If your life has become dull, routine, and monotonous, then you may need to reconnect with your heavenly origin by doing some stargazing! Ah, but you live in the city and can’t see so many stars, you say? Well, then it's time to become acquainted with some amazing apps that have been developed for stargazing. These can even enhance the experience for those who can't see so much due to light pollution or a blocked view.
Don’t let lack of knowledge on astronomy discourage you from indulging in the joy of the observation of celestial bodies. Most of these genius-designed apps will allow you to just install and point at the sky to immediately begin identifying and learning about whatever your night sky offers you on any given day. Our best overall stargazing app is Cosmic Watch, which is impressive enough to blow away even the most advanced users. Check out nine other great options and tips on how to choose a stargazing app on your own!
The following, we believe, are the best stargazing apps available. Many of them have quite an original angle on the way the app approaches stargazing, not to mention there are original features or areas of excellence that each one excels in.
|Stars database||Not stated|
|Stars database||2.5 million with subscription|
|Stars database||Not stated|
|Stars database||Not stated|
|Stars database||600,000 to 1.6 billion|
|Stars database||130 million|
|Stars database||Complete NGC IC catalog|
Celestial Dynamics Ltd.
Simulation Curriculum Corp.
Redshift Sky Pro
Star Walk 2
Sky Safari 6
Breaks the Mold and Takes it to The Next Level
Land on Any Planet and See the Sky from There
Immersive, Intuitive User Interface With Beautiful Graphics
An Award-Winning Stargazing App
View the Night Sky the Way Other Ancient Cultures Did
Instantly Feel Like a Professional Astronomer
Travel 10,000 Years into the Sky of the Past or Future
A Highly Detailed Astronomy App Made by a Professional Astronomer
Get All the Basic Functions of a Quality Stargazing App for Free
Beautiful Augmented Reality Stargazing Experience
|Stars database||Not stated||2.5 million with subscription||Not stated||Not stated||600,000 to 1.6 billion||9,096||130 million||450,000||Complete NGC IC catalog||8,000+|
Chances are if you're reading this that you love stargazing or have a desire to learn. If you're hesitating to try out a great app to help you study the night sky due to lack of confidence regarding your astronomy knowledge, don’t be!
Many of these apps are created to make the whole process a breeze and turn you into a pro astronomer in a matter of moments - or at least make you feel like one.
Which app is best for you will depend on how deep you would like to go with stargazing. If you're interested only in identifying and finding basic stars, planets, and constellations, then you need only get a simple app that does its job well, such as Sky View or Star Tracker.
If you're interested in using a stargazing app for more advanced purposes like syncing it to your telescope or studying the changes of the celestial bodies throughout history by "time travel," then you'll need a solid app that easily handles such tasks such as Mobile Observatory or Skeye Pro Version.
A free version of a good program like Sky Safari may be satisfactory if you only want to dabble a little in stargazing every now and then.
However, many reviewers note that most of these programs became significantly better after they upgrade, offering larger celestial databases, advanced features that thoroughly enhanced their stargazing experience and the freedom from ads or additional annoyances.
Some of these stargazing apps have no free version and are paid only. But it would be a shame to overlook those wonderful apps. If you have a real interest in having some amazing stargazing experiences, then it might be worth checking out some of the paid stargazing apps as well.
On average, the price is somewhere between $2.99 and $10. Serious stargazers should probably go with the upgrade rather than the free version.
There are some beautifully designed programs out there with some really cool background music soundtracks to enhance your stargazing experience.
It's not that these qualities are empty, because they sure are nice. However, some of the most well-designed and precise stargazing apps we have seen actually were lacking in the graphics and music department.
That being said, there are more than a few apps that have both high-definition graphics and a well developed user interface. Just be aware that you cannot judge a stargazing app based on its graphics or music.
Many of the stargazing apps can serve as 3-D planetariums. If you're using it for this casual purpose, then an app that relies on an internet connection is fine.
But if the app is being used to explore the night sky for serious stargazing, then it's very important that it doesn’t need access to the Internet in order to function properly. Most quality stargazing apps nowadays can function offline, but not all of them.
Some apps will work offline, but lose access to certain databases and information pools; this may be acceptable but could be a bit inconvenient.
Although these stargazing apps have, in most cases, been quite simplified for the sake of user-friendliness, the subject matter can still be quite complex.
Having functions like a click-and-find search tool or an information base that can lead you by the hand when you get confused will make it much more enjoyable to study the heavens if you are inexperienced.
The very best search functions for these apps will give you both a “click and search list” of celestial bodies as well as a manual input bar to ask what you're looking for. Many have only one of those and some have neither.
In addition to this, a really good app will put a search arrow on the screen where you view the sky and point in the direction that you should move your device in order to find your target celestial body.
Just think of a really good stargazing app as a guide that you hire to teach you about the stars and show you where in the night sky you can find things. Not every teacher you had in school was effective at connecting with you and teaching you well even though some other kids may have thought they were.
The bottom line is, if you aren’t learning a lot from your chosen app without much effort, then you should move on and find another app. There are some really excellent stargazing apps out there, so choose one or two that are intuitive for you and point out a lot of info in an easily digestible manner for you to learn.
Don’t hesitate to play with more than one stargazing app at a time, too, because some of them have unique functions like the “ancient star lore mode” in Stellarium or the “astro clock” of Cosmic Watch.
There were several users who quickly uninstalled and brushed off some excellent stargazing apps just because it didn’t seem to match up with the night sky they were looking at. In other situations, the display kept spinning and wouldn’t stabilize, so the reviewers unfairly rated the app as garbage.
Perhaps the most important factor in making sure a stargazing app works properly is that the internal compass of your device is properly calibrated and is reading the directions accurately.
The easiest and most common way to do this is by moving your device in a figure-eight pattern, which will re-calibrate your device. You can also manually calibrate it by lining the stars on the screen up with the ones you see in the sky.
Also, there are websites to check your calibration; just do a search to find and use one and make sure you're properly aligned. The last important factor to make sure of is that there are no magnetic strips on or near your device, as this will definitely make the app misbehave.
If you'll be doing your stargazing while camping, you should check out some of our other lists. These products can help you fully enjoy your celestial trip!
If you love the stars and the mystery of the night sky and haven't yet tried a stargazing app, then we highly recommend you wait no longer. You'll surely be impressed with several of the well-designed stargazing apps available today. Even if you aren’t necessarily a star lover, there's a good chance one of these apps will make you one.
Author: Eric Justin
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