Four must apps for the night sky!

When I prepare to show people the night sky outdoors, or the backyard astronomy to the patrons of the Stardome observatory in Auckland. Sometimes I need a little assistance from a couple, or a few helping apps, or friends. In some case the night sky do change monthly or seasonally. In some case in Auckland it rains weeks on end till the whole night sky changes it’s direction, like finding your way again. and some times using a Planisphere doesn’t help either in the dark. but a red lighted torch does help in finding and reading the Planisphere.

There’s always the ones that I, figure to know my way around with the common ones in the Southern Hemisphere. Like down South, the Southern cross, which is found by using the pointer stars of Alpha and Beta Centauri, other stellar objects in the night skies, two diamond pave clustered set like global clusters Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) the larger of the two of to 47 Tuc (NGC 104), the Orion Nebula in the Orion constellation, right next to the ever protector Taurus the bull with its eye full watching the star Aldebaran protecting the group of seven sisters Pleiades (Greek), or known as Subaru ( Japanese), over here it’s natively called Matariki ( Maori).

Other observational stellar objects in the night sky during the summery season, there are few which inspired JK Rolling’s Characters out from the Harry Potter series, the two armpits of the Titan Hunter Orion, Bellatrix also the faithful pet companion Sirius the dog, hence Sirus Black Harry’s Godfather. Or in the night sky the constellation is just called Canis Major followed by the little dog Canis Minor.

As for the cold wintery crispy nights, there are few of which to be seen, in the unstrangness of all nights, the constellation Scorpio finally battle it out with Orion in being the deputy to the fallen sheriff Taurus. to warrant in defense of Pleiades and her seven sisters. Also as to witness this is the timely arrival of Saturn and it’s companion moons.

As for the trusty Apps, or the four must when you’re lost for words, or in your thoughts in trying to figure that stellar object out!


Stellarium is a very easy App to work around as I’ve explain in my previous blog ” Lost” this got to be one of the easy Apps used for the iPhone.

How many times that, when you look up the stars and wonder which is which. Well few weeks ago I’ve download a very useful app from the iTunes store. It’s very, well so very useful. I practical use it when I’m outdoors viewing the stars at night with the very helpful assistance of manually use a Meade telescope.

The app is call Stellaruim, I’ve used in the past, the PC version, it’s very easy to use. When you use the Pc version it’s best to locate your position first, so the Stellaruim knows where you are so it can best find you the viewing positions for you to view the stars and other stella objects in the night and day skies. the program is very easy to use it has time-lapse so you could see the motions through out the night and day sky forward and back in time as the sky motions around.

One of the many features around it, it has settings menu, which allow you to customised your background,scripts into the software, like changing the background sence, the amount of information that you like to see on, like, star lines, constellations grid lines. Other features that I like about stellaruim is the information about the stella object that you’ve lock on, when using the app it does the same but with the an extra feature which utilities the GPS features on the iPhone. which give you more exact viewable location.

With the iPhone app it’s a much nice feel, your astronomy friends will probably envy for the abilities it does, it’s portable than using a laptop, and you can utilize the touch features of the iPhone, and it’s quite sassy!

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Planets is another iPhone app, it very least complex than the Stellarium app to work around with. Such features are it runs on the same type of goto platform with the iPhone GPS system gyro system to figure out where you’re  in the world, and where you’re pointing at too in the night or day sky. Also it has features that let you go explore that object in within the App in either in two or three dimensional vieiws. Also an extra plus the App is free too! are you excite!

when viewing in 2D, it show’s up the objects in real-time in a stamp set reference, with compass bearing points, to suit your directional location. This gets even more fun when you switch to the 3D screen on, it gives you more of the encompassing view in your present surroundings above and below the Horizons. A few advantages that it has that Stellaurim doesn’t have it’s the light spectrum which you could see, it allows you to switch between X-Ray, Visible, Hydrogen alpha, infrared, Microwave, and Radio spectra Background back into time.

Another brilliant aspect which I like mostly best with this app is the optimum best viewing times of each planets that shows up in the night sky, it’s rising, it’s setting, but the experience is uniquely to your geo positioning of your iPhone, which gives you a great advantage. 

Also there’s a globe slides for different planets, but unfortunately it doesn’t comes with Pluto, Sorry Pluto! it’s interactive with the iPhone touch screen you could slide it, finger pitch to go near and  a far, and even more to rotate the planets around to. I would say this app is practically diversity  which its abundance of features it has just to get you going and start for the night sky. but one good thing though it comes in free, but it’s only for iPhone, and iPad.

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Moon Globe

This app is basically straight forward it’s ever so like one of your maps that you find on one of your lonely Planet travel guides, but it’s less hasten in a way of carrying that actual moon globe with you all the time. This one is great, it shows you the main points of  seas craters,  of the moon. also for the space historians out there there’s landing positions information and other NASA lunar landers, Apollo lunar modules landed on the moon. Plus the details of the moon is amazing detail also changing the aspect lighting.  It has another feature by  switching to the globe mode on you could pitch orientated the position of the Moon, look in closely in the awesome surface details like you peering, outside the window of your Spacecraft or Starship in that manner.  This Moon Globe is will keep you guessing of what you might expect in Google Moon, but even better, it’s mobility, and the iPhone’s intense 960 by 640 resolutions Retina display. but the only thing it still does have yet it’s Astronauts Neil’s Armstrong’s timeless boot print.

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Mars Globe

I have a friend whom adores the topic  planet Mars, I’m pretty sure this This App is right for her. she loves talking about the rovers whom are exploring the Martian surface which it shows the locations doing there studious reportings, also it shows the density depth by showing in different various colours, another option that it has  is the back and forward in time in years or months of the availble  sunlight, the darkest it gets.  The details are Awesome, you could see the large Mountain Everest high volcanic regions mounting  up on the surface  to  also the large city-wide encompassing craters. to it’s legendary white polar north and south  ice capes.

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There been an updates following  that there a further two more apps which are highly recomended which I’ve reviewed after now using them constantly.  star walk  also Solar walk.

5 thoughts on “Four must apps for the night sky!”

  1. Why, didn’t you mention Star Walk?! That’s my favorite app! It shows all the stars, constellations and messiers! Comparing to any of those apps Star Walk is just a treasure! It is perfect price, content and interface!

    1. Hello

      Thanks for mentioning Starwalk!, it’s brillant! I’ve reviewed and now I’m constant using this wonderful app! and has the combination of the other apps that i’ve reviewed.

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