Star Gazing etc. with the iPhone

  • Posted: 08 August 2009 07:19 AM

    I’ve been star gazing since before I was a Boy Scout in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I know quite a few constellations, know when the meteor showers are, enjoyed a great comet or two, some people were impressed by me saying: “arc to Arcturus” and “Spike to Spica” (a way of remembering bright stars off the handle of the Big Dipper.)  I like Girls/Women who like men who are star gazers ... I used to have one of those horizon wheels; you know, like a round slide rule: you set a marker on the month and day and then the stars and constellations you see on the face of the slide rule thingy should reasonably match what you see in the sky.
      Now, I use an app on my iPhone 3GS. I point the iPhone and see the night sky. Anybody can know as much as I know (and more) with a sky map type app, downloaded while you’re outside; turn and watch the sky turn on your iPhone (it uses the iPhone’s magnetometer…); point your iPhone at a star and find out the stars’ or planets’ names. And all I can say is Wow!! I can see where there’s a nebula; it tells me the Perseids peak on the NIGHT OF AUGUST 11TH early morning hours of August 12th; I even actually use the ‘night lite’ in place of a flashlight… All that knowledge at my fingertips instantly, Wow. Wow!!
      Remember, the night of August 11th so everybody watch. NASA says maybe up to 200 per hour this year.  Yeahhhh, iPhone! (I’d state the name of the app but I think that might be considered spam. But I do think it would be interesting to hear what others have to say.)

    [Title edited by DT prior to move to 1 Infinite Loop]

    [ Edited: 08 August 2009 05:27 PM by DawnTreader ]

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  • Posted: 08 August 2009 05:29 PM #1

    DS, this topic piqued my interest. I read your post a few times but I don’t know which iPhone app you are using. I think I want it.  grin

         
  • Posted: 08 August 2009 09:41 PM #2

    I have Pocket Universe - that’s pretty cool - 3 bucks or thereabouts. Lots of information everyday about that night’s sky.

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  • Posted: 08 August 2009 10:39 PM #3

    rattyuk - 09 August 2009 12:41 AM

    I have Pocket Universe - that’s pretty cool - 3 bucks or thereabouts. Lots of information everyday about that night’s sky.

    Cool. After I finish what appears to be a finicky Time Machine backup I’ll venture to the app store and report back.  grin

         
  • Posted: 09 August 2009 12:31 AM #4

    The program I use mostly and is described above is Starmap. I also have and like Pocket Universe. I suggest both.

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  • Posted: 09 August 2009 01:09 AM #5

    Douglas Stanton - 09 August 2009 03:31 AM

    The program I use mostly and is described above is Starmap. I also have and like Pocket Universe. I suggest both.

    I just purchased Pocket Universe. I suffered a little sticker shock looking at the price of Starmap at $11.99.

    DS, what does Starmap do that perhaps Pocket Universe doesn’t do for the price?

         
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    Posted: 09 August 2009 02:09 AM #6

    We just published an announcement of Perseids 1.0, an app dedicated to this very event.

    I haven’t used it, but it seems to be centered around the idea of watchers sharing their experience, with some photo sharing and tips, too.

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  • Posted: 09 August 2009 02:31 AM #7

    Regarding Starpal: The Starpal app was much cheaper when I bought it many months ago. $2.99 or something like that. Then Thursday they had Starpal at $2.00 and Starpal Pro for $18.99. The last time I checked, Starpal was $11.99 or so. Both Starpal and Pocket Universe have motion tracking of the stars. Both show the constellations, planets that are visible, etc. Both good programs. I just warmed up to Starpal early on.

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  • Posted: 09 August 2009 02:46 AM #8

    Additional thoughts regarding StarPal and Pocket Universe: I believe you need an iPhone 3GS to use motion tracking of the stars (they both probably need the magnetometer to work.) Also, each has its own personality. I have both because I’m just blown away by the whole iPhone experience. ( BTW, I had a 128K MacIntosh, and that first ever MacIntosh just blew me away. Now my wife and I both have an iPhone 3GS and I’m skywatching. Darn that moon.)

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  • Posted: 09 August 2009 04:54 AM #9

    I spent some time playing with Pocket Universe. It’s a nifty little app for the money. The 3GS makes it even more worthwhile.

         
  • Posted: 10 August 2009 12:13 AM #10

    Has anyone tried this one? Star Walk.

         
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    Posted: 10 August 2009 12:11 PM #11

    There are reviews of several iPhone planetarium (sky simulator) apps on my ETX Site.  Star Walk and SkyVoyager are my favorites.  See the reviews at:

    http://www.weasner.com/etx/software_reviews.html

         
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    Posted: 10 August 2009 12:16 PM #12

    I have virtually all the star gazing apps for the iPhone, I can highly recommend Starmap and Starmap pro. The pro version really being for the telescope owner, and the standard version being for the casual user. The pro version even has the ability to connect to your telescope!
    Starwalk is very good for the casual observer also.
    Your right, for the star app to follow what direction your pointing (N,S,E,W) you would need a 3GS, but most of the apps (especially the Starmap apps) have the ability on all iphones to use the accelerometer to pick up the altitude of what your looking at, so has you hold the iphone in front of you and move it up above your head the map will also move up.

    I can also highly recommend the GoSatWatch & GoSkyWatch apps, really good with the abilities listed above.

    [ Edited: 26 August 2009 12:01 PM by Number6uk ]

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  • Posted: 10 August 2009 12:21 PM #13

    I have and love Starmap.  Very powerful, with a nice intuitive interface.  I use it on my first gen Touch.

         
  • Posted: 10 August 2009 12:23 PM #14

    When it first became available, I bought GoSkyWatch (by Digital Sky). Wonderful app! Still using it. Many great features including night vision mode (red). A month or so ago, SkyGazer (by Carina Software) was offered as a free download for a limited time and I grabbed that as well. It’s also very good but I tend to use GoSkyWatch most of the time because I’m used to it. We live in AZ where the sky is big and black - great watching!

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