Space, as a certain iconic TV franchise sagely observed, is the final frontier—but alas it’s a frontier not many of us will get a chance to explore in person. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps out there to help you get a little taste of outer space, and we’ve rounded up some of the best ones available.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can now point your smartphone up at the sky and “see” exactly which stars, constellations, planets, and even satellites are directly above you at any time throughout the day. It’s pretty cool and you’ll definitely want to try it out. Whether you’re an Android or iPhone owner, there’s an app out there for you. Here’s the pick of the bunch.
SkyView (iOS/Android, $1.99-Free)
SkyView is simple and straight forward app. Simply point your smartphone at the sky and SkyView does all the hard work, identifying galaxies, stars, constellations, planets, satellites, and even the ISS and Hubble. It’s stylish looking and fascinating, backing up such sights with thousands of interesting facts.
You can schedule alerts for upcoming celestial events so you don’t miss any of the action, plus there’s a time travel feature allowing you to move into the past or future to see different occurrences.
For iOS users, there’s additional Apple Watch support including an ‘at a glance’ look at what’s going on. iOS users will need to cough up a reasonable $1.99 (as will Android users interested in the premium version), but there’s a SkyView Free for Android users that want to take the app for a test drive.
Night Sky (iOS, Free)
Night Sky is a popular and polished iOS only planetarium app. The core application and many of the great features (like Apple Watch integration) are free, but there’s a subscription model for advanced features.
One of the most popular advanced features is the “Grand Orrery” which uses the iPhone’s AR capabilities to bring the solar system into your home, in a manner of speaking. By using ARKit, you can walk around the entire solar system via your phone, walking up to planets and zooming in on certain details. Current space missions can be viewed, plus you can participate in sky tours for a guided path around the night sky or even just parts of the world map.
It’s a little gimmicky, sure, but it’s the ideal app for inspiring younger users to be excited…
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