Never in human history has there been a better time to study the science of astronomy. We can find a plethora of programs that can get you started with star gazing and find so many of the visible celestial bodies. If you have an clear view of the sky during the nights and you have time to spend it with your kids then this is a time to discover the universe. We all have been always amazed by the night sky and the twinkling and bright lights on our sky. And it’s as easy as having a smartphone with the ability locate your global position and it will let you dive into the augmented reality sky right above you giving you an in-depth information about the celestial objects.
With less than one percent of the total sky explored by the professionals, the majority of space is open to new discoveries by amateur astronomers. The technological revolution has made it easier than ever to turn our gaze toward the heavens. Even those with little or no formal training in the field of astronomy have the ability to map the stars with a simple click of a button. In fact, anyone with a smart phone now has access to the same great star maps the professionals use. These apps use the sensor from your smartphone locate your position in Earth and will show the sky above you without much problem. And the amount of information these app provides are great to to start being an astronomer or let your kid start small. With so many apps available to the everyday astronomer, which is the right one for your specific needs?
Google Sky Map [Android][Free]
I have always been a huge fan of anything that is offered free of charge. There are literally hundreds of wonderful interactive apps that charge little to no cash, bashing the idea of “you get what you pay for.” Having said that, I have found one app that gives great information, includes GPS formatted software, and even has calendars that include future celestial events. Google Sky Maps is my go to piece of software anytime that I am in the field. Not only do I have access to all objects above and below the horizon, I can also see when these objects will be at their best viewing location. There is an option to turn on latitude and longitude, making it a snap to set up your telescope. The only downside to this app, is that it can become a little shaky when trying to find objects, and it requires a stable internet connection. If you are looking for a great tool at a reasonable cost, then look no further.
Another fantastic application available to Apple devices is Skyview. This may be the best stargazing app that I’ve ever seen, but unfortunately we Android users are simply out of luck. Skyview delivers the universe into our mobile devices without breaking the bank. With $1.99 price tag, it’s a tough deal to beat on any budget. The views on this platform are simply stunning. It gives detailed views of all the constellations in the sky, which can be switched off in the options menu. Wondering where the moon is going to be two hours from now? Simply click the object, and its path through the sky becomes visible. If you happen to be among the millions of Apple users, this is definitely the app to check out.
A close runner up on the Apple platform is Star Walk HD. Like the previous two applications, it gives users unparalleled access to any and all of the objects in the night sky. The application updates itself in real time, allowing users to track celestial bodies anytime of night. A detailed description of all the objects within our solar system is available to the user, allowing them to update their own personal knowledge of the heavens while viewing. If the brightness of the screen is a bother, the app allows you to make the switch to night mode, saving your adapted nighttime vision during those crucial few hours of viewing.
There are literally hundreds of apps available on both the Android and Apple platforms for star gazing. Choosing the right one can take hours of searching and reviewing. One must decide what they are looking for when it comes to these sorts of applications. If, for example, you are looking for a gorgeous layout with an easy to use interface, look for the programs that make that a priority. If budget is your number one concern, there are hundreds available free of cost. Every sky viewing app has its perks and downfalls. It ultimately falls upon the individual astronomer to find the one that suites his or her needs best. You have the drive, and with all of the current technology readily available to the public, there has never been a better time in human history to follow your passion for astronomy.