The sun, moon, stars and skies have never failed to fascinate mankind. Gone are the days when you looked up at the stars and wondered if it was a star or a planet. Today, there are smartphone apps that can expand your horizons into space and beyond. Look through the eyes of an app and you'll instantly know if you are staring at a star, a planet, or a man made satellite. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of what these apps can do for you.
In this post, we take a look at some of the cool stargazing apps that can give you incredible insights into the fascinating universe we live in.
Amazing Stargazing Apps for Android
Stellarium Mobile Sky Map
Stellarium is an award winning stargazing app for Android that renders the night sky in the most realistic way possible. It has a rich catalog of over 600,000 stars in its database and will identify a star in just a matter of seconds when you point your phone toward it. For anyone interested in a cultural history of the constellations, there is a starlore section to check out. The app also features brilliant 3D rendering of major solar system planets and their satellites and the Milky Way and is a mini planetarium in your pocket. Price: $2.49.
Skysafari 4 is another award winning app for astronomy buffs that is designed for Android 4.0 devices. It simulates the night sky from whichever location you are and lets you stay updated with all the major sky events, thanks to its integration with SkyWeek, Sky & Telescope's mobile portal. You can learn about various celestial objects and locate them, and view hundreds of photographs and NASA spacecraft images. This is the perfect celestial guide for the basic user with more features available in SkySafari 4 Plus and Pro. Price:$1.49.
Heavens-above is a satellite pass prediction app that can tell you the precise times when ISS, other radio satellites and Iridium flares should pass overhead. It also provides instant calendar integration so you can add any future passes onto your calendar so you won't miss them when they come around. This is an ad-supported version but you can pick up the Pro version to lose the ads.
Mobile Observatory - Astronomy
This brilliant astronomy app is both for the occasional stargazer and the passionate astronomy ameteur. It offers a live zoomable view of the sky providing you with a rich history of information at the celestial object you are pointing at.
The app also offers a calendar showing detailed descriptions of celestial events to follow with options to get reminders at the due times. The app also has a rich catalog of over 9000 stars in the Bright Star Catalog and over 400,000 additional stars from the PPM Star Catalog apart from over 2500 galaxies, clusters, meteor streams and more. Price:$4.52
This is the official app from NASA that has a growing collection of over 14,000 images apart from the latest news, videos, tweets and feature stories on celestial happenings. You'll also get access to live streaming of NASA TV as well as the High Definition Earth Viewing experiment on ISS. Price: Free.
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Star Walk - Astronomy Guide
Star Walk is a beautiful stargazing app that offers real time updates on the stars and other celestial bodies that you point to in the sky. You can also explore the night sky of the future and the past with the Time Machine feature, track the flight of over 9000 man made satellites across the sky and catch the yearly meteor showers. You can also share pictures of your virtual planetarium with your friends and turn them into fans. Price: $2.99.
Star Chart is another virtual planetarium app that lets you point your phone to the skies to discover all its wonders. The app also supports voice commands such as "Go to Jupiter" or "Take me to the moon" and gestures. The beautiful 3D visual effects offers breathtaking views of the planets in our solar system. The app also features the Time Shift feature, zoom functionality and customization options to view just the celestial objects you are interested in. Price: Free.
Moon Phase Pro
This app is for anyone who is fascinated with the moon as it offers spectacular 3D simulations of the moon from its craters to its mountains as well whats on the other side. The app offers a moon calendar that tells you the various moon phases (both in the past and present), the rising and setting times of the moon from your location and additional details such as its altitude and distance. Price: $0.99.
Night Sky Pro
Night Sky Pro is another amazing stargazing app that lets you identify the stars, planets, constellations and satellites that exist above and beyond. The app has eye catching visuals and animations, a time machine concept that lets you see skies of the past and future, options to view the sky through an array of light spectrums and explore the solar system in 3D view. You can even subscribe to join a unique community of stargazers and astronomers to share your discoveries with. Price: $0.99.
Space Flight Simulator
This is a 3D space travel simulator app that gives you a glimpse of all the major planets and their moons in the solar system along with their orbits, the asteroid field and trojan asteroids, and known extrasolar systems with exoplanets within 50 light years. The app also offers a time slider to see the skies in the past or the future and a free flight mode to command your spaceship and experience the effects of gravity. The app costs $3.99 but first try the free version to check for device compatibility.