Summer nights provide the perfect opportunity to get in a little stargazing. While some of us may be more well versed in the composition of the night sky, for those who’d like to know what it is they are gazing at, there are a series of stargazing apps available to whet your astronomical appetite.
I was first made aware of these apps while hanging out with some friends outside. Many of these applications utilize your phone’s GPS and camera to provide information on constellations, planets and other astrological facts.
The app I have on my Pixel2 is the free version of Star Walk 2. The free version, like most apps, has some locked features and subjects the user to ads from time to time. But the free version offers plenty of items to get your feet wet.
My favorite feature of this particular app is that it is chock full of information. Users navigate the night sky visually, and can pan the sky by moving their phone itself or by scrolling with their fingers. Using your phone’s GPS, the application will show you the cardinal directions on top of the myriad of various constellations in the sky.
The app’s default viewing mode shows a crystal clear lake that simulates the night sky, but users can also turn on augmented reality mode. This mode utilizes your phone’s camera, allowing you to actually see the constellations themselves. I just tried this in the office and it is a little lackluster, so I would recommend this mode if you are outside enjoying the night sky.
What you can see is not limited to what is currently above you either, looking downward, for example, users would be able to see what stars those on the other side of the Earth would be looking at. While browsing the night sky, users can click on the various constellations to get more information about them.
The free version includes a basic model of the constellation, general information including its location and additional details, as well as the constellation’s exact coordinates. The free app also provides a handy link to each constellation or star’s Wikipedia page. So the opportunity for tumbling down astrological rabbit holes is great with this application.
The developers of Star Walk 2 also have a series of other space-related applications that can be purchased in a bundle through Star Walk 2. This would open up even more information about current constellations; including fully rotatable 3D models and the history and mythology related to each constellation. The extended application also adds more objects in the night sky for users to view including the planets and objects in our solar system and deep solar system, satellites, deep sky objects and of course, the removal of advertisements.
Star Walk 2 is only one of a series of applications available for your smartphone that provide a lot of insight into the night sky. So if you want to do a little bit of learning while enjoying the beautiful skies of western Kentucky, I would suggest giving one of these applications a spin.