Top 10 Free Smartphone Apps For Stargazing

Top 10 Free Smartphone Apps For Stargazing

Not so long ago, the only way to find out where a celestial object was in the night sky meant using a bulky star atlas, but no more. The advent of smart phones have changed the way a lot of things are done, and casual stargazing is at the forefront of these developments. In this list of ten free smart phone apps for stargazing, we present you with apps that can move objects thousands of years into future, and another that will warn you when the International Space Station is due overhead.

Below then, is our pick of ten free stargazing apps for iOS or Android devices that covers most aspects of casual stargazing. Bear in mind though that some free versions are very basic, and that you need to make in-app purchases to unlock the full functionality of some apps.

Star Chart

This app does not only give you augmented reality to view celestial objects against your local back ground- it also allows you to travel back and forth in time to see where a object was up to ten thousand years ago, or where it will be ten thousand years hence. You also get the ability to view the sky from many other points on Earth, and although the data base of objects is rather sparse in the free version, you can purchase additional catalogues for stars, meteor showers, and comets.

Supported platforms: iOS | Android

NASA App

NASA maintains what is arguably the most comprehensive space related site on the Web, and with this app, you get most of it right on your phone. Included is extensive coverage of the latest NASA missions, with images that are updated on a daily basis, plus space news and tweets, a satellite tracker, and you can even follow NASA TV for live coverage of current space events and news. In addition, you get full information on launch dates, a countdown clock, and a dedicated International Space Station tracker.

Supported platforms: iOS | Android

Top 10 Free Smartphone Apps For StargazingNight Sky Lite

While almost all star gazing phone apps allow you to do star gazing, this particular app also gives you access to a community in which members can share information on the best spots from where to observe the heavens all over the world. Moreover, this app can check on local weather conditions for the night ahead to spare you the trouble of staying up late, only to be foiled by poor seeing conditions.

Supported platforms: iOS | Android

SkyView Free

Using the back camera, this app shows you the path followed by objects as they move across the sky. It also tells you the names of the brightest objects in the sky, and if you want to know where a specific object is, just enter the name of the object, and the app will find it for you. If you want to share your latest discovery, this app has Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook enabled, so sharing is instantaneous and pain-free.

Supported Platform: iOS

GoSkyWatch Planetarium

Designed specifically (and exclusively) for the iPad, this app will show you everything you ever wanted to know about any naked-eye object in the sky. The large screen and 1800 field of view makes it possible to view any object in relative brightness, and by touching any object in view, a pop-up appears with relatively detailed information on that object.
However, the word “planetarium” should not be taken literally. While GoSkyWatch offers a bigger database and better rendering than most other phone apps, it can in no way be compared to planetarium software that is available for full-sized computers.

Supported platform: iOS



ISS Detector

If you are in the habit of following the International Space Station and other manmade satellites, the free version this app is perfect for you. It will keep track of the ISS, and sound an audible alarm five minutes before the Station will appear over your location. With an in-app purchase, you get the ability to tracks the Chinese Tiangong Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, a host of other major satellites, and even some comets.

Supported platform: Android

Sky Map

Using Google Sky Map, compass data, and GPS, this app will accurately identify any visible object you choose to point the camera at. If you are looking for a specific object, just enter the name or designation, and the app will direct you the correct section of the sky you should be searching. You also get the ability to see where any particular object will be at any time during the rest of the night, which is a more reasonable proposition than wanting to see where it will be thousands of years from now.

Supported platform: Android

SkEye Astronomy

This app is one of only a few that can function as a “spotter” on a conventional telescope. By strapping the phone to the scope, the (sparse)internal database that contains only 180 Messier objects, planets, and bright stars will point you in the right direction for a view of these objects through the scope. Also included is what is referred to as a “Time Machine” to help you plan and organise your viewing sessions.

Supported platform: Android

Star & Planet Finder

With this app, you only need to enter the name or designation of an object, point the back camera at the sky, and the app will direct you to the object. However, the free version comes with only a few objects in the database, but various in-app purchases will give you access to extended star catalogues and lists of artificial satellites.

Supported platform: iOS

Satellite Augmented Reality

If you are among the small group of people that enjoys tracking the thousands of artificial satellites in the sky today, this app is perfect for you. Instead of pointing out natural objects, the app is designed to focus on tracking satellites, and you only need to enter the name of a satellite, point the camera at the sky, and the app will locate the satellite you are looking for.

Supported platform: Android