to the section of the sky you should be observing, to find the object of your desire or you can ‘time travel’ and find out where the object will be at a different (later) hour of the night.
8. SkEye Astronomy
With this app installed, you can strap your phone onto the OTA of your telescope to guide you on where to look. The database has 180 bright objects, Messier objects, planets in our solar systems and you can use the Time Machine object to jump ahead and plan your nightly stargazing events.
9. Star & Planet Finder
Pick a star, planet or satellite from the list and it will show you where it is by using your device’s back camera and pointing you to the correct direction. The free option comes with only a few planets, but if you like the app, you can unlock other stars and satellites with in-app purchases.
10. Satellite Augmented Reality
If for some reason you would like to observe and track satellites instead of natural objects in the sky, this app can help you track the path and location of satellites orbiting our earth. You can search through a database to look for the one you want, and then point your device towards the sky and it will show you where it is.